Frequently Asked Questions about SK

Frequently Asked Questions about SK

My friends and family back home constantly ask me questions about what it’s like to live in Korea, and honestly I don’t blame them. Before I came I was totally clueless too. I mean I knew some culture, a little bit of the language and some additional info, but most of that info came from what I had watched or seen…in America. So until I got it I didn’t really understand what it was going to be like when I got here. Now I can definitely answer some of those questions that I’m asked at least once a week.


1. “Aren’t you scared?! I mean, North Korea’s RIGHT THERE!”

I get this one almost all the time. Honestly, there are moments when I wonder what I would do if anything ever happened between North and South Korea. To be even more honest, those moments are few and far between. Very rarely do I give it the time of day, probably because people here are so blaise about it. A couple of weeks after we got to our school’s there was an Emergency Drill that took place for the entire city. It was very eerie. One minute, everything was moving and going along like normal. The next, sirens started going off and everything just…stopped. I mean, everything. People ran into buildings, cars, buses and taxis stopped and turned off in the middle of the street, and safety personnel stood with directing light sticks in the middle of intersections ready to tell us where to go. Then a loud voice came over a megaphone and started telling us something very loudly in Korean, then the sirens went off once more and all of a sudden, everything started up again. It was like someone had pressed pause on Life and then hit play so suddenly my head spun. But to illustrate my point of people’s casualness towards the entire endeavor, we were in a phone shop with one of our co-teachers when all of this happened and neither he nor the person helping us find phones batted an eye. It was almost like nothing was happening outside. So I guess the short answer to this question is, no. There’s enough security and safety measures in place that I don’t ever truly feel threatened, and if anything did happen I’m confident there would definitely be some kind of warning. If not, we’ll figure it out when we get there. Until then, I feel as safe as I do at home.


2. “Wow, so if you’re in Korea you must speak the language! How much do you know?? How do you talk to people??”

I do, in fact, speak a little Korean. However, though my survival skills are intact, I am by no means even conversationally fluent. I know some people here who know even less than I do. So, how do we get along here? Actually, surprisingly well. I think the main thing to learn, if anything, is how to read hangul which is the alphabet system here in Korea. There are some places in smaller areas who only have Korean menus with no English, or signs that do not have an English option. Though this is rare in larger cities like Seoul, smaller cities will definitely have less English available so it’s wise to know at least a little. I can read and write hangul perfectly at this point, even when I can’t understand it, and sometimes that’s more handy than being able to speak. Still, if you know NONE of the language at all, it’s easy to get by. You’d be amazed what gestures, pointing and pictures can do. Seriously, it’s amazing. I’ve had full conversations without a single word of English or Korean being spoken, and though people appreciate when you know something,  you certainly don’t have to know everything. In short the answer to all of this question if: Sort of, not much and with a lot of luck.


3. “Is the internet way faster there???”

Yes. I love it.


4. “Can you send me back a $10 watch?!?”

Yes, but it’s not about to be Prada. Or Gucci. They have all that stuff here and it’s just as expensive as back home. Korea is not China and that $10 watch is straight up coming from E-mart.


In short, Korea is amazing. Like, seriously amazing, and the more experiences I have the more I want to stay here. Every day is different and I highly encourage, even if you don’t come here to teach, to at least come and try the tteokboki at Myeongdong because it’s worth the 16 hour plane ride from Dallas any day.

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