I can’t believe that my time here in Korea has gone by so fast! I’ve already taken one of my finals and things are starting to wind down during my last two weeks here. In this post I will tell you about some of the “Korean” things that my American friends and I do here in Korea that we expect we will continue doing when we go home as well as some of the things we expect that we will be shocked by when we return home.
“Korean” things we think we will continue doing:
- “Find some 7” : In Korean the number seven (칠) is pronounced like “chill.” Instead of saying “find some chill” say “find some seven.”
- Bowing to people: You do this all the time here! -Greeting people, saying thank you, saying goodbye, etc. When I go home I’m most likely going to accidentally bow at people… It doesn’t help that this habit will be reinforced by Karate!
- Handing and receiving things with two hands/supported right hand: This also counts with handshakes. I’m probably going to do this for the rest of my life. I can’t even fathom anymore why you would only reach with one hand outstretched…
- Being overly dramatic when reacting to small things that happen (such as being startled or scared) and exclaiming “aigoo!”: If a pigeon jumps out in front of you, you don’t just ignore it. You stop dead in your tracks, flail your arms, and exclaim “aigoo! (아이고~~!)” while clutching your heart.
- Taking shoes off at the door of the dorm room: You walk in your dorm room with your shoes on? You can’t disrespect the floor like that!
- Hand gestures: When you think something is good or someone has done something praiseworthy, stick that thumb up! If you don’t want someone to do something or if someone is telling you not to do something the ‘arms crossed in front of you’ gesture is always applicable. And when you’re posing for a picture, it’s always okay to throw that peace sign up. And throwing hearts… why not?
American things that will be weird:
- Portion sizes and feeling sick after eating American food: American food is really rich, salty, and buttery not to mention that there’s always a lot of it. After eating small portions of mainly soup, rice, and vegetables all the time rich American food is going to be so hard to digest.
- Green money and coins that don’t match size with value: Korean money makes so much sense (or shall I say “cents” haha). Each bill is a different color. The bill with the least value the ₩1,000 bill is blue, the next bill up is the ₩5,000 bill which is pink, next is the ₩10,000 bill which is green, and lastly the ₩50,000 bill which is orange. Also the coins with the least value are smaller. Due to this amazing system it’s hard to mess up handing the cashier the right amount of money. As I was going through my drawers the other day, I found a stash of American money that I hadn’t converted to won. I was amazed to see that ALL of the bills were green. How do we even function back in the States? I’m going to be so confused now.
- Thinking everything at home is really cheap: As you may have guessed from the previous bullet point, Korean money is based off of a different system than American money. In the States we say that something is worth some odd dollars and some odd cents. In Korea the won is based off of three digits. The ₩1,000 bill is similar to the American dollar. For example if something was $1.50 in American money it would roughly be ₩1,500. So now when I see that a container of milk costs one dollar I’ll be like “Dang its not worth 1,000?!”.
- The diversity in the states compared to Korean homogeneity: In Seoul, it is easy and rare to spot other foreigners. So when you do encounter a foreigner you look at each other and almost have a connection. It will be weird to see strangers that are not all just Korean people when I go back home.
- Hearing English all the time (not just from American friends and professors): It will be so weird hearing English spoken all the time. I’m so used to hearing Korean and mixed in with minimal English on the streets and really only using English with my American friends and professors. When I get back home there will be so much English going on that my head will explode trying to process it all!
- Houses: Houses are rare in Seoul. Most people live in apartments and I’ve been living in a 12 story dorm with small rooms all year. It is definitely going to be weird seeing houses again.
- Riding in cars/driving cars again: The only moving vehicle besides the subway I ever really ride in Seoul is the bus. And buses here are NOT like buses at home (Bless you RIPTA and your amazingness). Here buses don’t have many seats but instead have handlebars and the drivers won’t wait for you to be situated, they just take off. So just a warning but if you ride a bus in Seoul be careful! It will be so strange to sit in a car and even drive a car again!
There are so many things I will miss about Korea like the awesome friends I made here, banana milk, some of my classes, hearing Korean all time, good Korean food like kimbap, ramyun, bulgogi, Korean pastries, red bean paste, bingsu, and green tea everything, the subway, historic temples, K Pop playing in public, and the landscape and mountains surrounding Seoul. But at the same time, it will be nice to be able to eat comfort food like macaroni and cheese and large portions of meat once again. It will also be nice to see the beautiful Salve campus again! I know a lot of Salve students hate the Miley cafeteria but Miley food is amazing, especially compared to the Konkuk KU:L House dining hall. Here we go the cafeteria expecting the worst and are still disappointed. There are only at most two options to choose from (and when I say “options” I mean “soups”), food isn’t warm, and the meat (if there is any) is mystery meat. Miley doesn’t seem so bad now does it? But most importantly it will be nice to see my friends and family again! 🙂