The bus pauses (It never truly stops) to let me jump through the door, and then roars on. I scramble out of the crosswalk, onto the pavement. A cart selling street food is right in front of me.
My Korean is abysmal but I manage to stumble through, “Ahnyanghaseyo. Juseyo?” and gesture at the little fried fish cookies. The nice lady smiles, and gestures one. She puts three delicious fish cookies in a bag and I hand her one thousand won ($1).
“Gamsahamnida!” I receive the warm bag properly with both hands, and bow slightly. My very first successful conversation in Korean! I take my prize across the street and climb the stairs up the side of the hill behind work. It’s the first little glimpse of nature I’ve had, since most of my time is spent in high rise buildings, showered with neon light, listening to the roar of traffic in the city. I try to drown it out with my ipod sometimes, but end up looking down to turn it up and realizing it’s on full blast.
The delicious fish cookies are filled with sweet black bean paste. I eat them on my walk before work, marveling at how happy I am in this new home.
I can’t stop smiling.