culture

9 Ways I Felt At Home In South Korea

During a recent trip to Seoul, South Korea, I was astonished by how much Koreans love Mexican culture. I must admit that I was a little bit nervous about going to Seoul. With more than 24 million people living there, Seoul is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Would I fit in, or would I have a big “tourist” stamp on my forehead? I didn’t speak the language and never learned to use chopsticks (don’t judge!). But when I heard that one of the most highly rated restaurants in the city was a taco place, I knew I would love it there.

For starters, if you Google “best place to eat in Seoul,” Vatos is high on the list.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

If the name didn’t give it away, it’s a Mexican restaurant. I had fish tacos and carne asada fries and they were so good – and I should know, I’m from Cali. Their classic margarita was also legit.

So how much do Koreans love Mexican food? Check it out — these eateries are everywhere!

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

This is something like the El Pollo Loco of Seoul. You can’t go wrong with Mexican chicken.

And these taco joints are also sprinkled all throughout Seoul.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I spotted them everywhere. It was hard to eat local Korean food when so many awesome Mexican restaurants were around!

They also have incredible street food. This is a quesadilla/empanada with an egg.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

Lettuce, pork, cheese, and cream. It’s insanely good.

I didn’t see any eloteros, but I found these packaged elotes.

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CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I found these treats at a convenient store. They’re perfectly packaged, too.

Churros are also a big thing in Seoul.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

They have a huge variety of sizes, different shapes and chocolate dips too!

Not only are Koreans into Mexican food, they also appreciate Mexican-American pop culture. If this Speedy Gonzalez doesn’t prove that, I don’t know what will.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

Koreans are famously known to be fashion trendsetters, and I saw this jacket a cute boutique in the Gangnam District. If you’re not familiar with this uber-cool area, perhaps this pop hit song will make you want to visit.

And I almost died when I caught “La Bamba” on TV.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

This was a great way to learn a few words in Korean.

They have really great open markets, known to us as swap meets or mercados.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

There are three major open markets in Seoul, which are Namdaemun market, Gwangjang market, and Garak Market. With tons of food, clothing, and products, these swap meets are a great way to get a real taste of local culture. Each one is very different but they all have one thing in common: you can get anything you could ever want at a very good price.

Thanks, Seoul, for making me feel at home. It’s like I never left L.A.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

Visiting Seoul made me realize that I shouldn’t be intimidated about experiencing new cultures because surprisingly enough, our commonalities are immense!


READ: 9 Stressful Moments Every Latino Experiences When Traveling With Their Family

Have you traveled lately? Share this story and let us know about your latest adventures abroad in the comment section below. 

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9 Things That Happened While I Dated Outside My Race

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9 Things That Happened While I Dated Outside My Race

In a country as diverse as the U.S., there are millions of couples who come from different cultural backgrounds. While dating a gringo or a European guy might present some challenges, it can also be a very enriching experience. This is my personal experience of the good and not-so-good of dating a Dutch man.

You get to try authentic food from a country you’re not familiar with.

gifsme / Tumblr
CREDIT: gifsme / Tumblr

Although I’ll never eat raw herring again, I’m sure going to miss the stroopwafel supply (two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup) his mom used to send on a regular basis. Spread some arequipe on top and you have your own Ducth-Colombian culinary deliciousness.

If you have kids, chances are they’ll grow up bilingual.

bilingual bebe

Or even trilingual! My ex speaks Dutch and English. I speak español and English. At two years old, that kid would’ve already had a huge advantage over other job candidates.

Traveling becomes more attainable.

TRAVEL

I had traveled to a bunch of countries in South America (hola, raíces latinas) while he had been more inclined to visit Europe. Together, we explored both of our home countries and opened ourselves to checking out other places in between.

There is always something new to learn.

SALSA
CREDIT: SALSAMEMES

I got to learn so much about his food and culture and on the flipside, I *tried* to teach him some salsa moves.

Language can be a bridge or a barrier.

LANGUAGE
CREDIT: FLUENTU

While dating someone who speaks a different language can be all fun and exciting (bebés bilingües!) It can also be a drag. My ex didn’t understand much Spanish, and his lack of interest in learning made most get-togethers with my friends (mostly first generation immigrants who speak primarily Spanish) a little uncomfortable.

Yeah, I’m gonna say it: interracial couples look GOODDD together.

good

Before you get your panties in a bunch, I’m not saying non-interracial couples don’t look good together. But speaking from experience, my ex was pale, while I have the coloring of my Afro-Colombian mom. Can you say sabor? I often felt like the protagonist of a United Colors of Benetton ad.

And that’s probably why you get a ton of looks.

LOOKS
CREDIT: FUNNYCAPTIONS

People would stare in disapproval as if they had the slightest right to criticize our relationship.

And when people get real bold, they ask things like “How does your mom feel about you dating a white dude?”

big deal 2

We met on a dating website and the thought of him being a white, educated guy from Holland didn’t cross my mind. I saw an intelligent, well-spoken, down-to-earth, attractive guy. But for most people, friends and strangers alike, our relationship had the stain of complication, discrimination and disapproval. “How does your mom feel about you dating a white dude?” was a question I was asked, uninvited, on plenty of occasions.

I heard many of different versions of “Hey sister, how can you be dating a white dude when there’s plenty of fine brothers out there?” He got asked if he hated his race so much he needed to “go black.” Even some of those who “supported” our relationship insisted I wasn’t black, but “tanned,” like that made our relationship more acceptable somehow. We got to experience racism on a deep level.

But in the end, it’s not the haters who are in the relationship. It’s you.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BP5MDupDT8B/


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*Disclaimer: Not me in the picture, just another adorable mixed couple.*


READ: 9 Dating Tips My Abuelita Gave Me That Saved My Relationships

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