Q: What was some culture shocks that you experienced after moving to Korea?
Surprisingly, there was/is a lot.
Like, more than I expected.
I think subconsciously I tried to accept everything as normal so the culture differences didn’t stand out to me as much, but after I considered my everyday American life and my current Korean one, I was shocked at how many simple day to day things were different. So, for your imagination purposes, I made a list. The list is quite long, so I may do a two part version of this.
Some of the things I will mention, I still haven’t adjusted to, while others it wasn’t as difficult to get used too. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
#1 – Space
South Korea is a smaller country than America, so naturally, space is tight. And when I say tight, I mean, TIGHT. Buildings are built on top of each other, cars park on the sidewalks and on the side of the road, interiors are cramped, etc, etc. So, as you can imagine, personal space is basically none existent here. To put it into perspective, one of the most densely populated city in America is New York City. The current population of NYC is about 8 million people. The largest city in South Korea is Seoul. It’s current population? 9 million. So, when I say things are cramped here, they are CRAMPED.
But even though there is less space in general than what I’m used to (you know, moving out here straight from Texas and all), they’ve come up with ways for you to have convenience and not feel claustrophobic. Some one once asked me, “why is everything small and cute in Korea?” and the only answer I can say is, things are made to accommodate the place you live in. If everything here was as big as it is in America, then living here would be a bit more inconvenient. (And if it has to be small, why not make it cute?)
As it is with everything to life, in my opinion at least, there is a plus side to everything. Living in a small country does have its perks- I’m talking about next day delivery and ease of travel and transportation. You can’t have everything, I guess. 🤷♀️🤷♀️And Korea does have this nice touch where they add a lot of greenery into everything so you don’t feel so bogged down by all the buildings. Koreans definitely have a green thumb. Green things can be seen everywhere. Inside the buildings and out.
#2 – Apartments
I’m not going to lie, one of my biggest concerns before coming here was the fact that I was going to get stuck living in a tiny apartment. I mean, how was I going to move halfway across the world only to have my first house be smaller than my bedroom in America? Petty concerns, I know.
Turns out that I didn’t have to worry about that. There were other small household differences that would make making living on my own a little bit confusing.
For starters, to get inside houses and apartments here, people don’t have a key. They use a pin-pad. The night I moved here, I had such complications because of that simple pin-pad. If you’ve seen any K-dramas at all, you will know that this is a common thing here, but it’s still weird to enter a code to get inside your own house, but it’s nice to not have to carry keys around all the time. Just be careful you don’t tell someone else your code… unless you want impromptu visits.
Another immediate shock was the bathroom in my apartment. In America, most houses and apartments, I assume, have an actual as shower/ bathtub combined. Right? Well, even if that isn’t the case, most bathroom have the shower, sink, and toilet area spaced out from each other. Not so here. There isn’t enough space for an actual bathtub so we just have a shower head connected to the sink. Hey, on the plus side, it makes cleaning SO much easier. You can just stand up and hose everything down! But yeah, if you were hoping for a nice relaxing soak on the weekend, your best bet would be to go to a sauna.
Side note: It’s also customary to have/wear household slippers and bathroom slippers in the house. I’m pretty sure most of you know that, though.
Also, in Korea, there is no such thing as central heating. They have a floor heating system which, is pretty nice when you get used to it since your feet are always warm, but is weird at first. HOWEVER, because of this unique feature, your warm water system and the floor heater are all connected.
There is this little gadget-type-thing where you can choose to heat up the water to shower or to wash your clothes in warm water, or you can change the option to turn on the floor heater. When I first moved here, I had no idea that my warm water was connected to this little device, so for the first two months I only took lukewarm to cold showers. I didn’t know it could get warmer until after my coworker showed me how to get it before the weather turned extremely cold. So just in case you decide to move here, make sure to look for this little device, or something similar so you don’t make the same mistake I did.
Now, it should be noted, that if you leave on the water heater option on and don’t actually use the water, the floor heater will start heating up. I don’t know why, but that’s what happens so if you aren’t using it, TURN IT OFF.
……unless you like spending your money on such things. Who am I to judge?
Honestly guys, there are a lot more culture shocks that I’ve experienced living here, but it’d be too much to write in one post, and I don’t want to bore you with the details. I can make this into a rolling post or a series type thing where I tell you about various things that shocked me about living here. Let me know if you found this helpful and informative. If you’d like to read more about this and would like me to make another post on this topic, let me know!
Until next time,
See ya around friend~~