Just to be balanced, I thought I’d make a list of things I’m not so keen about here. Because yeah, there are some things about living here that I’d rather not have to deal with. I’m going to be a little whiny and maybe sound a little angry in this post, but just know that it’s harmless venting and I really do love Korea. ^^ Every country and culture has pros and cons.
1. The lack of public hygiene. I’m sorry, but some things are just too gross. The bathrooms at my school (which are shared between students and teachers) are frequently disgusting. Inside the stalls, the best thing to do is close your eyes and get out as fast as you can. The lack of soap and towels in the bathrooms also irritates me. Is it really that hard to stock up on soap dispensers and paper towels? It would certainly cut down on the number of kids getting sick all the time.
It’s also pretty common to use a public restroom and find that everyone has thrown their used toilet paper in the garbage can within the stall rather than flushed it. This is because Korea’s sewer system is not good and can’t handle much paper in the pipes. (These days, some toilets can handle paper, but the older generation continue to throw it in the trash cans.) Let’s just say the smell is not pleasant.
And finally, ajusshis (older men) are constantly hacking and spitting on the streets. And by constantly I mean if you’re approaching an ajusshi from a distance, he will spit by the time you pass him. I know some men do this in America, too, but it is out of control here. And the ajusshis are passing it down to the younger men. I’ve even seen middle schoolers spitting in public. Sigh.
I have no problem with sharing food out of communal dishes and that kind of thing, but this stuff is just taking it too far. Gotta draw the line somewhere.
2. The heat. This one is more specific to Daegu, since northern areas of Korea like Seoul don’t experience quite this level of blistering, sweltering, it’s-so-hot-I-might-die heat. Just us lucky Daegu folk. As my co-teacher warned me earlier this year, “In June, it is so hot. In July, it is sooo hot! In August, we can’t breathe!” And then it’ll take another month just to cool off a little bit. Some Green Day might be appropriate here.
3. The lack of a car. Or really, the freedom to go anywhere in mere minutes, the power to haul massive loads of groceries or shopping bags of clothes home without any hassle, and the amount of extra sleeping-in time it would give me on weekday mornings if I had a car.
4. The last-minute culture, a.k.a. the Korean Surprise. Although I must say, I’ve gotten pretty used to this one and it no longer comes as a huge shock to my system. However, I imagine whenever I end up working back home in the States, it will be quite a pleasant change of pace to have people tell me about upcoming events and deadlines well in advance of those things actually occurring
5. The ever-present CCTVs. Security cameras. They’re everywhere. Every store, every street, every school room, every apartment stairwell and corridor. You basically can’t go anywhere in Korea except within the privacy of your own room or inside a public bathroom without being watched. Now, I’m sure not all of these CCTVs are being monitored by a live human being at all times, but it can be a bit unnerving if you think about it.
Too much negativity for you? Check out my 5 Things I Love about Korea list.