Tonight I would like to point out a few of the many differences between the USA and the Republic of Korea!
So with living in South Korea, specifically Seoul, I have learned that things are done differently then back in the states and the people are way different. The most obvious is the living arrangements. Back in the states the majority of homes are houses here they are apartments then there are the difference with what is in the home or going on in the home. I have come to learn that the land of tiny people don't believe in carpeting, you do not walk into a home with your shoes on, and you don't have a washer and a dryer. In fact you have an all in one! A friend of mine has this machine that washes your clothes and then dries them. Pretty fancy right? WRONG! This method for 1 load will take you 4-6 hours. Could you imagine waiting that long to do laundry? The next time I want to complain about the dryer taking so long I will remember how it could be worse. We are lucky enough to not have an apartment that came with this contraption and so we needed to borrow one from military housing! We have a washer and dryer. Very nice but very little room for both machines.
Another is transportation. Many people drive in this city but traffic laws don't really mean anything here, if your not making an illegal U turn, running a red light, blocking an ambulance, riding your motorcycle on the sidewalk (if you are a motorcycle owner), cutting someone off for NO REASON except you want to be a car link or two ahead, or going on the yellow/red light and having to stop in the middle of the intersection and blocking the oncoming traffic than you don't need to be driving in South Korea. You need to just take public transportation, because if you are a careful driver and believe in letting people get in front of you because they need to get in the other lane, stopping on yellow lights or obey any other traffic law you will probably get in an accident your first week here. Yes transportation if driving, is a dangerous adventure here. However, I have learned to love the idea of public transportation, however again if you are nice and don't look out for yourself you will get ran over or left not making it on the subway. We have waited for an elevator before with the stroller and somehow 2 elevator trips later we still were not on the elevator. WHY? Because we were not looking out for us and everyone push their way past the stroller and into the elevator until there was no room left.
With all this rule breaking and rudeness I have found 2 things lately that surprised me. So this past weekend we went to a baseball game. There was 4 of us and 1 of us had a last minute ticket and was not sitting in the same row. So our friend Tommi took that ticket and bounced around in seats until he was moved out of every single one of those seats. No problem, he was just hanging out as long as possible and figured he would lose out in the end and have to sit in his assigned seat. Well at one point I came back from the restroom and found him sitting in an empty row of 4 seats. Instead of asking everyone to move I just sat down beside him. This was 1 row below my seat so I figured worst case scenario I would just hop the seat to get back to mine. In America you see people who stand on a seat and move back to their row to avoid having to ask for the whole row to get up just so the traveling person could get to their seat. Well wouldn't you know the correct seat owner had shown up (in the 4th or 5th inning) so I hopped on the seat and jumped back to mine. BIG MISTAKE! I not only got chewed out in Korean but there was a big scene of this girl needing to get a wipe/towel of some type to wipe her seat off and I am not talking brushing off whatever I left on the seat I am talking cleaning the seat! WE ARE AT A BASEBALL GAME! Then there are slits in the back of the seats. Why they would do this in seats that are in a stadium I don't know but there are these slits and if you place your foot in the slit you will kick the person sitting in that seat. Well Tom or Collin happened to place their foot in the slit of the mother of the paranoid seat wiper and she along with her husband made sure to turn around with dirty looks and to let (they figured it was Tom) Tom know they didn't appreciate him kicker her. AGAIN WE ARE AT A BASEBALL GAME! Things happen no one was trying to kick anyone. It would have been the same as bumping into someone by accident on the sidewalk. Tom and Collin apologized in Korean, and in America this would have been returned with an it's ok, or a nod/smile of acknowledgement, they however just received the dirty looks. The second big thing I learned was that you do NOT leave ANY trash in your seating area at the end of the game. You will pick up everything around your seat even if it blew in your area. No empty cups, nacho trays, wrappers or straws better be laying around your area when you exit. We had two young girls quickly correct us on the mistake of not having ALL of our trash. Although it is amazing how much cleaner the sidewalks and streets are from having this kind of obedience.
Lastly I would like to touch on mourning. Now for anyone who may read this in the South Korea area I am not being disrespectful in anyway I am simply acknowledging the differences between America and here. As many of you know there was a ferry disaster here about a month ago. I am sure many of my American friends and family saw this and had deep sorrow for the families but in all honesty didn't think much more about it. Just like the mudslides that happened around the same time in Washington. Deep sorrow I am sure was felt but if you were not related or knew anyone in that accident you did not feel the need to mourn those loses other than feeling sad. I am sure some of you sent up prayers for the families, some of you sent positive vibes towards those families, some said "prayers for the families" but never really prayed. I get it, it is how Western society works. Now, let's look at an American disaster. Colorado (along with other States) have suffered some major natural disasters with all the fires. Many families mourned the losses of homes and and some the loss of a loved one. People all around Colorado watched for days to see if their home would be in danger. To see the destruction the fires were causing. However it did not stop America, it didn't even stop Colorado from moving forward, many of the families said that they just want to move on to start over and to deal with the pain they way they have to. Colorado everywhere lowered the flags, we stood together in helping families, supplying the fire fighters with what they needed, but we still celebrated we still moved on. I am not saying it wasn't a big deal just that America keeps moving on. Well here in South Korea they stop EVERY form of celebrating. They shut down the water show that shoots out from the bridge, they take away DJ's at a US military ball, they stop cheerleaders, all music and the mascots at baseball games, in fact I believe I heard that the whole Country will stay in mourning for 2 months after the ferry indecent. At first I thought it was pretty amazing how the Country as a whole mourned for the loss. It was tragic and it still effects all of us that lives here. I still get sick to my stomach every time I hear the news talk about it, but here they believe that if some are suffering everybody should suffer. It is so much different from America. It amazing to me the length they go to, to remind people of the suffering. I mean they shut off a water show that takes place for a half hour at night because it shows signs of happiness and celebration. I know this can be a very controversial topic that I just spoke of but I must say when it comes to tragedies I am so proud to be an American and the way we deal with them.
These are just a few of many differences living here but they are some of the biggest I have found. With all that being said, If you ever have a chance to visit here, it is pretty stinking awesome and a great life experience! With the hubby taking some leave time and the 4 day weekend I am definitely looking forward to our 6 day family vacation even if most of those days are working hard on the move :) I CANNOT WAIT TO SHOW YOU ALL PICTURES OF OUR NEW APARTMENT!