Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's...Different Here...

...and I'm not talking about the big things, like culture or language. Or even physical appearance. And I definitely don't want to get into the tendency Korean pop-culture has to put androgyny on a pedestal. 

No, I'm talking about the small things, the common things that affect my every-day life. 

For example, my shower. Well, the bathroom in general. It was designed as a wet bathroom. No shower curtain. Just a drain under the sink. Chelsea put up a shower curtain. I was indifferent at first, but I think it was a good thing. The shower is a handheld job, so that can minimize the water on the floor if I'm careful, but it's easier with a shower curtain. Also, no matter how careful I am, I can't get a constant water temperature. It's either constantly heating up or constantly cooling down. That can be rather torturous, to tell the truth. Each time I adjust the temperature, I get about two minutes of comfortable water, then it quickly becomes either scalding or chilly. On the plus side, this makes me shower faster.

Convenience stores are tiny. Really tiny. The stores are crammed into any space available, no matter how small nor how oddly shaped the interior is. And the stores still have aisles of products. For the majority of the Korean populace, who happen to be skinny skinny skinny, this isn't a problem. For me? I feel like a bull in a china shop, like my slightest movement is going to cause havoc. At one particular Family Mart, I slide through the aisles sideways, making sure my bag doesn't swing and knock the products around. 

The human resources department in the Village recently sent out a posting for an open Head Teacher position. As part of the posting, one line read, "This job is only available for senior Korean teachers." In the US, this would be an enormous lawsuit waiting to happen. Here? Not so much. The foreign teachers grumbled, but didn't really say anything. Mostly because it wouldn't have made a difference.

With the possible exception of that third point, I'm not saying these are bad things. Just different.  

I have seen one nouvelle here that has completely blown my mind with how amazing it is. When I got my bank account, I was given a bank book. Now, I'm not the most conscientious person in the world when it comes to keeping my register up to date. I just don't. Here the bank book has a magnetic strip coded with my account information. Not enough to make a withdrawal or anything, I have an ATM card for that. No, inside the bank there are two automatic teller machines. I can stick my card in the one and withdraw cash. When I stick in my card it always tells me, "Processing time is the longest two minutes. Please wait." I love that. But the other machine, an amazing invention, is for the bank book. I open my book to the most recent page, tell the machine I want to update my bank book entries, then stick the entire book in. It will record all the most recent transactions in the book, even turning the page when it gets full. 

Brilliant! Why can't we have these in the States? So convenient and practical. 

I'm sure there are many other small things that are different here, but these are the ones that have been on my mind lately. I'll probably do another post later on with more. 

I think I like it here. I still miss home, but Korea is a nice place to be. Even when I can hear the occasional firing of a gun or launching of a mortar. 


Natasha said...

Huge fan of the bank book thing. This could save me a lot of time and stress (not to mention swear words.)

RiaTheOne said...

I have mixed feelings about the native people only apply. Here close to several Native American reservations, most employers post Native American preferred....I wonder a bit how much different this is for jobs that ask for driver's licenses, or cars. My husband has neither of those and won't ever be able to get them as he was born legally blind.