People // Winona Wang: A Weekend in Seoul

People is a new segment by Willow that will feature ordinary people who are living life just as we are - aspiring for meaning, working hard and finding themselves in life...

Today, we meet Winona Wang. A Singaporean living abroad in Seoul, capturing daily life in a different city on Instagram and finding herself just as we all are.

Photos by Winona Wang (@winonawsy)
Words & Edit by Rachel Loh

What kind of city is Seoul to you?
Seoul is a vibrant city which places emphasis on a healthy lifestyle. I feel like it's a big city with an urban and country side that has many places to explore. They have a lot of events or festivals during the different seasons. The park is also filled with tents and crowds during the summer time. Even when it's late at night, you will still be able to see a crowd.  You'll also be able to see a lot of people (mostly elderly) cycling and/or walking during the day or night plus the city has a lot of steep roads and a lot of stairs.

We're curious what a typical weekend is like for you! Tell us more.
A typical weekend for me would be exploring Seoul and taking photographs. I usually plan my weekends a day before and I tend to visit cafes later on in the day to get my coffee fix if I have to work at night. If not, I'd spend the rest of my night catching up on shows and skyping my parents. 

How did it feel at first to live by yourself in a different country?

I was still with friends during the beginning of my trip so the first day by myself was also the day my friends left the country. It was rather depressing. I got lost while finding my own apartment and going up and down the unnecessary steep slopes with my baggage made it even worse for me. 

I asked a few people but I couldn't understand some and got the wrong directions but fortunately enough, I was able to meet a Chinese guy who managed to direct me towards the right direction. When I finally managed to check in and skype my parents for the first time, I teared and thought that I wouldn't be able to do it by myself. I even thought of leaving after the first 2 months or so as the small space I had wasn't making me feel any better but the funny thing was, I felt perfectly fine the very next day.  
What are some differences between Singapore and South Korea?
The traffic. The cars here still drive when the light is red and they don't stop for you even when it's a pedestrian crossing!

There are also many who approach me with hidden motives. In Singapore, they leave you alone when you say "no, thank you" or "I'm busy" but here in Korea, they continue to try persuading you even when you tell them you're a foreigner. Some of them even speak fluent English and will try to get you to join whatever ceremony or group they are in.

But I like how they have many side dishes and that their delivery comes with no charges. You can even eat and/or drink in the subway unlike Singapore, haha.

How has your perception of South Korea changed after living there?
Hmmmm. Initially, I had the perception that South Korea is really advanced (in technology), clean and etc. since it is a first-world country. Not that that has changed but I was quite surprised to see homeless people sleeping under bridges or near the subway stations. There are a few that ask for money too and people also throw rubbish everywhere...

But on a lighter note, there are a lot more people who can speak English or Chinese than I expected. They are also more westernised now too. You can see people wearing the shorter version of hanboks and people that I met here aren't as concerned about formalities or table manners as I used to think. It might be different for everyone. Maybe I was just taken care of because I'm a foreigner.

How have you changed?
If it's about the specifics, I would say I have developed a habit to put on sunscreen and lip balm as well as drinking a lot more coffee than I did in Singapore.

But if it's about how I changed as a person in general...I think rather than changing, I guess I begun to be able to be myself. To who I used to be or to who I am. I'm happier than before and I've learned that I can do many things by myself. Being alone builds my confidence. It makes me believe in myself more and appreciate how things are right now. My interest in photography has also grown during this trip so I have something that I enjoy doing now.

What do you wish foreigners knew about South Korea?
There are many things to see or places that visit besides the common tourist areas like Hongdae, Myeongdong or Dongdaemun. It can be interesting to explore them. 




Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.



WILLOW © Theme by Blog Milk