As much as you want to experience everything and absorb every ounce of your new host country, sometimes you just want to be home. Even if it is just for a weekend.
But the flight from Seoul to Toronto is 14 hours. Spending 28 hours in a plane for less than 20 hours at home isn’t feasible nor smart.
Enter the greatest invention on the planet: the American base.
Ok so you might be thinking: really? How can you betray and turn your back on your fellow Canadians. And to that, I have this to say:
As much as we hate to admit it, Canada is like America’s little brother. Sure when we’re home we don’t think much of each other. But on the other side of the planet? We’re from the same family. We connect on a level that only siblings can. We bond.
I may not be American. But Taco bell and Subway and Starbucks and People magazine and ouchless hair ties and menus in English spell home for me. That’s exactly what the American base in Daegu is like. That and more.
After 4 long months, I had taco bell for the first time. My fav order at taco bell -fries supreme, no beef, no beans, extra cheese and green onions with 4 packs of hot sauce and 4 packs of mild sauce- doesn’t exist in the American Taco Bell. Apparently, fries at Taco Bell is strictly a Canadian thing. That blew my mind. And made a pretty strong case for why Canadia may be the cooler brother. Just sayin ;)
Anyway, I ordered a quesadilla and was just happy to be eating non sweet bread with normal, stringy, yummy cheese.
And then we went shopping. I got so excited when I saw ENGLISH magazines, ENGLISH books, ENGLISH labels. ENGLISH everywhere. On everything. Ok. So I got a little more than excited.
And stocked up on toiletries. Things I didn’t think I’d see for a long time.
Macadamia nut cookies from Subway? And a tall latte sprinkled with a generous layer of cinnamon from Starbucks? Yes, please!
Ok, so Subways and Starbucks are all over Korea. But sitting in the one on base was different. Here’s why: although you’re drinking and eating the same stuff, the atmosphere in a Korean Starbucks is notably different. You are usually the only non-Korean. And while you might be thinking duh, you’re in Korea Einstein, like I said before, it’s just nice to feel like you’re home. Once in a while.
As I was sitting in my American Starbucks in Korea on an American base, I noticed this:
Even the sidewalks and pole things on the base is the same as back home! How awesome is that!?
But perhaps the thing that blew my mind/impressed me the most was the power outlets in my friend’s apartment. They were all North American! With two flat prongs instead of the two rounded prongs found in Korea.
She even had a normal North American washroom where the shower area is separate from the rest of the washroom. And therefore the whole washroom doesn’t get wet every time you shower.
Living in a foreign country with a foreign culture and people… where you’re notably foreigner, is fascinating. No two days are the same and you’re always learning, always excited about something new you just discovered.
But between it all, you miss home. You miss the little things. Like being able to understand menus and labels. The familiar taste of fastfood. Being able to speak English without the oscar worthy acting performance.
And it’s nice to have somewhere you can go where it’s just like home. Away from home.