Cafés, Concerts and Culture: Things I’ll Miss About Korea

Camille Gauthier is a student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and an ISA Featured Blogger. Camille is studying abroad with ISA in Seoul, South Korea.

Hanok House
Korean traditional house that we stayed in.

Cat Cafes

Yep, you read that right.  There are cat cafés in Seoul!  So what’s a “cat café” you might ask.  It’s just what it says.  It’s a café where cats roam around freely while you get to drink tea or coffee.  Definitely a destination for people who might miss their cats at home in the U.S.!

Cat Cafe 1


I must confess, I’m a K-pop addict.  In fact, it’s my love for K-pop while I was in high school that initially piqued my interest in South Korea and the Korean language.  So even though I’m definitely in love with the country, the language, the culture and the history, there is still a K-pop fan girl tucked away in there.  So how could I be in Seoul without going to see my favorite K-pop artists?  Luckily, the opportunities have been endless.  I have been fortunate enough to attend the popular group Super Junior’s concert and three Korean music TV shows as well as the Kpop Dream Concert, which is exactly what it sounds like: a concert featuring 22 Kpop artists!  I’m happy that I have two fellow K-pop fans in the ISA group that I’ve been able to have these awesome experiences with.

Dream Concert 2
My friends and I in front of Seoul World Cup Stadium, where this year’s Dream Concert was held!

Celebrity Sightings

One of the coolest things about living in Seoul is that it doesn’t take much to encounter a celebrity in your day-to-day activities.  In Chicago, where I’m from, you may occasionally see an obscure actor or singer when you’re out and about (I used to live across the street from the guy who played the dad on the show Frazier).  But in Seoul, it can be like seeing Justin Bieber sitting across from you in class!  Who have I seen?  Well, I have a class with Dongwoon from Beast and Minho from SHINee (both very popular K-pop idols).  Then, I’ve seen Ryeowook, Henry Lau, Yesung and Siwon (all members of the internationally popular group Super Junior; it just so happens that Super Junior lives right near the Konkuk campus!), as well as members of the most popular girl group in Korea – Girls’ Generation – and a newer K-pop group called EXO.  I’ve even seen a famous Korean kickboxer who has been on television multiple times!

A Weekend Retreat

I had the remarkable opportunity to visit a traditional Korean rural home when I went on a weekend retreat with my church a few weeks ago.  (Through a friend of a friend at my church in Chicago, I was able to find a wonderful church here in Seoul which I attend regularly.)  For the retreat, our group rented several traditional homes in the countryside for the weekend.  The homes were built more than 200 years ago, and were moved from the city of Seoul, to mountains outside of the city.  I learned a lot about traditional houses, and I even got to stay in the bedroom that used to be reserved for the grandparents; in other words, the most important people in the house!  It was very nice to get out of the city and see more of rural Korea.  It’s absolutely beautiful and I’m so glad I had this chance.

Mountain Landscape
It was so beautiful and relaxing here!

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