Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Some observations from my time so far in the ROK:

- Lots of push-button doors. Push the little bar on the wall next to the door and the door slides open (there are a few at work, but it seems to be common in most bakeries (Tous les Jours, Paris Baguette, etc.) and banks). Not automatic doors- you need to push the button to make them move. Weird.

- Tiny cups. TINY. I used to drink so much water back in the States, but I drink hardly any water here because the cups are SO LITTLE. Maybe four ounces. Even the glasses in my residence (provided) are wee. Very cute, yes, but stupid.

- Everyone assumes I know every English word ever created. Yes, I generally do, but still. I'm a walking, talking pronounciation guide.

- Talking elevators. Everwhere. "You are on the eleventh floor." "Going down."

- Slippers. People at work wear regular shoes to and from work, but wear slippers (mostly those Adidas-style slides that were super popular in the States a while back) while at work. To be comfortable, I guess? I work eight hours a day, but they work a lot more.

- Have you eaten? Everyone asks this of everyone. I think it's the first thing I get asked every day. Koreans really care about appearance, but also really want to make sure that you're eating. Another thing is that a lot of people that work here seem to eat all their meals here. I have no issue eating dinner at home by myself- I like it, in fact- but my co-workers seem worried that I do so. It's not like they eat here, either, they all eat out. So basically, some people eat out every single meal during the workweek. Granted, eating out in Korea is not like eating out in the States- almost every restaurant in the States is unhealthy, whereas a lot of Korean restaurants have really homemade food. I still don't think I would like to eat out that much, though. I don't like to eat around that many strangers, either.

- Titles. Americans that work in film (I can't really speak for other industries) don't use formalities at all. Even the director is just called by his name. In Korea, everyone has some sort of title, even if the title basically means "worker." I can't get over this, because it means that what I have to call someone is much longer than their whole (first and last) name. How is that reasonable at all?

- Accents. For such a small country, Korea has a lot of regional dialects. I've gotten used to dramas and movies, where mostly everyone has the Seoul accent (no accent), with the quirky/funny/weird character having a heavy country bumpkin accent. A lot of people at work have accents, to varying degrees. I find that I understand some of them a lot better than I understand others. Think of a thick Lousiana accent, or maybe a heavy Boston accent- similar thing.

- TV shows. What the heck, Korea?? Why do TV shows start at 11:00 p.m. or even midnight?? The Korean version of "primetime" is apparently quite a bit later than the American version. The good news is, I get about 500 channels and they re-run everything so often that I end up pretty much catching up on the shows that I watch every now and again. The bad news is, there's a lot of shows. I have to prioritize. And figure out when they actually air. It's all very confusing so far.

- Bread. Why is the bread in Korea better than the bread in America? This is dumbfounding to me. For a country that only consumes bread at breakfast (if that) and for snacking, Korea has some amazing bread. American bread makes me sad, and I don't like it, but Korean bread is addicting. Awful. I already love rice way too much, I can't also love another starch.

- Checks (of lack thereof). There are no checks in Korea. Literally no checks. People use automatic deposits (using each others' bank account numbers) for everything. Owe someone some money? Put it in their account. Getting money from your employer? They'll put it in your account. It's convenient, I suppose, but also weird to me. My bank book is pretty adorable- they gave me a choice when I opened my account, and I went for the girliest one. My bank card (debit card, I suppose, but I've never been asked for a PIN number unless I'm at an ATM) is just a standard card with magnetic strip. Nothing fancy there.

I've been in Korea for a week now (I got here last Wednesday) and it already feels like I know the place. I know where to walk if it's raining (there's cobblestones (maybe not cobblestones- they're like bricks, but in zigzag shapes) instead of sidewalks in a lot of places here, so the walkways can be slightly uneven, holding water in big puddles if it's raining enough), I know where to go if I need Q-tips, I know where to go get money, I know where to get groceries, I feel like I've gotten to know the area a little.

Granted, I still get a little turned around sometimes, but it's not that bad. And I've always found my way back home, even if I do get lost for a few minutes. I'm sure it will all be a different story once I get on the subway (or bus, horror of horrors), but that's why I have a phone, after all. I've already checked out the map on my phone and it's quite the good deal, with lots and lots of detail.

I had jjajangmyun (짜장면) for lunch today. It was delicious. I will never be able to find that restaurant again without someone's help.


Diana E.S. July 13, 2011 at 6:36 AM  

You're making me all nostalgic... :-)

jeanny July 13, 2011 at 6:34 PM  

Congratulations on Baby!! So excited for you guys.

I hope Husband is ready to cook some random food to satisfy pregnancy cravings!

I bet you don't miss jangma season- I don't really care for it much.