I am in Korea for almost 4 months now. Overall I am quite well settled in and as requested from some people back home, I thought it would be fitting to tell you a little about where I live. (I know it is a little overdue, but cut me some slack, I’ve been a busy girl!)
Yeongsan (Sometimes “Youngsan”) is a small, I-can’t-believe-this-is-even-a-town little place in the south of South Korea. It is in Changnyeong County, the Gyeongsangnam-do province. Seriously, when people in Korea ask where I live and I say Yeongsan, they literally ask me “where is that?” Do not confuse it with Yongsan, a district in Seoul!
Now I come from a small town (Knysna). So I know what it is like to live in one. But sjoe, when I first got here I was not enthusiastic about it all! I naturally made comparisons in my head and was like “jarre Zoar”, which is definitely a very farfetched exaggeration mostly because of my very undying aversion of not wanting to be here and inability to “adjust”. Also, I drove through Zoar once for work and thought I’m about to be part of a scene in The Hills Have Eyes. But as time went by and I grew a little fonder of Yeongsan, I started to feel a little more “okay Sedgefield”. Definitely not as beautiful as the Garden Route though. I mean, let’s just be real for a second, I come from a breath-taking place.
This place is SMALL. As I previously said, I struggled to adjust to my new surroundings, so being placed in a dry little place that I don’t think even has a bottle store, or at least none that I have found yet, was hard for me. I quickly realized the grocery stores have alcohol. The heavens are telling.
But Yeongsan quickly grew on me. Knysna has a lot of hills and when I was younger, I remember having to walk everywhere I needed to be (hence my juicy, almost edible calves). So when I got to Yeongsan all the uphills here didn’t shock me. What I didn’t realize at first was, however, that I live on the uphill. Therefore, everywhere I need to be like the one pizza place that I have here (yes one), and that other chicken place called Mom’s Touch, which is Yeongsan’s biggest “thing” (I know the name sounds dumb but the chicken is good), or the grocery stores, are all downhill. This means, when coincidentally there isn’t someone kind like my vice principal at the grocery store offering me a ride home, my bags of groceries and I have to walk the uphill back to my apartment. Of course, the grocery store that I like the most is the one that is furthest away. I’m gonna get so thin.
But as time went by and I became more graceful about accepting where I am and opening myself up to settling in to the place, it turned out it’s not as small as I thought (still small though), but it is actually a really lovely little place. I find that I miss it when I spend too much time elsewhere. My biggest “complaint” I would say is that I live on a hill, but like I said, Knysna girl right here, so heuwels fantasties. And who am I to really complain? I don’t have to sit in traffic for 2 hours to get to work (sorry Cape Town friends). I live a 3-minute walk from school.
What is probably Yeongsan’s most popular attraction is the lake. It’s quite pretty. I haven’t spent much time there but it’s quite a relaxing thing to sit there and clear your head. I mean, it’s the closest thing I’m going to have here to the Knysna Lagoon so I may as well try to see the best in it.
It’s easy for me to travel from where I am so all is not lost. Old Meryl would have hated it here. But new and improved matured Meryl who knows the value of being alone and loves not being surrounded by people all the time, loves it.
I find that a place will be what you make of it. South Korea is NOT an easy place to get used to. I emphasize this point strongly and I make no secret of it. You have to decide for yourself what you will make of where you are placed. You can choose to detest it and be miserable, or you can open yourself up to possibilities, suck it up, and make the absolute best of it! Once you learn that the latter is the better option, your mind will automatically open up to what here is and what it has to offer.
That’s what I’m doing.