Home Away from Home

Guest Post by: Maya Lustgarten, a Foster Junior studying Business Administration and a Certificate of International Studies in Business. She is a Foster School Undergraduate who participated on Foster Exchange at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.

Having lived in the greater Seattle area almost all my life, I’ve grown accustomed to always being just a short distance from lakes, rivers, forests, and mountains. Surprisingly, even amid all the hustle and bustle of Seoul, South Korea, this giant city still holds similar landscapes to what I’m used to. Admittedly, the air quality is worse and there’s less room for trees in this concrete jungle, but when I took a trip over to the Han River, I felt like I was home again.

Actually, I visited the Han River once before in September 2017, when I traveled around South Korea for 2 weeks by myself. On the left was in 2017, and since I fell in love with this particular river park, I returned in 2019 as proof of my affection for this place.

The Han River runs through Seoul, so there’s plenty of spots to relax and bike along the river. People here love to have picnics on the river when it’s sunny and warm, but most of them choose to sit in tents on the grass instead of enjoying the open air. It’s definitely an amusing sight as a foreigner, and it feels like the tents kind of defeat the purpose of the phrase “enjoying the view”. Despite these cultural differences, it seems like even residents of this crazily fast-paced city can take a second to appreciate natural beauty. I mean, who wouldn’t appreciate this kind of view?

Rivers at sunset are just the best right? I’m very excited for when it gets warmer here, which should be in late April. Once it does get warmer, there’s night markets along the river where you can buy dinner like roasted pork belly (samgyeobsal) and a glass of a refreshing traditional rice drink called shikhye. Tons of families, friends, students, and couples alike all come to sit along the river en masse on warm summer and spring nights, and I’m looking forward to those kinds of nights soon.

I know it’s going to be hard to leave this place in the end, and that I’ll always be reminded of Seoul views even when I return to Seattle. Even though I’m just getting started on my adventure here for the next few months, I know I’ll leave with the determination to come back many more times, hopefully as part of a job too!