Thursday, July 4, 2013

Foreign on the Fourth

Today marks the third time that I have been in active use of my passport on the Fourth of July.  I've celebrated Independence Day in Kenya (2002), Germany (2011), and now South Korea (2013).  On one hand each of these experiences have reminded me of the value of the freedoms and opportunities which I have as an American and on the other hand has made me truly realize that there is an amazing human spirit and overall interconnectedness among people which transcends nationalism and politically defined borders.  So to my family and friends who will be celebrating today..."Happy Fourth of July!!"

Overnight we stopped in the city of Daegu, South Korea's third largest city (behind Seoul and Busan).  While there were no defined study tour objectives, we did have time last night so as to explore.  One of the things that we have noticed about Korean cities is that there are almost no single-family detached houses.  All over the place, including the suburbs and even rural areas, you see high rise condominium buildings.  We've been told that the ideal for a Korean family is to own a condo.  We've joked amongst each other about these condo complexes all looking the same and parallels have been made to our suburban "Levittown" areas.  Instead of little boxes on the hillside all made out of tickey-tackey like we see, you have high rise buildings on the outskirts all made out of tickey-tackey.  So even without an official agenda, other than a hotel stay, in Daegu we have reflected upon Korean urban life.

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