Thursday, July 4, 2013

Life in Korea: Things I have learned after few weeks

When I first landed in Seoul few weeks ago, I was welcome with a very cold breeze. The last week of May up to August is supposedly dry / summer season. Just as the same as in the Philippines, Korean weather could be really a fickle friend. Good thing though, the hotel we stayed at in Seoul, always kept us informed how the weather was going to be like throughout the week. And since I've grown accustomed to checking Pag-asa  (in the hopes of class suspensions in the Philippines ----sorry but hey, who wouldn't want it?) I've done the same thing too in Korea. Their weather website is very accurate and reliable (and dependable, please forgive my redundancy here).

Apart from weather,  I've learned a number of things in Korea in just a matter of weeks. These are: 

1. I ain't apologizing nothing. Along sidewalks (especially in Seoul), expect no apologies when people brushed your arms rather hard, or literally bumped into you. I've had my share of experiences. At first I would just quickly stop at my pace and expect that assailant to say sorry. But alas, not a bow nor mianhamnida's can be heard. Life continues (lol). Don't get pissy too at them as this has become a natural additive into their culture. 

2. Spitting spree. Yes, most of them would spit on the street, at the alley or in public places.  In the Philippines, this kind of behavior could otherwise be said as 'something common.' But I (not sounding too provincial), never expected to be done so prominently here in SK, most especially in Seoul.  So.... watch where your feet are threading.

3. Steer clear from achoo. Most that I've seen when we were in Seoul wouldn't bother covering their nose or mouth when sneezing. I guess it is quite safe to say that this is 'normal' in the country but apparently to me and to almost everyone else, it is not. I remember one time, when I was standing in line in a shop in order to get some food samplers, a lady behind me just vehemently coughed. That was enough a reason for me to back away from the samplers and virus as well.

I have to add that when I got in a bus, some frenzy achooers  just whistled away their coughs and sneezes. They didn't bother to cover their mouth. As a result (I  firmly believed) that is where I caught my cold.

4. Bikers along sidewalks. The side walks in almost all of Korea are catered for pedestrians and citizens on bikes. They are placed together, with the bike trail on the outer lane. That, I believe, is a kind of cool but at the same time not. Wouldn't it be nice to walk freely, where you can just maneuver your hands up high to hail a taxi, at the same time not worry about hitting an incoming biker?

Now, another thing that should be noted here is that there are delivery guys on motor bikes(that use the lane as well. I've seen plenty of them in Seoul.  With boxes at the back of their bikes, they'd pick up their speed and swish swashing on the road to get to their destination. The lesson here is always stay alert. Keep your eyes glued not only on the road but also on the lane you are walking along.


6. Serve yourself up. Most restaurants and food chain (not the high end though), obligate their customers to pick their food up from the counter. There is no waiter standing by to deliver the food or condiments to your table.You serve yourself up.

And when you are done with your food or want to take the remaining portion back home with you, you do it yourself. You can't leave your nearly emptied out plates and cups on the table. I can't tell you though what would happen if you would do it otherwise. Both me and hubby have been both good customers (lol). You throw out disposable plates and cups at their proper bins. There are some food court though like in Lotteria
or Dong-ga where you would have to return the plastic or breakable dishes back to the shop you have ordered your food from.

If only we can introduce this concept in the Philippines, eh?

 7. Chance of robbery, almost 0%. What I really love about Korea is it tries to keep you safe. You can place your bag on a table, leave it for some minutes and then expect to see your stuff untouched when you get back. Koreans, generally speaking, do not pry, pinch or pilfer any stuff in front of your door, shopping push cart that is unattended, etc.

This is not to say that SK is 100% free from evil doers. But you never hear of robbery here like it is there in the Philippines.

Anna in Korea