This week I was considering doing a post that contained a serious topic. However, I will wait and see how events turn out before I do so. I want to give you this week something easy to read and relaxing. I will share one or two funny incidents that happened to me in Korea. Things that were awkward or scary at the time of happening , now make me laugh a little. If one studies abroad these incidents are inevitable due to differences in expectations, culture, and languages. Previously another blogger recalled having diarrhea in his pants while on public transportation in Korea. While I may not be able to top that, I hope you like my short stories.
My first story begins on public transportation too. Many people that are not from Seoul think that the subway system in Seoul is confusing and just plain hell. After a couple months, I got used to it and as a matter of fact appreciate it. One has the inner city line that is represented as a green line on the maps. From there one can connect and transfer to other lines and reach all corners of Seoul and surrounding areas. The trains and facilities are clean and modern. They put the subway system in New York City to shame. However, NYC’s subway is can be fun if one uses their imagination and pretends it is a roller coaster.
The Seoul subway has two rush hour times. You guessed it, in the morning and in the afternoon. The rush hour happens when all the people are all going to or from work and school. During rush hour, people are packed like sardines shoulder to shoulder, face to face. Forget personal space my friends, leave that behind in the western countries. Once on the train, you will eventually meet the old ladies that call Seoul their home. They will hit you using their bags, sticks, wheeled carts, or other objects in order to reach their destination. Don’t get too excited, they probably had some hardships or need to be somewhere really important. Just get used to it. Once you reach your stop, the people come pouring in and out the train doors like compressed air out of canister. You got people pushing behind you. One has little choice over the direction or speed that they move; just go with the flow of the people river.
Then you will have a log or stone block the river resulting in a flood. There exists these people that have their faces buried in a phone or tablet. They walk ambiguously in crowded places. Not their problem if they walk into someone. I had the pleasure of being in the people river when one of these electronicphiliac individuals changed his walking pace in front of me. This resulted in me accidentally stepping on the back of his shoe, almost tripping the unfortunate man. He turned around and looked at me. I quickly bow to him and proclaim, “죄송합니다!!” The man smiles and replies, “No problem.”
That happens a lot in Korea. Sometimes an English speaker puts great efforts into planning his or her words, then the Korean person will respond in English. Sometimes this event is flattering, other times frustrating because it makes practicing speaking Korean difficult. Not all smart people speak English, not all English speaking people are smart. With that being said I would like to point out how highly educated that citizens of Korea are compared to other peoples. It is difficult for me to have Korean conversations with certain individuals because they have been taught too much English!
My hand is beginning to get cramps. I will save the other funny story for another post, because I am sure you’re itching to read some other blogs right about now. Thanks for reading.