10 Things that impressed me when I first came to Korea
Updated: Jul 29
I moved to Korea right after graduating from high school 4 years ago to study the Korean language. Although I'm already used to living in Korea and to the locals, this country never ceases to amaze me even now.
1. Handicapped seating
Back in 2015, I first came to Korea to visit my sister who has studied there for 1 year. She met me at the airport and we took the subway to her place. The train was very busy, but I noticed that no one sat down in the seats that were at the end of the train. I remember how I was already on my way to take the empty seats, but my sister stopped me. It turns out that in Korea it is considered not decent if you sit on seats for pregnant women and the elderly, which surprised me a lot. We also have such seats in Russia and everyone uses them anyway. But in Korea, even if there is nowhere to stand, even then no one dares to sit in these seats.
2. Convenience stores 24/7
There are many shops throughout Korea that are open 24 hours 7 days a week. You will find them everywhere, literally at every step. These stores have absolutely everything you might need, from food to household items. I was saved many times by these shops when at midnight I want to eat, but there is no food in the refrigerator. The most common convenience stores in Korea are CU, GS25, 7eleven and Ministop.
3. Soju instead of water on Fridays
When I went to university and found a job, I got to know more about the peculiarities of Korean culture. After a long working week Koreans go for a soju drink to relieve the accumulated stress. Therefore, they call Friday ‘Burning Friday’. Drinking soju is also a way to set up business connections, so they like to drink in the middle of the week as well as on Friday. Meeting new classmates at the university also involves all kinds of parties and gatherings. For example, in the first year, the faculty does MT, which stands for Membership Training but in reality, you all just drink alcohol together. There are various alcohol games that are actually very fun to play.
When my sister and I went for a walk in Korea for the first time, it was about noon, but we returned home late at night. In my country, it is very dangerous to walk alone late at night, many moves by car or just sits at home, so I was very worried that we were returning home so late, but my sister assured me that it is absolutely safe in Korea even at night. Also, you can safely leave your things at the table while you order coffee or you have to go somewhere for a short while, no one will take anything, no one will steal anything. There are also CCTV everywhere, so even if something happens, you can always contact the police. Here the law works for 100%.
Just as the English cannot live without coffee with milk, so the Koreans cannot live without a cup of coffee in the morning. All business meetings, meetings with friends are held over a cup of coffee. In Korea, there is simply an endless number of coffee shops on every corner. During the exams, all the coffee shops are packed with students who are diligently preparing for the tests.
6. Trash cans
There are very few trash bins on the streets, it is very difficult to find a place where you can throw out the trash. Sometimes you walk around with a wrapper until you find a trash can, or you put it all in a bag, in my case I put it all in a backpack and carry it home to throw it away. But at the same time, the streets are very clean, no one throws anything on the ground.
In Korea, the customer is always right. Each institution is very concerned about its service, all employees are very polite and do everything to make their visitor happy because the reputation of their institution is very important for Koreans. Also, if you go to a Korean restaurant, usually all salads that are called ‘반찬:Banchan(Side dish)’ go for free with the main dishes. If you want a supplement of salads, you will be given as much as you want for free. With regard to restaurants, it is not customary to tip in Korea, which makes a student who came for traveling very happy, but very frustrating when this student gets a job in a restaurant.
A wave of Korean culture has taken over the world, but what surprised me the most was that locals rarely listen to idols music. They prefer quiet and sometimes very sad ballads to loud and dance music.
Delivery here is simply top-notch. This includes food and any items that you order. As for me, Korea is the country with the fastest delivery. With regard to food, there is a huge amount of convenient applications through which you can order breakfast, lunch, and dinner for yourself, and in at least 20 minutes, you will already be enjoying the ordered food.
10. Study in Korea
Korea is a country where you will never forget your days at university. There are many different clubs for all the hobbies that you can imagine. Even if there is no club according to your preferences, you can always create your own club. Also, in the middle of the semester, university festivals are held where music clubs arrange performances and celebrities are invited to come.
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