You have a small face...

Trip Start Sep 13, 2011
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Trip End Sep 14, 2012


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Flag of Korea Rep.  , South Jeolla,
Thursday, November 3, 2011

Here is a little bit about the things I have learnt about the Korean culture, the food, the behaviour and the leisure activities!!

So, when I first arrived and like I mentioned before, women wear and obscene amount of make up and they all dress so very well! You'll notice that no Korean women (or very rarely) will they wear anything without sleeves like a vest top or anything showing neck or cleavage, however, they will wear the tiniest of skirts and shorts and that is completely acceptable!! When I have worn a vest top I have had a few funny looks.  

I have also been enjoying being told by many students that I am beautiful and I have a small face and big eyes. The best one was I look like Tinker Bell - my Disney Role Model!!  The first thing my boss said to me was 'you're very beautiful and skinny' I was thrilled, but turns out it's only because I have blonde hair and they expect Westerners to be fat...! So I continue you feel self concious. I am bigger than many Korean women... I am trying hard not to let this get to me too much! However, going back to the small face and big eyes is the same reaction all Westerners receive as Korean's, aforementioned, are slightly obsessed with their looks, so they all think they have fat faces or round faces small noses and tiny eyes.  When taking photos of our middle school students they all hide their faces, even some of the boys, just because they don't look like American film stars. 

It is amusing having people stare at you like you are an actual alien... there are not many foreigners in Korea so when they see one they are fascinated, well especially in Suncheon where I live which is very south, almost the country side. If you walk into a restaurant you are stared at and there was even a time we were laughed at by the Korean's saying 'hehe, foreigner foreigner!!' quite brilliant the bluntness! 

The country is becoming more diverse as their are more foreigners arriving, which is a good thing for us Aliens but it does take away the uniqueness of Korea.  

There are many customs here that are hard to adjust to.  Firstly, the hierarchy.  It is a really great thing in Korea as it is mostly a respect for elders... the older you get the more respect you receive and the better jobs you seem to get too.  Our camp have 4 stages of management... our team leaders who then run out queries to Mr Kang, who then asks Mr Lim who then asks Mr O! I believe they go up in ages, but Mr Kang is a representative of the Scouts.  (As this school is funded and supports the Scouts) so I believe he is actually a bit older but will only stay at camp for 2 years then a new leader will come. 

You must bow to all older generations and greet them with a higher level of respect when saying Hello.  
To a child or friend - Anneyong
Respectful - Anneyonghaseyo
Really respectful - Anneyonhasimica (sp??)

I think goodbye is the same but I have not yet got to grips with that.

Also, your friends must be the same age as you, if older or younger you can not be friends.  As you must respect the elder...! So when you meet many Korean's they will ask your age before anything else just to see if they can be friends with you. 
Obviously a bit different when a foreigner is involved but it is still quite cool to observe. 

Korean's are so helpful, sometimes it is quite overwhelming, but they will do anything for you.  From taking you to dinner to buying you loads of things you need on arrival to spontaniously taking you for dinner.  One of my co-workers a volunteer from Ghana took a bus to our camp on arrival, a Korean on the bus just took him and got him a coffee so he had support! Hope also experienced a lady on her bus looking after her, calling our camp to let them know she was here.. offering her phone! Amazing.  You wouldn't find that so often in London or America! 

I have joined a church here in Suncheon, it is an English service church and the Pastor is from the Philippines.  They took us on an outing to a rest spot in a beautiful city called Boesong, about 1 hour from Suncheon. They provided the coach, chicken and gimpbamp (like a sushi roll) for everyone on the outing.  Followed by more snacks when we arrived and then took us all for dinner when we arrived back in Suncheon.  Amazing generosity!! The community is great, and I am so lucky to have found it here in Korea!!

Now, the leisure activities that are popular in Korea are slightly different those in the West.
My first weekend here I was taken to a Norebang - Nore (Sing) I was a little unsure as you can imagine I thought it would be a bar where randomly people got up and sang as they do in England at a Karaoke...oh no no.. you enter and there are all these little rooms, which initially I thought was bizarre... but you get your very own room per group.  In that room is seating, a big table (with a buzzer bell on it) and a TV screen and two mics with a keypad...

Turns out, you go in here and everyone takes it in turn to sing!! Brilliant, I am tone deaf!! Slight saving grace, until the next day, you use the buzzer to call the waiters to bring you drinks! Hoorah, Dutch courage! It turned out to be great fun actually :) I had a great night and even sang (squeeled) a few songs out!! 

Another popular past time is one I have become a HUGE fan of.  Jinjibang aka Naked Spa.  It is open 24 hours a day and costs just 3.  You split males and females and enter into the spa with many different heated baths, an ice cold bath - not as enjoyable - and steam rooms.  Only difference to a normal spa is you are starkers - but so is everyone else so it is acceptable.  The first time we went I couldn't stop giggling.  Mostly because, as mentioned previously, when a foreigner is about many Korean's find it fascinating and so imagine their amusement when two white women and a black woman come into the Jinjibang and begin showering!! 

It was great though, so relaxing (once you relax) and then upstairs you change into PJ's which are provided and go upstairs to the unisex part where you are greeted by massage chairs for backs, necks, full body, just feet... for just 50p for 10 minutes!! Bliss... then you can lie down on mats and sleep or use further steam rooms or the fridge... (felt like a fridge) and they have food available! Really amazing experience.  We returned last week, and my friend the massage chair turned nasty, it started punching me and Hope just belly laughed.  I was ready for my lovely gentle but touch massage instead I had a chair attacking me!! Gradually I succumbed to the torture and kinda enjoyed it! 

I really enjoy the eating styles in Korea...! A typical restaurant is one where you all sit on the floor and cook your food on a hot plate. You add the raw ingredients and then add stock and wait for it to boil!! Really fun but you do lose track of how much your eating!! Hence my ever increasing waist line.  You also get given side dishes which are free and you can ask for them to be topped up as much as you like!! Bliss!! (You also get the buzzer bell on your table to call for more service!!) I really enjoy this, as you can all just dig in and not worry about who's food hasn't arrived yet!

Everywhere you go their are water filters where you have constant top ups of water - I really like this as in England you have to constantly request more water, but here you just help yourself!

Korean food is also really cheap and pretty healthy! I like a bimbipbap rice with veg and seaweed and more veg and a red hot sauce you mix it all together!! YUM! I would actually be really happy with the side dishes, I like the pickles like you get at Wagas!!  The Kimchi (Korean most popular food) takes some getting used to... it is fermented vegetable I think.. unsure, it is spicy, Korean's believe it is really good for the body and helps keep you well...! However, they also believe in Fan Death.  (google it)

All in all I am very happy here, I have been so blessed with free accommodation great people a doggy for company until January and I am in the mountains to help me come and achieve what I wanted to achieve!! God put me here, and He knows this is where I should be!!



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