After a very fulfilling and extremely busy summer full of visiting friends and family, travel, and work (hopefully the first and only summer with work), we are finally getting back to the blog.
As the year progressed at our first hagwon in Songpa-gu, Seoul, Brittany and I both noticed an overwhelming restlessness that permeated our jobs. Despite our well-intentioned and extremely kind administration, classwork and curriculum were tedious, obviously ineffective, and frankly boring. While we loved our neighborhood and experiences, our apartment was…unique. Being fairly unsatisfied with our jobs and our apartments, but still digging Korea, we got new jobs, and with them, a new city and new friends.
Our new home is just outside of Cheongna-dong in Incheon, Korea. We had pretty low expectations for Cheongna, aka “The emerald of the world” (self-proclaimed). Cheongna is a fairly new development on the outskirts of both Seoul and Incheon. On our original ride out on the train, we couldn’t help but feeling we were moving to the Nebraska of Korea, as the sprawling cityscape gave way to farms and older looking small cities.
However, when we finally arrived and explored we found that Cheongna itself is quite awesome. The city is built on land reclaimed from the sea, so literally nothing but sea existed here a decade or so ago. While this may lead to long-term foundational and safety issues as the soft land gives way to erosion, for the time being, the city is extremely well-kept. A 10-minute bike ride from our house gets us to the gigantic Lake Park, and another 10 minutes gets us to the heart of the city itself. It seems that every week, several new stores and restaurants open as the city fills up and continues to develop. Cheongna has a lot of parks, recreational space, biking trails, and a canal with kayaking. All of the amenities are right at the city center, and all of the buildings are brand new.
Our new townhouse is on the campus of Brittany’s new school, just outside of the city, where there is a lot of undeveloped open space. Our apartment is only a couple of years old, and it has such a better energy than our old place. Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors line the entire west side of the apartment, and outside of them we have a little yard, which Roxie the dog thoroughly appreciates. Right next to the campus there is also a park with a fenced in soccer field, so for the first time, Roxie can run off leash to play Frisbee or chase.
The interior has actual hardwood floors (quite a rarity in Korea) and a much better kitchen than we grew accustomed to in Songpa. When we moved in the place was mostly empty, so we were able to really throw our personality into the place, and it definitely feels like our space, which is a feeling we were missing last year.
It’s also quite nice to have other foreigners nearby. We used to travel quite far to meet with friends last year, but all of Cheongna Dalton School’s foreign employees live on campus. We’ve been enjoying spending time with some lovely new friends and have a stronger sense of community here.
The only negatives are that the closest mountain trail is a 30-40 minute bike ride away, and almost every restaurant in Cheongna seems to be a meat house, making our vegetarian options pretty limited when it comes to eating out. Still, we’re only a 30-40 minute subway ride to the hippest parts of the city, so when we really crave good vegetarian fare or foreign food, we can just catch the train out. Overall, Cheongna is a breath of superfly dopesauce 🙂