Sunday, February 3, 2013

The New Norm Part I

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. I remember when my parents came to visit last November, they kept asking me why I never told them about some of the interesting things they were experiencing. I told them that after living here for even a short amount of time, everything around you seems 'normal'. So here are a few things that when I first came to Korea seemed odd but now are overlooked.

.clusters of large buildings that seem like city centers but are in fact large apartment complexes equipped with amenities such as movie theaters, playgrounds, spas and workout centers.
.water heaters-this is a picture of our water heater control. There is no central heat here so most apartments have heated water that runs under their floor to heat the place. Also if we want hot water to wash dishes (dish washers are also rare) or to take a shower, we have to turn this on and set it to what temperature we want.
.the massive phone covers. This phone was actually almost half the size as the cover.
.animal sounds playing in the meat section of the grocery store. One word, disturbing. I would really rather not hear the animal I am about to eat.

.little boys with perms. This picture is actually a very mild perm on a little five year old but when he first got it done I didn't even know it was the same student. It's very common to see kindergarten students with dyed and permed hair.
.the letter replacements in the language. R and L are the same, Z becomes a J sound which is especially confusing when your student says they want to see a jew instead of eventually got straightened out. Also, there is no F sound so it turns to a P sound. So when I say I'm going to go make a copy and all the students think I'm going to get a cup of coffee. Or when the word 'duck' sounds a whole lot like 'dog'. My student spent five minutes explaining that her favorite festival was the Duck Festival where they see duck fights (weird either way) and ate all different types of duck dishes. I looked horrified as I thought she was going on about a Dog Festival. You can understand my confusion when I live in a country where some actually do eat dog.

.the things they put on their pizza. Like corn and stuffing sweet potato paste in the crust, oddly enough, I now love both of these things.
.putting bathrooms outside. This isn't the case with all buildings but has been so for our church and our previous school. This is difficult in the summer or the winter since in the summer you're swatting away hordes of mosquitos and in winter...well who wants to partially undress outdoors in winter and sit on a toilet where the water inside has already turned to ice.

.it's considered a compliment to be told you have a small face.

Have you ever stepped back and realized some of the very 'bizarre' things about the culture you live in? For example, trying to explain the use of tanning beds in the states to kids who live in a country where most of their cosmetics have skin whitening ingredients. Poor kids were so confused.