The weather is changing and the days are now perfect. After seeing Koreans carrying umbrellas 24/7  during all the snowy months, I found Koreans don’t actually care what the weather is like, they just carry umbrellas 365 days because they are equally annoyed by sun as they are by rain. I walked to work this morning and everyone had umbrellas at only 9 in the morning. What I took away from this is that strange events happen to me on a regular basis and they no longer register as odd. This story is about those things that have become normal for me but months ago would have been deemed peculiar.

  • Trash- The garbage removal situation is extremely complicated and also messy. Koreans are doing a wonderful job on the “Green” thing- they sort garbage into so many different categories, I can’t even really figure them out. From what I’ve figured out, there is a compost bin for food, a green net thingy for recyclables, one for trash, and a few more that don’t make sense. It also appears there are no official government workers for removal, but instead random old people must get paid by weight somewhere for what they’ve collected. It seems to work but there is never a regular trash day or the promise there wont be piles of trash left around randomly.
  • Hand Holding- Men hold hands with men, and women with women all the time. I’ve noticed it a little more in the older generation, but it definitely happens all the time:

  • What is “Slutty?”- Now that it’s nice weather, the girls are starting to show their true colors. I’ll admit that Korean women are gorgeous, but Korea has very different views than us on what is considered “slutty.” To them, wearing the shortest skirts in the world matched with the tallest high heels is an average Wednesday, but if a Westerner wears a tank top to show her shoulders she would be considered “slutty.” Yikes. I’m fearing the humid months more now!
  • Red Names- Thankfully, I was warned by the outgoing teacher that I wasn’t supposed to write anyones names in red pen because back in the day, Koreans used to write the name of their dead in red ink. I’ve been very mindful of it when writing the kids’ names on the board or homework sheets, but I have no problem doing it with my own name since it has no history to my knowledge of meaning dead Americans. When signing my paycheck last week, I was haded a pen and signed my name to which the Korean admin was horrified and embarrassed to have given me a red pen. She promised to white it out and give me a blue pen but I told her not to worry about it. This seemed to bum her out.
  • Gift Giving- Gifts are given for occasions and reasons that we would never dream of. When a kid has a birthday party here, they are the ones who bring gifts for their friends and teachers as a thank you for being involved in their life. Also when a large or important personal purchase is made- AKA a friend of mine was given yogurt and rice cakes when his boss bought a new, expensive car. The most unusual for me was yesterday when the morning snack  was given to everyone including teachers. It was ddak, a pounded rice ball, brought in by a former Korean staff member who is off on her whole year of maternity leave. Apparently the baby celebrated his 100 day birthday, and ddak is eaten by all loved ones to promote health for the baby.
  • Adjimaas- This word loosly means “Mrs” but you can refer to it in name when speaking to any older woman. We foreigners use it to refer to the women who are about 55+ because Korean girls are the most beautiful in the world with tall heels, long hair, and cute clothes but for some reason the day they turn 55 they automatically cute their hair short, get it permed, and wear giant sun visors and neon colors. These women are amazing though! They can be found lapping foreigners on hiking trails while looking like a North Face catalog. They also carry heavy grocery bags but have found that everything is better with a friend:

  • Soju- This is a traditional Korean rice drink which can be about 45% alcohol. Needless to say, its quite dangerous, made even more so because its never more than  $1.50 for a bottle. In combination with the bars staying open all night and the fact that Koreans seem to either be working or drinking, the results tend to look something like this:

  • Sales- Koreans usually dress a cute girl up and make her blab away on a microphone to sell anything from laundry detergent in the middle of a store to face cream while standing outside:

Stay tuned for the next edition of, “Unusually Usual” including things like:

Bathrooms- tp in toilet, squatters, bidets

Trucks that Sell Everything- socks to octopus

Manpurses/man capris/skinnyjeans, etc

Hypochondria

Election time Mayhem- Dancing in public places

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