Now that we’ve officially spent over 6 months in Korea, we decided to take some time to reflect on everyday things that we’ve gotten more used to since living here. Some of the silliest things seemed so strange to us when we were adjusting to this new lifestyle. Now, many things feel a lot more “normal!”
Everyone always seems to be in a hurry in Korea. You’ll often hear 빨리,빨리 (bali bali!) or hurry, hurry. I often see or experience line cutting in my everyday life. The first few times this happened to me, I remember being so frustrated and angry! I would be ready to put my money into the bus ticket machine and someone would just cut right in front of me! I’ve learned to just deal with this here. If I’m running really late, I will literally stand as close to the next person as possible so that no one line cuts me. Other times, if I’m in absolutely no hurry, I just let whoever pass in front of me.
Racing On and Off Buses
To go along with the fast-paced lifestyle, getting on and off the bus is another fast experience in Korea. At home, it was common for everyone to exit the bus from the front first, as people in the back waited for everyone to exit. This is not the case in Korea. As soon as the bus starts to slow down, people race out of their seats and run up to exit as soon as possible. This is also the case with boarding the bus. I often see people getting on when people are still exiting. People will also line cut when trying to get on the bus. I’ve gotten more used to this, and usually wait to get on the bus or exit last.
Using Rock, Scissors, Paper to Make Decisions
While we sometimes use Rock, Paper, Scissors back home, 가위 바위 보 (Kawi, bawi, bo) or Rock, Scissors, Paper is used all the time to make decisions in Korea! I’ve seen both children and adults use this on a regular basis to decide who wins a tie, who goes first, as well as other important decisions. At first it was strange to constantly see people playing this game, but now I even find myself resorting to 가위 바위 보 when deciding which team will start first during a game. 🙂
Not Saying “Bless You” When Someone Sneezes
In Korea, a sneeze is not acknowledged. The first few times someone sneezed, I automatically said, “bless you!” I either got a strange look or the person didn’t acknowledge that I even said anything. For the most part, I’ve gotten used to ignoring sneezes. I will stay sometimes say “bless you” if Nick sneezes at home, but I usually remember not to say anything.
While I used to think I shared food a good bit at home, I didn’t do it as much as I do now. Nick and I would often take a bite or two of each other’s meals when we went out to eat or we would order appetizers and share them, but sharing food is even more common here. We’re now very used to eating as a group out of a large serving bowl or plate. It’s normal to just dig in with your chopsticks and eat the meal together. More often than not, meals are a shared serving — not an individual meal.
What took some getting used to was ordering a takeout item at school and watching as a co-teacher just took pieces of food off my plate and added it to her own. Everything is just way more communal here, which is completely fine, once you get used to it!
Strange Bathroom Experiences
I’ve written about Korean bathroom experiences before, but this is something that I’ve definitely gotten a lot more used to. I’m used to throwing some extra toilet paper in my coat pocket, in case there is none to be found in the bathroom. I also expect to find a squat potty if I’m in an unfamiliar area. I’ve even seen toilets with smiley faces on them! You just never know what you’re going to get with a bathroom in Korea, and I’m okay with that now!
Well, there you have it. Those are six strange experiences that we now consider normal! I can’t believe that we’ve spent over 6 months in Korea. I look forward to more adventures while we’re here!