Today, on my way to school I started thinking about when I first came to Korea in 1990.

I have been in Daejeon for nine months now and it’s never really felt comfortable for me living here in terms of what I have experienced in all the years that I have lived and worked in Korea. I feel as though I have been living out of my suitcase the past nine months waiting for the next chapter of my life in Korea to begin. And this “waiting” has also given me a lot of time, perhaps too much time, to think about a lot of things, specifically some of those very special Korean memories near and dear to my heart.

Like the time I was taking the subway one morning from Shinchon to Kangnam subway station and my subway pass didn’t work. It was my first week in Korea and I was getting used to taking the subway into work every morning. But on that morning in December 1990, my subway pass, which I had purchased for 10,000 Won wouldn’t work. Every time I tried to insert my ticket into the turnstile it was rejected with a loud ringing sound. Instead of exchanging my ticket, I kept on trying to insert it into the turnstile to no avail.

This went on for a few minutes when this young Korean woman, sensing my frustration when my pass would not work, bought me another subway ticket. She must have been in a hurry that morning because she didn’t have time to help me sort out the problems I was having with my pass, but she was kind enough to buy me a ticket to help me get on my way. Not much language was spoken, other than me thanking her in Korean for helping out and her and I both smiling as she and I went on our separate ways that morning.