The current time here, back home on the east coast of the U.S., is 2:47am and I am WIDE AWAKE.
It figures — just as my body was finally becoming accustomed to the day-night reversal in Korea, my vacation came to an abrupt end. When I was still planning this trip, J (who has taken 3 trips to Hong Kong in the past couple of years) warned me that I would need at least a week in Korea and another week to fully recover because “We’re old now! Our bodies can’t handle the time difference like we could in our twenties!” And it seems that he is correct.
If I could say one thing about this visit to Korea, it would be that nothing was astonishing. I had half-expected Seoul to be a metropolis of the future with technology mirroring that of the fictional cities of Minority Report and I, Robot. And while in some ways, Korea is spectacularly advanced compared to the U.S., most of the time I felt like I was still back home in the states, perpetually in a Korean restaurant or in certain parts of northern NJ or Queens where many Koreans reside.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I fit in quite well. I had read that Koreans can spot Korean-Americans from a mile away because we tend to stick out like sore thumbs in terms of our appearance and mannerisms. However, this didn’t seem to be the case with me. (Perhaps because I’m so short?) Everyone assumed I was a Korean born and raised in Korea, and was always surprised to discover that I was on a visit from America and that my Korean wasn’t perfect.
And on a more superficial note, I was overjoyed that everyone called me 아가씨 (ahgahssi, which loosely translates to “miss” and is a form of address for young ladies and unmarried women). Not once did I get referred to as an 아줌마/아주머니 (ahjumma/ahjumuhni which is used for older, married women). In fact, most people told me that I hadn’t changed at all, and even my aunts whom I haven’t seen in 13 years said that I looked exactly the same since they saw me last. (And you know how brutally honest older Korean women can be!)
That’s enough ramblings from this jetlagged blogger. I really should try to get some sleep — don’t you hate it when your body is exhausted but your mind is awake?