I never thought I could see myself living in an Asian country until I came to Seoul. The language, alphabet, food, people, and culture may be different, a lot of the lifestyle is pretty close to what I’m used to. It struck me that in fact, it was actually very easy to adapt so quickly to this new, strange place. Doing some research during our layover in Tokyo, I noticed a lot of people saying how learning the alphabet is surprisingly easy. As language geek, I had to investigate. The result? Upon arriving in Seoul I could actually read pretty much everything! The only issue is that I need to work on the vocabulary in order to understand what I’m reading but to tell you the truth, I fell in love with this new language! From a designer perspective, I also think the written Hangul characters just look so beautiful!
One of the coolest things that is immediately apparent, is the incredibly well-connected and internet-based culture. As a millennial and a freelancer, internet is a pretty important part of my daily life, so the fact that we would have access to the fastest internet in the world 24/7 for the next few days was definitely exciting for us. When traveling in South Korea, apparently it’s super common to get a “pocket wifi” AKA a device that you carry around with you (kind of like a mini router) so you can always have internet. We were able to quickly grab one at the airport and head out to meet our good friend from uni, Ashley!
Having Ashley to show us around was a godsend! If it wasn’t for her, I’m pretty sure we would have made fools of ourselves at Korean BBQ joints, not knowing the protocol, or we would’ve offended someone by pouring our own soju (you’re supposed to pour for others). Ash and her sister Elaine sowed us around all the best neighborhoods like Itaewon, an international hub with great restaurants and a fantastic nightlife, Meyongdong which is great shopping and street food (the best combination!), Gangam, a more "exclusive" "high-end" shopping and clubbing area, and the Jung district, the historical center of the city with it's royal palaces and gorgeous temples. Last but not least, our favorite Seoul neighborhood, Hongdae! It's a lower-key, student area that's bursting with creativity. We stayed there in an airbnb and we couldn't be happier with our choice.
To get out of the city for a bit, we decided to hike Dobongsan Peak. We expected a fun hike out in nature, but we were surprised to find so much more! It was a challenging mix of hiking and rock climbing, with beautiful temples sprinkled here and there along the path. When we reached the top, we could barely believe it! It was a tough hike! (It's honestly shocking to see how many elderly people were doing it).