Here is a list of some of the things I'd like to do this summer:
- Explore more of Korea, especially historical sites and traditional neighborhoods. Obviously this will be more difficult now that I'm working full-time, but that's still no excuse to always frequent the same hangouts; as much as I love Hongdae and Apgujeong, but they certainly don't do justice to this country's rich cultural heritage. Perhaps I'll start by resuming my tour of Seoul's "Five Grand Palaces" (which has been on hold since my morning at Gyeonghuigung).
- Interact with/befriend more locals. It sounds a bit strange, I know, especially for a country that is largely homogeneous (somewhere around 97.5% ethnic Korean), but my social life here is overwhelmingly dominated by that remaining 2.5%. Which isn't to say that I don't interact with Korean lawyers at work or chat with the attractive nuna who works in the bakery downstairs, but I spend most of my time here with high school and college friends, along with a diverse group of expats. I truly enjoy hanging out with them, but I also don't want to let my fear of cultural differences or language barriers keep me from getting to know some great people.
- Spend more time with my grandmother. Hands down, one of the most energetic and cheerful (and athletic and funniest and best-dressed) people that I know. Deciding to live with DW and James in Gwanghwamun instead of with her in Yeonhui-dong means that I don't spend as much time with her as I could, but I'm making an effort to at least have dinner with her a couple times every week.
- Shop less. It's not that I shop that much to begin with, but keeping one's wallet closed in Seoul is much easier said than done: sleek, 15-story department stores dominate the retail landscape, and boutiques are a national art form. (And since Korea is home to the world's most technologically advanced fashion police force, one either looks good or stays in.) But, though I'm sure I could use a sartorial upgrade, amassing a large pile of unwanted clothes for donation while cleaning out my closet earlier this summer reminded me that I don't really need to fly home with a suitcase heavier than the one I brought here.
- Read more. Life will only get busier once fall comes around and school starts.
- Blog in foreign languages. I fully realize and apologize for the fact that it's obnoxious. But several language teachers have recommended keeping a journal in a different language as one of the best ways to maintain language proficiency. I'm not about to start a separate, private journal, though, so you, dear readers, may have to do some translate.google.com-ing (or just skip some posts). I'm sure the entries will be riddled with errors—which, by the way, I'd very much appreciate having pointed out to me!—but it seems awfully silly to let years of painstaking language study wither away.
- Write regularly to my brother, since snail mail is the only way to contact him this summer.
- Eat more tteok. I'm convinced that this is the manna God provided for the Israelites.