In my experience, if you put any group of expats in close proximity, the second thing they will do is kvetch about the food situation in the country where they're living. The first is to determine everyone's nationality and make sure all the Americans voted for Obama, but once the Americans have apologized for the past eight years, food comes up. From the fact that kimchi is so spicy it makes our brains melt out our ears to the fact that sometimes the food is still alive and moving when it's served to the fact that sometimes the food is a beloved pet in the west (anyone up for some dog?) to the fact that we're just so damn sick of rice. (Seriously, so sick of rice.)
And then we talk about the food we miss. I miss cheese. God but I miss cheese. I would very happily live off only cheese, consequences be damned, and one of the hardest things about living in Korea is the fact that they don't actually have cheese here. Sometimes I can find overpriced pre-sliced processed cheese at the grocery store, but not real cheese like cheddar or Gouda or mozzarella or feta. I've really missed cheese.
The most important thing I learned at this orientation was that Costco has cheese. Lesson plans be damned, it's all about the food.
I went to Costco today. My friend Jen has a Costco card and we met in Seoul to go grocery shopping. My apartment is now stocked with 15 boxes of Annie's mac & cheese, a huge block of sharp cheddar cheese, about twenty five packages of Halls, a huge container of conditioner and two giant bags of fun sized Halloween candy for the Halloween lessons next week. It is glorious. The only problem with Costco is that it sells things that are not otherwise available in bulk. I didn't really want all that mac & cheese, but I won't find it anywhere else. And while one or two cans of chicken noodle soup (!!) in a bag aren't too heavy for an hour long subway ride home, twenty cans are. There were a lot of things I wanted that were just too heavy to get home without a car.
The other amazing thing about Costco was their food court. They had real, proper pizza. There was neither rice nor corn in the sauce. It was like a religious experience. On the other hand, I had Sprite for the first time since I got here and found it inferior to the Korean equivalent. Who knows? Maybe in a year I'll like still squirming octopus or be able to eat kimchi without wanting to die.