So I just read another expat's blog on their views of Korea so far, and thought I would give it a go too. I know I wrote a little something about it when we first got here, but a lot has changed in my perspective since four months ago! So here we go... the good, the bad, and the ugly of Korea:
(I briefly thought of listing off the likes and dislikes, but then considered it might detract from the purpose... in telling you WHY I like and dislike each of the following. So... I present you my opinions in paragraph form in hopes of making this blog entry slightly more enlightening!)
***Please note: This can and will not contain all likes and dislikes in accordance with time restrictions set by sleeping child and sleepy mommy. Thank you for your understanding regarding this matter.****
I suppose I should start with my dislikes so that we may end on a good note! Since arriving in Korea a little over four months ago, I have grown to enjoy things I did not care for before... or even things I hated before. However, there are some things that have not and may never change. I still hate the fish based soups... sorry, but they are not my thing. I still refuse to try anything with eyeballs still intact. (Hopefully this statement is self explanitory in my refusal... if not, we need to talk.) I do not enjoy older Korean telling me how to hold, dress, feed, and discipline my child. I do not enjoy the looks and comments(to put in polite terms) I recieve when I do not adhear to their "advice" in such matters. I do not enjoy the traffic which is not caused by accidents, but merely due to the fact that everyone tries to cut infront of everyone else and then no one ever gets anywhere.... traffic is pointless. I dislike scooters. Corin and I have almost been run over thrice now... and on the side walk. Grrrr. I dislike korean brooms. The brooms here are made for midgets... even the short Korean women have to bend over to use them. (I may come back with scoliosis due to sweeping every other day.) I dislike wallpaper, and the fact that it adorns alllll our walls and ceilings. I dislike the garbage system... if you need further explanation on that one, then you clearly missed the blog entry comprised of my ranting on this topic. I dislike the entercom system that is in every single apartment in Korea... The doorbell/video are connected to this phone-esk console in your apartment and has a uniform chime regardless of what area of Korea you are in. On top of the alarmingly loud video doorbell feature, which has no volume control, we are subjected to community announcements daily. Sometimes multiple times and quite consistantly at dinner time. Mind you, there is no volume control or mute button, or off switch... none. I am not thrilled with grocery prices concerning fruit or milk. Let's just say I could get a round trip ticket cheaper thatn I could get a watermelon every other week for a year. (I know.... odd comparison, but what can I say, I am a little homesick; so yes I have looked at ticket prices once or twice.) I dislike Korea being so far from Texas... while we are on the subject! ;) I dislike the fact that toddlers are sent to school from the time they are eating solid foods and that women who stay home to watch soaps while the kids are at said schools are considered stay home moms. Not cool. I don't dislike, but rather regret that we are not closer to Busan and our church body. I dislike the lack of modern conveniences which are apparently not as convenient here... such as clothes dryers, dishwashers, ovens and AIR CONDITIONING! Oh lordy, not sure I am ready for summer yet... today it only got to the mid eighties and I smell like I sat in a sauna for an hour! For now, those are the things that come to mind regarding dislikes.
On to bigger and better things... I am really starting to enjoy Korea. It is becoming more familiar to me and along with familiarity, comes comfort, with comfort comes increased joy and thanksgiving, with all these combined... I soon feel as though Korea will be like home.(In some respects never home, but that goes without saying... although I guess I said it so nevermind.) I am beginning to enjoy some of the spicy foods I once cried over. Yes, they still clear up my sinuses... but I LIKE it! haha! Foods I have grown to enjoy are mandu, spicy ramen, kimchi chigae (kimchi soup), and Korean "style" spicy rice dishes in general. Taylor and I actually eat at Korean restaurants on Sundays after church rather than the "american" style restaurants! Yummo! I enjoy duck... grilled duck (ori) very much! I like the little Korean elementary aged girls in our complex. They have been entertaining me and Corin as we watch them out our window! They have also been teaching me Korean words as I teach them English. Good exchange! In fact, tonight, we had a water gun fight at the playground and they learned "come here" and "stop" with pretty good annunciation! haha! They also decided it was funny to immitate my scream when they got me with the cold water in the rear! I enjoy public transportation when I have to take it. From the subway, to local buses, to taxis... they are generally pretty clean, cheap and fast! I like the feeling of safety here. I am not sure I have ever felt any fear of others... even on dark alleys in the city. The kids here play outside like when I was a kid. They come in at dusk after playing with their friends, riding bikes, and exploring the world around them. I truely LOVE seeing kids outside without that engrained fear of others. Even in the big city, you see kids in groups riding and playing together without a parent there... not sure that is the best idea, but I am glad Korea is still so innocent in this area. Crime by the way, the only crime I have heard of... is the naval ship sunk by the North Koreans. I like the fact that most people here are glad to have you trying to speak the language.... even if you are horrible at it like me. I am still playing charades for the most part. I love the scenery. Korea is really gorgeous. Taylor and I are blessed to live in a rural Mountain valley that is comprised mostly of small patchwork fields. Seriously... GORGEOUS! It makes for a really peaceful ride to and from Busan for church. I love the fact that every area of land is used too... if there is not a building, road or mountain... there is some sort of edible plant growing! :) Love it! I like the fact that ice cream comes in soooooooo many different flavor choices here! Haha! I like fact that we have no carpeted flooring, it makes cleaning so much easier... maybe more frequent, but easier! Having your shower, toilet, and sink all in one small area with a drain in the floor also makes for cleaning the bathroom way easier. You just scrub down, then hose down! It is great! (If we ever build a house... our bathrooms will resemble this design! I like the fact that there is public workout equiptment all over the place! Talk about not being able to make excuses for working out! I love it... there are eliptical machines, resistence machines, and stationary exercise bikes installed in most parks and even on most mountain hiking trails! How ingenious is that?! I sure wish the States would stop trying to make a fortune off the average citizen and provide some of these basics to the public too! I actually enjoy the public bath houses too! Call me crazy, but I am a fan of the jjimjjilbangs! There are so many things that I am not listing right now, but I am sure will pop up in the future!
And there is kind of a category that falls somewhere in between the two, maybe I will call it the things I do not agree with or fully understand...
I am in awe of the fact that women are the main field workers. I grew up in rural Indiana, where it was rare to see a woman in the fields or even on the tractors. I guess I just grew up with the idea that men were to be the farmers and doing the hard labor. Anyways, you see poor little old ladies hunched over with permanant back issues from bending over in the fields all their lives. It is sad to see. Not that it would not be sad to see little old men hunched over too. I can't really explain it... but I am not sure I feel the women should be doing the brunt of the field work. (Feel free to disagree.) I also do not understand why prescriptions and doctors appointments are so inexpensive, but over the counter drugs such as tylenol and ibuprofen are kind of ridiculously priced. I think that some of the foods which are so readily available and native here, should be less expensive rather than more expensive than what I pay in the states... such as rice and green tea. Odd. (this one may fall into the dislike category) I am also confused as to why Korea, who used to be one of the top retailers and outsources for shoes, does not carry a wider variety of sizes with so many expats living here. The women's shoe size cuts off at 8 and the men's at like a 9 or 9 1/2. Luckily I fit the top bracket of readily available shoe sizes... but Taylor will forcibly be ordering any footwear he needs online. Anyways... those are my fluid thoughts for the evening. Now my brain needs a rest and I need to relax! Thanks for joining us via the blog on our adventure here in Korea!