We are almost one month into the new semester. How are things going for you? Are they good? Are you tired? In my case, I am suffering from having to do countless assignments and quizzes, as well as studying for midterm exams and participating in several club activities. So I have been stressed and I am feeling a little annoyed these days.
I think most of you can sympathize with me. If we are continually stressed, it is very harmful for our mental health. Therefore, through trips and new experiences, we can take a break to release our stress. Of course, during the semester, it is very difficult to take a trip or experience something new. However, you can take a trip to central Seoul. When we experience foreign cultures, our stress is reduced. So let us take a trip downtown!
My trip started in Myeong-dong. Have you heard about ‘Myeong-dong Chinatown’? When you hear the term ‘Chinatown,’ you probably first think of ‘Incheon Chinatown.’ However, there is also a Chinatown in Myeong-dong. Over a hundred years ago, some Chinese from overseas moved to Korea and settled in Myeong-dong. Soon after, they established Hansung elementary school and formed a T-shaped street with the elementary school as the center.
Since then, it has been called ‘Myeong-dong Chinatown.’ You can browse around Chinese goods stores, confectionery stores, bookstores, general stores, exchange booths and you can enjoy authentic dishes at several Chinese restaurants. Moreover, you can take a picture wearing traditional Chinese clothes and experience Chinese culture in downtown Seoul.
After a while, I went to ‘A-land.’ A-land is short for ‘A Nature Take a Land.’ This place features European vintage shops. Accordingly, you can browse through various clothes, shoes, interior accessories, and stationery items on every floor. Therefore you can easily discover many fashionistas. But be careful! You might buy something on impulse before you realize it. If you usually relieve your stress by shopping, I strongly recommend this place.
From there I went to the ‘Beautiful Tea Museum.’ Actually you may feel that the place is rather pretentious because of its name. However, once you visit this place, your mind will be changed completely. Because you can smell several flower scents and participate in a tea ceremony. There are over 200 kinds of tea for you to choose from. If you are not sure about what kind of tea you want to try, do not worry and just ask the tea master. The master will introduce you to a special tea just for you! Furthermore you can see numerous paintings and tea utensils. So take a rest in quiet surroundings. Also if you want to look at more art work, you can go to ‘Insa Art Center.’ It is near the ‘Beautiful Tea Museum’ and it is free.
After enjoying the various tea aromas, I made my way to ‘Byeolgung-gil’, near exit one of Anguk Station (Line 3). There are many chairs in the street and many traditional Korean cafes loaded with character. You can walk along the beautiful streets and see former President Yoon Bo-sun’s birthplace. However, it is closed to the public so do not get frustrated by it. Opposite of it, there is ‘Soheodang.’ ‘Soheodang’ means ‘Empty your mind and conversation with a smile.’ And it’s open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Therefore you can ease your mind and enjoy ‘Byeolgung-gil.’
Finally I went to Unhyeon Palace. It is near exit four of Anguk Station. Unhyeon Palace holds several festivals every month. So you can see and experience Korean traditional court culture. And Unhyeon PalacAll Photos Credited by Yang Chan-sike is next to the Japanese Embassy. Therefore, if you are interested in Japanese music or movies, you can enjoy these things for free. The Japanese Embassy also holds several exhibitions and performances. You can easily experience Korean and Japanese culture in one place.
Like me, you also can take a trip to downtown Seoul and easily experience foreign culture. If you get seriously stressed during the semester, you should take a trip like I did. I also suggest Gangnam’s ‘Garosu avenues,’ Gwanghwamun, and Daehak-ro. Carpe Diem! If you cannot avoid it, you might as well try and enjoy it! Of course, several assignments and exams will bother you. However, if you overcome these troubles, you will absolutely feel better! I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Good luck!