Culture Differences

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For people who have yet to go abroad, but have heard all about the effects of culture shock, I feel as if it has gotten more intense the more I learn about the culture of the country that I am in.

It started off with me noticing things that I had heard from others, spicy food, lots of seafood, people bumping into others on the street with no apology. Very few details first. Then there were more cultural points that I would compare with my home country.

One difference that may seem small to some people, but has become a very large difference to me personally, is the lack of savory or salty snacks in Korea. In America, you can find a good variety: sweet, salty, or sour snacks. However, a good majority of the Korean snacks here are sweet. I bought a pack of garlic bread chips, expecting it to taste salty and have a very strong garlic taste, but instead, all I could taste was sweet bread crackers.

It is just so different from America that, despite the delicious taste of Korean food, I find myself craving all kinds of salty American food.

Another point that has come to my attention is the difference in not only teaching styles but also expectations for assignments here in Korea. I’m not sure if maybe it is just me or if my home university also has courses like this, but most of the courses here do not give actual homework assignments. Other than in my language course, I have only received readings and being expected to read and study on my own.

Other than presentations, essays (which there also are not many of, people say they prefer exams here), or exams, I have yet to have a real graded assignment. I am used to the American style courses in Maryland, where the teachers give a large amount of homework and then they base your grade on a variety of components like participation, presentations, exams, essays, etc. Usually, the percentage of the grade would not be focused primarily in one area or another it is more balanced. However, in all the classes, I have this semester, they focus the grades on the midterm, final exam, and attendance.

Even my Chinese class, the provided assignments are very different from what I was accustomed to in a language class in America, and they are primarily translation based.

Most of the class we work on translating from Chinese to Korean or Korean to Chinese. It is honestly the most stressful language class I have taken thus far.

These were parts of Korean culture that I had never thought about prior to coming to Korea, but after being here, there are also some of the things that have stood out to me the most.

Especially as an exchange student in Korea, it is very interesting to see the differences in schooling culture and education systems in other countries.

There is even a day in Korea, where students wear their old high school uniforms to their college and then once they leave school they go back to their high school to visit their old teachers.