Who would’ve thought that even karaoke is different here! Back in the States, karaoke usually means you have to stand on stage in front of a bunch of strangers and sing your heart out while watching a tiny screen waiting for the lyrics. Here in Korea, you and your group of friends get your own room with a huge television, microphones, an awesome sound system and even a disco ball! The fee is usually 15-25 dollars per hour and that is split between you and your friends. It is just amazing that you can have an unbelievable time singing and dancing with your friends for just 5 dollars! You never have to worry about embarrassing yourself in front of people you don’t even know ever again!
It’s not just the entertainment that is different, but the shopping too. Shopping is a favorite pastime of many people from the States, myself included. While I find that this seems to also be the case in South Korea, it is an entirely different experience. While in stores I noticed that there were a lot of strange products and adorable packaging. I quickly learned that Korean men and women alike, are not afraid to experiment for the sake of beauty. This makes for a variety of shocking items on the self. For example skin care products made out of snail guts and snake skin are all the rage. The clothing is one-size fits all; although the clothing is adorable, you will see the same dress in about five different stores and the same style in the majority of retail. The method of payment is also different. In the States I use my credit card to buy virtually everything, and don’t get me wrong you can use it here but it is mostly a cash dominated economy. Yet I must say my favorite part about the shopping experience in Korea is not having to pay sales tax, the price on the tag is the price you pay. It’s a dream come true.
We have written about a few of the drastic differences in Korean and American culture but before closing our blog we can’t miss out on discussing the food. Being a self proclaimed foodie leaving the states I always enjoy new foods and had Korean BBQ every once in a while, but boy was I unprepared for how wonderful it all is. First of all you must be prepared to take your shoes off before entering a restaurant and sit on the floor while cooking your own food on a grill in the center of the table; trust me it’s a lot of fun!
Some drastic differences are in the snack foods where we like potato chips and chocolate, but in Korea they enjoy dried fish and squid and little breads filled with jellies or cream. It’s also important to note that they put red bean in every dessert you can think of including ice cream, coffee, and even pancakes. Street food is another place to find the amazing local cuisine at an affordable price - spicy rice cakes, fried chicken, tempura vegetables, various plays on grilled cheese, hotdogs, doughnuts, and fried burritos stuffed with shaved radishes, clear noodles and beef are just a few of my favorites. To the Korean culture, food holds a place almost as big as family, no one ever goes with out and there are never empty plates. The differences between Korean and American may seem drastic but this is why we came on Study Abroad in the first place right?