One of the things that has had a huge impact on me while studying abroad is the how much of South Korean culture revolves around food. The dishes are completely unique and carefully made. South Koreans are generally healthier than Americans and they pride themselves on the fact that the majority of their dishes are heath conscious. They rely more on vegetables as the basis for most of their dishes rather than meat and they try not to fry ingredients.
While this experience has been great, South Koreans do have a lot of interesting dishes that can be quite confusing for someone who has never experienced it before. Traditional dishes like Sundae, which is a kind of sausage that contains clotted pig’s blood in rice, is extremely popular and often eaten at a street cart or a market. Another dish that I resisted trying for a long time is live octopus and raw beef mixed with egg. This dish is seen as a special treat because it is a little expensive and because of the raw materials, it is not too filling.
When I went to Kwangjang market in South Korea, which is an outside marketplace that has rows of street cart style places to eat and buy traditional Korean ingredients such as kimchi; my Korean friend took me here to eat Korean food in a more traditional atmosphere. I felt like I had found the heart of Korean culture when I entered the marketplace, it was so busy, but also felt so authentic because it was away from the normalized Korean society that actually feels more western than anything else. My friend ordered us a series of dishes that included a Korean pancake, tteok-bokki, and sundae. After we had finished with the appetizer dishes, she took me to finally try live octopus, the experience was unique to say the least and I honestly liked the dish a lot, but the octopus was definitely moving on the plate and it was a struggle to get over initially. Even though some of the dishes, I was hesitant to try at first, I am glad that I am adventurous to try new things because I didn’t dislike any of the things that I tried.
Emily Noe is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying History. Emily is spending the semester abroad with Dongguk University in Seoul, South Korea. Emily is working towards achieving her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate in history.
Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.