Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Korean Review: Day 6 – Concrete Jungle 101

Gangnam District by night

“Concrete jungle where dreams are made…”
Granted, Alicia Keys and Jay-Z were referring to New York, but Seoul could fit this bill as well. Currently the second largest city in the world, Seoul is a bustling metropolis full of people coming and going. This hustle and bustle gives the city a buzz 24 hours a day. By the light of daytime, cars and buses pack the streets, making travel a nightmare. Under the lights of the neon signs at night, pedestrians take over the streets and sidewalks, making travel a major headache.

Morning traffic in Seoul

I have definitely come to appreciate the things that living in a large city provide it’s populous. I lucked out in the fact that I live in a very up and coming area of Seoul, right near the largest university in the city, Seoul National University. This area is teeming with college aged students coming and going. While this is by far not the only college district in the city, this surplus of 20-something’s gives the area a life of its own. Western style restaurants line the streets. Bars and clubs beckon patrons at every street corner. There’s never a lack of excitement, screaming, or activity where I am.

High rises like this are prevalent throughout Seoul

One of the downfalls of living in such a large city is that space is at a premium. Buildings are built up, not out. Walking down the street, you always find yourself looking up for the restaurant or coffee shop that you are to meet your friends at. This makes it hard to find establishments large enough for bigger parties. Having people over to your apartment is pretty much out of the question. I had a friend that was able to lay down on his bed and touch all four walls at the SAME TIME! Now if that isn’t considered small, then I don’t know what is!

My apartment - all of it!

This lack of space and nature has really made me appreciate what I had growing up. Back in Iowa, my family and I live on a farm. Now I am the furthest thing from a farm kid. That line of work just doesn’t appeal to me. But we have so much space and greenness all around us that I took for granted for so many years. Here in Seoul, being surrounded by grey, monotonous buildings has made me yearn for the open green fields that Iowa has to offer. I honestly never thought that I would miss the openness as much as I do. Finding a patch of luscious, green grass here in Seoul is a chore that sometimes seems impossible.

Despite the obviously adjustments that had to be made, living in this city has given me a taste of city life. I don’t remember my time in Washington DC too much. This has been a bit of a supplement. As I prepare to move to Florida, and live near Miami, I feel better prepared for the twist and turns that I will face there. After surviving in the 2nd largest city in the world, nothing scares me anymore. Bring it on Miami!

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