September 14, 2011

You Know Korea is Your Home When...

My days are slowly coming to an end in Korea. I've tried to compile a few 'transformations' I've noticed in myself or others after living in Korea for quite some time. So, I give you...

"You know Korea is your home when..."

- Western fusion food tastes good.
- you don't notice the fellow wagooken passing by.
- you own any of the following clothing items: a sparkly tie, mittens with the faces of animals on them, a big puffy winter jacket, a winter hat in the shape of an animal head, or a t-shirt with English that makes no sense whatsoever.
- you feel awkward not holding up the "V" in pictures.
- you can win a shoving fight with an ajumma on the subway.
- you don't worry about the 8 year old kid walking by himself down the street at 10:00pm.
- you drink hot coffee through a stirrer straw.
- the ajusshi smell is more comforting than is repulsing.
- when talking to family at home, you refer to your fellow American friends as foreigners.
- you feel comfortable striping down to your birthday suit at the public bath.
- you wonder what the big deal about Itaewon is anyway.
- you keep a toothbrush at your desk at school/work and change into slippers when teaching class.
- you have cravings for kimchi.
- you curse (or cheer) in Korean rather than English. FIGHTING!
- photos of cows and pigs hung in the windows of restaurants don't keep you from eating there.
- you know more about Korean geography than your Korean co-workers.
- you've memorized all the jingles to Korean commercials.
- you can calculate down to the minute how long a trip a trip on the subway will be.
- you don't even notice that the fish you ordered came still has its head.
- you find yourself bowing to other foreigners.
- you are comfortable using a squatty potty.
- you wear a mini skirt in freezing temperatures.
- you eat ramen in your apartment with chopsticks.
- popping open a cold one and relaxing in the plastic chairs at the local 7-11 is a perfect afternoon
- you prefer a certain brand of soju.
- walking over vomit patties on the streets doesn't make you gag.
- your idea of a cure for a sickness is drinking hot water or lemon tea.
- you remember to throw away any trash inside, because there's no way you'll find a trash can outdoors.
- you don't feel the need to make monthly trips to the foreign food stores and can't remember the last time you went to McDonalds.
- you prefer to sleep on a heated floor than a bed.
- you're okay with the corn on your pizza.
- you and your significant other wear matching sweatshirts, or hats, or... underwear.
- you play more Korean drinking games than Western ones.
- you know better than to write a student's name on the board with a red marker.
- you consistently win when playing games of Hwatu with friends.
- you've successfully helped out an old Korean lady with finding the right bus to take.
- you find yourself pronouncing English words with an "-uh" or "-ee" attached to the end.
- Hite and Cass beers don't taste so bad after all.
- you can comprehend even the most broken English with ease.
- you look both ways before crossing the sidewalk.
- you've played chicken with cars, trucks, and motorcycles.. as a pedestrian.. and have lost.
- loudspeakers on trucks advertising fruit sales or promoting a political candidate are just background noise.
- you know that double barber poles are not a place to get your hair cut.
- you see a foreigner and suddenly are more aware to protect your belongings.
- high heels are acceptable hiking or ice fishing gear.
- you buy a pair of scissors to cut meat at home, as using a knife just feels awkward.
- kindergartners owning cell phones is not strange.
- you no longer curse at the cars driving down the sidewalks.
- you know the names of animated characters and own socks displaying their faces.
- you can sing along with K-pop hits but know nothing of what's on the radio back home.
- you update your cell phone charm on a monthly basis.
- you use an umbrella in the rain, the snow, and the sun.
- you consider the vibrating belt at the gym a sufficient way to lose weight.
- you've not only tried, but bought BB cream, and have added sunscreen as part of your daily skin care.
- you don't do a double take when you see the construction man- who is actually a dummy that quite resembles a lego guy- signaling cars to slow down.
- you're on a first name basis with the lady at Kimbap Chungguk.
- you are clueless to any references to pop culture your friends back home make on their Facebook statuses.
- you incorperate Korean terms of endearment such as "unni" and "oppa" into your conversations with friends.
- you don't mind the guy next to you on the subway sleeping on your shoulder.
- you cheer for the Korean team before your own country's during the Olympics and World Cup.
- you feel homesick when you go on a trip or return to your own country and can't wait to get back Korea: home, sweet, home.

Feel free to add more!


  1. Wow, this is bringing back so many memories. Where are you off to next?

  2. Good to hear from you Erin!! Off to Vietnam in January. No job lined up, but hoping to do some part time work there for a few months.

  3. I was in Seoul only a week, but i can relate to so many of thoose things! LOL! I am norwegian, and only listen to k-pop. I am going back to Seoul in 6 months, can`t wait! I will stay 3 weeks this time :D

    1. Nightmerion, I can totally understand why! Kpop is addicting! I'm glad you enjoyed your time in Seoul and are getting the chance to come back again! Have fun!^^

  4. I want to work in South Korea so badly, I just don't know how to get a job there T_T

    1. Hi, Grettel! Thanks for reading! Have you thought about teaching English here? Please check out my post about getting a teaching job in Korea and see if it's right for you! Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have! Good luck! :)


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