November 1: Cultural Differences

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all having a great October. It’s crazy how fast this month has gone by. I’ve now been in Korea for 2 and a half months!!! So, I thought it was time to talk about some of the biggest cultural differences I’ve noticed.

1. Shoes

This is a really big cultural difference. Of course, in the US it’s polite to take off your shoes when entering someone’s house, but it’s much different here. You immediately take off your shoes and wear slippers. And not just at people’s houses, at the doctor’s office, school, and many places. When I go to work, I change into my work slippers before entering the school. The kids all have little plastic school shoes that they only wear at school too!

2. Food

Food of course is really different here. Some of the popular foods are fried chicken, rice cakes, samgyeopsal (pork belly), Korean style barbeque, rice, kimchi, and ramyeon (ramen). The food is really really good. At work, I eat Korean school lunch. They always include rice, kimchi, soup (which I never eat), and some types of meats and vegetables. Here are some pictures of my lunches:

3. Respect

Respect here a huge thing. It’s not just practiced, but it’s built into the language. The Korean language has different levels of formality, ranging from friends (and those younger than you), to those who are older than you, and those in positions above you. It’s really important to use the proper endings and tenses when speaking. It’s also respectful to bow when meeting someone. Along with smaller things like using both hands to give something to someone, using honorifics when saying someone’s name, and more.

4. Work hours

Korean people work a lot. The work culture here is to stay late in order to be the best worker. It’s also very common to work insane hours. On a different note, most jobs start later in the morning (think 10am) than we would in the US. It’s also common to work through lunch breaks.

5. Chopsticks

Korean people use chopsticks just like other Asia countries, but the chopsticks actually differ by country. For instance, in China the chopsticks are round, usually made of bamboo or wood, and are quite light. In Korea, chopsticks are metal, heavy, and rectangle shaped. Honestly, I’m really bad at Korean chopsticks and still only use Chinese chopsticks at home.

6. Heat and Air Conditioning

The heat and air con systems here are different than anywhere I’ve lived. Actually, the air con is just a wall air con which is the same as China and other places I’ve been. But the heating is just floor heating. So now, I’m trying to prepare for a cold winter with only floor heating. We’ll see how it goes.

Those are the main cultural differences I could think of! Hope you enjoyed reading and maybe learned something about Korea.

See you next time!

Corinn


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