I have officially been in Korea over a month; I have been living in my apartment for more than three weeks, and I have started teaching. Since I have landed, everything has gone abnormally smooth (especially for my usual track record for near-death experiences while travelling – ie. the Iceland incident of 2016). Because of this, a few questions have popped into my head since I have arrived in my apartment and settled in:
- Am I supposed to be this comfortable?
- Should a transition this big transition feel this easy?
- Soooo, when is this whole “culture shock” thing going to hit me?
I still have no answers to these questions but I am waiting for the inevitable culture shock to smack me in the face – so I am sure I will have an entire blog post to write when that happens.
One of my initial impressions of Korea are the amount of small things that have made me think -“Wow, that’s smart – why don’t we do that in North America?”…
- Chairs that tuck themselves in, so you don’t have to
- Heated floors in all homes and apartments – who doesn’t love warm toasty floors to walk on?
- There are buttons at restaurants that you can push if you need service….or just waving at the server is completely acceptable. None of that awkward – “Oh, how is your first bite?” nonsense when you have a mouth full of food.
- 360 degree photo stands for your phone in touristy areas – who needs a selfie stick?
Aside from this, I have thoroughly enjoyed pointing out the hilarity in many signs throughout Korea…See below…
Aside from these funny quirks that I have observed in Korea, I have really started to enjoy this beautiful country. While I have struggled with navigation since everything is in Hangul (the Korean alphabet), I am very fortunate that I speak English; there is just enough English around to get me by.
Over the past month, I have done my best to immerse myself into the Korean culture, and explore as much as I can. Throughout this process, I have developed a love for Jimjilbangs, Korean bathhouses where you strip down naked and hang out hopping from bath, to bath, to sauna; Korean food, especially Kimchi, I just can’t seem to get enough Kimchi; teaching, which is something I never thought I’d enjoy this much; and lastly, the Korean people, who have been incredibly welcoming and warm since I have arrived in Korea. I had a conversation with a friend recently about the idea that we are considered “foreigners”, but most times we are treated so unbelievably well that it would never feel like you would expect; Korea has naturally become my home away from home.
I have frequently thought to myself that it really doesn’t “feel” like I am living in Korea. I am waiting for that inevitable moment where I feel like I have entirely left my comfort zone, but it has yet to come. Perhaps this is related to distraction – I have been insanely busy lesson planning, teaching, working towards completing my Masters, going to social events, and exploring my city and neighboring cities. Perhaps when things calm down, it will all settle in. I hope to have a post soon about my apartment, my school and my local neighborhood. Until then…