Noticing that I would walk into Caribou coffee shop every day to buy a muffin for breakfast, I heard a voice behind the counter ask me my name. He then informed me that he would be going to Berklee College of Music in Boston. It was then that our friendship began.
This past weekend, I had the fortunate opportunity to leave the city life of Seoul behind and travel to the countryside of Namhae, Phladam’s hometown. I had such an amazing time hiking, learning about Korean history from his parents (through Phladam’s translation), experiencing authentic Korean culture, visiting Sangju Beach, and eating all types of Korean food. What I have been eating in Seoul doesn’t compare to what his mother fixed each and every day. And yes, I ate the infamous dog, and believe it or not, it was amazing!
Before heading to Namhae, I was extremely nervous. I knew that his parents didn’t speak any English and Phladam is still learning himself, so I knew that I would have language barriers, but even still I was able to connect with his parents, other relatives, and friends. I tried my best to be as respectful and honest as I could, embracing the differences in culture and moving through each day with zest and vigor, not knowing what each day would bring. At the end of my stay, I received the biggest compliment that I could have ever imagined. His mother said:
Before, we were really concerned about Phladam going to America. We hear and see so much violence. But now that we’ve met you, we feel so much better about sending him.
I couldn’t have asked for anything more and I know that Phladam and I will continue to be friends for a long time. So when he comes to Berklee, I can’t wait for him to take a trip to my hometown so that I can show him around in the same way that he did for me.