Since I’ve noticed that my posts about South Korea have the highest number of readers/likes, I wanted to write more about it. When I moved to South Korea I had the basic information about Korean literature and history, but I didn’t know anything about how people live there. When I arrived there, I just knew that before entering a house you have to take off your shoes and that they use chopsticks for eating. I know some of you may think: “But why did you not get informed beforehand?”
Well, to be completely honest since it was my first experience of living abroad I didn’t want to be affected by having too much information. Moreover, since I was too naive, I didn’t care much about knowing these things. But now that I am an adult I understand that being informed is important for adapting faster in a new environment.
Therefore, since I want to be nice and help other people to live easily in this beautiful country, I made a list of the things that you need to know when moving to South Korea.
Let’s start? Shall we!?
- The weather: When moving to a new country (after doing all the documents needed) you need to understand what to bring there. And when moving to a stylish country like South Korea, you have to get ready to pack your best outfits. Therefore you need to know how summer’s like or is it cold in winter?. Right? I am Right?
Well… Let’s start with summer, Korean summer is hot, and when I say hot I mean that you’ll be sweating just standing still. But, even though the weather is soo hot, in shops or in the subway the AC is soo strong that you’ll need a sweater. One of my friends caught a fever just one week after arriving there due to the temperature changes. So be aware!
Autumn is kind of rainy, the umbrella will be your best friend for several weeks. But at least is not too cold, so you’ll be okay just with a leather jacket. I have to say that autumn in Korea reminded me of the autumns spent in Venice since the weather was so similar. The city is going to be the prettiest so I suggest you go around Seoul taking pictures, you’ll not regret it. But at the same time since it was always raining I found it quite depressing. Rain makes me depressed. Am I the only one?
Well, things are going to change from the end of November more or less, forget the chilly nights since “Winter is coming.” (Sorry this is going to be the only quote from The Games of Thrones since I’m not a fan). And winter in Korean is C-O-L-D, I used to wear two jackets one on top of the other otherwise I could freeze. I remember going to class in December and having problems breathing while walking since it was too cold.
Koreans use different kinds of things from warming undergarments to hot packs, I suggest you buy something since they are not too expensive. During winter snow is really common so be aware of it. After the hard and cold winter ends everything will warm up and spring will arrive by the beginning of March usually. This is the second prettiest season of the years since you can see the trees blossoming and everything became more lovely. During spring the weather is still a bit chilly so a denim jacket is perfect.
- Decency: Since we’ve talked about the weather for choosing which clothes you should bring you need to be aware also of which clothes are considered inappropriate. First of all shoulders and cleavage need to be covered, since Koreans are quite conservative these kinds of clothing are not completely forbidden but people around the streets will be quite shocked while others (mostly elderly people) will suggest you to cover yourself. On the other hand, they do not have problems showing legs. Therefore, shorts or mini-skirts are considered fine and you’ll find a lot of girls wearing them around the streets. Also, you can purchase some short pants that can be put under skirts to prevent “accidents”. Also, like all the other Asian nations, face-masks are often used. I suggest you to wear it mostly if you have a cold since they consider blowing your nose unpolite. Since we’ve talked about blowing your nose remind yourself that it isn’t allowed in public places if you need to do that you should go to the toilet or in an isolated spot.
- Don’t be too loud: I saw numerous foreigners in cafes or restaurants screaming and laughing really hard. In Korea is considered rude, therefore try to lower your voice while you’re in public places or you’re taking public transports. Also talking at the phone is considered rude so if you have to call someone while you’re on a bus or in the subway try to be as silent as possible. I know that mostly when you’re with your friends it is hard being quiet, but other people will glare at you or in some restaurants they may ask you to leave otherwise. Elderly people are the only ones that can be noisy since Korea is a Confucian society they pay respect for elderly people, therefore, they have more freedom than other peoples.
- Choosing the right seat: when taking the subway or the bus you’ll find some seats reserved for: elderly people, pregnant women or children. Do NOT seat there, these seats are for these special people only, so even though you’re not breaking the law it’s still considered unpolite.
- Learn the basics: Before moving to Korea is important at least to know some basic words (like hi, excuse me, sorry and goodbye, for example). In this way, you’ll be considered polite and people will have a positive view of yourself. I knew some people that moved there without knowing a word in Korea and I have to say that they had difficulties even when ordering some food. The majority of people there don’t know English so English is not useful in these circumstances. Also, you should learn at east how to read the alphabet, in this way, taking the subway, for example, will be easier.
I’ll do a second part since there is still a lot to talk about. I hope you enjoyed my post and if you have any other suggestions or doubts feel free to leave a comment below.