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2014 writing scholarship

SOUTH KOREA | Monday, 28 April 2014 | Views [911] | Scholarship Entry

It’s not every day you turn 30 and get retrenched in the same month. Unlike my fellow colleagues, I saw the retrenchment as a blessing in disguise. I’ve always wanted to visit the Far East – partly because I had a friend teaching English there and partly because I was inquisitive.
The day I was informed about my retrenchment, I booked my ticket to Incheon. Why dwell in pity at home when you can go across the world, have some fun and return with a set plan on what your next move will be? I was 30, I was single, and my retrenchment package ensured I had the finances to travel. I sent a very simple brief to my friend: I want to celebrate 30 differently and I want to go home a changed person. Besides having free accommodation, you might be asking “why South Korea?” Well, there are things Wikipedia won’t tell you. It won’t tell you that garlic fried chicken is the best thing since sliced bread and that it’ll be all you’ll crave months later. It won’t tell you that sitting on the banks of the Han River at 9pm with a Cass is perfectly normal. And it won’t tell you that Koreans LOVE the Pet Shop Boys! Koreans are light years ahead of us Africans in terms of technology. Being face buried in your phone on the train is perfectly normal. Talking on the train to your mates loudly is frowned upon. Korean cuisine is tasty, rich & spicy. Forget kimchi! Try something you’ve never tried before. Something you will only find at the Noryangjin Fish Market. Try sannakji! It's live octopus cut into small pieces & served immediately, seasoned with sesame oil. It is also served whole but I wasn’t that brave because you can actually choke to death. Seoul doesn’t sleep! With an effective & easy public transport system, clubs, pubs & restaurants remain open & getting home at 6am is perfectly OK. When you see a random person sleeping on the sidewalk, don’t get a fright. That person is just sleeping off the copious amount of soju s/he had the night before. I won’t live in Seoul but I will return for a visit. Old people are treated with respect by the youngsters, couples love holding each other’s hands, expats learn to speak Korean easily and quickly and despite the culture shock, tourists are guaranteed to leave with something. You leave with a mark in your heart, a yearning of wanting to return one day. I returned with photographs, videos, ticket stubs, Wan notes, and memories I wish to share with the entire world! I rocked the RoK and Seoul invigorated my soul!

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