It has now been almost three weeks since my arrival in Korea. I have found my groove that has helped me these past two weeks since school has started. Everyone uses the term “cultural shock” as a way to distinguish a difference between cultures. I have witnessed many differences between the United States and South Korea.
- For example, in South Korea, people seem busy all the time. No one wants to be late for anything, but everyone keeps to themselves and push forward. Here, you rarely say “excuse me” or “bless you” because everyone likes to keep to themselves. In small instances where you do bump into someone only then do people say “pardon me” or “excuse me.”
2. What if you take the subway? There are rules when taking the subway, and I will tell you the two of my important ones.
Rule 1: Seats are designated for the elderly, and for women who are pregnant. Everyone here obeys this rule. Now, if an elderly person comes in and all the seats are full, a person would get up and let the elderly person sit down. This shows me that it is a sign of respect, which is the same way we learn back at home. Always respect your elders.
Rule 2; The subway can be congested at certain times of the day. Everyone starts to get closer and closer until the subway is full. As I mentioned before, no one says excuse me. One of the best ways to still get off and avoid any problems are to just stand or sit near the door. Others might get off at the same stop, so you can flow with the crowd.
3. What about going out to a restaurant? My buddy would help and prepare the table for my friends and I to eat. Later on, I realized that the youngest one would be the one to get and pour the drinks, and pass out the silverware. There are some places in South Korea where the waiter can bring you these things, but most of the time, this relies the people. Back in the United States, the waiter would provide all the service. The customers would have nothing to worry about. One benefit in being in South Korea, is there is no tipping at the end of dinner. Here, that would be considered an insult to them and their service.
4. I feel safe when I go out at night with friends. In Korea, they have security cameras everywhere. This helps prevent people from any theft, illegal drug use, and more. Even where I live, there are cameras on all the floors to protect the students and other individuals. Everyone here is trustworthy with one another. I feel safe knowing I can trust my other roommates!
These are some of the differences I have noticed while I have been here these three weeks. I am hoping to see more as time goes on. Stay tuned for more ahead!