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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 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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