Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seoul Sisters

Smith College Club of Seoul Christmas party tonight, at a restaurant in Gangnam called "Mamacita."
Superman, who by day pretends to be my coteacher Roy, drove me to the Gongju bus terminal so I could head up to Seoul straight from work, instead of spending an hour and a half getting from school to the Daejeon train station. I've never gone from Gongju to Seoul, but it wasn't a bad bus ride. Big comfy seats, relative quiet -- if I hadn't forgotten my iPod back at the apartment this morning, I probably would have fallen asleep.
Then a subway from the bus terminal to the Gangnam-gu Office stop, where I swung by the big department store there to pick up a gift for the "Secret Santa" gift exchange at the Smith dinner.

Most department stores in Korea have a basement level with a food court, sometimes a small upscale grocery store, liquor store, and a few small vendors selling various foodstuffs.

But this.

This was incredible. The Gangnam Shinsegae department store basement was pure food heaven. This place is amazing. Glass cases displaying assorted French chocolates next to a counter selling hot broiled winter squash filled with pillows of risotto, Chinese steamed pork buns next to beautifully decorated cupcakes, Korean food, burgers, sushi, fresh fruit, Italian food, cream puffs, -- you name it, they had it.

I knew if I stopped to look around, I'd get lost, so I promised myself I'd come back some other time and made my way up to the cosmetics floor to pick up a little gift set.

Then a quick taxi ride later, I found myself at Mamacita! Run by Smith alumna Diana, Mamacita has a yummy Mexican restaurant on the bottom floor and a tequila bar on the top floor. We had a great time, and a great meal, and I got a chance to see some of the now-familiar faces of the Smith College Club of Seoul. These women are incredible. Architects, research scientists, musicians, writers -- I could spend hours with them and never get bored. The club seems active and pretty tightly knit, but also very welcoming. I felt all warm and fuzzy, especially since this was the first Christmas event of the year. December makes it extra-tough to be away from home, but I really did feel very much at home surrounded by Smithies past and present. Even if they are all impossibly slender, well coiffed, well manicured, and well dressed. It takes some pretty extreme graciousness to make up for that.

I stayed around after dinner to head upstairs to the tequila bar part, but I knew the last train for Daejeon would leave at 11:30, so I skipped out on the tequila in favor of a bit of celebratory champagne, said my thank-yous and goodbyes, and made it to Seoul Station with 15 minutes to spare. I got home around 1, slipped into bed, and went to sleep thinking about how incredibly, incredibly lucky I was that Smith College and I found each other.

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