What I liked about Korea after 5 years
I am not a list maker on this blog. If you look back through the years there have been only a few times where I have made lists. But I think it is important to "list" in some way what I have liked about living in Korea for this long. I am sure whatever I mention here might be useful to the newcomer to Korea and also help them see what makes living here worthwhile.
Getting around: You could be freezing your ass off outside in the icy temps or roasting hot in the summer, but the busses and trains will always be there. Seoul provides many means of transportation that generally come on time and get you to your location quickly. It's one of the benefits of living in a compact country and certainly doesn't hurt your wallet after using it often. Even traveling outside of Seoul one has subway and bus options. If not then a taxi will do!
Healthcare: For the longest time I told myself I couldn't leave this country because I get great healthcare. I have an auto-immune disease that requires medication and doctor's visits. Three months worth of my medicine costs me no more than 30,000 won. Plus my Doc visits were also cheap. I can't help but say I will miss the healthcare, however at the same time relent that it's not worth staying in the country for. However, it's a great service and shows how functional a National Health Insurance plan can be.
Networking: I learned a lot about how to open up to people and share your lives with them. Starting on the grounds of just being expats people seemed more open minded to be your friend. I really liked getting to know the artist community here, along with the KOTESOL folks. It seems there is always something happening where you can meet new people who share similar interests.
Access to Contemporary Asian Art: I really enjoyed being able to visit galleries, museums and exhibitions featuring contemporary Asian art. Mostly because you can't have such access to this back home, and also it was all in Asia. I felt like I had a better time understanding the works by living here. I'm sure I'll find a way to fill this void back in Seattle, but nothing beats the plethora of art on display here.
Food: Of course I can't avoid mentioning this. I love Korean food! I crave a warm boiling pot of dweanjang jiggae in the winter and cold naengmyun in the summer. I may not always want to eat Korean, but the food is so delicious and unique here I know it's going to be hard to find good places back home. If you have any doubts of coming to Korea because you might not like the food, well don't worry!
Neighborhoods: As you explore Seoul and other areas you start to get to know different neighborhoods. Like Hongdae or Jongno. For me I really enjoyed Samcheongdong and other parts of that area. Mostly I liked seeing neighborhoods expand and change throughout the years. Insadong is definitely not the same when I first got here. However, I think that's what made living here so lively. I could return to a part of Seoul I hadn't been to in a long time and discover something totally new about it. I wonder how much will change when I leave.
The Rural Route: Getting out of Seoul and seeing Korea as it is without the tall buildings and bustling streets is a really great site. I explored out of Seoul both on my own and with Ex's, and every time felt like I was getting a taste of real culture. People are really welcoming and friendly in this country and you can explore it with a beginner's hand at Korean. I am quite fond of my recent trip to Damyang and will always look back at that experience as a very positive way to enjoy Korea. Also not to mention my trip to Munkyeong and their tea bowl festival.
You know I could probably keep listing more and more, but I'm sure I've mentioned stuff elsewhere. If you have anything to add, please do!