But to their credit, they're also coming up with their own lists. So since I regularly follow other K-bloggers, here's my list as well. Now, this is just based on MY personal observations. Other lists will vary,
Aaron's Top 10 Korea Features
- Korean Girls - Okay, admittedly this sounds like a pervy way to start my list. But what I mean is that the girls here are much more open to chatting and becoming friends. I have a few male friends here, and they're very nice people, but that isn't the norm in my situation. When I'm out at night and someone is yelling about me being a foreigner or telling me to go back to America, it's a male. These guys are both young and old. But the girls are welcoming and friendly, and always willing to help if I need it.
- Convenience - In America, there are a couple of food places open 24-hours, but few are within walking distance at 3 a.m. With the way the neighborhoods are laid out here, there is a variety of convenience stores and little restaurants that are within a couple of blocks. And they're ALWAYS open.
- Street Vendors - I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of all the food here. Some of it is very good, but I can't eat the same thing every day. That's why street vendors are great. Even in a small area like my neighborhood, there are plenty of these guys. They sell fish on a stick, hot dogs on a stick, chicken on a stick and a variety of non-sticked foods. You can get donuts, cookies, fruit and a bunch of other snacks. And they're SUPER CHEAP. I can get a corn dog bigger than you'd get at the Rocky Grove Firemen's Fair, and it's only 80 won here. That's the equivalent of 60 cents in America.
- Street Markets - Going along with my love of street-related things, the markets are great. There's fresh fruit, chicken, fish along with clothes, shoes and other things you might not be able to imagine. Once again, the prices are low. And I realize they're trying to sell things, but they're friendly. There aren't many westerners in my neighborhood. Their business wouldn't be hurt by brushing me off. But they treat me like they do everyone else.
- The Language - Everyone who knows me knows that I LOVE languages. I studied German and English in college. Now I'm studying Korean, and it's so much fun, despite being a lot of work. The alphabet is a totally different set of symbols, but it's well-organized and easy to understand. Right now I'm beefing up on my grammar and vocabulary. But learning it has been a blast, and the Koreans really appreciate someone putting effort in rather than just taking money out. That being said ...
- The Paycheck - Westerners are obviously doing a service to Koreans by educating their children in what is currently the global business language. But they still pay us pretty well, considering it probably isn't overwhelmingly difficult to fill our spots in a school or academy. I'm not over here just to make money. I want to learn the language and culture as well. But knowing I'll be able to come home and pay off all my college loans is a nice treat.
- The Culture -Anyone who regularly follows my blog knows that I have a lot to complain about. But much of it is just me getting used to my surroundings. The reason I find their culture so interesting is because much of it is so different from America. Yes, that means I complain a lot. But even the things I dislike or don't understand are interesting, even if it's just because I dislike or don't understand them.
- The Students - Again, it's something I complain about. That's mostly because it's my job to see these kids every day. In actuality, I feel sorry for them. I don't think they study harder than we do in America, but they study differently. While we have many hours of homework in America, they spend more time in academies. Which is worse? I don't know. But at least at academies, they get to see their friends.
- Social Culture - This is coming from someone who likes to drink. The drinking culture is fun. Many bars and restaurants don't have closing times. That is cool, except that it can lead to many people drinking too much. I like it because if I want to drink, I can. That option is always available. Of course, even for non-drinkers, you can always go see your friends at almost any hour. The only downside is that, in Korea, groups go out and stay together. They sit at the hof with their friends and aren't open to meeting new people. In America, socializing and circulating the room is usually the way to go. People are more open about meeting new people. But you can always have a good time with your group of friends, even if the other groups are keeping to themselves.
- Travel Variety - This sort of falls under the culture section, but is a bit different. You'll see the culture here no matter where you go, but that doesn't mean you can't always be on the go. Korea is not a large country, but it offers many different areas to visit. There are mountains, beaches, temples, monuments, countryside and big cities. If you want to see the whole thing, you'd better take advantage of your weekends and get around. And how can you do that??? Because of the ...
- Public Transportation - Surprise! I'm throwing in an eleventh. The public transportation here is wonderful. The fares are incredibly low (roughly $1 each way on a bus or the subway) and they get you almost anywhere you want to go. They've gotten me everywhere I've tried, anyway. The only problem is that the buses and subway stop at midnight, even on the weekends. When they do, you can still catch a taxi for a relatively low price. Other than the early ending to the night, transportation is fast, convenient and inexpensive. This is one thing America could learn from the Koreans.