First 24 hours in Seoul

All views and information presented herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.




After a very long -20 hour-journey via Dallas, I arrived in Seoul on September 1st. The first taste of my Korean experience was lunch served on the plane – bee bim bop, a rice dish with egg, vegetables and beef. Though it did not taste as good as bee bim bop made at home or restaurants, it already put me into the Korean frame of mind.

My arrival at the airport was memorable and loving. Two of my students, who have just moved back ,were waiting for me with open arms and hearts and the biggest smiles. I am so lucky to have them here to guide me and teach me. They instantly made Korea feel like a place I already know.

We drove to my new home – a tiny studio apartment in Gwangjin-gu, an area of Seoul that is a mix of old and new. Konkuk University, only two blocks away, fills the streets with students, noise and life.

Early in the morning -courtesy of the worst jet lag- I took my first walk around the neighborhood. Small detached homes with tiny spaces between them, high rises towering over little houses, narrow streets, long wide avenues, thick telephone wires twisted like garlands in the sky, street vendors, modern supermarkets, small mom and pop shops, fancy shopping centers, and food stalls giving the air an array of smells as you walk by each one serving steamy noodles, fried vegetables, round and crescent dumplings, fish and seafood, rice in different guises and every other local food. Everything is in sharp contrast, busy and lively. It feels like something is always happening, nothing stands still as you make your own space in this crowded city.

My minute home has an extraordinary expansive view of the mountains and of a tiny sliver of the Han River. I can see the beginning of a new day, the sun rising in the afternoon and lights dotting the skyline in the middle of the night.

It is unbelievable that I am here. My first 24 hours in Seoul have been exciting and filled with promise. What will this adventure bring?




18 thoughts on “First 24 hours in Seoul

  1. The smiles on all your faces are just fabulous!!! How special and exciting for the boys and their families, and you! We’re all looking forward to sharing your journey. Thanks for taking us along with you on your visit!


  2. Really excited to learn and think about my country diffrently from your intelligent and insightful view. Also, I really feel honored to be a part of your adventure!


  3. How wonderful to be greeted by old friends, Monica! I can visualize your neighborhood by your description. Thank you for taking me to Korea, too!


  4. That picture of those two fabulous boys meeting you at the airport brought a huge smile to my face. Please tell them I say hello if you see them again! Have fun!


  5. That is so sweet that you were treated by your former students. Love seeing you smile with them. Enjoy every moment. Can’t wait to read what’s next on your adventure πŸ’œ


  6. Hi Monica, we will be following you on your journey through Korea! Brings back memories for me. Enjoy each day πŸ™‚ ps. Please post more food pics lol


  7. I am delighted that J.Y. and his family met you at the airport. What great smiles in your picture. I am excited to take this journey with you through your blog. Be safe, be well, and most of all enjoy every moment of this wonderful opportunity!


  8. Monica,
    Glad to know about your arrival. You are lucky to have that view. Gwangjin-gu, indeed, is an excellent choice to experience old and new aspects of Seoul. Is your house a walking distance to Children’s Grand Park? It is a great place to walk around and think. Look forward to your next posting!


  9. Hi Monica. It’s Keumjae from WPU. I look forward to reading your blog. What a view you have! (Tiny space with an expansive view πŸ™‚ The mix of the ultra-modern and the disorganized old charms is the character of Seoul, I think. Have a great time!


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