Cereal with lowfat milk, the newspaper spread out on the kitchen table, quilts, the piano in our basement, my brothers and parents, pasta with cream sauce. The water pressure from the shower. Large bath towels. Toilets that flush paper. Pedestrians having the right-of-way. Jeans that fit my American-sized butt. Blending in. Concerts.
Dryers. Television, independent movies, popcorn, crisp apples with peels, banana bread, broccoli with lemon and butter and salt, newsmagazines, bookstores, personal space, warm lemon bars, picking raspberries, our front porch, wearing flip flops. College friends. Not having my weight/hair/skirt color/skin condition discussed in front of me.
Books. Photo albums. Sheet music and pianos. Big couches in coffee shops. Pine trees and wide green fields and the gray pretty cold of the Oregon coast. My super-big extended family. Too-big hooded sweatshirts. Microwaves. Ovens that work. Cookies with vanilla and oatmeal and generous quantities of chocolate chips. Neighbors I know. Cold corona with lime. Lawns. French fries.
Kimchi jiiggae, Korean bathhouses, funny English signs, the “Hi Liiiiz” my host-sisters say each morning, seeing the ocean outside the car window when we’re driving through town, the spring canola and cherry blossoms. Getting free things for looking foreign. Cheap batting cages. The English teachers at my school.
Juicy and plentiful Korean tangerines and oranges and hallabong, my host dad’s laugh, the little boy in my apartment building who gives me hugs, the super peppy “Hello! Hello Teacher!” from my students. Melon-flavored ice cream bars, pomegranate-flavored candy, mangosteen-flavored gum. Fancy cellphones. Cheap taxis.
Full-fat yogurt, the staff at my gym, free samples at bakeries, Korean fried chicken and beer, seeing my Korean slowly, slowly occasionally improve. Cheap hotels with heated floors, taking windy 5.16 bus to Jeju City, rice with vegetables and oysters and thin crisp bits of seaweed, handmade noodles with crab and shrimp and shellfish, crunchy squid as a snack. Good friends from my program to vent to/ share lesson plans with/ proofread applications/ help translate/ travel and bike and share the year with.