Though there are things I love about Korea that we don’t have back in Montreal – 24 hour nightlife, cheap cab fare and yujacha (well, harder to come by, anyway) – there are lots of things I miss about my hometown. In no order of importance, here are the top things that come to mind.
It goes without saying that I love and miss my family every day. Being away from my family has undoubtedly been the most difficult part of uprooting myself from Montreal. I’ll especially miss the holidays , when my massive extended family plays Cards Against Humanity (kids and all), down jello shots and eat pot luck food from plastic plates.
I miss my friends so much it hurts. I miss having breakfast with them, dancing with them and sending them screenshots of texts we can overanalyse. I miss laughing with them, hugging them and knowing they’re only a short drive away. My Skype and Facetime sessions are often quite teary.
Running Into People From High School
There’s something oddly comforting about running into people you grew up with, especially if a number of years have gone by. This tends to be a relatively common experience, as most of my graduating class still lives in town. The likelihood of connecting with someone in Korea based on the familiarity of shared experiences from youth is slim to none, and it’s an experience I often cherished back in my hometown.
Showering Without Shower Shoes
Need I say more?
French fries. Gravy. Cheese curds / Daiya vegan cheese substitute.
Not a Sunday Funday goes by without me craving the finest local dish to come straight outta Quebec.
Do me a favour. If you’re in the Montreal area, have a poutine on behalf of those of us who cannot. If you’re visiting Montreal and needs reco’s, check out the vegetarian poutine at Paulo et Suzanne (the gravy is vegan based, too boot!), the breakfast poutine at Faberge, and the Mexican poutine at La Banquise.
Hearing Folks Around me Speak English, French and Franglais
I knew I’d miss the ease of living in a city where English is widely spoken, but I never truly realized how much I’d miss hearing French Quebecois and it’s close relative, Franglais. You can read more about my favourite Quebecois expressions here.
Vegan Food Options
Finding vegan food in Korea is kind of like locating super ambiguous clues on The Amazing Race; frustratingly difficult to find, and highly conducive to dramatic breakdowns. Fortunately, local food writer Gemma Wardle, who runs A Fat’s Girl’s Food Guide to Eating in Korea, recently told me about Sprout, a vegan delivery service in Seoul (check out Gemma’s review of Sprout here).
That said, Sprout’s food delivery service is located two hours from my apartment. I miss the ease of hopping into my car in Montreal where a variety of vegan stores and restaurants were just minutes away from home.
In fact, I miss wellness in general. I miss easily sourcing organic produce, having a varied, vegan meal plan I can easily stick to and an exercise routine.
My Yoga/ Fitness Studio
Speaking of an exercise routine: at Cielo Yoga and Fitness Studios, my workout schedule consisted of ballet classes, hot yoga, aerial yoga and more. Sure, I can sign up for a gym here in Incheon – but I truly miss the complimentary organic tea selection, change areas painted in purple and pink, and phenomenal instructors at my fave new age exercise studio back home.
Manageable Standards of Beauty
This one might seem silly – but I felt a ton more comfortable throwing my hair in a messy ponytail back home. Now, I feel self-conscious if my nail polish happens to be chipped. If you need some context, read about my recent experiences with Korea’s beauty culture here.
My Family Dog
My 12 year old geriatric pooch, Brewsky, suffers more ailments as the years go by. I try not to think about the likelihood that he may not be around when I return home. That said, I take some comfort knowing that he lives in a loving home and has a spoilt life, watching soccer games with Dad, eating apples with my Mom and cuddling with my sister at night.
Dee’s Beauty Salon
I don’t spend too much on beauty treatments because I prefer to do most things on my own – hair, facials, nails, the works. However, the one beauty service I have always believed in entrusting to a professional is eyebrow grooming. Before I discovered Dee’s Beauty Salon, I would drive an hour across town to spend upwards of 15$-20$ on my brows and 10$ on parking. This all changed the day my good friend Skip told me I could get my brows done for 4$ at a place 5 minutes away from my condo. Dee’s is set up like a factory of aesthetic services, with girls taking numbers and rolling in and out of one of the 20 aesthetic service rooms – but each time, my brows turned out perfectly. The aestheticians here also use the threading technique, which is much cheaper and faster than waxing or tweezing.
Here in Korea, I’m totally paranoid about getting my brows done and haven’t managed to find a salon to get them done at yet. My brows have never been angrier at me.
All the Shoes I Left Behind
Yes, I do like to talk big about living a so-called minimalist life, and boast about how I sold off most of my sh!t to become a digital nomad and travel the world.
But let’s be very, very clear. This is NOT how I feel about shoes.
I miss my collection of shoes every fvcking day. I left 95% of my shoes at home, and I regret it. Shoes complete an outfit. Shoes give you character. Shoes can give you pimp swagger when you need it and make you feel like Beyonce. I kinda wish I would have ditched half my clothes to fit more shoes in my luggage.
Authentic Italian Food
One of the things I miss most about living outside Montreal is the lack of nearly-authentic Italian food – specifically the Calabrese variety. I was particularly spoilt back home because my aunt and mom constantly prepared delicious homemade Italian food, and with Montreal being home to one of the largest Italian immigrant communities in the world, quality Italian restaurant fare is never too far.
Reasonably Priced Veggies
Avocados in Montreal: .99 cents each. Avocados in SK: 17,900 won for a pack of 5.
Garlic in Montreal: .99 cents for a pack of five. Garlic in SK: still looking.
Kale in Montreal: as low as 1.99$ for local and organic grown varieties. Kale in South Korea: available online for 4000 won plus shipping.
The list goes on.
Walking Around in the Old Port
I miss walking the magical cobblestone streets of the Port: romantic, jet set, chic and beautiful all at once. But don’t take my word for it. Quit reading and check it out for yourself.
Working on my Sh!t at Local Cafes/ Restaurants
Sure, we’ve got tons of cafes and Starbucks locations here in Incheon – but I’ve yet to find a cute, quirky, artisanal coffee/ snack shops like the ones I loved in Montreal. My fave places to work included Le Petit Trianon, Cafe Souvenir, Lumiere du Mile End , Cafe Santropol and Cagibi.
Shopping for Groceries at Tau on Sundays
When I lived in Montreal, Sunday was my day for meal planning and grocery shopping at Tau, my fave vegan-friendly supermarket. When they upgraded their Laval location to include a Velish juice and smoothie bar, I’d grab an uber healthy green smoothie to go. My Sunday routine has since been replaced with mad blogging sessions, the occasional hangover and instant French vanilla coffee.
Women who give good hair tend to be very particular – hence why they look so good. One friend with truly fabulous hair has a specific hairstylist for blowouts, another for colour and another for bangs.
I’m a little less picky when it comes to haircuts (I really only ever get trims, anyway), but I am VERY particular about my hair colour – and my colourist at Concept Elite in Ste-Dorothee always knows how to give me the EXACT right shade of blonde ombre.
I fear how dyeing my hair in Korea might turn out. I miss you, Cynthia!
Loitering at Boucherie Mimmo
This East End butcher shop is one of my fave places to catch up with my BFF Rocco – who happens to work behind the counter. Back at home, you could sometimes find me chillin here with Rocco at lunch hour, eating an ironic veggie panini in front of the cold cut display.
Last, but certainly not least – I fvcking miss my car. Every. day. I miss the ease of getting from Point A to Point B while listening to Beyonce or travel podcasts in my temperature controlled Nissan Sentra. I also miss NOT having to wait outside for a maniacal bus driver with no regard for traffic laws to race me to work.
Montreal, you beautiful urban goddess. I miss you, boo.
What do you miss when you’re away from home? Share your love or haterade below!