The story of my unforgettable second home, Daegu
My time living in Daegu has finally come to an end. I have so many mixed feelings. Daegu has become a second home to me and I never expected to come here and fall so in love with the city. I had dreamed of living abroad, however when I was offered a position as an English teacher in Daegu I was a little hesitant in the beginning. From what I read online, people said Daegu was blazing hot in the summertime (they weren’t lying) and that Seoul or Busan would be a much better place to live. Still, I took a chance and ended up in a place that would change me forever. I have been looking back on all my experiences I had living in Daegu and what it taught me about life. I want to share some of my thoughts.
I am a 175cm, African American girl with long braids so I most definitely stood out in Daegu. People would stare at me almost everywhere I went and it made me really uncomfortable when I first moved there, however I soon learned no one was trying to be mean, they were just curious. I would constantly have people come up to me and touch my braids saying “yeppeuda” which means beautiful in Korean and ask questions about my hair. One of my students would rub my brown arms while smiling to see if she could rub some of the color off me. While I wouldn’t tell other foreigners they have to tolerate random people running their hands through their hair and skin, I didn’t mind it personally. I learned to embrace having people want to learn more about me and received them with kindness.
South Korean people are some of the kindest people on the planet. I was a little nervous being a foreigner in a country where most people living there come from the same nationality. Overall the natives treated me so kindly. Walking down the streets, strangers would say hello with big grins on their faces. Sometimes, people would just come to me and start a conservation. A few of these individuals even offered me candy and snacks, and of course I couldn’t refuse that offer! Most people were extremely helpful. I often didn’t even need to directly ask anyone for help if I was lost or needed assistance. If I was standing somewhere looking confused or making a mistake, people would just come over and offer to help me out. Some of these people didn’t even know English but they would still try and assist me. One time when my friend and I went to Otogol Hanok Village which is located in the mountains, we did not have a way of getting back down the mountain. Like heaven sent angels, an older couple told us to get in their car and gave us a ride to the subway station. Most people I meet were extremely patient with me with my limited level of Korean and never made me feel stupid for not being able to communicate with them properly. I will never forget the kindness the locals showed me while I was living in Daegu and I will try to be kind and patient with travelers and people who do not speak English fluently back in America.
Living abroad taught me how to make new friends. I went through a period where I didn’t have any friends and I was extremely sad and lonely. I’m normally shy when it comes to meeting new people, but I had to learn how to overcome this trait to make new friends. Eventually, the effort paid off and I managed to make a circle of friends who helped me navigate through the ups and downs of my new life in Korea. My tip to anyone who is in a similar situation that I was in is to not be afraid to strike up a conversation anywhere. I meet two of my friends just by talking to them while on the subway. It was great to finally meet so many new people, but best of all, I meet one of my new best friends Jimin. She is my travel partner, translator, and ray of sunshine, my life in Daegu would not have been the same without her.
I also picked up a few new hobbies living in Daegu. Since Daegu is surrounded by mountains I started hiking. I’m a New York City girl, so hiking through Times Square was more of my thing than hiking up mountains, but my friend convinced me to hike Apsan Mountain with her and I enjoyed the challenge… even though my legs hurt for days afterwards. I would say that I am still at a beginner’s level when it comes to hiking, but it's something I have come to enjoy. Upon my final journey, I had the courage to hike the tallest mountain in Korea, Mount Halla on Jeju Island!
I also took free cooking classes at the YMCA to learn how to prepare Korean food. I've been impressing all my friends and family with my newfound cooking skills since coming home.
So if anyone would ask me if I think they should move to Korea I would say YES, and if they wanted to move to Daegu I would say, SUPER YES! It has been such an honor serving as Citizen Reporter and I am grateful for all the opportunities this role has given me. Thank you Daegu for showing me an absolutely wonderful time.