Blog: Pablo Morales

Meeting Old Friends

This is part of a three or four part blog series. These posts will be interactive on my website ( . I am in the process of rebuilding my website so stay tuned.

We're here in Korea learning about the culture and language. We meet so many people in our time here. Let's step back a bit and look at the people we have met in our past. I really enjoy the friendships I have made over the years. Some friends I have made visit the United States for a short period of time and return home. Some friends who are from back home in the United States have also left the country to do other things.

I have met up with two of my friends who I haven’t seen in a few years. It is super great to see them. It is a time where we share culture, memories and reaffirming our friendships.

My Korean Friend - Hyungseok Choi (Derick) [gallery derrick.png name zoom 150]

This is my friend Hyungseok. He was an exchange student when I was attending the University of Nebraska at Kearney. I met him through a friend of mine and we started to all hangout.He is such a cool guy. It was a sad day when he returned to his home in South Korea. I was worried I wouldn’t see him again due to the distance and not knowing when I’d go to South Korea. I told him about this trip to South Korea when I initially was selected. We were both excited to see each other. The pandemic kept putting those plans on hold for a few years. Eventually, I’d make it to Korea and tell him I arrived. It was so great to see him. I learned so much from Hyungseok. He taught me so much about Korean Culture, Korean Cuisine,perspectives on life and more. It is great that I can have a friend in a country I have never been to and who understands the complexities.

My American Friend - Emily Hemmer [gallery emily.png name zoom 150]

Me and Emily both went to the University of Nebraska at Kearney. We both studied abroad in Europe at the same time. She is currently teaching English in South Korea. She has always been someone who is passionate about other cultures and not afraid to try new things. It’s been great seeing her in South Korea. I really appreciate her giving me insight on teaching in Korea and living in Korea. I enjoyed her talking about culture and the exchange of ideas we’ve had. She's been telling me about all the concerts and events she has attended. I’m so jealous! She recently went to a K-Pop concert.

Overall, keeping friendships is important to grow as a person but also keep you culturally understanding of the world.

The Metro Experience with a Jingle

The Metro Experience with a Jingle This is part of a three or four part blog series. These posts will be interactive on my website ( . I am in the process of rebuilding my website so stayed tuned.

My name is Pablo Morales. I used to teach within Omaha Public Schools but now I teach in Sacramento, CA. I still teach French & Spanish to middle schoolers.

I have always been a fan of public transportation! Within the United States, commuting to work seems painfully dreadful. We are a nation dominated by cars and bad policies. Our public transportation infrastructure is not good for a very “developed” country. Our roads are suffering, and everything else in-between isn’t pleasant either. This isn't the case in South Korea. I'm only a week or so in since arriving in South Korea. I am absolutely M-I-N-D blown on what I am seeing and hearing.. My brain can't handle this!

Commuting in Seoul, Korea is not about trying to catch your bus or train, you are there for the experience of being in a station. You're probably wondering, "Pablo, Isn't the topic over public transportation….you know boring?" I say, "Absolutely Not!" I've been to multiple cities who don't even come close to the Korean experience of public transportation. My favorite part about using the Seoul Metro System is that you get to hear all the cute and relaxing rings and jingles offered at all metro stations and some bus stations.

Commuting is hard on the body when traveling far. It's hot and humid out, or you're just simply tired. Those little jingles give you a glimmer of hope that you are getting closer to your final destination. You stay motivated instead of only hearing the usual "This train is departing." or departing. It brightens the mood. My two favorite jingles or sounds are:

The Trumpet

A steelpan Link

Do you see what I mean? It definitely made me smile. Everyone seems so happy. I knew traveling within Seoul was going to be fun but who knew these little jingles are what make the experience of the metro in Seoul.

Here is a handpicked few of my favorite jingles. Not all are in circulation at the moment.



The Many Hats of the Korean Convenience Stores

My Experience

This is part of a three or four part blog series. These posts will be interactive on my website ( . I am in the process of rebuilding my website so stay tuned. Image without description Here I am in South Korea getting a snack at a convenience store. Everytime I go to one, I reflect on convenience stores back in the United States. Convenience stores in the United States are usually gas stations at the same time. Living in California you see convenience stores as standalone locations more often. Convenience stores back home get a bad wrap because they sell not so healthy food or are simply over priced. It's not so much in Korea. Yes, there are things that are overpriced but not as bad as you would see in the United States. Korean Convenience Stores are a whole different experience..


Common convenience stores are GS25, Nice to CU and 7/11. They are all over the place. It's hard not to walk from one corner of a block to another corner of the same block without passing a convenience store. This is pretty consistent in most of Korea. The cities of Seoul and Chuncheon are good examples. Two or three years since the pandemic, many did stay open pretty late or open 24 hours. They are just there whenever you need something. You can buy a snack, a beer (or many), toiletries and more! I've even found socks after my shoes got soaked in the rain. Prices are not overly expensive taking in consideration that the exchange rate between USD and WON are in the favor of the American consumer such as myself. [gallery friends.png name zoom 25%]

The experience at every convenience store is different. You never know what you'll find. I'm not sure how it is decided on what is carried in each store. I do love the element of surprise.

Korean Convenience Stores will fill the void in many aspects of life. They are considered important in Korean Culture and Socialization. You'll often find tables inside and outside of the store. I find it hard to find a normal bar establishment. Even if I did find a bar, it could be expensive or hard to get into. Convenience Stores are a meeting point to socialize especially if there is seating available at the location you visit. I really enjoy getting a beer or a few with friends and just talk about our day, our hopes & desires, and just having tipy conversations. I've had some really deep moments here with others. One of my favorite moments was finding a convenience store in a large park and making my ramen right then and there!

What really shocked me was the Seoul WorldCup Stadium when I went to a soccer match. There I found a GS25 with prices similar to one you find on a random street. (Click to zoom in!) [gallery convenience-stores/beer/ name zoom 150]

Overall, I'm happy with convenience stores here! I sure will miss them!

I will share this information in a lesson in the near future with others.

Here are my favorite items I get from the convenience store:

  • Small pack of coffee
  • A cup of ice - use it for any drink you need to make cold (or colder.)
  • Gimbap
  • Beer
  • Ram
  • Snacks such as fried


What is nice about convenience stores is being able to cook instant ramen in-store seconds right after you buy it. (Click to zoom in!) [gallery convenience-stores/ramen/ name zoom 150]


There are so many options. Here are a few! (Click to zoom in!) [gallery convenience-stores/snacks/ name zoom 150]