The topic of this edition of the Minority Report is not the counterpart to the last one. Last time I talked about the pros of getting attention as a foreigner (or miguk-in) in Korea, and this time, I’m not talking about the cons. I will though. Someday.
So I’m doing this out of order and in no recognizable sequence or topical organization. Have you met me? Hi, I’m Colleen and THIS IS HOW I LIVE.
ANYWAY this post is simply a list: things I miss about America. And when I say ‘things’ I mean either material things, places, or sensory experiences, not so much people. Because missing my people is a given.
Here are some bad things about living in Korea / things I miss while living in Korea:
- Target. Why? Why, I say? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just familiarity or maybe it’s my bourgeois snobbery (because I do not miss Wal-Mart, not even a little) but I miss Target. I miss the red-and-white decor and how relentlessly middle-upper-class it is. I miss the Target brand trail mix and the organic foods aisle that I could never afford to buy anything from. I miss how poorly organized it was and how, in grad school, every time I was in the SuperTarget at 169 and 71st street, I would compose a letter to the management advising them to change the floor layout because MY organizational system would have made MUCH MORE SENSE, a letter that I never wrote and never will. I miss the relatively cheap clothes that still made me feel as close to trendy as I ever felt before I discovered H&M. I miss the really good sales they sometimes had on hummus.
In Korea they only have Home Plus, which tries, but fails.
- Sidewalks. To be more specific, sidewalks that are not pitted with potholes and covered in Old-Dude Spitbombs. There’s a game I like to play when walking in town at night here, it’s called ‘Spot the Loogie,’ and the stakes, my friends, they are high indeed. Not that you can’t/shouldn’t play that game in America, but in a residential area, generally you don’t have to. In Korea, YOU HAVE TO.
- Corn-free pizza. Add to that: Sweet-potato-goo-free pizza and mayonnaise-free pizza. I miss that.
- Women’s Shoes in my size. In Korea, women’s 9-10 없어요. It does not exist. Korean shoemakers refuse to acknowledge that feet like mine can be attached to a woman. FORGIVE MY POTATO-FED GENES, KOREAN SHOEMAKERS.
- Little League games. I’m sure Korean Little League exists, and (I’ll address this in another post on THE GOOD) I do get an amazing share of live baseball games here in Daegu, but I miss Little League.
- Beards. Do I need to say more. No I do not.
- Driving. I COULD drive here. But I’m here to save money, not spend it on life insurance so my parents can pay for my funeral after a McDonald’s delivery moped forces me under a city bus. Driving used to be one of my biggest de-stressors, and now it’s just not part of my life, which is sad. Sometimes I daydream about those Oklahoma-Missouri interstates, or those winding Connecticut back roads. Summer evening, windows down, silence and sunset and WAIT I DON’T HAVE THAT HERE. le sigh.
- Poop-smell-free streets. I don’t know if it’s just Daegu/Chilgok/Taejeon/Waegwan, or if it’s all of SK; if it’s a terrible sewer system or my dainty and sensitive nose, but American streets don’t have these Stink Pockets you stroll into and out of on a regular basis. You can be walking around in any season, in any weather, and BAM suddenly inhaling nasally is as much as your life is worth. Sometimes, Korea stinks. I have yet to discover why, but it’s unpredictable and somewhat terrifying.
- Ovens. Korean kitchens do not use them, which I still find a little odd. Korean food is mostly boiled or grilled, and as I’ve said twice before they have pretty much perfected those techniques. But I love baking and baked goods, and it just feels wrong that in most kitchens that’s not even an option.
- Houses. Yes, I miss suburban sprawl. Okay, I don’t. I hate flying over US metropolises and looking down and seeing the depressing sameness of row after row of identical houses. Yet, hypocrite that I am, I miss houses. I haven’t been in one, ever, in Korea. and I’ve been here going on nine months. Korea is all apartments, all the time, which is absolutely necessary for a small country with a large population. In Korea, you do not typically hang out with friends at home–apartments just don’t allow for that with the ease that American house-dwellers take for granted. Even in apartments I’ve lived in in America, I entertained regularly. Not so in Korea. Aside from the space issue, there are cultural factors at play that separate home and social life.
Of course this is not a rule. Koreans DO entertain at home, but it’s not the norm like it is in America. And I miss that. There’s a certain release of pressure that comes in hanging out at a friend’s apartment or house, where you don’t have to look cute, or buy anything, or be seen, where you can just enjoy some good company.
- Frozen Green Beans. They are not a thing here, and I miss them.
Okay, that’s enough Haterade. I’m no longer thirsty, and, you know what? Writing this list was actually pretty difficult; at least, on some of the major points. The smaller ones (Beards. Corn pizza. Shoes) were easy, but the others were not. I am finding it difficult to criticize my temporary homeland, and all of these points I’m making I mentally rebutted while writing them. That’s Master’s level technique right there, y’all.