Things I will miss after going back to Korea

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1.     Cacti

It’s almost impossible to encounter a cactus walking or driving along the streets in Korea. Only in a botanical garden, cacti are planted. However, you can see cacti everywhere in Phoenix, Arizona, not to mention in front of the Cronkite building, the parking lots, or the front yards of the houses. I can never forget the Saguaro cacti I saw while driving westwards along the highway from Phoenix to Sedona. Saguaros as tall as a 2~3 stories building standing here and there casually were literally “awesome.” Many different kinds of cacti in Desert Botanical Garden were also very memorable.

2.     Large parking spaces

It is very convenient to park a car in the US, especially Phoenix, Arizona. There are large parking areas in grocery stores or shopping complexes. Not only are the parking lots huge, the width of each spot is very wide. No worries of touching the cars on the left or right. It seems to be due to a lot of pick-up trucks in the country, (which are rare in Korea). What I also like about the parking here is that you can park your car for free. It is totally different in Korea. Parking spaces in shopping malls or stores (even in apartments) are so narrow that you have to open the door very carefully, not to touch another car. Free parking is allowed only when you have purchased a certain amount of stuff, like in big cities such as LA or New York. What is worse, it is still not easy to find such empty spots.

3.     Five Guys fries

It’s a shame that we don’t have “Five Guys” in Korea. (There are “Shake Shacks,” though.)

In the homepage of Five Guys, they explain their fries as;

“Freshly made boardwalk-style fries, cooked in pure, cholesterol-free, 100% peanut oil. Cut fresh and cooked twice – firm on the outside and mashed potato on the inside.”

Great taste, crunchy texture, but what attracts me most is the way they serve fries, putting a generous amount in a brown paper bag. To be honest, I have visited Five Guys just for the fries, even after finishing a decent meal. Oh, I want that fries right now, as I am writing this! 

4.     Peaceful Parks

The US is a country of parks for me. There are parks everywhere. I can never forget the memories of spending time together with my kids at beautiful parks in Arizona. We went to Park Verde or Margaret T. Hence Park most frequently, when we felt like walking, enjoying the beautiful (winter) weather. If we drove a little bit, there was Steele Indian School Park or Granada Park, both of which have lakes, playgrounds and large parking spaces.

We were so fond of Riverview Park in Mesa as well. They have great playgrounds, lakes, fountains and tables for snacking. It’s perfect. Kiwanis Park in Tempe has a great selection of rides which visitors from infants to adults can enjoy. I also liked McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale for its large grass area and a free train miniature museum. Every park mentioned above has free parking.

Of course, there are a lot of beautiful parks with grass and lakes in Korea. The problem is that they mostly charge expensive parking fees, and there are so many people on weekends. I will definitely miss the calm and peaceful parks of Phoenix and nearby cities.

5.     ASU Downtown Campus

The first thing I noticed while walking around downtown Phoenix, was that there were so many ASU buildings here. Seeing the buildings with the huge ASU logo on them, it is never too much to say that downtown Phoenix is an ASU town. The students walking by with ASU hoodies, or the ASU flags saying “Forks up, Masks up” will last in my memory for a very long time.

About Gahyeok Lee

Gahyeok Lee is a staff reporter for JTBC, the most trusted South Korean nationwide TV network and Hey.News, an Instagram centered news service. Lee started his journalism career in 2011 and he has covered both local and international issues throughout his career. He wrote about his experiences at historical news scenes such as the Korean candlelight movement in 2016 and published a book “Memory of the Day” in 2017. It was also translated into Chinese and published in Taiwan in 2019. In 2019 and 2020, Lee hosted a four-minute daily prime time segment called “Gahyeok Lee’s Factcheck” that gained recognition as a signatory member of the International Fact-Checking Network in January 2020. During his time at Cronkite, Lee hopes to improve his English communication skills to expand his global perspective.

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