My Adventures in South Korea

South Korea: Love & Culture Shock

I can’t believe it! It’s almost John’s and my 4 month anniversary of arriving here. With that being said, I wanted to put out a list of the top 5 things I love about South Korea and the top 5 things that I just can’t get used to..yet..or ever. Moving to a new country, culture shock is definitely normal! 🙂

Top 5 things I LOVE about South Korea

  • Health Care – I know that this topic is a big deal in the USA right now, and without getting into what my opinions are about that, I do want to say that I love the health care system here. I have never seen a health care system that works so efficiently. In just our 4 months here, anytime John or I have gone to the doctor, we have been seen quickly and given results quickly! I feel like in Korea, I actually get to see the doctor and speak with them about what is wrong, without feeling rushed. You can read about our first experience here!
  • Public Transportation – This might just be because we are in a big city but the public transportation is awesome! I love the fact that I don’t need a car, yet I can get anywhere in Seoul, or most anywhere in Korea for that matter. With subways, buses & taxis, it’s wonderful! Seoul is also a very walking friendly city and bike friendly city, which is nice!
  • Coffee Stores – Koreans are obsessed with their coffee and it shows! On every block there are at least 2 to 3 coffee shops, if not more! Coffee here, to me at least, is not as strong as in the States, but it’s still delicious and very convenient!
  • Korean Food – I really love Korean food and have yet to get sick of it! The portions are smaller here (better for me) and sometimes have less meat, but the food is very tasty! Most Korean dishes are very healthy too! I have started to find my favorite dishes that I regularly order and have stepped back a bit on ordering risky, but it’s still fun to be surprised once in a while. In the event that I do start missing western food, there are an abundance of restaurants that can satisfy my cravings! P.s. Kimchi is awesome and it’s one of the healthiest things for your body!
  • Movie Theaters – I know this is completely random but I love the movie theater experience here! They have such a simple concept that saves so much hassle – You pick your seats when you buy your tickets! I know that doesn’t sound like much, but one of the things that is annoying in the States is the rush to make sure you have a good seat. Here in Korea, whether you buy your tickets online or at the box office, you immediately get to pick your seats. People honor the system and it leaves for the time to relax and get popcorn before the movie starts. The theaters here, in general, are nice, have nice comfortable seats, show popular American films, have cheese, caramel or regular flavored popcorn, and let you drink alcohol. A perfect movie experience. They also are advanced in the movie department and offer films in 4D. I have yet to experience that but can’t wait to try!

Top 5 things I don’t like about South Korea

  • Being Stared At – As a foreigner and no matter what you look like, if you don’t look Korean, you will get stared at. When you come to Korea, especially after living in the States where it is very culturally diverse, you will notice that first, everyone is Korean (well duh..we are in Korea, but when you are living somewhere where you see so many different races and ethnicities, it’s a bit of a shock) and second, you stand out. I think that this is slowly starting to change as more and more foreigners are flocking to Seoul, but since you stand out, you will naturally get stared out. In the States, we are taught that staring at someone is rude. Here, this is not so much the case. You will get stared at. A lot! I don’t notice it as much anymore, but randomly I will be on the subway and I will just see someone staring at me. Even if you lock eyes with them, they usually don’t look away. John took a Korean language course here and spoke with a Korean woman about this. She said that most people here don’t even realize that they are doing it. It’s just part of the culture.
  • Fruit Prices – Fruit is extremely expensive here! Everything here is seasonal and most of it is imported. I miss the cheap prices of apples and oranges. The other day I bought bananas, thinking that they were about $3 for the bunch. They were $3 per pound and I paid about $7…too much! I don’t eat as much fruit anymore because of that reason. At least vegetables aren’t as bad in price.
  • Driving Rules, or Lack of – If there is one thing that we follow for the most part in the United States, that the rest of the world seems to neglect, it is driving rules. South Korea is no exception. Though highways here are in amazing condition and extremely effective, drivers in general don’t follow rules. It doesn’t matter if the light is red, cars still won’t always stop. Motorcycles will randomly drive on sidewalks. You always have to look right, left, then again right and left before you cross. I have heard that cars actually have the right of way over pedestrians here. I don’t know if that is true but I am extremely cautious when I cross the road. It is also very scary when you are in a taxi at 1 am in the morning, trying to get home, and the driver is driving over 100 mph. You definitely get home fast and with an adrenaline rush.
  • Coughing and Sneezing– I won’t go into this one too much. Many people here don’t cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. It’s gross. I think people are getting better, but still, it’s gross.
  • Personal Space – In the US, we like our personal space. I think culturally it’s just different here and people have a different idea of personal space. When you are on the subway, for example, you have to get used to the idea that sometimes you will be squeezed in between two people who you don’t know. Luckily this seems to only be the case during rush hours or times when certain subway lines are leading to events, like concerts. During this time, when you think the subway is full, think again, because there will be that one person who will force their way in. The same goes for elevators. I feel like this is the issue that bothers me the least, but there have been those times where people have gotten a bit to close for comfort!

🙂

All in all though, I really love South Korea. I think every country has their issues and South Korea’s is definitely tolerable. It’s been a great 4 months!

Fall is still in full swing, though winter is quickly approaching! Enjoy the pictures below of Fall in our area and as well a few from the Seoul Zoo (We went in the summer but I definitely think it’s better in the fall and it’s so beautiful!).

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The park by our apartment- All the colors are popping out!

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The Ginko Trees turn a gorgeous bright yellow!

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The view from my apartment complex, overlooking the park.

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The Seoul Zoo – One of the prettiest zoos in the world! The zoo is very big so we didn’t get to all the animals. Here are a few things we did see though!

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Have a nice week! Happy Veteran’s Day!!

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11 Responses to “South Korea: Love & Culture Shock”

  1. negar

    great post.the more I read your blog ,the more I fall in love with Korea.
    the color of Leaves are just wonderful.

    Reply
  2. lilyellyn

    I agree with a lot of this. And about the staring – you’d think living in Seoul, people would be slightly more used to seeing foreigners. I saw like 10 times as many foreigners in Seoul as I do here in Daegu. Daegu is roughly the size of Chicago and most weekdays I do not see another foreigner besides my husband. And I have red hair and blue eyes. So, yeah, I also get a LOT of staring. Also sometimes people look at me and then just start laughing. I’m never sure how to take that, haha. 🙂

    Reply
    • talaghemand

      Lol! I don’t know how I would take the staring and laughing either! 🙂 The worse is the stare with no expression because then you never know what people are thinking about you! Oh Korea! 😉

      Reply
  3. chwilowki

    I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..

    Reply
    • talaghemand

      Thank you so much!! Btw, I am using a theme from wp premium! It’s called Watson and its wonderful and very easy to customize!

      Reply
  4. White Dragon

    Can you buy bags of ground coffee and a coffee maker for your apartment in Korea? If so could you tell me how much coffee grounds cost and also how much the actual coffee maker would cost? And please list the cheapest possible one. I heard coffee at the coffee shops is extremely expensive, but I am not sure.

    Also are movies ever in English there? If you go to the theater will it be dubbed in Korean? Or will American films be in English with Korean subtitles? Will there ever be a movie without subtitles and strictly in English? Just curious.

    Reply
    • talaghemand

      Hello! You definitely can buy ground coffee and a coffee maker in Korea! I don’t know costs because I don’t live there anymore, but for cheaper options you could check out the Costco in Seoul. Also, a lot of feature films that play in North America, are also shown in Korea! Usually the movie will be in English with Korean subtitles. If it’s a children’s movie, they usually have it dubbed. I never found a movie strictly in English, but the Korean subtitles are not distracting.

      Reply
      • White Dragon

        Thanks for responding. That is good to know! I do not want to buy coffee at a cafe every day which would cost a lot. A korean guy told me that a coffee maker would cost $250 and I think that is crazy. Either he is mistaken or Korea only sells expensive brands, or they are just crazy. I hope to buy just a typical coffee machine like “Black and Decker” which in USA costs about $17.99. I am glad I can buy bags of ground coffee too. Hope they don’t only sell them for $15 or some crazy price though.

        It is also great to know movies will be in English. I guess I will have to deal with the subtitles at the bottom of the screen if I go to see something like Star Wars. Kind of sucks but it is better than not seeing it in English period.

        Your article was very informative. Thanks.

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