A few observations and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to truth.
Besides watching BTS American Hustle Life (on Daily Motion) and reading Persepolis, I did absolutely nothing today but stay in my hotel room eating fiber bars. Yes, it is a Sunday, and yes, I could have gone out and made the best of Seoul. Say what you will, but this was my day to relax. I’m halfway through this internship program, so I wanted tell you what I’ve noticed for the two weeks I’ve been here thus far.
Red Bugs with White Spots
I don’t like bugs. Anyone could tell you, yet I’m constantly one of the first to spot them. As I walk around Seoul, I notice these little bugs I’ve never seen before. (It scared the crap out of me when it started jumping). So, I looked it up and found out they are Lantern Flies that appear during the summer. The ones I’ve seen where nymph, so it was very shocking to see them as adults.
Matching Uniforms at the Gym
I bought a gym membership for a month to keep up with my fitness. It was interesting too because you can only get a looker if you rent one or trade in some form of ID for a key (at least at the gym I’m at). But what I couldn’t help but notice when I went to the gym were the matching outfits. It turns out that some gyms in Korea provide exercise clothes there so you don’t have to bring your own. It’s great if you don’t want to wash your own clothes.
I can never put my finger on it, but the fashion here is noticeably different. Maybe it’s the full body patterns or dull colors, or maybe it’s the type of material an outfit is made out of. Either way, I’ve noticed that in Korean fashion, a lot of clothes tend to be straight (not figure fitting) or baggy, and most pants stop at or a little above the ankles. And if they wear leggings, they tend to wear a dress, long shirt, or shorts over them, unlike a lot of girls in America. (Fun Fact: A lot of Koreans don’t care how short you were shorts. Your booty can be hanging out and everything, but if you show a tiny bit of cleavage, it’s basically taboo).
Speaking of fashion, you will often see (young) couples wearing matching outfits. Koreans tend to be more affectionate than Japanese people, even between friends, (You’ll often see girls holding hands as you walk by, but they are not couples). Relationships are very important here. So much so that a coworker will ask if you have a boy/girlfriend. If you don’t, they will try to hook you up so you can have a twin of your very own. What better way to show your love?
I say “napkins” because you will be surprised to see a roll of toilet paper on the table when you go out to eat. Of course, this isn’t at all restaurants, but even when you see a real napkin dispenser, the napkins are as thin as toilet paper. In some bathrooms, you will find a roll of toilet paper to dry your hands (which is horrible in my opinion).
To continue the talk about “napkins,” when you come to South Korea and see a bin in the stall, DO NOT throw the toilet paper in the toilet. Sounds weird, right? Well, after you finish and wipe (hopefully), the bins in the stall are used to toss your toilet paper in. they do this because some pluming in bathrooms are very old, and toilet paper can clog up the toilet. What is bad about that is that the person throwing the toilet paper in the toilet won’t have negative effects. It will be the person to use the bathroom after them.
Fans (not the screaming ones) Everywhere
It’s July, and you sweat like crazy here. You can’t see the sun, but you can sure feel the heat. So, people often walk around with rechargeable portable fans or plain hand fans to keep themselves cool. These fans are much better, though. Not like those sad three winged fans in America.
OK, this heading may be a little miss leading. However, Koreans LOVE to drink. They will drink at birthdays, weddings, clubs, heck for even breathing. It’s a major part of their culture and can be considered rude if you decline a drink if you are invited out. For some reason, the absolutely love drinking beer while eating chicken, but the favored alcoholic beverage is Soju. (Buying alcohol here is very cheap by the way).
Koreans have no shame when it comes to eyeing someone down, especially foreigners. But it’s not a simple glance then turn away. A lot of Koreans will stare you dead in the eye and literally trail your body for a good five seconds and then look away. I’ve had this happened to me while I was in the Korean airport. A man literally stopped in his tracks to look me up and down before continuing his stride. It was really interesting.
If You Can Dodge a Car, You Can Dodge a Ball (Dodgeball)
If you see a car heading your way, it is best to run to the side. From what I’ve seen, Koreans are horrible at giving leeway when stopping. There are no (major) concerns for pedestrians, which makes a little sense since there are always crowds or people walking down narrow streets. But that’s beside the point. If you come here, you will always hear honking, always see people trying to make the red light (which makes them park right in the middle of the cross walk), and see close collisions. (My friends and I walked behind an impatient car who decided to back up when we were walking by and nearly ran over my friend’s foot).
Guess My Age
I’m not sure if this is true for most Koreans, but I’ve seen it happen multiple times. People, mostly girls, love (more or less) having you guess their age. I’ve had about three women ask me to guess their age, but they always look younger than they actually are to me. Which is funny because whenever they try to guess my age, they always think I’m older.
If you are a noticeable foreigner, prepare to be ripped off. There have been many times (mostly when taking a taxi) when I have been ripped off or given a “great deal.” A lot of foreigners don’t know Korean, so when they take a taxi, the driver will tell them a price before they even reach their destination. It doesn’t work like that because there is a meter in the car that gives you a price of what you actually owe (unless you take a taxi very later at night, then prices are doubled). Also, I would advise you never to buy any American brands here because they are more expensive than in America. (If you ask for a discount, they might bump the price down to the price as it would be in America).
Well, those were my observations so far. There are a lot more things I’ve noticed but haven’t really been seen often. So, I’ll keep you all up to date if I notice anything, well, noticeable.