Memories of 2017

This time around I didn’t feel like using words to look back on 2017. Not because words aren’t important, but because, unless I wanted to commit to writing a book about this year, there was no way I could describe it in “a hundred words or less” (not really a hundred, you know what I mean).

Yes, yes, what I want to say is that many things happened this year. Some of the greatest moments of my life so far, as well as, perhaps, some of the worst. I did a lot of things for the first time, and lived a whole year with a vulnerable heart, treading carefully – getting hurt easily but also loving just as easily.

So, you see, this was a complex and abstract year, that I felt was best looked back on in a visual way. And that’s just what I did.

Memories of 2017, in a video (the first I made in almost 4 years, so it’s a special baby, this one).

 

I hope you have a 2018 filled with happy moments.

Let me know in the comments how your 2017 was (if you can put it in a hundred words or less).

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Our Seoul in black and white

Have you ever wondered if, maybe, just maybe, some pictures are able to capture a little bit of a person’s soul? Sometimes, I think they do – when the photographer knows exactly which moment to snap the picture, catching his subject in a perfect still moment where their soul shows.

I’ve seen it in smiles, in gazes, in the way that the wind blows our hair. I think it’s beautiful, and it’s capturing these moments that has been my passion these days.

sara in black and whitesara and maia in black and whitemaia in black and white

All of this because, finally, about 5 months later, I decided to really go through all of my pictures from South Korea. Saying it took a while would be an understatement, and I might have used up a tissue or two wiping hypothetical tears because I miss that city so much, but I finally pulled through. After picking some of my absolute favorites out of mine and my friend Mariana’s camera roll, it somehow all came together in black and white – a style I am not usually one to pick but found so fitting in these pictures.

 SM artists at SM Town Mari and sara with BTS Maia in Gangnam

I always have said that, although black and white rarely fails to make a picture look good, it also gives it a gloomy vibe which I haven’t really ever wanted my pictures to have. However, looking at these, and as I write these words, I can finally understand why this style portrays these pictures in just the right way. And that is because of my very personal feelings toward them. You see, looking at these memories, 5 months after living them, brings me a strong sense of longing.

I miss that city like I have never missed a place before. I miss the friends I made there and the ones I left there. I miss the moments we all shared together in Noraebang and AirBnB houses, crowded streets and spicy food restaurants eating lamb skewers like crazy. It wasn’t just one thing or two about that trip that made it amazing. It was a lot of small, special things, and special people.

 Beautiful sara in Gyeongbokgung Maia in Gyeongbokgung Rae and her tattoo in black and whiteRae in Seoul Sara and Maia at a noraebang

Sometimes, I go talk to my friend and tell her ‘Mari, I miss Seoul so much today’. Sometimes, she will come up to me and tell me how she listened to a song and it made her think of Seoul too. And we will reminisce and hope that one day we get to go back. We hope that the friends we left there update us on what is going on over there, and send us pictures of the smallest things that make our hearts full of longing skip a beat.

Maia reading blonote at Arriate flower café Maia reading blonote at Arriate flower café Beautiful mug and flower at arriate flower café

And that is why black and white makes these pictures come alive. It brings out the nostalgia and longing towards a city that probably took a piece of me and kept it there safe and sound. Until another day, hopefully soon, when I go back and find it again.

Seoul (& Busan),

보고 싶다

(I miss you)

P.S.: Almost all of these pictures are from my lovely friend Mariana, so head on over to her instagram if you would like to see more!

What it was like to finally go on the trip of my dreams

Seoul was the vacation of my dreams.

You know the kind of  vacation I’m talking about, right? That far away place we long to visit one day, seemingly so far out of reach. That place we might have spent a little too much time on the internet drooling over – looking at pictures of it on Instagram, reading article after article about it. Maybe we have cried once or twice while doing this. Possibly. Cannot tell you with certainty because of reasons.

To me, that place was Seoul.
Gyeongbokgung palace entrance
Amazing Maia at Gyeongbokgung palace Ever since I started learning Korean a few years ago (damn, has it really been years?), and I became more and more curious about Korean culture, this became my dream destination. But going there would require a lot of money that fresh-out-of-college-me did not have, as well as someone else crazy enough to come along with me.

Until this day, I am still impressed by how it all came to be. How I went from seeing Seoul as a dream to actually making plans to go, buying our tickets and being there. Between you and me, I think it was one little miracle.

Of course, I had to work hard to save enough money to go and spend over there, but I also managed find some crazy friends who were willing join me.  Two friends that also were willing to work hard to save money so that we could all go.

And so it was that in July the three of us packed our bags and ventured to the opposite side of the world.


SEOUL AND US: A LOVE STORY


Our Polaroid in front of Kim Sejong the great

Now, listen, don’t get ahead of yourself there. It’s not that. None of us found a hot Korean prince and moved in with him into a palace. We just fell in love with the city, day after day, until the thought of coming back was one of disappointment. I’m not kidding, I’ve never been this sad about coming back home from a vacation before.

It wasn’t love at first sight, though. When we arrived, nothing looked particularly interesting to me. It was raining, the sky was overrun by dark clouds and all I saw were tall grey buildings everywhere. And the air… the air made me feel like I was inside a sauna. Bye bye straight fabulous hair!

Our second day did the trick. Finally, I was walking familiar but completely new territory. Seeing in person what I had previously only seen excerpts of on TV and completed with my imagination. You see, I watch a lot of Korean tv shows – I find them funnier and way more lighthearted than western ones – so the streets of Seoul weren’t strangers to me. The city was like a friend I had met online, and our friendship was finally transitioning to real life.

Seoul at night Amazing Maia in Myeongdong Amazing Maia in Myeongdong Amazing Maia in Myeongdong

Quite just like meeting an online friend we have talked to for years, meeting Seoul was, at the very least, a thrilling experience. The realization that I was actually there, so far away from home, listening to the language I’ve been learning being spoken so casually everywhere — speaking it myself!  There was so much I wanted to see, so much I wanted to do. Just riding the subway was already drawing the biggest smile on my face!

Since I have already been in New York once, Seoul’s skyscrapers and flashing lights weren’t exactly a novelty to me. Yet they felt different, with their saturated multitude of colors and designs. It’s like, whilst New York is a carefully curated art collection, Seoul is an assembly of independent artists showcasing their art freely. My eyes had a feast every time we were in the city, finding more different and unique things to look at every day.
City lights in Myeondgong
All of this made up a perfectly imperfect and charming atmosphere for what would be my favorite 10 days of 2017 so far. We had many little adventures, many occasions where we lost our way, strange and exciting encounters with locals. We laughed a lot, fought a bit and tried new things. We bought a lot of stuff and polaroid-ed our way through the trip.

I made many memories over there that I will treasure in my heart for a very long time. And I will always remember fondly my everyday struggle to find non spicy food to eat.

And, just like that, I had fallen in love.

Polaroids of South Korea


And you, have you ever been on the vacation of your dreams? Where did you go? How was it? 

Feel free to share your experience with me down in the comments!

All of these pictures were taken by my dear amazing friend Mariana Pereira. You can click here to check out her Instagram!