Because I’m an Asian Studies major, Korean culture didn’t necessarily shock me to the extremes. It was the small things that surprised me and left me on edge. The first things I realized was:
- Motor vehicles will run you over – bus drivers don’t give a shit and will smash you flat
- The layout of Korean bathrooms may be unsettling – the shower is not separate from the toilet so when you do shower, it will wet the entire bathroom.
- The small shops, which I believe have the most adorable clothes and reasonable prices, will most likely not allow you to try on most of their clothes ie. white clothes, t-shirts, dresses, cotton and spandex
- People will stare at you – if you are not Asian
- Large market’s produce will be expensive
After living here in Korea I have grown accustomed to the layouts of the bathroom and I’ve learned how to maneuver myself around vehicles. Clothing shops have extremely cheap prices so it isn’t a big deal if it doesn’t fit, but most of the time the clothes that are made have a baggy style so most likely it will fit. People staring at you doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. It’s kind of amusing because many Koreans believe that westerners say hello to strangers (of course we do when we are on a walk or something, but not at a shopping center) so I tend to get hellos when I’m out shopping for groceries or I’m at the beach. Not only this, but because I’m a foreigner, many people ask to take pictures with them. Sometimes I feel like a celebrity here hehe. Lastly, large markets will sell expensive produce ~ ie $8.00 for 5 nectarines, but if you look around shopping areas in your vicinity you will find produce sold much cheaper on the streets by local vendors.
One last thing ~ I love to walk so public transportation isn’t a big deal for me, but if you are used to driving everywhere,well living in Korea forces you to use public transport. This includes plenty of walking to and from transportation and transfers. So be ready!