Thirty Things I think about South Korea

I taught English in South Korea in 2009-2010.  It’s an interesting place that is difficult to sum up.  South Korea is a country with both feet set firmly in the past, with eyes stretching towards the future, but with few thoughts about the present. What does living in a place like Korea do to your psyche?  My expectations have changed a lot during my twelve months there.

*  I think that if I can’t get my way, the solution is to make whiny noises until people give in.

*  I have to admit to thinking that Korean kids are really cute.

* I think it’s okay that coffee costs twice as much as beer.

*  I think that things like garlic bread and pasta sauce should always have sugar on them.

*  I think a bag of chips should be opened sideways.

*  Every time someone says “That’s very hot,” I think “Hot. Hot.  That’s very hot.”

*  I also expect my students to connect two objects not with a straight line but with the craziest squiggly line ever.

* I think it’s normal even during drastic crayon shortages for there always to be too many peach.

* I think that leaving my fan on while I sleep is risking certain death.

* I think I need to apologize to my friends for “not having what it takes” if I want to leave the bars or clubs before 5:30 am.

* I think that pitchers of beer are always mega-ginormous.

* No matter what the time of year is, I think bars should be simultaneously decorated for Xmas and Halloween.

* I think that, no matter where I’m eating, it’s a good idea for the food to be served with sweet pickles and kimchi.

* I think it’s okay to get only one plastic bag even when I buy a month’s worth of groceries.

* I think I’m in a really fancy restaurant if our group gets more than one menu and we are allowed to keep it during our whole time there.

* No matter where I am in the city, if the nearest 7-11 is more than 3 minutes away I think it’s a major inconvenience.

* I think it’s perfectly normal for businessmen in otherwise formal attire to wear a snoopy or teddy bear sweater.  Or a hat that looks like an animal.

* I think “panties” is a unisex word.

* I think that dressing up in similar outfits is an appropriate way for couples to express their affection.

* I think it’s just a normal day when I see dozens of people on the subway and on the streets carrying cakes.

* I think that when you go hiking, you shouldn’t take food, maps, a compass, or even water.  If there aren’t vending machines somewhere near the top of mountain, there will be a restaurant on the way.

* I think that no matter where I am, even on the top of a mountain, there will be exercise equipment available.

* I think my knowledge of grammar looks like this: “Subject is verb.”  (Rex is run.  Teacher is cry?  James is no finish.)

* I think wooden chopsticks seem clumsy, large and bulky.

* I think I should be able to take a 20 minute walk, and see a dozen Paris Baguettes, Duncan Donuts, 7-11’s, or Noraebongs, but if I see one garbage can I am truly surprised.

* I think every dinner table should have scissors and a roll of toilet paper.

* I think any apartment big enough to fit more than two-three people is massive.

* I think that even serious warnings should be expressed with cute characters.

* I think old women have the right to push me if I am in any way standing in their way.  Or even if I’m not.

* If someone isn’t standing as close as humanly possible to the person in front of them, I think it’s okay to step in that space.

* I think English phrases are just words that don’t need to fit together in anyway.  I also think you can just bre
ak up words in English whenever you wa
nt to.

3 responses to “Thirty Things I think about South Korea

  1. ha! Fan Death is crazy!

  2. And the rain water that will kill you!
    The phrase I remember most is from your kids. “Small gift for teacher.”

  3. lol funny. I was only there 5 days and saw almost all of those. except a man in a suit wearing an animal hat. clearly i will have to go back. sadly i have been included among those mean old ladies by one of them. ah well.

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