New Norm V

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.

Being treated differently because we are foreigners

Now, this isn’t always a bad thing and I really can’t complain about ever being treated badly because we’re foreigners. And every once in awhile, we’ll get a special treat only available to us. Like at a local Italian restaurant, we get free drinks on certain nights with the purchase of a meal. How this is allowed and the restaurant doesn’t get in trouble for being discriminatory…I have no idea but you won’t hear me complain about it. Pass the wine please. 

There are…ahem…different snack options at the local convenience stores
I don’t know about you but when I’m hungry and we stop for food, I’ll choose the chips over the dried variety of squid any day.
Being called beautiful and handsome by random strangers while walking down the street. 
I’ve never been complimented so much by complete strangers. Not that I’m complaining, it’s actually quite nice. And I think the US could take notes on being so complimentary to people you just meet. There’s nothing wrong in complimenting someone you don’t know on the way they’re dressed, the way their hair is done or something of the sort. But it kind of shocks you when you walk down the street and a group of middle school girls walks by and tells you and your husband you’re good looking. Or you meet a students wife for the first time and the first thing she tells you is that you’re beautiful. 
Tour buses
Tours are so popular in Korea! The roads are always full of tour buses going to every place in Korea imaginable. You can often find them parked on the side of the road, in parking lots, or in this case, under a bridge with all the passengers sitting outside of it eating lunch.
Things being blurred out on television
That’s right guys. If there’s a knife…it’s blurred out. If there’s a cigarette…it’s blurred out. If there’s a gruesome wound on someone…you got it. It’s blurred out. I’m not sure what their thought process on this was, if they thought that we wouldn’t be able to figure it out or it it would be less violent to only see the blood dripping from the knife but not the knife itself. But I will say this, it adds a sometimes needed comic relief in the middle of an intense scene in a scary movie.
  • Courtney

    Fun!!! Ah now I’m sooo in the mood to travel after reading this. :)

  • Esther Ju*Lee

    I miss those snacks!! haha that’s so weird about the blurring out cigarettes. last time I was in Korea.. EVERYONE smoked. Well, mostly guys… and they all tell me even if they hated smoking before, they “learned” it in the army. AND you are beautiful, and I’m glad that they are expressing that to you. :) But I wish Korea would learn to tell their own people that they’re beautiful, so that they don’t feel the need to always get plastic surgery. I know when I visited, I always heard criticism. I was either too fat, too skinny, my face shape wasn’t a certain way, etc. And that’s common theme among all the korean people i know. I guess every culture has their strengths and weaknesses though.


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  • Nicole Marie

    cigarettes are blurred out?!! wow… i wonder how many people smoke there

  • Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    One of my favorite things about visiting Argentina (where my hubby is from) twice a year are the insane amount of compliments I receive every single day haha!

  • Sam M

    There are so many things that become normal and you forget are so different from the life you used to live. It was weird coming back to America and not having people stop me and tell me I’m beautiful and they love me skin. All of the sudden you’re not a celebrity anymore.

  • Helene in Between

    i can see that sometimes being treated differently can be a good thing! and those snacks… interesting!

  • Amy Lee Scott

    We once rented a car in Jeju out of ramshackle bus parked next to the airport (this seemed to be totally normal?) and we could not believe a) how gigantic the GPS screen was and b) how it CONSTANTLY beeped if we went even one mile over the speed limit. I don’t think that would ever fly back home, where going 10 over the speed limit is normal. Oh, Korea…

  • themovetoamerica

    This will be something I look into more when I move (in 11 days) and will write about. I know I will miss the Cornish ways like people calling you ‘my lover’ or ‘bird’ – for example, as I walk everyday I pass various people and you will get a ‘hello my lover’ or ‘see you later bird’ – I will miss that as people in the US do not use those terms!

    Molly xo

  • Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife

    Sweden could learn about compliments too!! Even my sister in law looks at me weird when I compliment how she looks!!

  • Rachel

    I gotta say, I LOVE the way Asians compliment you. I remember being a teenager, dressed up with my hair in an updo, and running into the Dad of some little kids I babysat for, and him saying, “You look beautiful!”
    And my Dad always gets all the young girls working in stores telling him that’s he’s handsome and they’ll give him a 15% discount because he’s handsome….with my Mom and his 7 kids standing right there.!! :)

    In Malaysia, though, it’s definitely a disadvantage to be a foreigner unless you have a permanent visa. Certain places charge foreigner significantly more for admission!

  • Sherbet and Sparkles

    I can relate to so much here… In Japan I got to do so many extra things just because I am white. And people would tell me I’m beautiful too. I got quite uncomfortable with people commenting on the way I look (anything from “look at her nose! It’s so tall!” to “wow, foreigners sure have big boobs”). It’s just normal to call out features of a person’s body, I guess.

    And no, no matter how long I lived in Japan, I could never get used to dried squid. BLEUGHH.

  • Treasure Tromp

    confession: I like the dried squid :) oops?

  • LuluG

    My friend brought back dried fish ‘chips’ from Iceland with the unfortunate name that sounds like a rude British word for something you stand in lets say…..

    Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

  • Sarah Shumate

    Dried squid?! I’ll pass. Squid of any kind doesn’t sound very tasty.

    The next time I need a little self-esteem boost, maybe I’ll pay a visit to Korea. ;o)

  • miho

    haha, as a japanese person i never thought of those dried squid snacks as weird… but i guess it is! as someone who feels like a foreigner to an extent wherever i go, i can really relate to this x

    Miho @ Wander to Wonder

  • Shelby E

    I’m pretty sure every other country besides the United States tosses around compliments, what is with us haha? When I was in Guatemala I never left the house without some form of flattery en route. i mean..not that I’m complaining about it either ;)except when it included kissy noises. those get a little creepy you know

  • Kaity

    how interesting that they blur out things like that! I mean, usually if there’s a knife sticking out of someone you see at least part of how it got in there in the first place – that’s got to be more offensive, right?

  • Aryn Hill

    Omg, the random compliments were one of my favorite things about China. Strangers always called me ‘mei nu’ which means ‘beautiful woman’!

  • Lix Hewett

    They blur out genitals in porn too. Don’t ask me how I know this.

    Also, dried squid? Ew.

  • Britta Marie

    i would definitely take something else over dried squid!

  • Chantal

    This is so interesting!

  • M and L

    Still haven’t been brave enough to open that squid you sent me. all my favorite shows would be one big blur in korea bahaha 😮

  • Dee

    Those blurred scenes sound weird!