Our Time in Korea Wrap-Up

by Sharon -- August 23, 2010

One of the main reasons for traveling Asia for a year was to experience Korean life.  We had our expectations coming in to the country, and I can safely say that most of mine were wrong.  Here is a list of some of those changes :

  • Koreans did not discriminate against me for being a Korean-American who doesn’t speak Korean.  This was such a relief for me because I didn’t want my first experience in Korea to be a bad one based on something so trivial.  They love Americans and American culture, so they were always happy to speak to us in their broken English or help us if we needed it.
  • I initially had never planned to live in Korea for any permanent amount of time, but after living there for 5 months, I have decided that I would love to go back and teach for a year.  Korea was a great combination of home familiarity as well as foreign culture, so Jason and I really enjoyed having both.  It helped prevent us from getting homesick and we also had the chance to immerse ourselves into a different culture at the same time.
  • I am even more motivated to learn the Korean language after having only taken less than 4 months of lessons.  When we come back home we will have undoubtedly forgotten 50% of what we learned, but at least I have gained even more interest in the language than ever before.  My ultimate goal is to one day make my parents uncomfortable when they want to talk about me in Korean; I will know what they’re saying one day!

Here is a list of some silly and random things we observed about Korea that we enjoyed:

  • Jason and I have come to love the Korean drink called Makgeolli.  It is unrefined rice wine. So rather than being clear like Soju, it still has a milky white rice substance that settles on the bottom of the bottle.  You actually have to stir up the drink in order to mix the white substance with the clear part, but once you do, you are rewarded with a slightly carbonated and sweet taste of heaven.  The best part is that a bottle of Makgeolli is less than $1!  You can get hyphy on a beggar’s budget!
  • Koreans love their English.  They love it on hats, in their K-pop music, on their extremely decorative stationary, on their baseball team names, and most importantly- on their clothing.  It was impossible for either one of us to find a t-shirt in Korea that did not have any silly English written in huge font.  I’ve written previous posts on Engrish, so I won’t delve into that, but the funny thing about the English being everywhere is that they don’t seem to know what their shirts mean.  If they do, then they have some really questionable taste in fashion.
  • I have confirmed that all Korean women above the age of 40 chew gum the same way; by making an excessively loud popping sound every three chews (with their mouths open of course).  How do they do it?  I have no clue.  My Korean mother has chewed her gum this exact way since I can remember, and even after teaching me how to pop my gum as a little girl I was never able to achieve the right sound.  There must be something in Korean genetics that bestows this ability onto their women… an ability that either is slowly fading away through the generations or one that only seems to take effect once the women reach 40.

Random Thought of the Day: Food in Indonesia is dirt cheap and delicious!  At many restaurants you simply sit down and they bring you about 10-15 small plates of different dishes, along with a big bowl of rice.  You eat what you want and pay for what you eat.  It’s a fun way to experiment with new foods without having to blindly pick something that ends up being pig testicles.  Jason and I can eat an awesome meal complete with 6 dishes for $5, and that’s a bit expensive.  Fruit is also a small fraction of the price we all pay in America.

Makgeolli photo courtesy of worknplay

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2 Responses to “Our Time in Korea Wrap-Up”

  1. hahahahah I dont think it will make our parents uncomfortable when they know you know what they are saying…. When they are making gestures about giant boobs or over drinking, we know what they are saying and they dont seem to care :) hahahah

    Have you had the desert rice drink? Its similar to what you’re saying but there is rice on the bottom and its sweet?

  2. So did you really sit there and count the number of chewing gum pops made by Korean women? Lol

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