A S(e)oulful Reunion

Casual kimchi making
This past weekend I finally made my return to Seoul. It's been over three years since I've stepped foot in the city again, and I think I've missed it every moment I've been away. It's kind of a strange experience being back after three years. 2011 was a very different time than 2014. I'm different, Seoul's different, the people are different... All in a good way, of course. 2011 me was fresh off her first year of college, full of ideas bouncing around, poor, and very pulled in by the manufactured glitz of K-pop. It was my first time leaving the country on my own, I could barely read Hangul, and I knew very little about Korean culture and everyday life outside of K-pop and what I saw in dramas and variety shows. I relied heavily on the group of friends I made, many who were at least semi-conversational in Korean. I was thinner and younger and yet filled with more insecurities than I am now. I think cheerfully naive would be the best description.

2014 is a whole different ball game. I was going back to Seoul as a visitor. Three years is enough that not everything was crystal clear in my memory, but it wasn't so long that I could remember little things like using the subway, getting street food, and more. I'm a little older, Seoul's a little older. I'm a little less enamored by the packed crowds, a little less eager to see stars in their city, and way more excited about street food. I got off my bus at 10:30 p.m. Friday night, and I was ready to chow down on some ddeokkbokki.
Another part of this reunion weekend was meeting up with friends from another important time in my life-- my semester in Madrid. I had classes with Elissa and Boreum, and, of course, us two years ago were different people than us now. It's weird to think I was 18 when all this traveling began, and now I'm 22. I was talking with Elissa, and we noted how we have not spent a fall in the same continent for the last three years! After a morning of making kimchi, she found a Spain-Spanish restaurant (more on that to come) in Seoul, and we all caught up chattering in probably fairly poor Spanish. I think we spent a good few hours there, and the waiters were a bit confused if we were Spanish or American! Later Elissa I wandered through Kongdae too stuffed for dinner (though not for some macaron ice cream). Sunday we ventured out to Hongdae because I was determined to visit You Are Here Cafe, having been a EYK fan since wayyyyy back. It's such a nice space, and if I lived in Seoul it really would be a great place to set up shop and get some work done. We even met Nicola & Hugh from My Korean Husband! I was awkward, as is usual. Over all, Seoul, it's been a wonderful reunion (the first of many!), and shout out to Elissa for being an awesome host! I can't wait to return the favor come spring.

P.S. Yes! This means that both my Travel #12 and part of Travel #5 are crossed off!

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