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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 September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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