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Laidback Gongju

Six years ago, I had the opportunity to join a faculty exchange program between Gongju Communication Arts University and University of San Jose-Recoletos (my former school). I was excited and anxious at the same time since I have no idea what my stay would be in South Korea even for a short period of time. Although I had heard and seen so much about South Korea through KDramas, KPop music and Korean movies at that time, still I knew that it would be totally different if I immerse myself in the culture of Korea. 

I arrived at Gongju City at 3am on August 17, 2010 and it was lonely experience as I realised that I was far away from the Philippines, thousands of miles away from my family. I must admit that I cried upon entering my dorm room prepared by the university for me. Nevertheless, I had to compose myself and face the fact that I am in a new country which has so many things in store for me.  I didn't set any expectations for what I could possibly encounter in my stay in Gongju because I just want to surprise myself in amazement or aw with whatever I would see, hear, feel, touch and taste in that very relaxed and peaceful province.

I have to say that I was a bit bored in the first week of my stay in the dormitory especially that the classes of the university where I taught had not yet started. Gongju reminds me of province of Bohol in the Philippines, where you see few people in the  streets and you are surrounded by lush greenery (that's what usually greets me when I get out of the dormitory). I am used to getting out of our house in Cebu City and I am greeted by so many people going through their daily grind and the exciting sounds of vehicles in the streets.




Gongju City made me feel more homesick. I just don't find this province as exciting and amazing as Seoul. However, this whining about how action-less Gongju should stop. I always believe that a city like Gongju deserves to be studied or explored. I know that this city in the South Chungcheong province just needs to have an up-close acquaintance with me.




        While exploring the streets of Gongju City, I am overwhelmed by the peaceful atmosphere that permeates in the city hub. It was something new to me and I found it relaxing. I never thought that I would immediately favour the laidback character of the city.  Perhaps it was something that I don't experience on a daily basis while getting used to the hustle and bustle of Cebu City---my hometown. Better yet, it was what I needed to give me that break from noise that has not allowed me to be in a tranquil mode.     It was something that I was longing for as it has allowed me to be retrospective while sipping a cup of coffee at a Dunkin Donuts shop during Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. From time to time, I dropped by and crossed the street to sit on one of the benches facing the majestic Geum River. It gave me the chance to do some meditation while enveloped by the cold autumn air.                Before I go back to my dorm, I roam around the inner streets and alleys to look for interesting shops or hot and spicy delicacies that need to be tasted.            Another activity that I take advantage of whenever I'm not lazy enough to do it is walking through the forested parks that is just situated next to Geum River. I enjoyed the melodic sounds that birds were making while fleeting from one tree to another. The fresh air was just revitalising. It was what I needed to give my body that energy boost.                       I could go on talking about my soulful side-trips in Gongju City while reminiscing my unforgettable short stint in that historic city. Perhaps I'll just keep the rest to myself for retrospection and for your to experience yourself.  If I have another chance to go back and spend a year or more living and teaching in Gongju, I would not skip it. If you're quite skeptical about how Gongju City could be a temporary escape from your stressful life, then why don't you give yourself that opportunity to see, feel, taste, touch and hear the laidback city of Gongju in a lot of ways.
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