7 reason to be thankful.

Some of the spread at my church’s Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately none of us thought to take a picture of the delicious dinner from last night.

Happy Thanksgiving! In the middle of the season of Thanksgiving, it’s good for us to all take time to count our blessings and hope that we do not become ungrateful materialists for the next 364 days. In this spirit, I give you the 7 things for which I am most thankful for while living in Seoul (in no particular order).

1. DEW
I went to Dongan English Worship (DEW) after my first full week in town, and that church quickly became my church family and eliminated any need to look for another service. In addition to the weekly service, my participation in the music team and Korean classes reaffirms the notion that being part of a church is more than just listening to someone talk for an hour each week. I also had a Thanksgiving service and dinner with them last Sunday, which included a large variety of American and Korean foods. Someone even brought two turkeys from the air base, which are quite rare in Korea.

2. Coworkers
One reason I chose a private school is so that I’d have foreign co-workers rather than possibly being the one foreigner at a public school. I obviously did not want to flounder in a sea of new experiences without anyone around me to help. My coworkers have made adjusting and the learning curve so much easier. And whether it’s the Thanksgiving dinner (turkey round two) we went to this weekend, barbeque on Tuesdays, or just generally making a mediocre job more enjoyable, it’s great to have them around.

3. English
Speaking English makes living in a foreign country a million times easier. It’s not difficult to survive in Seoul even if you don’t know the language. English is practically the second language here, so most of the important signs are translated, announcements are often given in both languages, and it’s not uncommon to meet Koreans that speak English. It’s much more common than to find people here that speak French, Spanish, or German. And let’s be real. That’s why I’m here. Speaking such an international language grants me the undeserved privilege of being able to get a decent job pretty much anywhere in the world.

4. Costco
Do you know how hard it is to shop for groceries here? It’s like I’m completely starting over in learning how to cook with vegetables I haven’t seen, meats that are more than I can afford, and everything else I’m just guessing at what it is since I can’t read the label. Enter Costco. I tried to hold back, I said I didn’t need it, but when I heard they had frozen vegetables and chicken breasts, and a large supply of cheeses… did you really expect me to say no?

5. Smartphones
I initially planned on getting a cheap flip phone (as you know, the flip is the new brick). Instead I sprung for a smartphone, complete with unlimited data, and it costs me less than $50/m. Though that’s probably 3x what some of my co-workers are paying for their pay-as-you-go flip phones, It’s worth it for the easy access to facebook, email, kakao (free text and calls), and international calling capabilities. In addition to the more obvious apps, I also make tons of use of the guitar tuner, google maps, subway & bus routes, translator, and more.

6. Public Transportation
The transportation system here is wonderful. I can easily get anywhere in the city for less than the equivalent of $1.50. The subway stations and routes are easily navigable, and with google maps and a couple ounces of patience I can find a bus anywhere as well. If I wanted, I would never have to walk more than a city block.

7. Skype and Facebook
Anyone who’s spent time abroad in the past two or three years knows how nice it is to see a familiar face on skype, and how easy it is to keep in touch with friends on facebook. Even the episode of The Office I’m currently watching tacitly acknowledges that Skype is the new speaker phone when it comes to calling friends. With that said, my skype information is on my “About Me” page. Feel free to call me if you see me on!

Now as I do my best to continue an attitude of gratefulness, it’s time to dust off my Christmas music, put some fake paper snowflakes on my wall (seems like a lot of work, actually), and get ready for an even bigger reason to be thankful. I hope you all find many more reasons to be thankful during the Holiday Season!