When I was a freshman in college I took the opportunity to tutor an exchange student from South Korea. He was chosen along with five others to study on a scholarship at Mizzou. Looking back now, I would have never thought I would be in Korea four years later to able to see him again, but here I am! Good thing we kept in touch all this time. His name is David Yoon and he lives in Gwanju, which is a huge city just an hour and a half away from where I live. My friend Lisa (who also knew David from Mizzou) and I found some time to go visit, and he and his brother showed us a really great time and toured us all around Gwanju.
Even though it has been so much time, seeing him felt like yesterday. He still even had the same notebook full of all the slang he learned from his friends in America. I’m still shocked that four years later I ended up on the other side of the world in Korea, and now he’s the one teaching me everything.
This is Lisa, David, me and his younger brother at the Bamboo Festival in Damyang.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever trekked through a bamboo forest, but this was my first experience, and it was awesome. All of the trees towered so far above our heads that it seemed like we had all shrunk and were walking through rows of grass.
And bamboo trees are really cool, but they almost seem fake! They feel like plastic when you touch them and you wonder where the branches come from at all because the trunk is so smooth, unlike normal trees. I don’t know… They just baffle me. But they still might be my favorite type of tree, if anyone ever cares to know.
This is a picture of a small waterfall we encountered somewhere along our bamboo hike.
After Damyang we headed back for Gwanju and got to see what David’s university campus was like. Apparently it is known for having the longest hallway in the world, and it made the Guiness Book of World Records. I’m not sure how long it is, but I couldn’t fit all of it in this photo I took, and I will vouch that it seemed to just keep going and going all along the mountainside.
There was also a rose park on the campus. There were probably 50 different types of rose bushes there, and I will be going back to see them all in bloom sometime soon. There was already quite a few when I went, but I imagine that in a week or two it will be even more gorgeous.
Just stopping for a photo op on some of the sculpture at David’s university.
When we got to David’s house after our long day of adventures his parents were there waiting to meet me. They were amazing! They had a huge meal prepared, and it was so delicious. I don’t get that many Korean home-cooked meals since I’m not skilled in that area, so dinner at David’s was an awesome experience.
Breakfast also was extravagant the next day. We woke up to the smell of muffins and toast and ran downstairs to find a buffet of deliciousness. I would deem this the best breakfast I have had since I got here. It felt like home except better because I don’t think my mom could cut the watermelon into perfect squares like that.
And by the way, Cold Stone ice cream can be found in Korea!