Wednesday, 4 April 2012

No Rainbows without Rain


I know it probably gets boring hearing about all the amazing things about Korea so thought I'd point out some of the things that aren't so great about being here so far...

1. The Weather. This post was inspired by the weather last Friday. We woke up and it was literally relentless, torrential rain ALL day. The people of Sheffield would be quivering in their boots and getting the sand bags ready if we had even an hours worth of the rain that we saw the other day. Even better than this is the fact we were told that this is normal weather for the Summer, AND someone stole my umbrella at school, it appears to be a free for all in the umbrella department!

2. The People who've been deemed fit to drive. I remember this one time I lived in a country where the drivers indicated, they stopped for people in the street (even if it was in an irritated fashion), knew that they belonged on the road and not the pavement and didn't incessantly honk their horns. If someone gave me a pound for every time I had heard someone toot their horn for no apparent reason I'd be a millionaire.

3. The Smells in the street. Eugh.

4. Being shadowed around a shop. As soon as you enter a shop they shuffle to your side and won't disappear until you exit through the door. I know they're only trying to be helpful but it's rather uncomfortable when I'm picking something up, trying to work out what it is and I have them breathing down my neck like they're about to start seducing me. Last weekend in Nampo we were just leaving the shop when our shadow pointed out that we hadn't been to the second floor of the shop. Not wanting to be rude we went upstairs, she obviously followed, and had a whole monologue with herself, the only word I picked out was piercing as she pointed at my lip.

5. The lack of spatial awareness. The bumping and pushing, shoving and shunting. It's enough to make anyone think that there's some ongoing, off-skates roller derby drill. I've seen people man handled by others if they happen to be in the way. We witnessed this poor waif of a girl, who was happily catching the metro, get shoved into the door so others could get on and off more easily. Tasha got inappropriately touched by an old lady the other day as she politely got up to offer her seat, the woman grabbed her chest and shoved her back down. Which brings us onto the next point...

6. The old folk. Ok, not all of them are bad. Some are quite cute, but they aren't quite the quaint old dears we're used to in England. They cough and splutter all over the show. They tut quite often, just today 2 old ladies got up and moved as soon as we sat next to them. They spit on the floors of shops, and cag constantly, and the other day we saw one who was wasted, sprawled out on the seats opposite, who then proceeded to projectile vomit onto the floor of the metro. Classy.

7. Reading. I really don't think you truly understand how much information you gleen just from subconsciously reading instructions and signs. When that information is taken away from you, even the most simplest of tasks are pretty hard. Cue me getting into a bit of a tangle just trying to make instant noodles the other day. Finding recommended bars and restaurants is nearly impossible as well as you may catch the name, but then it's finding the street, and then being able to read the sign. 

8. Recycling. I think this is my worst thing about Korea and has almost brought me to be a quivering nervous wreck several times. Not only do they have about 10 different categories of things to recycle, but all the recycling bins are labelled in Korean, and then they seem to be emptied almost every day, so no matter what time i go to the bin and peer in, hoping to get a clue of what i should put in what bin, they're EMPTY! What makes it worse is all the CCTV warning signs around the bin area, making me worried that while I'm dithering around there is someone somewhere watching me and building up a case against my crimes against the planet- eeeek!

9. The Fashion. Socks with sandals, neon trainers, questionable denim effects, boys in too tight trousers and weird cutsey hoodies with ears are things that you see anywhere you turn. I'd been told before I came that young couples dressed the same as each other, and I'm a bit gutted that I haven't seen this yet either!

10. The rush for food at lunchtimes. I think I took the 'no left-overs' day pretty well, considering every day is a lottery with the food but as soon as the bell goes to signal lunch time, if you actually want to eat, you have to desert your class and do the aforementioned dad shuffle run to the teachers' lunch room. If you don't, you're left with only kimchi and the dregs of rice on your tin tray. Yummmm.

Anyway, as we were busy listing things off the top of our head that we disliked about Korea, we discovered a whole lot more things that we have a mutual appreciation for. I guess it's the bad things that help to magnify everything that's good too.