I always believed that a culture shock was when you didn’t adapt to the local food, felt disoriented in your surroundings or felt unsafe.
None of these are true for Korea. However, many things are different to home, which I hadn’t realize would affect me. The language barrier is my main issue at the moment.
This sounds stupid but in Korea, online shopping is the way to buy EVERYTHING (even though they have huge shopping malls – these malls are usually filled with Chinese tourists).
Most sites are not translated in English and your best source is not Google ! They have their own search engine called Naver. It literally kicks Google’s ass from what I understand from it. Oh, and you need a Korean credit card to shop from Korean online websites.
Therefore, I cannot search, I cannot shop and I cannot buy by myself.
I am lucky enough to have Korean friends and co-workers who help me out with this.
So as I said, this sounds stupid, but something that was so easy in Canada, is not so much in Korea (for a foreigner).
Language is the main issue here.
I have been to a few classes and the workouts are great. However, I don’t yet understand much of what the teacher is saying. I also can’t inquire about prices and memberships by myself. I always need assistance.
There are a lot of foreigner-friendly restaurants with English translated menus. However, most of the real Korean restaurants do not. The menu is in Korean and has no pictures. The waitresses do not speak English either. Things can get complicated, especially when you want to try the local cuisine.
This is all very new to me as I am used to being able to do everything by myself and now find myself needing assistance for simple things.
Of course I plan on learning the language. I don’t really have a choice, but I’m also very interested in learning it.
On the bright side, I find myself talking to more people, asking more questions and in the end, learning more about this unique culture.
Korea is definitely a very interesting place to live.
-She lives for adventure (in Korean)