A little melancholy, I arrived at the subway station in suspense of the evening’s festivities. I had worked all day, and now it was time to walk, talk, and experience Christmas in South Korea. It would be my first Christmas in Korea away from all things familiar. As I exited the subway station I was greeted with the sound of Christmas music dancing in the air and huge Christmas trees with dangling lights that glimmered festively throughout the area.
To my amazement things in Seoul were beginning to look a lot like Christmas and put me in the mindset of New York City, but not so much. Swirling around from the subway station steps, I felt like I was in a movie, I heard the universal sound of laughter as bells were ringing and families were ice skating in a rink smack dab in the middle of the city. It wasn't far from the nostalgic Christmas I had grown to know as American.
As I stood awaiting my friend Nicole, I tried to take it all in, but I was a little taken aback. Even the horse drawn carriages were decorated in lights and Christmas ornaments. There was an excitement that was dancing in me, as home wasn't so distant anymore. Of course there is never anything the same as home, but in that moment, it was surely the next best thing.
Nicole finally arrived and together we allowed the sounds of Christmas to carry us away in delight. After catching up on life in Korea we continue to walk and talk our way to the skating rink were families were putting their small children in tiny little ice skating boots. Little ones were flopping all over as they awkwardly slide across the ice like a rocking chair. It was very amusing as we laughed, took pictures, and then began walking again. It was Nicole’s second Christmas in Korea, but for me, I was taking it all in like a child in a candy store with way too many options to preference only one.
My eyes were dancing in awe. This was Korea, right? The sometimes awkward and splendor scent of kimchi that lingered in the air had been replaced with the happiness of all things Christmas. As we admired some of the draping’s in the department store windows, I almost had forgotten that I was in Korea until I was bumped by a bunch of space intruding Korean teens. Back in reality, we decided to flee from the cold and get a bite to eat.
In grand Korean style we found a coffee house/restaurant that served Italian food and gelatos. Even there, it had begun to look and sound like Christmas as festive music played in the background and all the pastries marveled in red and green icing. Snuggled in our seats we were two African America women who had sailed away from the shores of American life in search of all things new and exciting. However, that evening for the first time in a long time, I missed being at home in America.
We laughed and talked about our likes and dislikes just as we had done on any other occasion, but this time it was a little different. It was almost Christmas and as we enjoyed a little Italian food, a glass of wine, and Christmas in Korea, I remembered that home is the place where your heart knows content. I was at home in Korea with a friend who I now call family.
It was Christmas in Korea and even though I was a way from most things familiar, I was getting to know content.
Cha Jones lived in South Korea for little over three years, but is back in the United States where she is an international speaker, storyteller and the founder and CEO of Expat Women of Color. Cha is also the author of Every Girl Needs her Pearls and The New Urban International Migration. For more informaiton on Cha you can visit her at www.chajones.com or www.expatwomenofcolor.com
©Cha Jones, The Nomadic Chick
©Cha Jones, The Nomadic Chick