Teaching English in South Korea…The Introduction

We have now been in Busan, South Korea for just shy of one week. I can honestly say that the culture shock has not been as great as I had expected. Everything is quite clean, especially considering South Korea is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and Busan is one of the largest cities in the country. Walking around the city is considered completely safe. No one worries about themselves or their things. One of our new friends said he left his bike unlocked on the public beach dock for almost a week and it was still there, untouched when he returned to get it.

People have been very friendly, always smiling and thanking you many times for any purchase or looking in their store. One thing that is hilarious, however, is the driving! I might describe it as being similar to the driving we experienced in Peru, but… many of the cars here are not beaters, they are very nice. I will list of few of the driving norms for your pleasure…

1. Stop lights are semi-optional. Meaning most people stop…unless they don’t feel like it.

2. Backing up full speed onto a busy, four lane road is to be expected.

3. If you are walking along the side of the road and there is only one other car on the street two lanes over, it will somewhow manage to come within 6 inches of you while passing.

4. “Soft” turns do not exist.

5. Old women are the only people who can successfully step in front of a line of speeding cars and have them slam on their breaks in time not to hit them. Young people…not so lucky.

6. If a man on a scooter crashes head on into the front of a new luxury car, a smile and a wave by the man on the scooter is accepted in place of trading insurance information.

7. If there are two cars trying unsuccessfully to squeeze passed each other travelling opposite directions on a seemingly one lane road, there is apparently a third middle lane that magically opens up for other cars to attempt to squeeze through.

8. U-turn lights apparently mandate that every car in a 10 car lineup must u-turn at the exact same time, creating a u-turn traffic jam in the way of oncoming traffic.

9. Taxi drivers are not allowed to look if anyone is between them and the curb before jerking the car over to a stop.

10. Side vehicle mirrors must be able to fold in or they WILL be lost.

Those are meant to be humerous, but do hold a lot of truth.

Aside from traffic, we have had many interesting experiences thus far in Korea. There is a tradition of drinking that I was most definitely not expecting. I have probably had more alcohol in the last few days than I usually drink in a year. You are semi-obligated to drink here if it is offered and there is protocol for how you how your glass, and how you pour someone elses glass for them. You are not supposed to pour your own drink, only other peoples. This is to show courtesy. You are also supposed to pour (always) with your right hand while holding your left hand palm up, under your elbow or holding back your sleeves. The typical drink here is called Soju, a Korean rice wine that is similar in consistency to a weak vodka. We have had more to drink in our first weekend here than we have in three months! We have been to many dinners where it would have been rude to not drink the Soju, so bottoms up!

-Jason

2 Responses to “Teaching English in South Korea…The Introduction”

  1. Alicia says:

    holy crap those kids are cute!!!

  2. Dori says:

    do you guys have an address there???

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