If traveling creates an environment where we don't eat as well, exercise, or sleep as well and each day brings new trials, then I've been traveling since the plane landed. The source of being able to have this adventure has been employment so if the experience here in South Korea were to be completely determined by said employment, then maybe it is best to just keep my mouth shut on that topic and follow Thumper's advice. Of course there have been moments to meet amazing people and make fantastic new memories. Such moments were usually last minute weekend jaunts or the result of spontaneously getting lost in the big city. Unfortunately however, getting lost in the city alone often leaves me with an inexpressible queasy feeling.
Since my arrival and subsequent population shock, I've been trying to convey this very particular feeling to my new friends and colleagues. While at home or work, I'm not aware of it as much. It is more something that exists when I venture out and worse anytime I have to take public transportation. This feeling is one of isolation and loneliness mixed with the overwhelming fear that nothing matters and that I am simply an insignificant ant in the giant expanse of the universe.
It sounds a little strange to invent a word here but it feels appropriate. I arrived fairly comfortable with the culture already and wasn't surprised by much except the overwhelmingly strong work ethic. The most noticeable thing, however, has been the anxiety that the sheer quantity of people gives me. In addition to that, I am somewhat overwhelmed by all the tall buildings, cars, and not being able to see the skyline or the stars clearly at night. Seoul is always in constant motion. Something is always being built. Someone is always running somewhere. Some poor soul is always peddling American goods at a "discount". That is another thing that deserves mentioning this first go around. South Korea is steeped in custom, history, and culture. Usually, however, when I go into the city, I'm bombarded by the United States of American Apparel or Justin Bieber shirtless hovering above a thousand busy Koreans.
With that said, I have no exciting tales to share this time, simply a comparison that attempts to explain the stark contrast between the childhood I had and the city I frequent now. The photos included are from Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea and St. Marks Refuge, Tallahassee, Florida. Obviously, I didn't grow up at St. Mark's Refuge but these photos, taken during my adult life, best convey the vast open areas and skies I grew accustomed to as a child. Hope you enjoyed the mild distraction from whatever you were doing and can somehow relate to this hard to describe feeling I'm still having.