Last summer I had lunch with my friend, Kristen, from high school. We are great friends who really got to know each other in basketball. It has been interesting to see her develop an interest in South Korea and she has studied abroad there and now lives there. We met last summer right before both of us were headed to live abroad. We talked about plans of visiting each other and…what do you know? Now we are doing it! This weekend I went to stay with her in Korea! I’d been in 6th grade, but boy does that feel like a long time ago. Most of my memories are from pictures! I woke up early Friday morning, grabbed the 2 hour bus, and was off to Korea. The flight is about 2 hours and it flew by before I had time to open a book. I arrived at the airport and with Kristen’s detailed instructions on hand, boarded a bus toward her town. The two hour bus ride was a great chance to view the country. Although it was a big foggy (looked like pollution to me), I could see how expansive and unique the country is. From the grasslands and bays to villages of skyscraper apartments. WOW! Kristen’s sweet boyfriend, Wooram, picked me up from the bus terminal and we walked through their town to her apartment. We spent the afternoon visiting the open food markets, little shops and downtown area while waiting for Kristen to finish school. At 9:30 she returned and we went out for dinner! We cooked our own pork and had kimchi for dinner. The next day we visited a different type of meat restaurant for breakfast and enjoyed the entertainment of a drunk old man sitting next to us. We then got on the bus for Seoul. Seoul is very extensive, I found out. When in Seoul we boarded the subway to get to the old town village district. There we walked around looking at old Korean homes and many little shops. I love Korean graphic design, I think that they have a great eye for simple design and color. I also found retail design to be really strong. This part of Seoul had many food stalls – little fried snacks, or large ice cream cones. Everywhere we went smelt really good! I was surprised, though, because some areas were run down or a little sketchy. Plus, there is a lot of trash on the ground everywhere. We took many pictures on our tour of the homes and soon we were ready for a break. We boarded the subway again to head to the Hongdae district which is a college district where people our age hang out. It was packed and really exciting. It reminded me a little of Harajuku. We met up with Kristen’s friends and shopped around. Around 6 we were back on the subway to get back to the bus terminal to get back on the bus home. Once in their home city, we stopped at a noodle place. I got these clear noodles that you have to cut with scissors, and they ordered different things so we got to try each others. Then we went to a Korean bath house. These were really different from ones in Japan! There is a co-ed section with rock and sand saunas that you wear a uniform to. You can even order food and drinks there. Plus, you can spend the night. It was about 9 or 10 when we got there so we did a lot of relaxing and left by 12:30. It was time for bed! Sunday morning we woke up quite tired and ordered my bus ticket and stopped at a bakery. Then I was on my way. I must say how incredibly gracious it was of them to really take off their whole weekend to show me around. I enjoyed talking about what Korean culture, language, and life is like. Plus, we got to compare notes on how difficult expat life can be, in addition to all the joys. Korea is really unique and I noted many things I like and dislike about the country. There is enough information there for an entire post. I really will miss them both. I grew to love being with them. I also was really inspired by their love for one another and I am hopeful that they can pursue living in the U.S. together. Back to the grind tomorrow. Love & Peace to you.