CONTRIBUTED BY ROSIE MAJKA
When I was preparing to move to South Korea, I really couldn’t find a lot of information on the internet about living here. I didn’t know what to expect and if I would enjoy being in a completely different culture. Here are some myths and truths to what people think about South Korea; at least this is what I thought about before coming over here.
Everyone speaks English in South Korea. This is a lie. The language barrier is really hard to get used to, but you just have to accept it and move on. We’re guests in Korea and we can’t expect everyone to speak English. People speak to me in Korean ALL the time and I have no idea what they’re saying. Just goes to show, most people assume we speak their language because we’re living in their country.
After living here for almost a year and a half, I have learned a few words to get by with. I can say: more water please, how much is this, thank you, hello, goodbye, and over here (if you want to get someone’s attention at a restaurant or shop). If you can learn these words and phrases, you will do just fine. A word of warning though, I think many Koreans know more English than they let on, therefore don’t ever speak poorly about them just because you think they don’t know what you’re saying, that’s just rude.
The electronics are SO cheap in Korea. This can be true in some cases. My husband found a camera lens for cheaper than he would have found it in the States. You have to know where to look, which is basically at Yongsan Station in the Electronics Market.
The Wi-Fi/internet is great in South Korea. The internet isn’t that much better than in the States. Since we live in a high-rise apartment building, the internet can be slow at times. I guess you get what you pay for, and since our internet is included in our rent, it’s probably not the best internet there is. You can ask your realtor for better internet, but you will be paying extra. If you live on post, you can pay for different speeds, but it’s still not the fastest ever.
Clothes are so cheap in South Korea. If you’re small, Korea is a shopper’s dream, and when I say small I mean size zero-four. I am normally wear a size four-six and I don’t fit into most of the clothes sold here. I can find tops that fit, but pants/skirts, forget it. Don’t shop in department stores; clothes are way too expensive there. Instead, go to Dongdaemun or subway stations. I also really enjoy the Seoul Bus Terminal.
If you sew, or want to learn how to sew, Korea is a goldmine for fabric. Most fabrics are 2,000-5,000 per yard; there are more designs than you could ever imagine here and the section does not even begin to compare to anywhere in the States. I didn’t even have a sewing machine before coming here, and even though I’m still not very good, it’s a fun hobby to pick up especially when fabric is so cheap.
The food is amazing in South Korea. Yes, this is true. I am a VERY picky eater, but I love Korean food. If you’re a vegetarian, you may have some issues: Koreans love meat. Food is also really affordable here. Normally, we don’t spend more than 20,000 Won for a dinner out (for two people). Most restaurants give you a ton of sides with your meals, which is awesome and filling. Many places will make each person order an entree because it costs them money to give the sides to every table.
The public transportation here in Korea is convenient and really affordable. Yes, this is true. I can’t stand depending on public transportation, but in Korea it’s kind of your best option. It takes a while for us to get to all of the fun and pretty stuff that Korea has to offer because we live at Camp Humphreys. But, taking the train, subways, and buses beats driving and sitting in traffic.
South Korea is safe. I feel 100% safe, 100% of the time. I have taken the bus by myself, walked at night by myself, and taken trips to Seoul with my girlfriends. These are things I would never do in a big city back in the States. I lived near Philadelphia, and I wouldn’t even think about walking around at night, alone, or taking public transportation by myself. I have never felt safer living somewhere. Being a foreigner in a new country can be scary, but after arriving and setting in, my fears were erased almost immediately.