Love Letters: Seoul

04/01/2015 08:24 am ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

Ashley Parater was born and raised in sunny Florida, where she graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in History and English. After graduation, she moved to Seoul, South Korea to teach English to kids from the ages of 4 to adults as old as 50. She fell unexpectedly in love with the people and culture of Korea and will be staying in the country for a second year. Her hobbies include traveling around Asia, reading, and musing in journals during her time off.

They say opposites attract, and I've always thought it to be a cruel spell of nature that we tend to gravitate towards things much unlike ourselves. Nevertheless, I have long been enchanted by this archaic adage. From the day I chose to pursue a motorcycle-driving, leather-clad degenerate in high school to the day I chose to pack my 23 years into 2 suitcases and pursue my dream of teaching in a foreign country.

Though we had nothing in common, I loved you from the moment I stepped off of my 15-hour international flight and breathed in your alluring (albeit rather polluted) air. I instantly loved your endless sea of buildings, and the way your mountains in the distance perfectly juxtapose the concrete jungle they protect. I loved the unusual foods you urged me to try, the city sounds you serenaded me with, and the buzzing neon lights you employed to keep me warm on winter nights. I blissfully reveled in the energy emitted by your 20 million proud inhabitants, until one night, a significant realization dawned upon me: I had finally broken free from nature's arbitrary spell.

I am in love with a kindred Seoul.

Much like myself, you are young, erratic, and determined to establish yourself in the eyes of the world. We don't have everything figured out yet, but we are rapidly evolving and it won't be long before our they realize that our thirst for success is unquenchable. We are diligent and dynamic, and we understand the necessity of personal sacrifice. Yet, we also acknowledge the importance of an occasional uninhibited night out--because there's nothing quite as cathartic as soju. We are confident, connected, and veracious. We are a byproduct of the social and economic forces that preceded us. We are millennials, and the future belongs to us.

This is our time, Seoul. But you've taught me that the fast track to prosperity is by no means devoid of roadblocks. We are of an age which requires us to grow up too quickly, but you've taught me the importance of preserving my roots while forging my own path along the way. There are people in this world who would kill to see us fail (I've heard all about your crazy northern ex), but you've taught me to never abandon the thought of reuniting with the people we love--no matter how many times they turn us away or egregiously threaten to bomb us.

You've taught me that life is about balance: between work and play, old and new, youth and adulthood. My time with you has served as a bridge between the person I was and the person I have always hoped to become--and I know that no matter where I am in the world, you will forever be a part of me, and I will forever be a part of you.

Infinitely yours,