Saturday, November 13, 2010

Drinking in South Korea

In South Korea a bottle of soju is about the same price as $1 USD. That's less than a normal bottle of water costs in the USA which is pretty messed up that bottles of water should cost more that like 25 cents which should cover the cost of the plastic bottles, shipping, etc. But anyways soju is extremely cheap which is great if you want to get your drink on and you are on a budget. If you didn't know, soju is a rice wine that I guess is basically the same thing as sake, but you only drink soju cold. Also if you can't drink it straight, which is hard for me sometimes, you can mix it with some pineapple or orange soda and its delicious. Soju cocktails are where its at!

Another interesting fact about drinking in South Korea is that there are no public drinking laws. So if you want to to be "that guy/girl" you can drink a beer or whatever on the subway, walking down the street, etc. Also most convenient stores have some tables and chairs where you can relax and enjoy your drink and maybe eat some snacks too. I think the drinking age here is 18/19, but in Korean age that would mean 20. I don't really don't know how to explain this, but in Korea you are 1 when you are born and depending on when your birthday falls you could be considered 2 years older than you would be considered in America. Ok I'm confused even trying to explain this..

So moving on, there is a big drinking culture here and you will often see business men passed out in the subway stations and occasionally on the streets. I don't see this too much where I live in Bundang (which is a suburb of Seoul but its still a city with tall buildings and whatnot) but if you get closer into Seoul you will see them all the time. Once I even saw this old man vomit on the subway doors. It was disgusting to say the least. I've heard that alcoholism is very widespread here which leads to domestic abuse and other problems. Also I hear when drinking with Koreans, you are encouraged to drink far beyond your limits so getting drunk is only half the battle. I have not experienced this yet and I am not a fan of getting totally wasted anyways. A little buzz is good enough for me. I do not enjoy getting sick and embarrassing myself.

Well I think I'm going to wrap this up, but I will leave you with this little gem :)

I took this photo on a Sunday around 4pm if that tells you anything..

Friday, November 12, 2010

South Korea 1 month overview

So I've been here for a little over a month now and everything is great. No culture shock whatsoever. My school is also really awesome and I have 4 Korean English co-teachers that are all really sweet. My students are mostly really good too with the exception of a few chatterboxes that I have to make stand next to me in front of the whole class so they'll shut up. Also I'll call on the students I catch talking to stand up next and speak in front of the class. One of my friends said she has a whistle she blows when the kids won't be quiet. I doubt I'll have to resort to that though. I'm lucky I always have a co-teacher with me to help out, but I do most of the talking and teaching. I guess they are there to mostly explain when the students don't understand me so its really helpful. I hear some NETs are alone in the class and it can be a real struggle to teach. I'm really glad I chose an all girl's school too, because I've heard boys can be real troublemakers sometimes and girl's are a lot better disciplined. One of my co-teacher's said she used to work at a boys and girls school and that some of the boys had thrown chairs and called some of the teachers bad names and whatnot.

Now that I've covered the work aspect, I'll touch more on what life is like living here in the ROK. It is different in a lot of ways from my life in the USA, but there are also many similarities. First I'll cover the major differences. Where I'm from in the USA (Birmingham, AL) I had to drive everywhere and public transportation was almost non-existent with the exception of some buses, but I've only seen, at the most, 3 people riding one and those people seemed really sketchy. Here I can take the bus or the subway and which takes about 30 minutes to get from my home to my school. Also my building and school are about a 5 minute walk from either subway station/bus stop. Taking the bus/subway is really cheap too and people from all walks of life use them.

Another difference I really like about Korea is not having to tip at restaurants/bars. Some places even have buzzers on the table to call the server or you can just say "yeogiyo" which means "over here" (I think). I used to be a waitress and it sucked. It was nice making good tips on a some nights, but it was stressful and I hated having to so fake. I think restaurants in America should pay servers a decent wage and get rid the tipping system, but I don't see that ever happening. Anyways..

There are many cultural differences I could go over a couple for now. I will say that I think its interesting that showing cleavage is considered to be really slutty, but girls wear skirts/shorts that are so short they have to hold their purses behind them when they are walking up the subway stairs so no one can see their ass. Also showing your shoulders is kind of scandalous as well. When it gets hotter I don't care, I'm gonna rock my tank tops. Hopefully the adjummas won't stare me down too hard. I'm kind of used to being stared at now anyways. When I first got here it felt really weird like I was an attraction at the zoo, but I'm not so self conscience now. I think Korea is about 99% homogenous, but there are several other foreigners in my area so not everyone seems that interested when they see me. I get a lot of double takes and sometimes kids will tell me I'm beautiful or say "hi". At my school I get told I am beautiful just about everyday. Its awesome, I'm not gonna lie.

Koreans seem to care a lot about their appearance which I think is great. I like to look my best and its nice when I get compliments so I know my hard work putting myself together paid off haha. People here seem to be really health conscience and most Korean food is mostly healthy and delicious too. Its also pretty cheap too which is always a bonus. I have only come across a few things that I wouldn't eat here. I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to food though. I know some people here that really don't care much for Korean food, but I really like it and I love trying new things. I wish I could remember the names of my some of my favorite Korean foods.. From the ones I can remember, I really like beef bulgogi (Korean bbq), samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly), dukbokki (spicy rice noodle) and hodo kwaja (walnut cake). I also like the cabbage kimchi, but not so much the radish one. There are a lot of different soups here I like, but I don't know the names. I had this amazing chicken soup in Insadong and an ox tail soup that was also really delicious. I'm getting hungry right now thinking of food.. so moving on.. haha.

Most Koreans here live with their parents until they get married so there are places called dvd bangs and love motels to accommodate them when they want to get their freak on. DVD bangs are basically small rooms with a couch and a big screen that you can rent for about $7 and choose a movie to "watch". haha. Love motels are basically what you would think.. hotels that you get a room for the night/a few hours and do your thing. I've never been to one, but I've heard they are nice and not that dirty like you'd think. I'd be scared to shine a black light though..

Well I'll save some more info for another post and leave you with some pics to enjoy. Thanks for reading!
<3 Caroline