Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cupcake-Mania (at least a personal one...)

I was looking for a nice cupcake place in Seoul since my arrival. After a friend told me that the huge cupcake-mania here has already been two years ago, I was getting a bit concerned. Back home in Germany cupcakes have just recently become popular and of course I, as a sweets-lover, became addicted to them immediately.

I even searched the internet on cupcake places in Seoul but either the webpages were in Korean or the information seemed to be a little outdated.

I was almost burying my hopes for a decent cupcake cafĂ© when I just by chance discovered this cute little store while strolling through Hongdae. It’s a bit hidden in the backways so I couldn’t believe my eyes when I just realized that it was indeed what I was looking for.

great sortiment of cupcakes
the whole place looks so nice :)
I basically stormed inside and took in the fabulous sight of all different kinds of cupcakes. The atmosphere in there was just what I wanted and I decided for a vanilla-flavored indulgence.


I savored every bite of it and promised myself to come back as soon as possible.

And now I indeed start wondering whether this is going to be a food blog. I guess due to the amazing amount of wonderful food and dining places here in Seoul it is becoming more and more inevitable not to write about eating my way through the city...

Directions: from the playground in Hongdae walk straight down the street until you are passing the Zara store. On the opposite side is a small alley with a steak restaurant at the far end. Just on the right side before the restaurant you'll find Vanilla Cupcakes (it's a bit hidden in the back).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This is not a food blog...but Oissii Sushi Dining is just amazing!!!

Ok guys, this is not going to be a food blog!

1) I'm a true omnivore. I eat everything. Without exceptions. Don't expect any qualified food reviews.
2) I'm actually not eating out that often. On weekdays I get free food in my company cantine, and during the weekends I manage to live on Muesli.

picture by darineko.com

However, I discovered this really sweet and small Sushi restaurant close to my place in Hongdae and I can't stop thinking about their food. It's called Oissii and probably features 10 seats. You sit directly in front of the chef preparing the sushi rolls.

I had a salmon roll for 10,000 KRW and simply wasn't able to finish it. It was huge! It came with 3 or 4 side dishes and such friendly smiles. The owners were so cute and tried their best to make me feel comfortable (not so sure whether many foreigners actually know about this place).

picture by darineko.com
picture by darineko.com

I will definitely be a regular customer from now on and use this place for spending some alone time. Sitting there felt like being in my own oasis, so quiet and distant from raving life in Hongdae. Also the music collection, consisting of slow and romantic guitar pieces, strangely fitted this place... 

I think I am in love.
picture by darineko.com
Directions: Hongdae station exit 9, go to the main street to Hongik University and past the KB bank. Oissii is opposite to the “Frisbee” (Apple retailer) store.

Notice: the pictures were taken from the website darineko.com since I found them beautiful and unfortunately forgot to bring my camera last time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Seoul Searching

When I quit my job in Germany back in February 2011, I didn’t know what was awaiting me. I was fed up with my life as a business consultant in a highly competitive environment, always being put under pressure to become better and deliver the impossible. I enjoyed living in Dusseldorf, a wonderful small city with a beautiful river and a big nightlife in the West of Germany, but I was restless.

Locks and hearts at N Seoul Tower

Something was going horribly wrong and I felt insecure, uneasy and sad. Life was “too” perfect. At 28, I had a high-paying job in the very interesting energy industry, a really nice apartment and a well-organized social life. What the hell was going to come? Life isn’t supposed to be boring.
After returning from a wonderful 3-week holiday in Mexico, I decided to make a major change and quit my job after working out a mutual agreement with my boss.

That basically gave me 4 months of (paid) time to search my soul for something I really wanted to do. I already accepted by that time that also my next job is unlikely to become my passion or “dream job”. I have been scatterbrained ever since I started working life and it’s really hard for me to stay interested in the same tasks for a long time.

My mother always worried about that personality trait, but after a long discussion the two of us found that I was just taking after my beloved grandfather, who was changing jobs every year. Seeing me in a completely different light from now on, my mother started saying that the most important thing for me shall be my own happiness. And if that is including a rather unsteady life with many job changes, be it!

Ok, but that didn’t help me in my challenge to find something I wanna stick to for at least the next year. Thus, I set up an excel file including all the factors to think about in my job search.
I didn’t intend to make this a highly scientific matter, I just wanted to make sure not to forget any important influences.

In the end, I know that nothing turned out the way I expected, but who isn’t in for a bit of excitement?

After reviving all the business contacts I had, and explaining over and over again that I needed a challenge in my life, I was becoming a bit hopeless. I probably mentioned one thousand times (to people who wanted to listen and to people who didn’t want to listen) that I would be up for anything exciting. I had several boring interviews with German energy providers regarding positions that would even fit to my CV. But there was no sparkle in me when thinking about those opportunities. I knew I had to look further.

Also my efforts to apply for positions in Mexican energy companies weren’t that fruitful since I didn’t speak a word of Spanish. Which other English-speaking countries were there on my list of possible destinations?

Meanwhile, I ended the contract of my apartment and started selling off my things. In any case, even if I was to stay in Germany, I wanted to get rid of as many of my belongings as possible. I was fed up with being stuck in one place due to my various possessions (and I can tell you that I didn’t actually own that much compared to other people my age).

In month 2 of my new life as an “unemployed person”, which by the way many people believed I wasn’t enjoying enough, I had a goodbye BBQ at my old company. Suddenly, one of my former co-workers mentioned a job position advertised on the facebook page of one of her acquaintances, based somewhere (!) in Asia. It turned out to be a position in a construction company in Seoul who was looking for Europeans with an energy-business background.

I had almost 4 years of working experience in the energy field (check!), I was highly interested in the field of engineering and construction and even once started a distant learning course in engineering (check!), I have travelled extensively through Asia and always wanted to get some work experience over there (check!) and most importantly: I have been to Seoul 2 years ago and immediately fell in love with the city; with its sparkling megacity atmosphere, its cute little shops and cafes, its 24/7 life and the excitement of getting to know something new each day.

One day after sending my CV to the company, my future boss called me and we had a really nice chat. I had a completely different feeling compared to the interviews I had before. Exactly one week later we set up a video interview with several people from the company, among them one of the Vice Presidents. After half an hour or so, the Vice President had to leave and said something in Korean which of course I didn’t understand. My future boss translated it into the following sentence: “See you in Seoul”. I accepted the position within the same second. The next day I received my working contract and from then on I was busy with doctor’s appointments, applications for the Visa, and selling my stuff without exceptions.

Approximately 2 months later I was boarding the plane which would take me from Hamburg, Germany, to Seoul, South Korea, with a one-way ticket.

So, looking back, some parts of my life underwent a major change while others stayed pretty close to what was before. I am still working in the same industry, which is perfectly fine since I have reached a calm state of mind and an ongoing happiness which is the most important thing. I know that those feelings won’t last forever, but I also know that I will take the required action to change life again in a few years’ time. I certainly don’t know what will be my next step but I am confident that there will be a next step!

When I think back of my time as a “Seoul searcher”, I am still amazed about the feeling surfacing from time to time. I felt trapped in my job and in my environment for almost 4 years. The day I took my belongings and went out of my last company, knowing that I wouldn’t have to come back the following Monday, was the best moment in my life so far. I have never experienced a feeling of freedom in that intensity. Of course, the weeks after were stressful and depressing from time to time. But I told myself one thing: Whatever will happen in my life, I will be able to think back of this amazing time and I instantly know that I can conquer every challenge that’s about to come! Nothing can stop me :)

View from the N Seoul Tower (own material, 2009)