Sunday, June 26, 2011

I really do miss America, sometimes.

I know I've been awfully heavy on the "Korea is my soulmate" posts lately. I'm not going to try to make excuses for it; Korea has been the peanut butter to my jelly, the macaroni to my cheese, the trash can to my kimchi (that's what I do with kimchi, anyway). I suppose it's not actually Korea that I'm desperately in love with; I could write a whole post on how the Christian ex-pat culture is a perfect fit for the way I tend to make and keep friends, but that would bore you all to tears. I know everyone in my family is freaking out, trying to figure out how they can get me deported to ensure that I will, in fact, return to Ohio sometime before menopause. Don't worry everyone; I'm coming back in September whether I like it or not - to zap through grad school so I can get a better job, uh, here.

That said, there are a few things I miss about America. Aside from the obvious (my family and friends, being able to understand when people talk to me, and Chipotle), here are a few other things you don't know matter until you're not in the country anymore.

1. I can't wait to buy produce in normal quantities.
This one is huge for me. I love eating fresh fruit all the time, but it's really hard to buy that kind of stuff here. I can find nearly anything I want, but not in a quantity that makes any sense for a person living alone. Bananas come in bunches of thirty, grapes are sold in giant flats, and strawberries come in heaping bowls. On the flip side, a small watermelon is 20 bucks and a half a cup of blueberries will run you around 7.50. I miss Kroger.

2. I can't wait to see the stars.
Apparently light pollution is not only a thing, but it's a big thing. I know this is a problem in many American cities as well, but I've never lived in any of those cities, so it feels like a Korean problem to me. When I look up, I just see an endless expanse of... smog. On a very rare occasion, I can find the moon up there somewhere, but I miss being able to lay in the grass and stare at the sky, feeling very, very small.

3. I can't wait to shower without getting my whole bathroom wet.
I don't think this one needs an explanation. I complained about my shower right after I got here, but for the most part, I've adjusted. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize I probably needed to wear plastic sandals in the bathroom when I dry my hair after a shower because standing in a puddle of water and holding something connected to an electrical outlet is actually quite dumb. I'm lucky I never zapped myself, and I'm wiser now, but I'm still really looking forward to having a real shower. And bathtub.

4. I can't wait to use a dryer.
Air-dried clothes are crunchy and wrinkly, and I'm far too lazy to actually worry about ironing them. I'm looking forward to not looking like a hobo anymore.

5. I can't wait to listen to the radio.
If Korea suddenly banned iPods, I'd leave immediately. I couldn't survive a day without that little box of sound attached to me somewhere. I listen to it when I'm walking, when I'm on the bus, when I'm on the subway, when I'm in stores, when I'm grading papers, and sometimes when I get home and I'm too lazy to put it away and turn on my computer. My iPod is my best friend... but it's getting a little old. I've started listening to sermons instead of music because I'm tired of all the same songs. I'm so excited to get back and see what new music is out there to... download for my iPod.

6. I can't wait to have breakfast options.
I'm a creature of habit, so I usually choose a cereal and stick with it for a few months. This method worked well for me when I first got here; Frosted Flakes were all I recognized, so they were all I bought. However, nine months of Frosted Flakes and peach yogurt for breakfast every single day can kind of get boring. I've mixed in Honey Nut Cheerios from Cost-Co once or twice, but my breakfast routine has basically remained the same. I seriously can't wait to eat those little chocolate donuts, Lucky Charms, and Toaster Strudels... all at once.


  1. I loved this post! My mother is an ESL teacher in Korea, and I found your blog via google search; looking for things she'd miss from the US to send her in a care package for her birthday. Could you offer me any suggestions? I'd really appreciate it!

    1. Hi Allie!! I hope blogger sends you an email letting you know I replied. :)

      I mostly missed foods: double-stuffed oreos, cheetos, peanut butter m&m's. If your mom is close to an army base, she might be able to get those things, but for almost everyone there, those are hard to come by. If you want to go on the practical side, the toothpaste in Korea has sugar in it, so I always needed people to send me that! Tampons and deodorant can also be a pain to find. They don't have a lot of super-soft blankets there either; those are great for the freezing cold nights!

      Hope this helps!