Once I left Wendy in Paju, I was on my way to meet the Seomyeon Squad in Hongdae. FYI Seomyeon Squad is what I call my group of friends from the dorms, this consists of Kami, Alan and Zaya who I go everywhere with. Seomyeon is the main shopping district here in Busan where we all got to know each other better. Anyway, after about 45 minutes on the subway, I arrived at Hongik University Station which was where I would be spending the next week with my friends. Our Airbnb was right next to the station which was very convenient for me as I get lost easily so finding the building was a breeze. My friends and I booked a loft which included everything that we needed plus an amazing view of the city. It was great seeing my friends again as we hadn’t been apart since arriving in Korea. We had become each other’s family while away from family and it was nice to be reunited again. The weather wasn’t all that great so we spent the rest of the afternoon catching up and watching TV. We don’t have easy access to a TV, so we made the most of the TV at the loft watching Youtube videos on the big screen (we can be such children sometimes).
As soon as the weather cleared up we did some exploring, walking around the main street. This was my first time in Seoul. Sometimes I forget that I moved to a country that I had never visited before so this was all new to me. That also made this holiday feel more like an overseas trip since I was still experiencing and visiting new places. I’ve decided that I like Seoul and one of the main reasons is that everything felt a little bit more spacious. I’m not sure how to best describe this but I felt like I could breathe a lot more in Seoul, I’m not saying that the air was cleaner but maybe because it was a bigger city and more planned out it just felt more spacious. In Busan, it can sometimes feel claustrophobic because everything is crammed together. Another reason I enjoyed Seoul was the large variety of international cuisine readily available. I know I’m in Korea to experience as much of the Korean culture and food as possible but sometimes it’s just comforting to eat a variety of different cuisines. In Seoul, I felt that we had more access to these types of restaurants. I think the highlight of our trip was going to a Tex-Mex restaurant a few stations away from Hongdae the owner was very hospitable and recommended a few other international restaurants that we should check out later. We enjoyed the Mexican restaurant as we hadn’t eaten beans or Mexican flavours in such a long time. Apart from Mexican food we also went to a place called ‘Pizza Mall’ which was a buffet restaurant that served many different types of pizza and pasta. Normally this sort of food wouldn’t be very exciting but as I said we’d been eating Korean food or in my case steamed broccoli for the last six months so this was a great change.
Apart from the food, another part I liked so much about Seoul-Hongdae in particular- was the art appreciation. People in Seoul were more out-going and open with their fashion styles to express themselves the best they could. Sometimes in Busan, it feels like everyone is wearing the same styles or colours. There was also more art and murals around the streets and buildings. But what stood out the most was street busking and dancing. Hongdae is famous for its nightlife and street performers. We spent hours watching different groups. I enjoyed just sitting outside with other people physically supporting emerging artists rather than sitting in a room liking and commenting on youtube videos. The busking was the highlight of our day as we would spend the morning exploring the city and then before going back to our apartment we would see who was performing on that particular night.
Besides the food and busking we did a few other things such as visiting the Korean National Museum of Contemporary History. This was not something I would normally choose to do but my friend was a history enthusiast and he was interested in visiting the museum. I enjoyed going to the museum I learnt a lot about the Korean War and South Korea’s fight against communism. I’m glad Alan pushed us to go as now I’m more knowledgeable of the topic and have a better understanding of why Korean society is the way that it is. Other than that, we spent a lot of time walking around shops occasionally buying something and most nights would end by watching a movie all together.
By Friday, Alan and Zaya were ready to go back to the dorms but Kami and I wanted to spend a bit more time in Seoul. So we decided to check into a hostel for two more days while the other two went back to Busan. We were hoping to spot our favourite Kpop band ATEEZ and watch more busking and enjoy Seoul life for a few more days before going back to Busan where we would be stuck in our rooms doing online lessons. Overall I enjoyed my time in Seoul with my friends and can’t wait to move there for university next year.