South Korea: A list of things which are not strange anymore

When you live in one country for a long time you get used to many things which in the beginning seemed very strange.

I live abroad for more than 11 years, and mostly I lived in South Korea. Therefore, today I want to share with you my list of experience. I worked, I studied, I travelled, I did a lot of different stuff here in Korea. So it is difficult to call me a real foreigner here. So, let’s start…

👉In public transportation, girls take off their pouch with cosmetics and start to do a make-up. Many times I had a chance to see how one girl gets to the metro, and then she gets out, she looks as absolutely another person. And no one stares on her.

👉It is normal to see girl walking along the street with applied big hair roller. Well, girls will understand her. It is difficult to keep your bang styled till your destination, but if you keep hair roller on your bang, so you can just take it off when you arrive, and your bang will look perfect.

👉When a couple get to the bus or metro, and there is an only one free seat, guess who will sit there? Right! A man! And it is normal in Korea. Korean girls think that they are strong enough to stand, and they don’t look at that as a basic etiquette norms.

👉When you see your colleagues or friends in the corridor they don’t tell you ‘Hi’, they usually tell you ‘Did you have a meal’, which is one of the ways of greetings.

👉Despite the working day starts at 9 am, if you are not in the office at 7 or 8 am, it will be strange. And if officially your working day finishes at 6 pm, but you are thinking should you stay for 1 hour more or 2 hours, well, it means you are Korean now! Well, actually this culture is changing a little bit, because of keep increasing number of foreign employees.

👉When you see 40–50 years old woman with a baby, you don’t think that it is a grandma and grandson/daughter, you are sure that it is mom and son/daughter. Korean people get married pretty late, and give a born to children also late.

👉When you have a choice between fork and chopsticks, you will choose chopsticks without any doubts.

👉When you meet new people, you don’t ask their names, you ask their age.

👉When you live on the same floor with the same people for 5–10 years, and you still don’t know their names and even don’t say ‘Hi’ to them when you meet. People don’t even look at each other. And if you say ‘Hi’ you will look suspicious.

👉When after spicy noodles you drink milk. Koreans think that milk helps to put out a fire in the mouth. I didn’t check it yet.

👉When you wait in the line for an hour in order to get into the cafe, despite there is another empty cafe right on the left side to that cafe. A long line means tasty food. But I wouldn’t be so sure.

👉When in a small shop seller rejects to accept bank card, you tell him that you will file a complaint against him, then he accepts your card without any words.

👉When you see people in pyjama in a big shopping mall, you even don’t look at them because ‘Why not?’.

👉Sushi and rolls are not a super expansive delicacy, but the most usual and cheap snack. And it is always in the menu of poor students.

👉When you speak in your native language but every 2nd or 3rd word is Korean, and you don’t understand why your friends staring on you and can’t understand. Also, you need at least 5 mins to remember the meaning of some Korean words in your native language.

👉When you see married people, and they call each other in polite form of ‘You’.

👉When you tell about your family you don’t say ‘My dad’, ‘My husband’, etc, instead you say ‘Our dad’, ‘Our husband’…

And that is not all. There are a lot of other things that don’t surprise me anymore, but maybe looks strange to foreigners and tourists.

That is S.Korea, baby! 😎

Do you have a similar experience? Or how did your perception changed after years spent in another country?



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A half of my life I spent abroad and mostly in South Korea. I am inspired by travel, learning new culture & history, foreign languages and other stuff