Sunday, May 29, 2011

a "sleuth" of rules

CNN GO has published the absolute lamest article possible, written by Kyle Burton and entitled 12 rules for expat life in Korea. And some editor allowed it to go online with the phrase "a sleuth of international restaurants." One assumes the author meant 'a slew of international restaurants' and not Holmes or Poirot wandering about Itaeweon sampling the cuisine.

Some of the rules are actually okay, but most of them are just abysmal. Here they are, with my commentary.

1. Learn to drink like a fish - I've been here for the past ten months, and I can count the number of times I've gotten drunk on one hand. Granted this is my fourth trip to Korea, and I drank a lot more here in the past, but I'm a lot older now and don't really feel like wasting my money on booze. Additionally, I've had very few occasions over my four trips to get drunk with Korean coworkers, and I've never felt like I was obligated to drink with them.

2. Try not to get 'celebrified' - What? Yes, people will stare at you more than they would back home because you'll stand out, but as there are 30,000+ other foreigners here teaching English alone, plus a comparable number of US troops, and goodness knows how many other non-Koreans here on business... You're not going to become famous simply for being foriegn. One wonders why Burton felt to include this in his list; surely this says something about his personality...

3. Bring your own clothing - This is actually one of the useful rules on the list. It doesn't actually apply to me - in US sizes I wear a size 3 in clothing, and a size 6 in shoes, so I have no trouble finding clothing in my size. However, Koreans are, in general, smaller than the average Westerner. If you wear large-sized clothing or have big feet, bring your own clothes. I'd also recommend bringing a lot of deodorant. Koreans don't use it (they don't need to), and as such it isn't sold outside of US military bases and a smattering of places in Seoul.

4. Learn to dance K-pop - WTF? No. Just no.

5. Put the gay away - Korea has become a lot more tolerant of homosexuality over the course of the ten years since my first trip here. Back then, I had Koreans tell me that gay people weren't real, just something you see on tv. By 2007 there were gay nightclubs in Daegu, although they were more of a novelty than actual clubs for gays. Nowadays, people are still prejudiced against homosexuals, but I think in general things have gotten a lot better. I wouldn't recommend showing up for your first day of work and announcing your sexual preference, but is that really something you bring up at work anyway?

6. Buy good face cream - Why is this on the list of important things?

7. Embrace your inner diva - This one is about the popularity of singing rooms or 노래방 (norae-bang... sadly misspelled nore-bang in the article). I've only gone to a 노래방 once in all four trips (I'm not a karaoke kind of girl), but they are hugely popular here.

8. Don't tip - It's true - Koreans don't tip, and they will think you're weird or that you've accidentally overpaid if you try.

9. Don't have a coffee addiction - Utter nonsense! Not only is Starbucks super popular here (and while I think Starbucks is overpriced, the prices are the same as in the US), as is Dunkin Donuts, and a variety of reasonably priced Korean coffee chains. I drink a lot of coffee here, and wouldn't make it through the day without it. What was this guy thinking??

10. Take pictures of your food - Okay, I do this all the time, no matter what country I'm in, but no way would I put it in my top list of rules for expats!

11. Adjust your diet - Well, duh. If you move to another country of course you're going to have to adjust your diet. If you need someone to point this out to you, you probably shouldn't travel overseas. [However, you can buy western food here. I cook myself spaghetti just about every night, as I'm lazy and a terrible cook.]

12. Strike an Asian pose - The article suggests doing this nonsense in photos. I can't imagine why.

My tip for expats? Use common sense. Don't do anything in Korea (or any other country for that matter) that you wouldn't do in your home country. Being overseas doesn't license you to behave like a jackass.


G said...

Yes, the coffee thing in nonsense. A lot of randmon housewife ajummas (my SIL, for example) even go to "barista school" just for the fun of it.

There are plenty of snooty indy coffee shops around for people who don't like Starbucks/Seattle's Best/Coffee Bean/Etc.

Foreigner Joy said...

Put in with the others in my post about it on .... expatabundance