That’s Merriam-Webster’s definition. My definition? Driving to work in Korea, past the little shops and schoolkids in uniform walking to school, while listening to Sweet Child of Mine on AFN radio.
Add to that the fact that when looking up Gunsan on Google to learn about where I was going, the search results kept showing me Guns and Roses.
And speaking of the schoolkids (there are two schools across from my apartment building, side by side – an elementary and a middle school); today they were all dressed for what apparently is Sports Day. Their outfits were black and orange – I felt like I was at Ritenour back home.
I had never been on a military base before I came here, let alone worked on one. It has great benefits, like the Commissary and the BX, where I can get American items, and the movie theater, which had several showings of the new Avengers movie on opening day.
It’s a lot like a college campus. Everyone has an ID card that they have to show or swipe to use the gym or get food in the cafeteria. There’s a lot of people on bikes and skateboards, and everyone loves going to the post office to check their mailbox. Every day there’s a line to pick up packages and there’s always people carrying boxes with that familiar smile logo outside of the building as they make their way back to their dorm.
In some ways it’s like Pleasantville. Everyone is polite. Students usually call me ma’am, though a few call me Miss Robin. I think the only time I’ve heard raised voices are when people are playing on the sports field, or they’re cheering something.
I have Korean cable TV in my apartment, which has a ton of shopping channels. During my first week in Korea, I watched Train to Busan at the hotel. I learned afterwards that it’s a famous movie. (The actor who plays the father is going to be a new Marvel superhero). There are also reality shows and dramas, just like anywhere else.
But I also watch Netflix and will be getting Hulu to watch The Handmaid’s Tale.
Shopping at the local market is generally cheaper than the BX, especially for fresh produce. My fridge and cabinets are a mixture of both cultures: Hellmann’s mayonnaise is next to the jar of Korean honey-lemon tea. My friends took me to the local farmer’s market so I could get some local honey. Each jar had the photo of the farmer who had collected the honey, so you knew whose bees made the honey. I got one with a photo of a woman farmer. It’s quite good.
It feels like I work in the US, paying for lunch from Taco Bell with dollars and watching the Stanley Cup finals on the TV in the food court. GO BLUES! But I live in Korea, with Korean neighbors, paying for milk at the convenience store across from my apartment building with Won, greeting the owner with Annyeong Haseyo and thanking her with Kamsahamnida.