English Teacher in South Korea Describes Cultural Differences

Cultural Shock in South Korea

Americans have a reputation for being clean freaks – bath daily, brush teeth all the time. Learned not to eat after other people. Korean dishes are shared dishes. Many soups are shared. It’s a big communal thing. Double-diping and eating after other people, even people you don’t know at all.

Self-service is the norm. If you want water, you’ll need to get it yourself. Koreans think that water inhibits digestion.

Nasty culture shock was the toilets. Squatter toilets are the norm. Her school (she is an English teacher) has only on Western-style toilet. If you don’t bring your own toilet paper, it can be a problem. There is sometimes a giant roll in the toilet, but not in the stall. You are not supposed to flush the TP ever. You put the paper in the trash. The soap in Korea is a blue compound on a rod.

Traffic often ignores the road signs and red lights. Pedestrians are at risk from busses and scooters runnig lights. Being a passenger is not much better–a “white knuckle” experience.

Plastic surgery is very common and accepted in South Korea. It’s like getting braces.

Shoes off entering a room is common and nice.

Fashion – no cleavage, but you can wear very short skirts. You can bring a towel and cover your legs when you set down. Men’s fashions, perms and hair-dye is normal even for straight guys.

Fresh fruit is very, very expensive.
Video link courtesy Stephanie Hernandez.

Bonus – Here’s the YouTube video on her return to Ameria, “reverse culture shock”


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