Last weekend I had the pleasure of hosting some of my long-time friends and former grad school classmates who like myself also were part of the dual-degree program I completed with my Alma mater, American University in Wash, D.C. To learn more about my grad school days/ degree program visit my blog post: Grad Life 대학원생: DC & Abroad 2012-2014.
While me and my old grad school friends meet on and off this was the first time both of them came to visit me in my city just outside of Seoul. Additionally, though they are both Korean and Korean-American I was their tour guide throughout their stay. For their 2-day say I suggested a fun sightseeing, shopping, and coffee shop course for them to try. Having been to all the areas on the list I could say I was quite familiar with each location though many areas in Korea do change rather quickly over a short period of time.
Our first stop together on Day 1 was the the Premium Outlet mall areas. Since the weather was quite nice we spent the day walking around the outlets and checking out the sales/discount items. During our time shopping some of my colleagues from my school joined me and my friends for lunch. It was nice to introduce my close friends to my co-workers and vice-versa introduce my co-workers to my friends. Surprisingly, they all fairly go along well and some joined us at our next location.
After shopping we set off for a quaint hill-top cafe that oversees the one of the Outlet malls and the surrounding area. Together we enjoyed some coffee and desserts and talked about our lives and various topics ranging from relationships, marriage, children, work, travel, and off course our personal lives. One take away from the open discussion was learning new perspectives on life in Korea, even from from Korean friends point of views. For example, even though you might be a native the country you live in it can still be foreign to you especially in terms of how you live your life vs your (foreign) friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Talking together about our lives with new & old faces made me realize how much we all including myself have grown throughout in our time so far in Korea.
From shopping to coffee my friends and I moved on to our next stop. We decided on dinner at a 500-year old restaurant named 오백년누룽지백숙(Ohbeknyeun Nureungji Beksu) that is located outside Provenance Village(프로방스 마을). Once finished with dinner we toured Provenance Village and purchased some in-house special baked goods before heading back to my place to watch the Mexico-Korea World Cup match(*Korea sadly lost). On Day 2 we relaxed at my place and left midday for lunch around Heyri Art Village (헤이리 예술마을), which is known for its art community stores(i.e. tea, furniture, artwork), cafes, museums, and weekend markets.
Deciding to spend the entire afternoon in Heyri Art Village after lunch we browsed the outdoor weekend market, visited some stores, and stopped by one of my favorite cafes there called White Block. Spending time together me and my friends talked about many things from the previous day, but also many things about our plans for our futures. As independent women who have each lived, traveled, and worked abroad, but we all are still striving and working on life goals for ourselves.
After seeing my friends off we agreed to have another weekend tour again in a new city. Spending time together in new & old places made me cherish the relationship we have made over the last 6-7 years back home in the U.S. and here in Korea.