Small Hints I’m in a New Country…

5 Sep

I’ve talked about my general experiences here, but I thought I’d share a few (okay, quite a few) shorter observations about what daily life here actually looks like.

  1. Loud speakers out in the street that always seem to be the same angry-sounding man. Angry or authoritative…it’s hard to tell. (It took me a few days, but I finally found out it’s a fruit vendor truck! How can a man selling fruit sound so angry?)
  2. Guys in military uniform always moseying about – Korean men are required to fulfill 2 years of military training after school.
  3. Kleenex/tissue boxes placed at the dinner table, rather than individual napkins.
  4. Hanging laundry to dry (an environmentally-friendly change that I’m willing to keep indefinitely).
  5. Cross-walk guards who hold flags with stop signs on them, instead of actual stop signs.

    Children here have the best umbrellas and backpacks!

  6. Children who walk to school in droves, without parents (most families here have two working parents, and children typically walk alone to school from the start).
  7.  Hot red peppers laid on the side of the road to dry (in any given neighbourhood, on a busy street, or a secluded sidewalk!).
  8. Firetrucks that read 119, instead of 911.
  9. Homes and restaurants with tiled entrances, where you are expected to leave your shoes.

    First, notice my ginormous pair of boots (it was a rainy day; refer to #14 for further explanation). Then, notice the tiny pair of Mary Janes at the back – children are not exempt from the shoe-removal rule!

  10. Homes and restaurants equipped with tables that have short, kick-out legs, and cushions for your tooshie.
  11. Decidedly Korean side dishes, even for a “Western meal”. (Spaghetti and kimchi, anyone?)
  12. All the tea is green (and tastes way better than the green tea we have in Canada!).
  13. The sink isn’t plugged for washing dishes – you just soap up a sponge and lather, then rinse!
  14. Even on a Very Rainy Day, people still wear shorts/mini skirts/sandals/high heels. The only rain boots I’ve seen so far were my own.
  15. Old people giving me the once-over, and little kids calling me a “foreigner”. (For the record, most people don’t really notice me, or if they do it’s no big deal. You always kinda double-take the visual minority, but it’s not as blatant as people wanted to warn me it would be! )
  16. A clip of music before every pre-recorded announcement at the subway or store. Sometimes I get the Korail (subway) song  stuck in my head.
  17. Free samples on every aisle at the big grocery stores! E-Mart and Lotte Mart are the big supermarkets here, and there are more samples to be had than at Costco! (The Lotte conglomerate has its hands in everything from supermarkets, to housing, to hotels, to sports teams, to an amusement park, to trade and oil industries. It practically deserves its own bullet point, since I see it everywhere here! But alas, I have little patience for mega-corporations when I really stop to think about it, which is why I won’t give it any more space than it already has.)
  18. No English radio stations in my city! Except the one English song I heard on a Korean station…by Olivia Newton John. Sigh.
  19. Buses that you pay for by swiping your card on a sensor – so high tech! Some of them also have a sliding door as an exit.
  20. Birdies that look and sound different (magpies and cranes, oh my!). Also…ginormous spiders in all the trees. (Note to self: don’t bike under low-hanging branches.)
  21. Recycling everything…WIN!
  22. Everyone stopping to have a hot, prepared lunch together at work – no brown paper bags here! (We have a schedule that tells us who is each day’s chef. I get Wednesdays.)

    Fantastic parking job…

  23. The apparent lack of rules when driving. For example, red lights are a mere suggestion to slow down, and if there are no parking spots you’re welcome to block in others by parking behind them, where there is space.
  24. The rooster that crows every morning, and the sound of crickets singing.
  25. The fact that I’m really starting to miss my family despite all this awesomeness. While there’s a lot to entertain me, nothing can replace the oddities you take for granted in your own home and native land.
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5 Responses to “Small Hints I’m in a New Country…”

  1. Heather September 22, 2012 at 10:43 AM #

    Bahaha! I love 5 and 17.
    P.S. I miss you today.

  2. Natasha September 12, 2012 at 5:38 PM #

    #23. Lack of rules when driving. AGREED. It’s crazy here in Rome too!

  3. Mama September 6, 2012 at 1:01 AM #

    Fun list! Auntie Vicki’s been doing #4 all her life. You’re just used to lazy me.

    • Deborah September 6, 2012 at 9:08 PM #

      Yeah, I know, that one’s not really a “new country” thing, but it’s a characteristic of my living here, so I had to add it…

  4. Liz September 5, 2012 at 10:10 PM #

    I really love reading your blogs. Feel like I am actually there. After my night shift it’s a great get away. Take care and have an exceptionally awesome day.

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