From Nijmegen to Seoul
Ever since I was young, I’ve been fascinated by big cities. Coming from Nijmegen, a university town with a population of only 170.000, I always dreamed about living in a huge metropolis. But now I live in Seoul, it actually feels quite intimidating from time to time. The scale of everything is just unbelievable: the buildings, the subway system, the amount of people, it’s really mind-blowing. But what surprised me more, are the small worlds within the big city. Everyday, I can see the same people, standing at the same spot: the traffic controller in front of the primary school, the girl working at the convenience store, the late-night street vendor who sells snacks to drunk students and salary men. They are the constant factor in my busy university neighborhood where everyone is constantly moving from A to B. To see these people day-in-day-out, and to notice them recognizing me makes the city feel less anonymous. But moreover, it made me realize that Seoul is like an onion: each time you peal the skin off, another layer appears. – I didn’t not come up with this comparison, but I’ve often heard Koreans use this expression to say that there is more on the surface than meets the eye. – and this absolutely applies to Seoul. If you pay attention, you can see the tiny patterns in the bigger whole, get to know the individuals and discover hidden places.
I’ve been living in Seoul since February, but I kept on feeling the need to write down my thoughts on living in South Korea, both to share my experiences with you guys, and to force myself to take some distance from the situations I encounter and put them in perspective. Also, I will use this blog to post my academic essays on Korean society, culture and history. But for now, I will leave it at this short introduction and just post some pics of my life here! In case you have any questions or requests, feel free to leave a comment. Cheers – Ifang