Wednesday, July 13, 2011

re: Expectations

Today is a very, very special day, and I bet you almost missed it! (Don’t worry, I’ll forgive you) One year ago today, I began documenting my Korean life on this very site. Happy birthday, Tft38P!

In celebration of this momentous occasion, let’s revisit my first real post, shall we? I distinctly remember writing my first expectations post, sitting in my parent’s basement, typing away in the one room in which my then-vintage, now-antique laptop could get internet. I remember my initial thoughts about moving to Korea centered mostly on what things to bring, what things I would miss, and I had this major initial struggle about not wanting to appear too materialistic for the whole internet to see. I ended up limiting my “things” discussion to about two sentences, and then organized the rest of my expectations and concerns about moving to the other side of the world into three seemingly-important and encompassing bullet points: language, public transportation flirting, and cake.

(Oh dear...)

1. I was actually pretty close in my initial analysis of the Korean language. For the most part, the language seems to follow rules, but trying to learn those rules is another story completely. I’ve learned to read Korean pretty well (if I do say so myself), but I really haven’t gained much vocabulary during the past twelve months. Although as I’ve come to realize, it’s amazing what a big smile and 감사합니다 (formal “Thank you”) will get you. If nothing else, people will think you’re cute for trying, which leads me to…

2. Public transportation flirting. Note, not public transportation, as in living in a city and relying solely on busses and subways for the first time in my life, no no no. Public transportation flirting.

Korean public transportation is actually much different than in the US. In the US, if a subway car is full, the doors gently close, and the leftover people wait patiently for the next train. Easy as that. In Korea, if the subway car is full, you should expect at least twenty more people to climb into the car with you. You will be touching other people, and other people will be touching you. It is awkward. If you’re lucky, the driver will be experienced and slow down gently, but if not, meh. There are too many people for you to possibly fall down anyways.

In terms of flirting, the main differences I’ve noticed would have to be the age of the flirter and the cultural assumptions about flirting. In the US, my public transportation flirting experiences generally came from people approximately my own age. In Korea, public transportation flirting typically comes in the form of very old men staring at me and occasionally asking me if I am Russian. Oh, what I would give to have my own car out here, just for a day…

3. Cake. In retrospect, I think it’s hilarious that this was one of my three biggest concerns about moving to Korea. Luckily, however, the Korean cake scene has not disappointed me. Mmm mmm mmm.

For one, there are little cake shops and bakeries on every corner, which make delicious cakes possible at any time you’re having one of those “I need cake, NOW!” moments. Although, I’ve rarely had such moments, considering I fill my cake quota pretty regularly through the coworker birthday cakes we seem to have every couple weeks. It’s great, I get to sample all the different flavors from all the different bakeries around for free! Furthermore, it turns out I do have a working oven (kind of), which I have used several times throughout the past year to remedy my sudden and insatiable cravings for baked goods.


So in summary, despite my questionable priorities and initial concerns about moving to Korea, I was 100% correct in my assumptions that my first year in Korea would be amazing, eventful, and hilarious. Despite its quirks and absurdities, I am completely in love with this country, and am thrilled to be spending another year out here. Horray!

 - Christine -

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