Grab a bowl of popcorn, and a cup of tea, coffee, water or wine. At the end of this long piece, you’d feel like you were on my trip with me! So, buckle up!
Any opportunity to explore a different culture has my full attention! I’m sitting on the Haeundae beach in Busan, South Korea, getting my feet dipped in the Pacific Ocean as I write this, bliss ( I will post this in Atlanta, but at this point in the post, I’m in Korea)! It is by no means cheap to travel and enjoy a rich culture for 10 days, 14 hours ahead of your home, and a 16- hour flight away, but it’s completely worth every penny. All thanks to God, my parents and the different scholarships I received, I was able to afford this trip. I pray I have the opportunity to do it again as I surely want to!
Korea is a beautiful place! The pictures on Google are real. To think that she went through a horrible war about 65 years ago, she bounced back pretty nicely! Their growth and economic development can only make me pray that Nigeria and other 3rd world countries achieve speedy recovery from our corrupt governments and relatively stagnant economies.
I’ve had the time of my life in Seoul and Busan. Yes my curious ears, I will share it all with you 😀
- Black women are rare:
Living, as a minority could be a little challenging, not in Korea. Everywhere I went, people were openly curious, staring at me, and asking for my pictures. I’d pose for a personal picture and a flock of photographers will come and take my picture! My group joked that I could make a living my charging some money for my picture to be taken.
The most interesting thing happened when I went to the beach. I had my swimsuit on for a dip in the ocean, and this conversation ensued:
2 Korean Girls (2KG): Oh my God! Your body is so beautiful!
Me: (Aghast) Oh! Thanks!
2KG: Are those your real boobs? They’re so big!
Me: (Hahahahahahaha) Yes!! And you find much bigger where I come from.
2KG: Wow!! We don’t have any boobs. A and B cups mostly.
Me: Aw, I wish I could gift you some :=D
2KG: Can we touch them?
Me: Oh, go ahead!
2KG: Uhh, Ahhh, it’s really real! Lol.
No joke, this was how this went down, and it was fun!
- We see you don’t really fit in, but you can sit with us:
I need to find the human that came up with the hash tag “you can’t sit with us,” and give said human a good spanking. That phrase is what I call ‘refined meanness.’ Wherever I go, being that I have no problem inserting myself into conversations, I always try to include other people, otherwise known as shy, weird, gothic or introverts. My Korean people embody this! They invite you in, and pay you so much attention that you feel like you belong.
- I see why Paris banned selfie sticks:
Everyone and they mama (slang pips…read as is) has a selfie stick in Korea! It’s incredible! Everywhere you go, pictures, pictures, and pictures.
- No no no, one size! No! One size:
Haha! In their fast food restaurants, ain’t nunn like S, M, L, Super size, just no! They have only one food size, which is about the size of a U.S small. The only other option is a family size. This extends to their clothing’s – they sell one size! I must have seen over 10,000 Koreans while there, and in that number, I only saw 2 fat people. Yes, Koreans are tiny! Whenever I saw cute shoes, they never had my size 41. They asked if I wanted to order, but I wasn’t in one place long enough to order.
- The toilets are robots:
In Korea, the toilets help you clean up after yourself, lol. First off, the temperature of the seats can be adjusted to whatever you liked (I had mine always warm). Then, when your business is over, you could use the bidet (INSIDE the WC, with an adjustable spout), a dryer, and sometimes will even give you a little squirt of perfume! I kid you not! This may have been my best part of the trip, lol! I’m ashamed to admit how long I spent sitting on these little magic workers.
- Rice, rice, rice:
Every edible thing is Korea can be made from rice! Their food is quite spectacular! I didn’t take any shots before leaving, so I avoided street food, and went for foods from nice looking restaurants, and I (almost) enjoyed every bite! Bougogi, bimbibap, sushi, Korean barbecue, see, Korean food is simply delicious! The portions were perfect! There was barely ever a need to take your food to go.
I definitely indulged in their rice wine, which is fermented rice made into a drink.
For desserts, they had green-tea ice cream, and … you guessed right! RICE BALLS! Lol.
- Korea didn’t have my bubble tea AKA tapioca balls (sad face):
I so looked forward to drinking bubble tea, which is any flavor of tea that has a generous amount of tapioca balls at the bottom. Unfortunately, I only found 2 spots, and had only 3 drinks with tapioca. Luckily, Atlanta is blessed with several bubble tea spots, but I wanted the authentic one.
- Bali bali:
If you know any Koreans, you may associate them with “hurrying.” They walk, talk, and do everything relatively fast. There is an expectation for them to “hurry hurry”, which is what bali bali means.
- Koreans are extra helpful!
I have a chronic condition: OVER PACKING! I hate being stranded in foreign places, so I over pack. I try my best to narrow my packing down to something like 1.5 outfits per day, but I still end up over doing it. For instance, I had 9 pairs of shoes. No, I didn’t use them all, but I had them. All of this is to say, I ended up with a really heavy suitcase! When I was seen struggling, help came! I hesitated not! “Camsamida people!”
This is the biggest influence of the Korean culture. They believe that there are 5 major relationships, written in the order they are supposed to be reverenced.
- Ruler & Subject
- Husband & Wife
- Father & Children
- Elder & Younger ones
- Company visits:
Yes, it was a fun trip, but it was also educational. We visited several companies, where we learned about the work and life culture in Korea.
Job progression is not necessarily by performance as it is in the US, but by age. It’s highly frowned upon for a 30-year old to be the boss of a 35 year old. If you see that the work of your senior is wrong, you can’t point it out. It’s not the Korean culture to do that.
- SKY schools (aka U.S Ivy Leagues) are taken to the next level:
In order to get into one of the top three Korean schools: Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University, high school students in their last 2 years get only 3-4 hours of sleep because they are studying for their entrance exams. If they don’t get into the SKY uni’s, they are largely looked upon as an embarrassment, and many go to the U.S, or U.K for college where there isn’t an insane amount of emphasis placed on Ivy League schools. That’s why there is a standing joke that Asians come and mess our curves up. They are indeed bright, and although mostly crammed, they have mastered studying.
Please don’t assume all Koreans in your American schools are there because they couldn’t get into SKY. Ask them if it bothers you that much. Never assume.
- I’m the professor/ the ruler! Don’t you dare talk back!
I can’t lie. I get a slight high from challenging my professors’ points, especially when I know I’m right! This is NOT the case in Korea! They stand up when the professor walks in to show reverence, and they do not speak in class. Their classes are lectures. Listen, take notes, study, excel. Se fini.
- The architecture and technology… Loss of words:
I don’t think it’s a popularly known fact that Korea is 70% mountainous. Well, now you know, you’re most welcome! The buildings and views in Korea are sick! Just beautiful! The cities are so colorful at night. In the midst of the civil unrest, I achieved ataraxia at several points in my trip! In my opinion, Korea is definitely more technologically advanced than the U.S and there are plenty opportunities for different professions.
- Unfortunately, surgeries:
It was very common for you to see people wearing face masks from a recent surgery. Koreans are very intelligent, and being that it’s a highly competitive environment, they find ways to differentiate themselves from their counterparts who possess the same skills as them. Sadly, this pushes them to alterations of their eyes and lips for the most part, so they can stand out.
- The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ):
This was certainly the outing that gave me a high adrenaline rush! I walked through the tunnel that the North Koreans built, and tried to use to invade South Korea. The tunnel is downward slopping in order to have the water flow to North Korea. Going down any hill is relatively easy, but coming up was a challenge! It was even more difficult for me because the tunnel was shorter than me and I had to walk whilst bending my neck! While we were walking, we heard the announcer: “if the bomb should go off, grab the masks to your right…” Oh, you know I prayed all through that tunnel! I don’t know what made me do it, but I ain’t gunn do it no mo! I am alive and well, reporting to you from good health 🙂
- Night life:
The club scene in Korea is a little dead, lol! Because of the culture, it’s more common to have lounges where a lot more is going on than dancing. Koreans don’t have a rich dancing culture, but they make up for this by spending quality time with one another. There was a spot by my hotel I really wanted to go into, but it was for Koreans only 😦 No, I couldn’t report them to any agency. There aren’t strong (or any) discriminatory laws that are adhered to. My group and I were always the live of the party and we were turnt!
- The cars:
So, the cars on the high ways and everywhere looked nothing later than 2011. They have a fine taste for cars! I’m not a car girl, but this country had me stopping to take pictures of some of the most beautiful vehicles I’d seen. No, they didn’t act like Atlantans and use up two parking spots when driving a fancy car, lol. I love my Atlantans all the same!
- Skin care:
Ah, I definitely spoiled my skin in Korea! They are said to have some of the best skin care products, and I found this to be true. In the particular facial store I went to, we had a blast! That was where I gave my first hug to a Korean in Korea, after which I became a pro at doing that! After my purchase, I was gifted with a shimmery powder that was supposed to help protect my skin in the sun! I am really enjoying all the products, and as they say, I think my skin is thanking me for it.
The majority of Koreans are happy, which could be transferable! Be H.A.P.P.Y!
I am blessed to have had the opportunity of traveling to various countries! This was my first time on the Asian soil, and I couldn’t be happier about the experience.
As I predicted, I’m sure you know at least one new thing you didn’t know about Korea before, and maybe feel like you went on this trip with me. A major shout out to my great institution, Georgia State University for making this possible!
Travel, explore different cultures! Our world becomes more globalized daily, you will need to be open to people from different regions! Please spread the love and share this post! Also, show this to your Korean friends. I’m curious to hear feedback from them on how accurate, or not this is!