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10 Things Koreans Discover When Visiting America

10 Things Koreans Discover When Visiting America

When Koreans visit the USA, they find that there are many cultural differences. They are sometimes surprised, pleased, or shocked depending on what the situation is. They also have a different world view which reflects their different culture, history, language, eating habits and climate. Here are 10 things that Koreans always remark on or notice when they visit or work in America.

1. No daylight time saving

Koreans notice how Americans complain about how daylight time saving changes affect their sleep-wake cycles. They talk about having to get used to adjusting to the new time change. Koreans have never experienced this as daylight time saving does not exist in their country and in most of Asia.

2. Patience is a virtue

Another shock for the Koreans is how Americans expect to be on hold for 20 minutes–or even an hour–when they call a company or government department. In Korea, the average wait time for a call is three to four minutes so they think Americans are very patient.

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3. Resumes are shorter

When Koreans apply for a job, they are forced to mention their parents’ job histories and education as well! The reason for this is that many of the big Korean corporations are family owned. It is also a reflection of how important family ties are in their society.

4. No military conscription

Korean visitors are usually pleasantly surprised to note that there is no military conscription in the USA. All South Korean males between the ages of 18 and 35 must serve in the army for a two-year period. This is a very controversial aspect of Korean life. Many Koreans envy countries like the USA, where the military draft ended in 1973

5. Service expectations are different

Koreans always notice how much longer everything seems to take in restaurants. They are used to shouting out “Yeogiyo” which means “come here, please.” They find it difficult to adjust to the technique of catching the waiter’s eye, which is considered more polite in American culture but can take a lot longer.

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6. Great variety of food and meals

Koreans love eating in America because they are stunned by the variety of dishes and the fact that there are different menus for breakfast, lunch or dinner. In Korea, they always have rice which is served with a vast variety of side dishes. Their staple dishes, such as kimchi (fermented cabbage), can be delicious. Chopchae is another very tasty option.

7. Formality vs. informality

In South Korea, everyone greets each other with a little bow as a sign of respect. In many ways life is much more formal than in the USA. They find it strange that everyone seems to be on first name terms. In Korea, first names are reserved for close friends.

Formality extends to clothes and fashion when, for example, showing too much cleavage is not really coo. The concept of saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes is strange. Since this is a normal body function, there is no reason to acknowledge it. A similar attitude is shown when Koreans do not say “I’m sorry” when they step on someone’s foot in the subway. They find that courtesy a pleasant surprise in America.

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8. Distances take some getting used to

When you think that South Korea is about the same area of Indiana, you can understand how Koreans find talk of travel and distances disconcerting. If you suggest a road trip lasting more than 3 hours, that would be the equivalent of travelling the length of their country!

9. Americans have more free time

Koreans work very hard; figures show that they work 14% longer than we do. It is also shocking to discover how short their vacations are–sometimes only 3 days! They envy this and marvel at how much more free time we have to relax and enjoy life.

10. Workplace etiquette is very different

When Koreans see how Americans are relaxed and casual in the workplace, they blink again. It is a totally new world for them. They will normally have to address their manager with respectful titles, which may include the word “teacher.” They have to wear suits and ties, and women are not allowed to dress casually. Status is so important that it is not surprising to learn that Korean grammar reflects this.

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Americans are normally very friendly, informal and direct in almost every level of society. They prefer to speak frankly and economically. If you see Koreans looking puzzled or having difficulty adjusting, you now know why.

“At the end of hardship comes happiness.”- Korean proverb

Featured photo credit: Kieran Lynam via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 5, 2019

5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Yourself

5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Yourself

When it comes to being yourself, there can be a lot of pressure from the outside world as it tries to influence who you are. Living in a society that is constantly developing, it’s important for you to always be yourself from the inside out. When you deeply know yourself and the boundaries that you have set, you are more likely to experience a fulfilling and rewarding life. Without knowing yourself and establishing those boundaries, you can easily be pushed around and end up on a dirt path.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” – Matthew 7:13-14

You have the option of taking the path that is broad or taking the path that is narrow. You can either conform to what life wants you to be, or have the courage to remain true to yourself throughout the years. It’s definitely a challenge to have a strong sense of self when we are constantly getting distracted and being influenced by the media and society’s way of life. But if you want to reach your fullest potential in life, it all starts with being yourself.

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Why should you always be yourself?

Because you will:

  1. Live in alignment with your values and beliefs. Being yourself is all about knowing what you believe in and the values that you live by. When you are not yourself, you will take on the values and beliefs of others. This is when you start conforming to other people’s expectations and way of thinking. When you know your values and why you do what you do, you will live according to your own values and beliefs.
  2. Establish your own identity. When you are able to have a solid foundation of being you, you are establishing your own sense of identity. No matter what happens in your life, you will always know who you are. There will be times where you may feel lost or distracted, but if you have your own identity you’ll be able to get back on the right path. Without establishing your own identity, you may easily conform and lose yourself.
  3. Build courage. It takes a great amount of courage when you decide to take the path that goes against the crowd. The reason why the majority of people take the broad path is because it’s easy. It’s easy to just follow the crowd. It’s more of a challenge when you stay true to yourself and establish your own identity. This challenge of always being yourself takes courage and inner strength. No matter what comes your way, you’ll know how to handle it.
  4. Establish boundaries. When you are always yourself, you know what your limits are and the boundaries that you have set for yourself. When people cross your boundaries, you will know. But if you don’t establish boundaries, people may very well walk all over you and take advantage of you. If you are always yourself and you establish boundaries, you are more likely to be aware when people start taking advantage of you. Create and establish your boundaries.
  5. Find focus and direction. When you are always yourself, you are more likely to have focus and direction in your life. Imagine someone who is constantly conforming to other people’s expectations. Do you think this person has focus and direction? I don’t think so. When you stay true to who you are, you are more likely to know the goals you want to accomplish and how to go about accomplishing them. You are able to stay focused and know which direction to take in order for you to accomplish your goals.

No matter what you experience in life, the only person that will always remain constant is you.

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Featured photo credit: María Victoria Heredia Reyes via unsplash.com

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