The adjustment period is much harder than I thought. The first week definitely made me rethink a lot of the things I have been thinking for the past few years. I thought with all the things I learned and the Korean skill level I had that things would be easier coming abroad. But that was not true at all.
Actually, it has been one of the hardest situations I have ever encountered. New people. New culture. New customs and beliefs. The way people act is different. Living with a host family has made me realize that the people here have a tendency to try and phrase things nicely. Like, if you do something wrong, instead of getting angry people will try to explain it to you clearly.
For example, something I’m not used to is the restaurants here. In Maryland, if you go to a restaurant people bring you your food, drinks, etc. But here in Korea, almost everything is self-serving was this one day I went to a Vietnamese restaurant to eat Phở, and I was waiting for a waiter or waitress to bring me a cup and utensils. I never realized that I would have to get up to get the water or that the utensils would be in the drawer under the table.
Or like, in the subway or the bus, when you want to get off you have to literally push through the crowd to get to the door because no one will simply let you through. And the doors close so fast that you need to get out the door as fast as possible or else you will miss your stop. It is very stressful, I realize now it is best to just stay close enough to the door to get off, but far enough that you cannot get swept away with the crowd.
No ‘excuse me’s, not I’m ‘sorry’s if you bump into someone. Completely different.
It’s funny too, because I had heard about these things before when people talked about coming to Korea, but experiencing it was so different from my initial expectations.
On the plus side, the food is so much better than the food I could get in the United States and so much cheaper! I never expected the food to be about half the price. An yet, the coffee here can go anywhere from the price of a normal meal to the price of an expensive one. Ranging from around 5 US dollars to 8. I’ve never really been a huge coffee drinker,
but the coffee here is another way to socialize and I think it’s a really good addition to the culture here. You can really get to know people just by having a conversation over coffee.
In the end, though, I realized that what it comes down to is making sure that I keep an open mind to things here, try new foods or places, experiences. I believe being here will also give me a push of independence and pave the way to becoming a much more knowledgeable individual.