To commemorate the start of my 8th month in Korea I decided to write a little post for my dear friends and family in Belgium!
It’s one of the things I love most about South-Korean food culture! You always get free water when eating in a restaurant. Same for the side dishes, you can always get free refills. Aren’t you jealous, my dear fellow Belgians? 😉
First of all, they are everywhere. In every train station, subway station, bus terminal, almost every park, every rest stop along the highway, etc. Secondly, they are almost always clean and well-maintained. And last but not least, you NEVER have to pay any money to use a public toilet. 50 cents like they do in the movie theater or the train station? Forget it! It’s always free. 😉
Designated seats for old people and pregnant women
Every subway carriage has special seats for older people, people with handicaps, people with young children and pregnant women. As you can see in the picture below, busses also have these special seats. The yellow seats are for Korea’s senior citizens, the pink seats are for pregnant women. Respect for the elderly is an important part of Korean culture and as Korea faces a rapidly aging population, I definitely love these ideas. (On the other hand, it does seem like Korea’s social safety net could still use some improvements.)
Crazy city busses
One of the things I dislike about Korea is the way Korean bus drivers drive. You thought that taking the bus in Belgium is crazy? I can assure you that Korea’s driving culture is 10 times worse. Up, down, left right, suddenly hitting the breaks… I honestly think I might just die one day while taking the bus! Taking a city bus is also quite challenging if you don’t speak Korean well. It is difficult to find any explanation in English and most busses have no specific time schedule.
Well-organized inter-city busses
Taking an intercity bus however, isn’t nearly as scary as taking a city bus. In fact I never had any bad experiences! You buy a ticket at the bus terminal, you wait for the bus at the right platform, you scan your ticket or show it to the driver, you take a seat (seat number is indicated on your ticket) and off you go. The busses are almost always on time and because there are special bus-only lanes on the highway, taking the bus is sometimes faster than going by car! I love taking Korean intercity busses! Wish they had such a good system in Belgium.
Impossible to find unsweetened snacks
I’m telling you, even the “normal” western style snacks are slightly sweetened. My Korean friends say they can’t taste it, but I definitely do. It is extremely frustrating ㅠㅠ I want my normal pringles!
Meat is so expensive in Korea. Especially beef. Two weeks ago I made a nice bulgogi at home and I payed almost W10’000 (approximately 8 euros) for merely 200g. ㅠㅠ However, finding meat substitutes isn’t the easiest thing either, as Korea is still quite new to vegetarianism.
You cannot imagine how cheap oysters are in Korea! I made a little trip to Boryeong (west coast) and I ate so many oysters that I nearly got sick. (No worries, I didn’t actually get sick)
It was delicious and not expensive at all compared to Belgium!
Mountains! Everywhere you look!
Okay, to some people this might seem like a rather dumb thing… but for a country girl from Flanders, seeing mountains is something special. That’s why every time I look out of my window or walk to school, I’m still amazed by all the beautiful mountains that surround me! Although I adore “le plat pays qui est le mien”, seeing the sun disappear behind the hills just makes me tear up every time.
Being attacked by church people
While I was living in Belgium, I didn’t care about religion that much. Some of my friends consider themselves christian, others muslim and I’m an atheist. Me and my friends never really cared or paid much attention to religion. Churches in Korea however, are crazy! They approach you while you do your grocery shopping or while you wait for the bus. They hand out leaflets and free little gifts (eg. tissues or hot packs) and use all kind of tricks to get you in their church. Plus, there are sooo many different churches and they all just try to get more members and more money. I despise these churches so much! I don’t care about your religion, just LEAVE ME ALONE! Or else I will start telling you about our holy Flying Spaghetti Monster 😉 R’amen!
Ending my post with this rather sensitive topic might not have been the best idea, but well… 😛
Anyway, although I’m missing everyone in Belgium (and neighbouring countries) so much, I’m really having a blast here in Korea! Let me know what you think about these differences and come visit me so that you can experience it first-hand! ❤