New Norm Part II

Sometimes living in a different country you forget that some of the very odd and different things around you are in fact…odd and different. So since the first installment was such a hit, I decided to collect some more things from around Korea that I first thought were odd and different but now just blend into the background. 
New names

I swear to you, I did not marry a man named Jesemy Djamond. 

Toilet étiquette 

Being directed not to flush tissue down the toilet.

Confusion in the grocery store

The Korean writing everywhere even seems normal now. When we visited back home it was weird not to see it.

A declined English vocabulary 

When your job is to simplify the English language as much as possible it only makes sense that your extensive English vocabulary tends to go out the window. For instance, it once took me and some friends a good ten minutes to come up with the word ‘insult’.

(Korean+English). Oh the Konglish. I’m pretty sure they meant ‘That’s the bomb
Age difference

Many times when I first arrived and people asked my age I would freeze. Do they want to know my Korean or Western age? Let me explain. When a child is born in Korea, they are already considered one year old. Then everyone turns a year older at the same time in the new year.  Why? No idea. So essentially, if a child was born at the end of December, they would be two years old in Korea before they’re a month old in America. See why I was so confused?

Seating arrangements


This is probably one of the things that no matter how long I live here, it will always get under my skin. It is very common to see children in cars that are not buckled up and not in a carseat. I can’t tell you how many time I have seen kids riding on the drivers lap, hanging out of the window or even strapped in baby carries on the drivers chest. I think this is the one exception to this post because I will never think this is normal.

  • Laura Cristina

    I totally relate to some many of these things from living in Japan!!

    I am so accustomed to seeing ‘Kanji’ everywhere, when we went back home to visit it was so weird not seeing it everywhere.

    They don’t do red lights here either!! You have a couple of seconds before the light is red to run the light. Oh and the kids here are always running amok in their cars.. it always makes me feel uneasy.

    it’s always fun stepping back and making a list of all the bizarre things that are now the norm, when you live abroad :).


  • Sam @

    Just read these and died laughing! There are so many things that you can never prepare for no matter how much research you do on living in a different country!

  • Rebekah Jo

    This seriously made me laugh. I grew up in Korea. My parents were missionaries, and I went to an American school, but other than that we lived off the Korean economy. As a kid so much of what you mentioned does just become normal. When I lived there, back in the late 80s/early 90s, I loved walking down to the local bakeries and we thought nothing of eating from street vendors.

    • lost in travels

      that’s so great! what an awesome experience as a child! have you ever gone back after you left? i bet it’s so different from when you lived here!

  • Lauren

    Just reading this post brought me back to when I lived in Korea as a kid. When we would go back to the states in the summer we definitely had some culture shock and difficulty acclimating back to America. My birthday was on the 19th and my dad called me on the 18th since I was already a year ahead in Korea…and thankfully I go by American age…one year NOT closer to thirty! lol Enjoyed the post, can’t wait for another one!

    • lost in travels

      we definitely ‘adjust’ our age when we want to be younger. my husband is on the verge of 30, 31 korean age so he always chooses his western age!

  • Beka

    I think you will fine the massive food portion sizes strange when you move back to America =) Thanks for sharing all these fun things that I somehow in a weird way miss =)

    • lost in travels

      oh i know! we’re going to be splitting meals ALL the time!

  • Sara

    An entire aisle of ramen noodles?!


    Undecided Answer

    • lost in travels

      tell me about it! i actually really like it but try not to eat it too often. they have SO many flavors!

  • Sam M

    This is awesome. When I moved to Asia it was the same. SO many things seemed weird, and then just became normal and when I would say something to people back home, they’d be like WHAT? Oh, you mean it’s not normal to park your car in the living room in th evenings? I know exactly what you’re talking about with your English getting bad because you’re constantly speaking in broken English for people to be able to understand you. And YES, the 2 years older thing, they do that in Cambodia too. People would tell me their age and I’d think there’s no way you’re that old, so we started asking people what year they were born. We always just stuck with our American age.

    • lost in travels

      it’s no wonder they still have broken english over here since that’s how most foreigners speak to them!i’m glad i’m not alone with the english vocabulary ! where did you live?

  • Kotryna Bass

    haha, I love this post! everything in those hieroglyphs looks so weird, I’d be afraid to buy anything in the shop, haha!

    • lost in travels

      trust me, it took awhile to know what to buy and what NOT to buy when going shopping!

  • hemborgwife

    One of the reasons I read so much is to help keep up my vocabulary but my grammar has sadly gone down hill, I once said to my husband that something was “more better”!

    • lost in travels

      oh no! it’s so difficult to keep up a good vocabulary when you no longer use it extensively!

  • Rachel Leigh Murray

    Hey! Randomly came across your blog and it’s so awesome to see a fellow traveler! I’ve been living abroad the past three years and it’s so hilarious the stuff you come across that just becomes…normal. Anyways, all the best in your life out there!
    Rachel Murray

    • lost in travels

      i’m so glad you did! where are you living?

  • Aileen

    I love this post! So many things are too funny but they become normal to you. There were so many things like that when I lived in Austria. Please keep writing these posts!

    • lost in travels

      I would love to hear some of the differences in Austria! I think so many times we think that living in Europe or in another western culture would be so alike but it’s surprisingly different!