Differences between Korea and Belgium

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!

Free water

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? 😉

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Public toilets

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.)

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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!

Expensive meat

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.

Cheap oysters

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!

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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! ❤

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My first 3 months in Korea

To celebrate the first anniversary of my blog, I decided that it’s time for another post. The past 3 months have been so incredibly busy that I barely found the time to contact any of my friends. 😥

So, what have I been doing in the past 3 months? The answer is pretty straightforward: studying Korean. When we arrived at the language institute of Sun Moon University (in Cheonan) all the students took a level test to determine in which class they would put us.

During the first term (fall) I finished intermediate I and II. Although it wasn’t easy at all, I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot. My classmates were nice and we had two pretty cool teachers.


I also took my first TOPIK test in November. It was one of the hardest exams I’ve ever taken! Let me explain you what exactly TOPIK is and why it is so important:

TOPIK is a national exam that tests a student’s proficiency in the Korean language. Sungkyunkwan University (the university I will attend next year) requires journalism students to have a TOPIK level 6. Level 6 (6급) is the highest level you can achieve on the TOPIK exam. As you can see below, this means getting at least 230/300. As I mentioned before, I took the test this November and although the results have not been published yet, I am pretty sure that I did not even reach level 3 (120/300). Consequently, I will have to work really really hard to get my 6급 before summer 2017 ends.

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Although I do not like living in the dorms of Sun Moon University Cheonan Campus (bad food, poor hygiene, doors closed between 11 pm and 5 am, quite far from the city center) I did meet wonderful people here. My roommate is so sweet and considerate and the other friends I made are really amazing! It’s because of my friends that I still feel motivated to go on, because we are in this together and we can share our troubles and worries. ❤

Video for talk talk Korea

12463459_901741433274488_1897581230_nIn the summer of 2015, I participated to the annual Talk Talk Korea competition of KBS World. I had to make a video in which I promote Korean culture. I didn’t just want to show some pictures from the palaces or other famous attractions, because there already exist loads of videos about it.

So I tried to look at it from another point of view… If I think about why I personally would want to visit another country then the reasons would be…

  • Good food, super important haha
  • Beautiful nature, but also interesting buildings (this could mean anything: ancient temples or churches, old marketplaces, or new and modern infrastructure)
  • Interesting culture
  • Lots of new things to try out: having the opportunity to do things that I wouldn’t normally do at home
  • Outdoor and indoor activities (after all, we cannot controle the weather)

So I thought about Korea and tried to mix these elements and put them in a video with a romantic theme where I also give a lot of explanation. Too bad that there was a time limit 😀 Else I would have added many more elements.
I got 4th place (together with some other participants) and I was really happy about it! Making the video was so much fun!!!!! (and lots of stress because – as I had my final exams – I only had a few days to make the video)
Whoo so exited to see the official KBS label on my video (ah ah, I’m so silly)