From February 22, 2012, to August 22, 2012. Today officially marks my 6-month anniversary in South Korea. I am amazed! I am also just amazed with how strangely time goes. I may have mentioned, but my first 3 months flew by, then month 4 came to a screeching home-sick crawl, then month 5 was crazy busy and month 6 included an INCREDIBLE visit from my parents!
In honor of my six-month milestone, I have decided to make a brief list of things that I love about Korea and another brief list of things that drive me nuts about Korea. No matter where you live, you are gonna have some of each. Here are some of mine, and here's to the next six months!
Reasons that I love Korea:
the public transportation system
it's one of the safest places you could ever live in the world
eating out is so healthy
using chop sticks all the time like a boss
going to Seoul or Busan for the weekend
random English everywhere
actually seeing English everywhere! what would we do without it??
hiking all the time - as I leave work, I could go straight and go to my apartment or turn left and hike a mountain. some afternoons I choose a quick hike before I head home. such a luxury!
awesome rest stops on the highway - they're almost as awesome as Buc ees!
they don't have to be P.C. and it's ok
the spring weather
palaces and temples
I love how old everything is. there is so much history - everywhere you look, you're surrounded by pieces of it!
CUTE socks like you wouldn't believe
the shoes!!! the sandals have hook-straps that look like buckles, but they're not. they're amazing and I want to buy 20 pairs to bring home!
nail art and manicure styles
morning prayer meetings
a plethora of incredible coffee shops with hand roasted beans and unique settings
crab rangoon cracker/chips
ondol heating (under your floor radiant heat)
Lotte Mart, Home Plus, and E-Mart
cheap doctor's visits and the fact that you can walk into a pharmacy and get stuff without a prescription
Korean enthusiasm for everything!
strange ice cream flavors
pomegranate drinking vinegar
how a shop can close one day, and then two days later it's been gutted or renovated and turned into a whole different kind of shop.
beaches - I love sitting on them and swimming in the ocean, and the way that Koreans dress at the beach is just hilarious and endearing. full outfits, sometimes jeans and a polo shirt, to play in the ocean. bikinis are covered by jackets and cover-up dresses in the water, and everyone has SPF 75 and a HUGE hat.
minbaks, jimjilbangs, guesthouse/hostels, and love motels - traveling as a nomadic 20-something is so easy up in here!
how aujjimas dress the same
when you meet a fellow foreigner, you have an instant connection. most everyone is so friendly with each other right off the bat.
Reasons Korea drives me nuts:
FLUSH THE DANG TOILET PAPER ALREADY! It doesn't belong in the trashcan, being all unsanitary and making the whole bathroom smell like tinkle! UGH!
there's not nearly enough air conditioning in the summer and where there is air con, they turn it off too often, plus they think that air con causes you to get sick in the summer.
the crazy amount of plastic surgury
the crazy influence from society to be anorexic
size 10 is a plus size.
fearing for your life when you ride in a taxi, cause the traffic rules are more like "guidelines," especially when they bury the seat belt buckles in the bench seat
double eyelid surgery to make your eyes look western. Hey Koreans, your eyes are beautiful just how God made them. Leave them alone!
manis and pedis are really expensive, especially pedicures (cause you have to pay separately for the scrubby part and the painting part - lame)
the school system that places a crap-ton of stress on its students and Korean teachers (and parents, for that matter)
at the beach, you aren't allowed to swim out further than about 100 yards from the shore. if you start to swim out or if your tube floats too far while you're chillin, folks on jet skis will come up and blow their whistles at you! they are very protective of their swimmers, I guess? this seems very strange for a country surrounded by water on three sides!
there are never any trash cans when you need one
there isn't an enforced regular system for trash pickup, so every once in a while you just see a pile of trash and add to it, then a cleaning crew will come by and clean it up once in a while. or at least that's how it is outside my building.
I get that pale skin is popular here, but in the middle of August, your skin should not be translucent. that's sick. go outside. leave the extra shirt sleeves and parasol behind for 30 minutes. you'll survive. it's summer. your skin shouldn't be glow-in-the-dark-white until January.
when you see a couple on a date but both of them are so engrossed in their smart phones that it's like the other person isn't even there