Just three of the customs I’ve experienced here thus far that we would basically never see in the U.S.:
1) Brushing your teeth after lunch is basically mandatory. And it’s serious. As in, teachers take turns at the office sink or bathroom sink and scrub those pearly whites for a good 2 minutes. Everyone has their own designated office toothbrush and toothpaste as well.
2) Everyone wears slippers at work. Yes, everyone. You change your shoes when you enter the school. Which means you’ll see guys in suits and ladies in skirts and tights wearing crocs or Adidas sandals. It’s kind of awesome. And also convenient because the schools don’t heat much of the building in the winter, so being able to wear furry moccasins keeps my feet warm!
3) Half (or more?) of the toilets in my schools are squatters. Also, there is no toilet paper in the stalls; you have to bring your own (so you’d better be good at estimating how much you need!). And my least favorite: the communal bar soap on a stick. Liquid soap seems to be a rarity here.
I was aware of all of these things before coming to Korea, so none of it really surprised me. It’s just something to adjust to – mostly the toilet thing. I can totally get behind the teeth brushing and the slipper wearing, but I prefer my toilets above the ground and with TP included.