It’s been seven and half months since I arrived in my new home: Hwamyeong, Busan. When I first learned I was working in Busan, my recruiter showed me on a map where Hwamyeong was. It’s not close to the beach, or the popular areas of Busan, but I felt like it would be a good place, and I was right. I had interviewed for three jobs in Busan: two in Hwamyeong, and one in the Centum City area. I had grown attached to the school I first interviewed for (spoiler: I’m working there now.), didn’t really like the second, and then the third almost got me to change my mind and I would have ended up in Centum rather than Hwamyeong. Though the idea sounds nice, I think I would have spent a lot more money by now and I would have gotten stressed out and lost in the shuffle of the big city area.
When I arrived in Busan, it was super rainy. I was paying more attention to the GPS system of my recruiter’s brother than I was to the world around me. When he pulled up to what I thought was my job, I was excited to see an Innisfree store and an Etude House. I’d later learn that this was where the school I interviewed for that I didn’t like. Up the street, near the Uncles Beer was my new school. I was happy to meet my boss and coworker, Scott, and then they took me to my tiny apartment. Now my apartment is the smallest out of my friends, but my building is the newest and I am probably the only one with a division between my kitchen and living area. I like my apartment. I would like it more with more storage but hey, what can you do?
Now enough about my living space, I want to actually talk about Hwamyeong as a whole. As I’ve said a few times before, when I was looking into working and living in Hwamyeong, there wasn’t a lot of information about it out there. There are quite a few foreigners that live here, and I feel like I see new people every day. Hwamyeong is a busy little area, with lots of beautiful parks, restaurants, and people. We’re situated between the tall mountains and the Nakdong river. It makes for some nice pictures and walks. I like being able to walk down the street and see the peaks of a mountain. Not only do we have everything we need, there’s also a train station. I love being able to take the slow train to Seoul, or transferring and taking a quick train and I only have to walk 5 minutes!
The main area of Hwamyeong is pretty small. There’s about 3 main streets where everything is. Lotte Mart is one of the main places; its like the Walmart of Korea. You can get a lot of things there. You can also get to the Hwamyeong subway stop from there. On the main street with Lotte Mart, there are also several banks, cafes, and clothing shops. The street behind Lotte Mart has a ton of restaurants, my favourite Bakery (Eat Bread) and the best bubble tea place. On the other street, the opposite way, there is a ton of restaurants, and it’s where the most beauty stores are: the Etude House, Skinfood, Innisfree, Nature Republic, Aritaum, and Missha. There’s also a delicious toast place and mandu place. Hwamyeong has basically everything you need, and it’s great because you don’t have to travel too far to get things. I can get to most places in Hwamyeong in under 10 minutes. The Daiso and McDonalds are the furthest away, at about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. There’s also a small street of restaurants (I’ve been to two places!) near my apartment. My apartment is near the library in Hwamyeong, it’s farther from where most people live in Hwamyeong (Center view) but I don’t mind.
I’m pretty pleased with this little area of town. I mean, I still go to places like Seomyeon and Nampo and Gwangan, but I’ve spent quite a few weekends just hanging out in Hwamyeong. I do tend to frequent the same places: the tasty bulgogi bbq place, Bon Gousse for rice burgers, Pizza School, Wicked Snow for Bingsu, Amas Vin for bubble tea, Eat Bread for anything bready I need… A lot of us have tried new places in Hwamyeong, because there really are hundreds of restaurants here. The thing with Korea is, it’s hard to figure out what is just another chain restaurant or what is a completely new/unique place. A lot of places are just chains, even if they don’t seem to be. Not that there is anything wrong with chain stores, I just like to support the little guy once in a while. For example, there’s a really delicious Korean food restaurant right behind my apartment. When I get a craving for bibimbap, I go there over anywhere else. You can get bibimbap basically anywhere in Korea, but this place has the sweetest ladies and it isn’t a chain (as far as I know).
The people in Hwamyeong are pretty interesting. Basically all the foreigners I’ve met that live here are great. When you come to a new country, it’s a little terrifying knowing literally no one. I’ve made some really good friends here, and it’s just nice having a support system, that will binge on cheese sticks with you, or get ice cream too many times in a week with you, or watch a movie they don’t even want to see just so you don’t have to go alone… I’ve been pretty lucky I think. What’s also nice is we usually have plans on the weekend together, so you know you’ll see people. And of course there’s never pressure to do anything; sometimes people want to be alone and that’s fine! But you know if you want to be chatty, there will be at least once person at the CU on Friday night. Or Monster Craft in the winter. The Koreans here are pretty friendly. They’re shy about their English skills, but the ones that approach you are usually nice! (only one or two creepers…) All in all, most Koreans are pretty kind to you when you are to them. I see myself as a guest here, though technically I’m an alien here haha, but I try speaking as much Korean as possible. If you try, they’ll try. At least in my experience.
All in all, life in Hwamyeong is pretty good. It’s far away from most places, but the parks and mountains and wonderful people make it a good place to live. I really like it here, and I’m going to have a really hard time leaving when the time comes…
My next post will be a detailed account of my trips to the dentist. I’ve had two appointments, one more scheduled, and I feel like it could help any future people scared about getting dental work done here.
Until next time!