I did not write this, but I totally understand it. (I have edited it down to those that I actually understand, as the original had a few that didn’t mean anything to me; I also tweaked a few).

From EPIK Spring 2011 Group.

THINGS THAT JUST DON’T SEEM STRANGE ANYMORE! – New Year’s Edition!

A year under my belt, it’s time for another edition of all the funny things I’ve noticed about my time in Korea. For the most part, this is all from personal observation so I’m sure that not all of it is accurate. And of course, it’s all based on silly stereotypes so please don’t take offence. It’s with love. Enjoy and here’s to another great year of comprehending the incomprehensible!

  • The perfect sidedish to pizza is a bag of pickles.
  • Food allergies are non-existent. You should be able to eat anything and give the kids whatever you want.
  • – Only fools move furniture up a stairwell.
  • – The doctor is reviewing your x-rays in the waiting room.
  • The security guard at the bank will help you pay your bills.
  • On overnight school field trips, six highly intoxicated chaperones are just as effective as one sober one.
  • Kids better be on the bus when we leave because there are no head counts.
  • On field trips, the kids are perfectly safe being let loose on their own in a public place while the teachers have a picnic.
  • It makes perfect business sense to open your cell phone or jewelry store right next to 20 other stores that sell the exact same thing.
  • Your apartment’s peephole is useless because it’s always covered with a restaurant or grocery store flyer. Or because it is at crotch level.
  • Everything from kimchi to school uniforms to Olleh! stores are considered a part of Korean traditional culture and you should speak carefully about them.
  • The staff will guide you when walking and save your life by alerting you of approaching cars that are 50 feet away.
  • The push/pull signs on doors are often blatant lies meant to embarrass you.
  • The Internet is reliable.
  • Pizza and hamburgers are snacks; not meals.
  • You can wrap your umbrella when entering a store – this is genius!
  • Koreans are in a rush to go everywhere… except when they are standing on escalators or moving walkways.
  • It’s impossible to flirt through eye contact because everyone is looking at their phones.
  • Flashing red and blue lights are more effective at controlling speeding than actual police cars.
  • The KTX smells like a multicultural apartment building in New York City.
  • Koreans have made condescension an art form.
  • If foreigners can’t understand Korean, then they are obviously clueless to body language and gestures as well.
  • Sometimes the only thing more annoying than Koreans are other foreigners.
  • You are more likely to run into another foreigner at McDonalds than at the immigration office.
  • You receive health advice from 10 year olds.
  • Easy-open packages are definitely not easy to open.
  • You have not had to change a light bulb since moving in.
  • You are not even sure that you could imitate the hacking sound Koreans make when they spit. It’s all in the pronunciation.
  • The elderly have more active lives than you do.
  • Time zone difference + big game = drinking in the morning.
  • You like 2 of the seasons. The start of Spring and Fall are more anticipated than Christmas.
  • Your hands are cold all winter. You can’t stop sweating all summer.
  • 10 won is of less use than a penny.
  • Your work visa and ARC are renewed through the use of magic marker.
  • It’s a tradeoff between using the toilet and staying warm.
  • There is no better browser than Internet Explorer.
  • No matter what page it’s on, the word search will be completed first.
  • Mechanical pencils break after each letter but students love them.
  • A cutesy pencil case is an elementary girl’s most prized possession.
  • A lot of food comes with 3 layers of packaging.
  • Fresh air is more important than comfort.
  • Mosquitoes and fruit flies are more resilient than cockroaches.
  • Nothing says I love you better than a cheap candy breadstick.
  • As a kid, you hated getting socks as a gift. That hasn’t changed.
  • Your medical exam is like a relay race.
  • Even if the cab driver has no idea where you want to go, he will spend 10 minutes pretending that he does.
  • Broom handles are needlessly short. Now you know why their spines are so twisted in old age.
  • The most used feature on the phone is the mirror.
  • No one is trying to steal your wallet, kidnap your kids and shoot you in the head.
  • The sound of the doorbell means that the Jehovah’s Witness want to call you a heathen. They have English DVDs if you can’t understand that you’re going to Hell.
  • Matching outfits show a committed relationship.
  • Men in business suits puke in the street. Seems classier than home.
  • Your non-smoking hotel room smells suspiciously like smoke.
  • Your school’s English section is decorated with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
  • You can often make purchases by swiping your card, without entering codes or signing anything. You feel very secure about your finances.
  • You never know how to dress. It might be school picture day or you might be going on a staff hike up a mountain. You just never know.
  • People are respectfully quiet on public transportation.
  • Is it really time to celebrate the Korean alphabet again?
  • Korean women can do anything in high heels.
  • Koreans love freebies when they go shopping. Especially when they’re given out by young women in short skirts wearing headsets.
  • Gifts should be opened carefully so that the wrapping paper can be reused on someone else’s gift.
  • At least 1 student has gotten your phone number somehow.
  • At least 1 student has discovered where you live somehow.
  • One of the double doors is always locked. They vary which one each day to confuse you.
  • For English teachers, foreigners use the non-existent word “deskwarming” a lot.
  • You now own 50 pairs of socks and 40 towels.
  • The school and the BMOE is always trying to screw us over. Always.
  •  You’re getting used to fruit flies buzzing around your head.
  • You’ve lost a LOT of respect for the US Army.
  • You love buying food in the supermarket that is scotch-taped to something else.
  • You cross your arms in an X every time you say NO or disagree about something.
  • You think you’re back in university after hearing loud drunks stumbling home at 4am on a Sunday morning… but then realize its 50 year olds wearing suits.
  • You start telling people they should “take a rest.”
  • Every class has a “pig” in it
  • Kids think your office is a great place for “hide and seek” with their friends.
  • Koreans seem to be able to find anything from “www[dot]daum[dot]net” but you’re not even sure what kind of site it is.
  • A broken bone requires 6 weeks of hospital stay.
  • “Free samples” means “feed your entire extended family” (even if they’re not there).
  • Blue eyes can put others into a state of hypnosis.
  • Parking a car means turning off the engine.
  • You find yourself chopping vegetables on the floor or on top of the fridge because there is no counter space.
  •  Your fate is often determined through a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
  • The elderly are scarier than teenagers.
  • You can’t be trusted to teach regular class alone but if it’s after school, they’ll expect you to teach multiple grades, levels, and gender groups alone for hours.
  • People just love to watch your groceries go through the checkout.
  • You look forward to discovering another new species of giant insect that flies in through the open classroom window.
  • Chocolate pies are currency – who’d have guessed that?
  • Clerks in the stores stand at attention and ready to pounce on you with customer service.
  • If you let your kids use the computer, they will surf to things they find hilarious but you cannot understand, even though it often does not require any Korean.
  • You’re getting used to walking on brick after brick after brick.
  • Wearing your gym clothes to class every day after running in circles is comfortable and hygienic.
  • Pedestrians share the sidewalk with automobiles and motorcycles.
  • Restrooms don’t have toilet paper or paper towels.
  • Every child you pass on the street will say ‘hello’ to you.
  • Children love arm hair.
  • Every city bus will have at least 2 teenage boys sitting in each other’s laps and playing with each other’s hair.
  • People think you should board the train first before allowing people to get off.
  • There is never an inappropriate time to answer your phone, or just let it ring endlessly.
  • People want to know your blood time. It defines you.
  • Kids and non-smokers are invincible to second-hand smoke.
  • You are at risk of being hit by a car the second you walk out of your apartment.
  • There are more oscillating-fan-related deaths than shootings.
  • Other foreigners fascinate you.
  • People think that it is really nice to meet you once again for the 300th time.
  • Most laws are merely suggestions.
  • All food is “delicious” with no exceptions.
  • You only hear Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga’s names twice a week now.
  • Everyone is fascinated by their own face and like to take lots of pictures of themselves.
  • Fish and rice belong at any breakfast table.
  • It makes sense to remove your face mask if you need to sneeze.
  • There is no pornography anywhere but there’s at least 5 brothels in every small town.
  • Little kids traveling alone on public transit is nothing to be concerned about.
  • Loud construction workers are Korea’s answer to the alarm clock.
  • Any decent men’s tie should sparkle.
  • Animals love to advertise their own consumption.
  • Everyone, including 7 year olds, has a nicer cell phone than you.
  • Even if you are fast asleep on the subway or city bus, you won’t miss your stop.
  • There are 3 shower settings – boiling hot, luke warm, freezing cold.
  • At least once a week you crawl across your apartment floor to get something you forgot after putting your shoes on.
  • You will buy ANYTHING with English instructions.
  • All food comes either in a single serving or a convenient 30-pack.
  • No matter where you are standing, you are always in an old lady’s way.
  • Someone is always watching you.
  • All you watch on TV are Korean game shows, K-Pop music videos, or Nicholas Cage.
  • The only thing Chinese about a Chinese restaurant is the name.
  • You hit the switch language button on your keyboard more often than the space bar.
  • Curiously, you are a little excited about the yellow dust season.
  • Facebook is the only thing keeping you sane.
  • You actually prefer bowing to saying hello.
  • If you had a wish, you would make every person taste a Western pizza.
  • People only need to walk one block to reach a convenience store or PC room.
  • You find yourself disappointed in the equipment offered at the free public park gyms.
  • You still have no clue how the garbage/recycling system works here.
  • Who needs a janitor when you have a school full of kids?
  • Security guard means “heat and light checker”
  • Costco is your favorite holiday destination.
  • You’re already losing your motivation for templestay and learning fluent Korean.
  • Everyone is very impressed with your chopstick skills and kimchi-eating ability.
  • A single bar of soap can kill the bacteria on the hands of 1000 people
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