Where am I?

A little bit of culture shock…. 

  • I have a remote control for my AC and heated floors. On my first day I couldn’t figure out how to turn my floors off and my feet were burning!
  • My shower in my apartment is a hose in the wall. The clip broke so I literally hose myself down while standing in the middle of the bathroom floor.
  • Slippers are worn indoors. I wear them in school and at home because you don’t wear shoes inside.

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  • Meals are not eaten at a table with chairs. You eat while sitting on cushions on the floor at dinner parties with a low-standing table.
  • There are random fake “cop signals” flashing all over as a warning. But I have not once seen a cop car.
  • Going 100 km per hour in a 50 k zone while in a taxi with no seat belts is completely normal. If you put on your seat belt the driver will laugh at you.
  • I can get away with riding a motorbike without a license. It’s fine to ride on the sidewalks, run red lights, smoke, talk on your phone, etc. I was stocked by a cop once, but turns out he just wanted free English lessons so I told him to go away.
  • Old drunk men in business suits are constantly stumbling out of 7/11 or the bars and shouting “Hello! Hello!” Seriously, I would wake up early and go for runs and see men passed out on the streets. It smells like piss everywhere.

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  • Bars don’t close until the booze is gone.
  • Soju is only 1000 KRW ($1). Don’t turn it down at a work party. You can also drink in public and most convenience stores have little outdoor seating areas where you can post up before a night out.
  • I once saw a cute little family walking along the beach – there was a naked baby hooked up to an IV on it’s mother’s back.
  • Smoking while on an IV is common outside of hospitals.
  • Noraebangs are very popular. I’ve never sang so much karaoke in my life.
  • Kids go to school year round. Summer break might consist of a few weeks but it is likely their parents are just throwing them into summer school or other private lessons to continue their education.
  • I bow to my elders – and the kiddos bow to me.
  • Make sure to wear a bag on your head at baseball games. You can also bring in your own beer and snacks.

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  • I live a few blocks away from a little reservoir where I go for morning runs. While I am burning up and sweating in my shorts and tank top everyone else is covered head to toe – long sleeves, visors, long pants, gloves, the sun is evil!
  • Whitening cream in Korea is just as common, if not more, as tanning cream in the states.
  • Along with Korean beauty, EVERYONE has plastic surgery. Most girls get their eyes done before their 18th birthday.
  • Everyone wears a mask.
  • Couples wear matching outfits!
  • Ajummas (old women) are always pushing you to get out of the way, especially on buses.
  • Old women will scrub you down in a jimjilbang. Don’t be shy.
  • Cat cafes are all over the place.

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  • Whenever I was out of town I would stay at a Love Motel. They usually were between $20-40 per night. Not for the purpose you would expect, just cheap accommodation. They usually charge hourly….
  • Fireworks are legal and people are always blasting them off wherever they feel.

 

  • There is not one homeless person in my city of Ulsan.
  • There are outdoor workout stations EVERYWHERE.
  • Korean age is different.
    • If you are born on December 31st, 2000 you are 1 years old; the next day on January 1st 2001, you are one year old; then each January your age increases. So although I got to Korea in September of 2012 when I was 22 western age, I was 23 in Korea, and I turned 24 on January 1st, 2013 although I was still 22 by western standards.

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  • Annnnd just more random stuff you have to laugh at.  

The good vs. the bad: After being abroad for 6 months I wrote up what I liked and didn’t like about living in Korea.

THE GOOD:

  • Foreigner community
  • Easy to read the language
  • Everyone is nice and hospitable
  • Kimbap is delicious
  • The kids are adorable
  • I am treated well at my school – beg to differ later on
  • The beach is close to my house
  • Public transportation is amazing
  • I feel VERY safe
  • Ultimate frisbee
  • Trivia nights
  • Small markets
  • Traveling
  • Meeting people from around the world
  • I love chopsticks
  • Noraebangs
  • Sharing food – everything is in the middle and you dig in
  • Korean BBQ

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:

  • Random smells
  • Overpopulated
  • The kids go to school for way too long
  • I can’t fit into the shoes
  • The coffee is bad
  • The pork is gross – maybe just at my school
  • I can’t understand anything
  • The food at the school is the same every day
  • No diversity
  • Taxi drivers are scary

 

**I would love to hear opinions from other expats who have lived in Korea!!

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