There are some things you just can’t learn until you experience it for yourself.
Tom and I were talking last night, and he said to me ” I knew nothing about Korea before we got here except the Korean War.” I started to think about it and the more that I did I thought out loud “Yeah, you are right. I really didn’t know anything at all either.” I mean, I knew what we had seen in pictures, and even though they say a picture speaks a thousand words a picture doesn’t let you experience it first hand.
So, here we are. Living and teaching in Korea. I first wrote what we now know about Korea that we didn’t know after we had been here just a week. Well, to no surprise we have made more discoveries…and I’d like to share!
1. In general, Korea has an awesome transportation system. Buses, trains, taxis, and ferries can literally transport you (almost) anywhere that you need to go. I am still shocked by how you can take a bus anywhere in our city, and also take a bus to cities all over Korea. I would also add: Ride at your own risk! There have been times I have gasped out loud as the driver almost took the bus on two wheels around a corner. They all aren’t like that though! Just once in a while.
2. Not all Koreans are short. Not at all! Yes, I think there are more short people here, but I can tell you with confidence almost ALL of my 6th graders are taller than me. I stand 5 feet and 2 inches tall so it isn’t hard to be taller than me…but I think many people have the mindset that “Koreans are all short.” I have a picture to prove that this simply just isn’t TRUE! For those who haven’t met my husband he stands about 6 feet 4 inches tall.
3. I am not sure that there are strict traffic rules here- especially when it comes to parking. I have seen cars parked in the middle of the road, blocking other cars in, parked on a sidewalk, and blocking off a side road. Motor bikes/moped type things drive on the sidewalk, and every time one is coming at me or behind me I think my heart skips a beat! They don’t really slow down either. So there’s that.
4. So on the topic of motor bikes. You can have almost ANY type of food delivered to your door from ANY restaurant within minutes and it will come on a motor bike. They also come back to pick up the bowls/chopsticks when you are finished. It’s a pretty clever little system if you ask me. We have yet to try it because our Korean isn’t really quite up to par yet to explain what we want and our apartment address in korean. One day soon though we will make it a goal. Just get out of the way when they deliver the food. Those bikes zoom through traffic lights, and drive on sidewalks ( like I said in #3) They have a place to be so beware!
5. Korea rocks at open air markets. I love that we are supporting local, and that it’s fresh veggies/fruit. I have ranted and raved about the markets. I can’t say enough how much I love them!
6. I love the specialized shops within walking distance of our apartment. If you need paint you go to the paint store. If you need hiking gear you go to to a hiking shop. Watch broken? Fix it at the watch store. You get the point. I love that we can support individual shops.
7. Your TP is most likely not in the stall. So don’t forget to grab it before you go in. That’s all I am gonna say about that.
8. Customer service is awesome! I actually don’t mind going to the bank or any sort of government office here. Back in the states I DREADED the DMV or visits to the post office. Here SPEED is everything. Including shipping/ordering packages online. Things come fast. Like crazy fast. Packages from a Korean company come in 2 days tops! No matter where it is coming from. I’ll also add that I love the button you push at the table when you are out to eat! Every restaurant has them, and you push it when you need something. A waiter or waitress will come promptly to your table once the button is pushed. Why didn’t we think of that?!
9. Hiking is awesome AND every where.We plan to explore this place in Korea soon!
10. When it’s hot outside you eat hot things! This is one I struggle with the most. I am used to soups on a cold winter day back in the states. Here, Koreans love to have a temperature hot (and often times spicy food) on the 85 degree days. My co teacher told me ” Elicia, outside is hot your insides must be hot too.” I told her in the winter I will eat all the soup I can get… but that is the last thing I want on a hot day!
Oh Korea! The things we will learn about you as time goes on.