The New Norm Part IV

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, they instead become a ‘new norm’ of sorts. So here are a few things that when I first came to Korea seemed odd but now are overlooked.

Delivery bikes
mcdonalds delivery]
And by the way their delivery men drive, I can’t imagine it taking more than a few minutes to get your order from across town. 
Bus seating
korean bus

We found out the hard way what happens when they overbook the bus. They have small stools in the overhead compartments that you sit on in the middle of the aisle. Thank goodness it was only an hour ride to where we were going.

Street food
korean street carts
Street food is something that I never really experienced in the states but have grown to love since living in Korea. Breakfast, lunch or dinner people crowd around these stalls on the street to eat just about any Korean dish. Below you can see gimbap, ddeokbokki (rice cake in red spicy sauce…delicious!) and odeng (fish paste on a stick…no thank you).
Oral care

I have never seen people take the dentist’s advice to brush your teeth after every meal so seriously until I moved to Korea. In every bathroom at work you can see everyone’s individual cups and toothbrushes. During lunch time you can see workers walking the halls while brushing their teeth. Dentists everywhere would be so proud. 

Temple symbols
korean temple

This one really caught me off guard when we first moved to Korea. Growing up, this symbol meant one thing and one thing only. And you certainly wouldn’t find it plastered on buildings, or people with necklaces and rings with it. Guess my history lesson was lacking because number one, the symbol is backwards from what the Germans used and two, it’s the traditional Buddhist symbol for a temple. I’ve grown used to it now but there are times where I still see it and it catches me off guard.

  • Haylee

    This was so interesting to read about. At first glance the food carts and toothbrushing habits seemed so weird to me but then when I stopped to think about it more, neither are really strange at all! They just aren’t what we consider to be in the norm. In fact I’m sort of jealous, those food stands look kind of fun! Definitely a cool idea.

    Thanks for this series, I honestly really enjoyed reading it and it got me thinking a lot. Now I just wish that someone from Korea would do one on what they consider weird here in the states! :)

  • Sara Louise

    Having McDonald’s delivered to my house would be very bad for me, very, very bad. Currently I’m (and my thighs) grateful that the closest one is a half an hour away :)

  • Kayli Schattner

    Love all of your photos! Thank goodness we don’t have a McDelivery (that I know of?) in the US.

  • Love A Traveler

    I remember seeing delivery motorcycles for McDonalds and KFC in Egypt! I guess I’m used to different things in different places and actually thought it was pretty cool! My friend actually wanted to call McDonalds to place a delivery order just to see it being delivered! I love learning about new things in different countries! Wonderful post! I’m looking forward to reading more about Korea through you! One day I’ll make it out there to experience it!

  • Emily Hornburg

    The swastika thing freaks me out – not gonna lie. All of this is super interesting though! However, I do feel like I have really bad dental hygiene now…

  • Amy Lee Scott

    Oh man, this makes me miss Korea so much! I remember thinking those McDonald’s delivery scooters were out of control (as were the millions of plastic surgery advertisements). Can’t wait to see more!

  • Blair @ Baby for Scale

    As a kid living in Indonesia, one of my favorite things was ordering McDonald’s and having it delivered. But what I miss most now as an adult living in the US is being able to order rice at fast food restaurants. I miss it sooooo much!!

  • ilene @ muchloveilly

    how fun is this?! now why doesn’t mickey dee’s deliver here in the states?! i have had many evenings where i didn’t want to get in my car and dreamed about them coming to my door instead.

  • Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife

    O goodness I cannot handle all those toothbrushes hanging out close like that, I barely like my husbands to be close to mine!

  • Sam M

    I didn’t know that that was a traditional symbol for a buddhist temple! I didn’t ever notice it in Cambodia, but perhaps I wasn’t looking, and perhaps they’re different sects of buddhism.

  • Amy @ The Tide That Left

    My husband would fit right in with his toothbrush in Korea. He always has one in his bag. He’s big on dental hygiene!

  • Blogger Ash

    And we thought drive thrus where bad in the US!
    Love reading about your travels. Thanks for sharing!

    Ashley (A Cute Angle)


  • carrieburke

    I miss delivered fast food! There’s times now when it’s midnight and I’m too lazy to leave to go get food and I think “Ugh, if only McDonalds delivered in the States”. That’s definitely one of little quirks I miss most about Asia (:

  • Rachel

    I’ve never experienced a McDonald’s delivery, but most of the restaurants in Aberdeen delivered and we looooved it. Thai and amazing Indian at home? Yes, please.

    Also, street food was one of my favorite things about being abroad. :) Yum.

  • Liz Yoon

    Love it! It’s been my dream to get some food delivered as I picnic along the han river. Another option for me!
    :) Liz @

  • Lisa @ Two Martinis

    Oh goodness, thank goodness McDonalds doesn’t deliver in the States, it would take our national level of laziness to a whole new level!

  • Hopeless Adventurer

    One, I’m beyond jealous that you are out of the states! Our hearts yearn for it. I can’t beleive that McyD’s delivers like that out there, hahaha so mind blowing. Crazy on the the toothbrush and temple symbol too haha.

  • Caroline

    Hahaha, so many of these apply to China as well – I guess Asia’s just a very different place to be! I used to be seriously shocked when I saw the Buddhist symbol – so confused, ha!

  • Dianne

    Great series! Street food is the best and the office toothbrushing is amazing!

  • Pamela

    Wow! I couldn’t think of McDonald’s delivering!! Ha!

  • Rachel

    McDonald’s delivers in Malaysia too, though I can’t imagine ever wanting to eat McD’s when there’s so much good local food around! But “western food” has a certain glamour there. That stool is so cute and I can so imagine that being the solution to too many passengers for the bus! I also got used to seeing that symbol, too.

  • Samantha @ Life is But a Stream of Thoughts

    These are all so interesting! I’m currently studying abroad in Italy, and I’m constantly experiencing new cultural norms that shock me. I give so much credit to people who choose to move to other countries for an extended period of time. It’s a hard adjustment, at least for me! I wish McDonalds delivered in Italy! I still want to try it, just because I heard it was better than the fast food in America. The stools make me laugh, by the way! That seems so impractical to me, but I guess it makes sense over there!

    Samantha |

  • Treasure Tromp

    okay, the McDelivery and whole toothbrush things are crazy! I DO wish, though, that some of my coworkers would brush their teeth after lunch …

  • Meg B

    I love the squatting on the stool in the middle of the aisle….and it looks like a really nice bus! Who knew? I’d love to try out some of the street food…except for the fish paste on a stick. Great post :)

  • The Slow Pace

    I’ve never been to Korea, but I’ll be sure to take my tooth cleaning seriously if I visit! 😉
    Love this post!

  • Leia

    Oh man, I miss Korean street food! So, so yummy!

  • alesha

    This is so neat to see! I would love to travel and see new things like this!

  • Lisa

    Did they just out-America the United States? Impressive.

  • chalayn

    I love these posts! As an (unfortunately) ignorant American I find all of this very very interesting. :)

    Also, I’m glad that McDonald’s doesn’t deliver here… my husband would probably take advantage of that too much. :)

  • Jamie Walker

    strange to think how many things that were unusual or freaked me out about life in Asia when we first got here I don’t think twice about now… mostly driving a scooter. I think going back to the states is going to be reverse culture shock!

  • The Happy Type

    I love it! I was actually just working on my own Korea post and you have inspired me to get it done! I feel the same way about the temple symbol for life, and I KNEW that before I moved here but I still start when I see it. CURSE THOSE STOOLS!