Solongseeyoutomorrow’s Blog

January 11, 2009

Day 4 in Seoul

Filed under: Uncategorized — solongseeyoutomorrow @ 9:29 pm

My first blog. Wouldn’t even be able to post if Carmen hadn’t started hers first and told me what to do. Thank goodness for millenial kids. In a word, we are lucky: an old friendship has afforded us a beautiful apartment — 4 bedrooms, 3 lofts, nestled in the hills in Seoul’s NW. This  is an old neighborhood  with an old neighborhood feel. A far cry from the cutting edge of Seoul life South of the Han River. Haejoang (our host) left us a childhood friend (who long ago married a Korean settler in Taiwan — from the colonial era) who oversaw this apartment’s recent maekover (it is incredible!) to help us settle in for a couple of days: now we know the ropes: the various garbage collecting, the groceries down the steep (really) hill that stores will deliver, the bus routes. Ch’unhui-ssi has now gone her way to Jeju Island to be with her Mom in her 90s (we plan to visit her) (I’ve  never been to South Korea’s tropical island and its about time) (Her daughter is here learning Korean at Yonsei — her Mom wants her to learn the can/will do spirit of Koreans that she finds lacking in Taiwan’s warmer climate and mindset!).  Meanwhile Haejoang gave Andy a driving lesson (he was great) and she is arranging for English GPS and she has made all sorts of other arrangements too: at 10 this morning we head to the kids’s school neighborhood for MW 10-12 soccer for Carmen and Isaac (and we knock on a little ballet studio door for Simone); the 10 year old boy on  the first floor will knock today at 4:30 to take all 3 kids to the neighborhood hapkido (a taekwondo-like marital art); and Yonmee from the third floor  (a twenty-something school teacher on winter break (winter break is South Korea’s summer break, i.e., long) will knock and get started with Korean lessons for the kids (our “villa”- the word for small apartment buildings — has 7 units; a far cry from the much more typical huge apartment complexes that pretty much ARE the Seoul landscape). So, Haejoang has been busy on our behalf!! The kids have already seen their school ( and met (very briefly) all their teachers who happened to be in a faculty meeting (they are young!) School doesn’t start until March 1 which is why Andy and I are grateful  for all of these other arrangements.  Soon we will be more solo as Haejoang heads to Japan and Nepal (afterwards she will  live with a friend for the duration — incredible right! her generosity). (Andy is free to use her car but driving in Seoul is not for the faint). Other than seeing So Jin (my old friend and former student) and Q-ho (Haejoang’s student  who will be helping  me with my work while I am here) who were kind enough to pick us up at 6 am on Jan 9, I have not begun to make contact with my Korea network. It is SO lovely to come here and not feel the need to power-connect; it has been about 12 years since I lighted into Korea for more than 10 days. With 7 months,  I can take it slow. The only friends we connected with are Isaac’s: 2 little boys and their parents who we met in Evanston when we subletted last summer — they brought toys (to lend — the perfect tonic for Isaac, including han’gul (alphabet) magnets for the fridge) and “kim” (seaweed), Isaac’s trademark food) and they took us to a tofu-specialty shop down the road where Isaac fell asleep under the table (in one of those rooms with the low tables that you snuggle into with the warmed floor). And yesterday we went to Seoul’s premier bookstore (Kyobo) and bought Korea’s Lonely Planet guide (NK is included), Obama’s autobiography (it was sold  out in Urbana’s best bookstore), maps to quench Andy’s desires for detail (although now he is hooked on the “Seoul Metropolitan Bus Map” which does it all, building by building; he’s been at it now for over 2 hours), and a play-do kitchen set for Isaac (he is really missing his things from home). This is an odd genre: no question my parents will want to read every-word, but as for the rest of you, I by no means mean to presume this level of interest. The best editor it seems will be time: i.e., not coming in too often. Let me close on the lovely serendipity that my cousin Kathy spent several years in Seoul several years ago and is able  to get us started on some healthy Korea tourism  — I am delighted this  visit to be a  tourist! The researcher gig is old hat; these are new ropes.



  1. Hi Nancy, I love reading your Blog … every word of it. Your support system seems in place. Your family is together and your adventure begins. Can’t wait for the next installment. Love to Andy and the kids. The learning curve for them will reach the sky. Miss you, love you and sending you love & hugs from California. Jer

    Comment by Jeryl — January 11, 2009 @ 10:20 pm

  2. Got the blog Nancy! Glad you have arrived. Keep the news coming!

    Comment by Bea — January 11, 2009 @ 10:57 pm

  3. Well done, Nancy.

    Is this another example of ethnographic writing?
    A great start!
    Carmen must be a good guide for your blogging.

    Again, welcome to Hong-eun neighborhood!

    one minor correction: There are only 6 units in the complex.


    Comment by haejoang — January 11, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

  4. Oh you’re gone for SEVEN months? And I kept telling myself, I can make it four. Okay, I’ll just absorb that.

    Amazed you’ve done all that since you’re arrived. Aren’t you guys jet-lagged?
    Thanks for sending Carm over the DVD’s right before you guys left. So great to see her and Sig goggle at each in amazement at mutual growth.

    Will be an avid reader of this blog!
    Send skype nick when you have a chance.


    Comment by Katka — January 12, 2009 @ 6:30 am

    • Hi Cathy — Not sure what happens if I reply. So, just testing.n.

      Comment by solongseeyoutomorrow — January 12, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

  5. Wow, it’s amazing to see how fast your family settle down in Seoul!!
    You know I lived for around three years in a neighborhood (yonhee 1 dong) just five or so minutes away by car from where you are now. As long as you have more than one month of winter break, it’s plenty of time to enjoy skiing, hiking, or traveling around nice places in coast areas. But please take a really BIG rest to fully recover jet-lag and enjoy the rest of the break.

    My warm greetings to your family!!

    Jin Heon

    Comment by Jin Heon — January 12, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

  6. Hi Nancy,

    it is good to read your blog.
    I become a little bit emotional when I read your Seoul story,
    since I miss many things from Seoul. 🙂

    I can see that many things have been already set up,
    and your family is settling down well in Seoul.

    I will be a regular comer to your blog.
    looking forward to another story!

    Hee Jung

    Comment by Hee Jung — January 12, 2009 @ 10:12 pm

  7. So glad to hear you had safe travels and are getting settled in. Bravo! Now is the time to fully relax and enjoy your family time together! Thanks for including me on your blog list. This will be fun!
    Warmly, Yvonne

    Comment by yvonne — January 13, 2009 @ 12:54 am

  8. Nancy,
    So intersesting to read your blog.(I didn’t know you already left here)
    You made it finally-you are so cutting edge than me in terms of technology!
    Have a good stay and travel with your kids there.
    expect more miscellaneous writings.

    Comment by kyungsook — January 15, 2009 @ 5:53 am

  9. Hi Nancy,
    Good to learn about your settlement. The speed that your family settle down is amazing, and I have to say that it must be a big relief that kids’ school starts in March.
    Please give your family my best regards.

    Comment by Yoonjeong — January 15, 2009 @ 6:37 am

  10. I have TOTALLY subscribed to your rss feed! Meaning I can know right away when you post. Your network is amazing, though somehow I’m not surprised. I’m betting I read every word your parents do ;-). Thanks to you and Carmen for posting!

    Comment by Frances Jacobson Harris — January 16, 2009 @ 2:07 am

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