Thursday, October 27, 2011

Every Country Needs an Ameri-town

I've been to Korea-town in both Los Angeles and New York, but I never thought Korea would have it's own Ameri-town.   Every country needs an Ameri-town and Itaewon is Korea's version.

From the moment I stepped out of the subway, I was surrounded by all things American:  fast food chains and retail stores line the strip from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, to Dunkin' Donuts, Coldstone Creamery, Subway, Quiznos, Outback Steakhouse, Nike, Reebok, of course a McDonald’s and my ultimate favorite; Aldo.  Starbucks was, as Starbucks typically is, strategically placed at both ends of the strip.   Most signs and logos were in English, but within this mass of American advertising, there were also little unique, Korean shops, boutiques and restaurants.

Non-Koreans were mixed within the crowds and English was overheard among the busy buzz of the neighborhood.  I felt oddly at home and out of place at the same time.  Interestingly enough, Braden asked, 'When are we going home, Mom?’  As if he too felt like a foreigner in this non-foreign world.

How quickly we adapt to our environment and notice even the slightest differences.  In Nowon-gu, our neighborhood, I expect to be the minority and I almost don't notice it anymore.  I know, that sounds so ridiculous after only living here for a little over a week, but today, when I noticed Americans, it caught me off guard.  As if I had, for a split second, forgotten where I was.

Braden and I will definitely come back to Itaewon; both for the familiarity and the ease of navigation.  It's busier, cleaner and more metropolitan than our neighborhood, nestled within the locals.  There's a greater mix of cultures, language and diversity and this, I want for Braden.  It’s nice to know, way out here in the mix of things in Seoul, that we can still find a little slice of America, a little bit of home.

The Seoul Metro Subway has 328 stations.  That means 328 places to visit, 328 places to explore, 328 places to get to before we move on...

We better keep riding. 


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