Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Things I've Learned About Korea in the Last Year

Living in Korea has brought some interesting experiences to our family.  I've found some funny things while living here...so enjoy!

1.  If you have blond haired, blue eyed daughters...hide them!  Or cut their hair, dye it black, and give them colored contacts.  They will hate you for it...right up until they see another blond girl accosted by a herd (that's right, I said herd) of little, old Korean ladies.  They love to smile, and rub their hair, and speak to them in quick Korean.  Even if it is really obvious the kids can't understand a word they say!  We've had ladies follow us down the street, just to pet my daughters!

2.  Koreans are astonishingly giving.  I hate being beholden to anyone, but in Korean culture, once you are accepted as part of their family...they do A LOT for you!  We have a friend who has "adopted" us into his family.  So, every time we go to Busan we are not allowed to pay for ANYTHING!  Thank goodness we were able to convince them to come visit us at Osan so we could return the favor!

3.  Koreans drive like nervous teenagers, and yet somehow, I haven't seen any serious crashes.  I've watched their feet swing back and forth between the gas and brake pedal like a champion racer.  And there is nothing gentle about how they push on the pedals either!  I've never been so grateful for seatbelts in my whole life. 

4.  Koreans can make anything!  They are the MacGyver's of the world.  I've watched a man take sticks and nut shells and make a beautiful forest creature out of them.  I've seen piles of scrap be turned into art.  Seriously, give them toothpicks and scrap cloth and you will be amazed.  No lie!

5.  I will never learn the language.  Never.  I've picked up a handful of words in the year I have been here, and I probably butcher them.  Koreans are just too polite to say anything.  I can't read the signs either...it's like looking at a pretty,modern art picture, trying to figure out what it means.

6.  The people here can EAT!  And eat, and eat, and eat.  And they still stay so skinny.  I'll never be able to buy clothes here.  I'm a size 12 by the way.  I always think I'm being rude when I refuse seconds, but I'm afraid if I agree then I'll end up wasting food...or get sick trying to eat too much.  I don't know how they do it!  Now, granted most of it (if not all of it) is really healthy and they can all tell you the good things those foods are supposed to do for your body.  I just can't take in that much in one sitting.

7.  I've learned to try everything at least once.  I mean, really...when I am ever again going to be able to say that I was offered duck's butt?  (Really, I've had it...surprisingly spicy!)  Or that I was able to pick out my own eel?  Or had some kind of fermented bean paste?  Sure, there's a good possibility I won't like it, but hey...I tried it!

8.  The trains here will take you ANYWHERE!  Really, anywhere!  The subway and speedy trains are awesome.  And pretty cheap!  OH, and there are buses (I haven't been brave enough to try them) off base that, again, go anywhere.  And when all that fails...just walk.  I'm pretty sure my legs and tush are going to be amazing when I get back to the states. 

9.  Never go to any tourist attraction on the weekend.  The massive amount of people at them will crush you.  Shudder.  They pack people in here like sardines!  I'm all about my personal bubble...yeah, it's been popped here.  Whimper.  So we travel and see things during the week, you know, when most people are at work. 

10.  Korea is beautiful.  There really is something here for everyone.  Hiking, night life, culture, museums, festivals, shopping, eating...you name it...it's here!  You just have to leave base to find it.  And maybe get lost a few times.  And definitely stuck in traffic at least 10 times.  Oh, and spend more than you planned to because, I mean really that deal is just too good to pass up! 

I like it here...most days.  I still really feel like a foreigner and stick out like a sore thumb, but the things I've seen and done here are amazing.  I hope my next year here is just as amazing!

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