7 Experiences Every Expat Has In South Korea
Being an expat in Korea you get is wonderful and completely full of fun and interesting experiences. Some of these experiences are more common than others and you can expect to have them at least once during your stay. Here are my 7 experiences every expat in South Korea has.
1. You Have No Idea What You Just Ate Or What Part Of The Animal It Came From
Was that plate of meat you just ate from a chicken or cow? Was it a thigh or intestine? Who knows! When you can’t read or speak Korean, your dining options become so limited that you’d rather be brave and eat whatever is put in front of you than risk starving to death. Frankly, I would have rather taken my chances with restaurant roulette than eaten cheeseburgers every day in South Korea.
At least once during your stay in Korea, you’ve eaten something which you had no clue as to its ingredients. If you really enjoyed a particular mystery dish, my advice is to never ask what it was. Sometimes it really is better to not know that the delicious meal you savoured and devoured was actually chicken rectum. Yuck….or…yum?
2. You Nearly Die Once You Learn About “Free Size” When Shopping
Ah free size. The blessing and curse that we foreigners just love to hate. Why, you ask, is it so wonderful and awful at the same time? Free size (meaning one size fits all) makes shopping and clothes cheaper in Korea because production is faster and can be made in large quantities. However, obviously not all bodies are created equal, so there is going to be that devastating moment when you find the absolutely perfect dress or pair of jeans….and the zipper won’t close all the way up. Oh the pain of that moment is too tremendous to recall. Better to leave those memories of shopping in Korea in the past.
3. At Least Once, You’ve Almost Choked To Death At A Meal
Can someone please explain to me why we never had normal 8-ounce glasses of water with our meals in Korea. I actually still don’t know. The first time I was given a thimble sized cup of water to (quite literally) wet my lips, I was confused and thirsty! I’ve witnessed countless foreigners accidentally slurp a too-large chopstick full of noodles only to panic furthermore when they can’t drink a normal sized glass of water to swallow their food down.
4. You’ve Slapped Ramen Broth Everywhere Trying To Learn To Slurp Correctly
Speaking of noodle slurping, I know I’m not the only expat who’s accidentally splashed broth all over myself and lunch buddies while trying to master the art of noodle slurping. Curly Sue made it looks cute and easy, but most foreigners (myself included) are in desperate need of a “splash zone” warning on our bowls. If you’re in radius of 5 feet of me and my cup of noodles, you will get wet.
5. With All The New Compliments About Your Western Face, You Become Slightly Vain For A Spell
Koreans love to compliment westerners. It’s just a wonderful and lovely fact of Korean expat life. I’d say for a week, and in extreme cases a month, every foreigner walks around with a little more bounce in their step than usual, probably imagining they’ll be scouted any moment by an agent for Korea’s Next Top Model. It’s near impossible to receive compliments daily on your beauty without growing a little vain.
Why don’t you take a trip down sweet memory lane with my article about weird compliments in Korea, How To Correctly Accept Strange Compliments In Korea
6. A Cabbie Has Made You Cry At Least Once
Some Korean cabbies are mean; it’s just a fact of life. If you’ve ever lived in Korea, you’ve definitely been ignored, stranded, or yelled at by one or two Korean cabbies. Expats who have ever had the fortune to meet a really sweet taxi driver should count their blessings because fate for some reason favors those lucky foreigners!
7. You’ve Forgotten To Get Toilet Paper Before Going Into The Stall
In an effort to keep restrooms cleaner and conserve toiletries, Korean public restrooms tend to keep rolls of toilet paper outside the stalls. You kind of have to guesstimate how much you should take in with you. I know you’ve forgotten to grab a couple sheets at least once during your stay in Korea. I just hope you were smart enough to carry tissues in your purse to save you in that moment of need.
Are you an expat living in Korea? Do you have anything you would like to add to the list? Please let us know in the comments below.