22 Days, one full bottle of black hair dye, 20 subway lines, one less facial piercing, three concerts, two classes, and three incredible friends that I annoy 24 hours a day.
Even as I write this, I still can’t believe that I’ve been in Seoul for nearly three weeks and I’m beginning to see my dreams unfold. Part of me wishes I could go back in time and tell my past self about how everything will be better than okay; it will be life changing. You’ll make hilarious friends, your roommate will be just like you, the food will be heavenly, your professors will be passionate, and the city will never stop impressing you.
One of the first things that we did with the ISA Seoul program was go to Gyeongbokgung Palace. I was so surprised to see such an important piece of Korean history right in the middle of the city. Every inch of the palace was covered with gorgeous hand painted art work that was breathtaking. What made it even better was seeing how many people there were dressed in traditional hanbok. It really gave a sense of what the palace would have looked like back in the day, and enhanced my experience that much more. After we visited the palace we even got to try on hanbok ourselves! The women who helped us were so kind and even though they may not have known it, they helped make a lot of dreams come true too.
What’s really a dream come true is the amount of cat and animal cafes that they have here. The first one that I went to, I was so overwhelmed with how many cats there were and how cute every one of them was, that I completely abandoned my drink! I immediately took a liking to a Sphynx cat at the café named Ping. He had pale blue eyes and wore a shirt because he got cold so easily. I spent so much time with him that the workers gave me a blanket and he fell asleep in my lap!! My friends practically had to drag me out of the place after that. Later I found out that Ping was in a music video with G-Dragon too! I was so happy that all I talked about was Ping for a straight week!
On July 8th two of my friends and I had the incredible luck of being able to attend SM Town Live in Seoul! We saw every SM artist from SHINee and EXO to Red Velvet and BoA! It’s so hard to see any K-pop artists in the U.S. so I was bursting with happiness when I realized I could see so many of my favorite K-pop artists all at once, in the same place! At the end of the concert my friend and I were able to get close enough to the stage to see the artist up close and Taemin even waved at us! A week later on the 14th, we were also able to see Music Bank recorded, and saw NCT127 and Red Velvet again! Even though we couldn’t take any pictures or video at Music Bank, I still had so much fun and can’t forget it! On July 22nd I am also going to see Akdong Musician. I’ve never been able to see so many of my favorite artists in such a small amount of time, I feel like I’m dreaming.
Even though I have experienced so much while I’ve been here, the best part so far has been going to the Korean Queer Culture Festival with one of my professors from Korea University. Being a member of the LGBTQA+ community, it meant the world to me that Seoul had this festival to celebrate and educate others. Of course, there were protesters, which are unavoidable with any pride festival, but I barely noticed them. And the fact that my teacher and other classmates went with me truly turned it into an experience that I will never forget. He also bought us dinner and is now my favorite professor of all time. Huge shout out to him for being the coolest.
I’m only halfway done with my program and I feel as if I have already learned so much that I’m so excited to see what awaits me within the next few weeks! Besides finals. I’m not excited for those.
The world awaits…discover it.