Hi everyone, today I am going to reflect on my experience in South Korea. I arrived in South Korea for the spring semester at Yonsei University. I took classes on Korean history, film, and language starting in February. I met different people from many walks of life, countries, and cultures. I made so many new friends and saw vastly different sites than the ones back home. Now, however, I have returned to the United States and I have been here for over a month. In this post I wanted to talk about the reverse culture shock I have experienced since being back and the things I miss about Korea.
One thing that happens to me and still does today is that I keep bowing to people to say, “thank you.” When someone holds the door for me, I bow. If someone offers something to me, I bow. Right after I do it, I instantly realize my mistake since it is usually accompanied by weird stares from the person and the people around them. I also bow when entering and exiting stores. As soon as I hear the worker start greeting me, I bow in response. I am getting better at stopping myself, however. More recently, I only do a quarter or very small bow which is not very noticeable. Also, I still have to fight the urge to respond with “annyeonghaseyo” when people who are welcoming me in somewhere say hi. In addition, I tend not to look at people’s faces and in their eyes when I am walking. In Korea, citizens refrain from looking at people in the eyes when out and about. Unconsciously, I started to do the same thing as well. By now, I have begun to start doing this again, but it was a struggle in the beginning.
When I got off the plane on my trip back to the US, I went to a rental car place to drive myself home. After putting my luggage in back, I went into the car and just sat there for a moment. I realized it had been 5 months since I last drove a car. Fortunately, it was just like riding a bicycle and I got used to it right away. I did forget how to turn on the windshield wipers when it started to rain though. This leads into one of the things I miss most about Korea, public transportation. I am a huge advocate of utilizing public transportation in order to decrease the amount of carbon emissions from vehicles. Because of this, when I was in South Korea, I only used buses and trains to get me from place to place. However, Florida does not have a were established and maintained public transportation system like other states in the US have. Most of Florida is also not very walkable so personal vehicles are a necessity. If there was one thing I wish I could bring from Korea to Florida, it would be a nice public transportation system.
Thank you guys for joining me on my journey in Korea. I hoped you enjoyed it and one day travel there yourself because it really is an amazing country.