1. Everyone holds hands here. It's just the way it's done. Moms and daughters. Friends. Guys hold guys' hands. Girls hold girls' hands. It means nothing except "hey, we are friends. Or family. And we like being together." I find it sweet and almost did a cartwheel when a certain 13 year old of mine (no names here) held my hand throughout the market the other day. That would have never happened in America, folks. I loved it! And do you know what I loved even more? The Koreans that I was telling this to were appalled that it isn't done in America. They were shocked.
2. Sijangs for the win. I don't know what I will do when I can't walk through a sijang for all of my veggies, cute socks a plenty and, of course, cheap street food. Yes, we have farmers markets in America. In Portland, they're expensive! Here, they have the best prices around AND they will sometimes throw in an extra apple or what not. And going back to having to drive into Beaverton for my Korean veggies will be sad. And inconvenient. And more expensive. Being a 5 minute walk from just about anything we need is pretty sweet.
3. Tiny apartments. I kind of love Halmoni's tiny apartment. I know they wouldn't work back home unless we took to sleeping on the floor but I do enjoy it. Did you know that most people that have modernized and have beds don't actually have a soft mattress? It's basically sleeping on the floor but higher. I thought we might eat each other or something being so squished for 2 months but it's been quite nice. And just having less has been a little freeing. Of course, I saw this as we are packing and I am bringing home half of Korea in our bags. I do want to do some serious purging when we get home and maybe move to a smaller house. Or to Korea.
4. Safer public transportation. My girls are much more free to roam about and I really think it's because of the Halmoni's. Halmoni's don't sit at home much here. They walk to the senior center. They walk to their friends. They walk to the sijang and to the exercise park. With them out and about all day long, there are always tough Halmoni's around to smack anyone who messes with your kids. Because of this, nobody messes with your kids. They know they're being watched.
5. Jjimjilbangs. Need I say more? How have I made it 38 years without you??
6. Korean food, on the cheap. You name it, we will miss it. (Minus the silk work larvae) It is about as expensive as McDonald's dollar menu and mostly healthy. I've gained a taste for sweet red bean, kimbap and sweet potatoes on this trip. I've tried octopus and still am not a huge fan, but I like the majority of Korean food. (Ok, they live on a peninsula and love their seafood, so I guess I probably like 50% when you consider that.)
7. Branches. I love branches. In America, our church congregation has about 400 people and is called a ward. Smaller congregations are called branches and our little Gyeongsan branch has about 25 people on any given Sunday. (With the Kangs and the two sets of missionaries.) I love the intimacy of a small group and the girls especially love having the sisters around. Oh. Today I was invited to bear my testimony in sacrament since it was our last Sunday (After church started!) A sweet returned missionary translated for me and it was kind of hard. I get distracted pretty easily and stopping after each sentence for a translation was a bit of a struggle. What was I saying again? We love the branch here in all their smallness, even if it does insure that you're teaching a lesson each week and probably giving a talk or saying a prayer on top of that.
Ok, I could keep on going all night long. The point is that we're going to miss this place. The good news? I kept trying to use an extra box and Halmoni made me use her luggage, telling me to bring it back next year when we come again. I finally gave in which means....I need to start saving for next year!