Finding Fiji in the Middle of Seoul

HAPPY FIJI DAY!!! A Special post to celebrate 50 years of independence!!!
Fiji is a small country so it’s not every day that you meet someone else who is also from Fiji. However, I was lucky enough to find a small community of Fijians while on holiday in Seoul.

My first adventure of the day was making my way to COEX mall in Gangnam. Here, I was going to meet Rosie who is a graduate student at another university here in Korea. Rosie was one of the first people to welcome me when I first arrived; of course, we couldn’t meet face-to-face due to corona restrictions at the time but I received a warm welcome- even if it was only through messenger. Although it was my first time meeting Rosie I felt like I had known her for a long time. It was nice to meet someone else from Fiji. In Busan, I have been lucky to meet two of the other Fijians living in Korea and it’s always great to meet more. We spent the morning with her class at a primary education workshop and we all had lunch together. I was surprised as to how accommodating her class was to have me join them on their field trip. I enjoyed meeting her classmates and getting to know them. I also enjoyed spending time with Rosie and getting to know her. After we had walked around the expo and looked at a few of the stalls she took me to a Temple across the street from the mall. It was strange at first because you don’t expect to go to a cultural temple when in the middle of a big city. As we are still in the middle of a pandemic we were required to fill in our names and personal details before entering the temple. The lady at the desk seemed impressed with my Korean skills, she said she was also from Busan and that my pronunciation was really good. This of course made me super happy for the rest of the day. In school, we don’t get a lot of chances to communicate with locals so when I did get the chance and received a compliment I was over the moon. At the temple we walked around and took some photos; however, it was extremely hot so we decided to should go back to the mall where there was at least some air conditioning.

On the way back to the mall, Rosie showed me the SM TOWN Entertainment building. SM TOWN is one of the leading KPOP entertainment companies who manage some of the biggest Kpop groups in Korea including NCT, SHINee and RED VELVET. Don’t worry, I’m as clueless to these groups as you might be; but in Korea they are a big deal so I thought why not take a photo in front of the company building. As paraphrased from Devil Wears Prada ‘A million girls would die to be standing where I was’. When we got back to the mall we had a smoothie and then went to the Star field Library. This library is one of the ‘tourist photo spots’ that I’ve been watching on YouTube for the last two years. All the youtubers I watch go to this place and it was finally my turn to do the same. Walking into the library I was overwhelmed by the massive bookshelves and all the people reading. It was cool to see people in their free time sitting in the library just reading. I promised myself that when I move to Seoul I will try and go there and read sometime because today was just for photos.

About an hour later Rosie, one of her classmates and I took the train to Itaewon to meet Rita. Once we arrived at their house we were within ‘walking’ distance to ‘남산 (NamSan) tower’. We spent a short time getting to know each other as I hadn’t met Rita before. These women were really fun to be with and I couldn’t have chosen anyone better to climb to the top of the mountain with. We spent a few hours making our way to the top stopping every now and then for a group photo or to admire the view of Seoul as we got higher and higher. Once we had absorbed as much of the Seoul night view as possible we made our way back to Rita’s house for dinner. When she mentioned that there was a pot of chicken curry waiting back at the house I suddenly became very excited. It had been a very long time since I had proper Fiji style curry and I was over the moon. Sitting in the dining room eating chicken curry with Rita, Ruth and Rosie made me feel like I was back home for a few hours. Sitting at the kitchen table and just talking was a familiar feeling. It reminded me of me sitting with my parents talking about what was happening in school, at work or whatever we felt like sharing with each other. It also made me realise that if I ever get super homesick there is a small family of Fijians here in Korea who will make me feel at home​.

So although I missed out on the Fiji day celebrations in Seoul and Suva, I hope everyone had a lovely Fiji day with Friends and family remembering our independence. Happy Fiji Day!!

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