What I Learnt after 6 Months Living at Seoul

Sunset at Seoul

On 16th July 2018, It will be 6 months already I'm living at Seoul. Being wise, six months are quite enough to found the uniqueness of this city. Though, it is very early to decide love or hate this city, but you know, yes I manage to living well in this city.

The adaptation sure did, took time. Even until now, I am adjusting my response to something because some cultures are totally different compare to my home country.

There are several things that I found very different back at my home country-several things are just merely rule of thumb.

1. Cheese and Cheese

Cheese Tteokbokki
Back in Indonesia, Mozarella Cheese is quite expensive, but in Seoul, people use Mozarella like additional chili sauce in Indonesia. Amazingly, we can add mozarella to many-many  varieties of foods in Korea. From tteokbokki with triple mozarella, traditional Busan Pancake filled with Mozarella (which crazily delicious), mozarella baked, egg mozarella, beef mozarella until ramyeon mozarella. And, yes it double up the tastiness of the food. Even before I came here, I didn't like tteokbokki but when i taste the one that called cheese tteokpokki, i cannot even live without it at least once per week.

Is it cheap? Compare to Indonesia, yes mozarella is cheaper! I loooooooove mozarella, that's why it is like a heaven for me! And...you know, honestly speaking the mozarella taste differently compare to that famous korean restaurant in Grand Indonesia.

2. Fasten your seatbelt or pick a statue pose

Fasten your seat belt, please
Drivers in Seoul (I guess all over the country) are crazily precise. Not precisely punctual, but precisely when it's come to slamming the brake.  I still don't know the reason but they are driving like total believe in braking system. 

Try to cross the street when the green light (for pedestrian) just lighten up, cars, buses are maintain their speed even when closing the zebra cross and sudently slamming the brake at the last time just before the line of zebra cross. This behavior is still freaking me out until now whenever I crossing the street. I never know the intention of driver by maintaining that speed, 'Will they stopping? Will they hit me? Why don't they slowing down when saw a red light?' those questions will always popped up whenever i cross the street.

Not only that, even when i was riding a bus, no matter how full the passenger, bus driver really love to do late and sudden breaking. Speaking of turn left or turn right, they are not slowing down, a bit. I feel like a fish in a tight tank. If i don't grab a handle, i will be pushed out the bus. 

Even a taxi, found additional handle bars just behind the driver seat, because you know, they ain't slowing down no matter what happen, like they are chased by thunder bolt.

The good thing is the ABS sure did work!

3.  Not gonna miss this thing, so many-many-many-traffic lights in Seoul
Wide Road of Seoul

When i say many, it's like every 20 meters, there is a traffic light. Typically main road in Seoul are very wide and well planned. There are also traffic jam but usually only last half to an hour long, except for long weekend.

The thing is, the traffic in Seoul is managed very well by the traffic light system.

As for pedestrians, the most challenging thing is when you need to be patiently wait for traffic light to go red therefore you can cross the street. That's the first! the second is the timer for pedestrians that count very fast.  Some zebra cross on a busy street have a timer only 30 seconds long and for short leg like me, I cannot cross it with calm. Always in hurry.

For a big street, no you definitely cannot jaywalking. But on suburbs or residential area, i guess the traffic lights are more relaxed. 

4. "Yogiyo!!"

As a javanese, I taught to not raise my voice in a normal situation. But here in Seoul, everyone is like shouting.
In restaurants, it is okay to shout "Yogiyo!" means.."Here.." it's like seeking of attention from the waitress.
Even until now, I didn't get used to the shouting part. Sometimes, I just waiting patiently until the waitress come near me.

4.  No need to pay attention on your belonging

One day, I forgot to zip my bag and rode a bus. Bus was super crowded but when i realize my bag was opened at the office, i check everything was still intact.
Supposedly, I can leave my hand phone at a desk in coffee shop while i collect my drink to the cashier because every one seems did that.

When you didn't bring a bag and need to mark your seat at the public area, just leave your phone for a while..no body won't pick it up. But of course, don't leave it at the tourist areas.

5. Vegetables are everywhere
Sushi, with vegetable side dish (salad)
I'm not a big fan of vegetables, but in here I start to get used to,no option.

When sat down at the restaurant, the waitress will start to pass on many vegetables at the desk as side dish. Start from kimchi, reddish, pickles and many mores (sorry my vocab of veggie is limited). While waiting for the main menu, of course we start to eat the vegetables and eventually it becomes a habit.
At the bright side, they won't charge you for the side dish, even more, if you love it, you can ask for refill. Unlimited.

6. Crazy speed of Internet
Here is Internet paradise. You can download 1GB only for a minute!Yeah!

7. No need to bring wallet everywhere

I'm proud to say, nowadays, i'm not a type of woman who should bring her universe in a bag. I can go to everywhere only bringing my phone, leave my wallet at home and can pay everything thru a card. Only single card, cheque card that cover my shopping activites and Transportation fee. Even if i only buy a soft ice cream cost KRW 500 (approx. IDR 6000 or 50cent USD), i can use my cheque card.

The usage of card in Korea is crazy efficient and high. It is very rare for a person to pay cash even in a very small store, except for tourist. This cashless behavior is rooting not only elderly but also small children.  I even forget the looks of KRW bank notes nowadays.

8. Brush teeth three times a day.

After lunch hour, usually peoples are gathering to go to the toilet while bring toothbrush. It's like almost every native done that. In fact, i was told that since they were child, their school teach them to brush teeth three times a day. Rumor has it, dental care in Korea is quite expensive that's why preventive action is needed.

9. Couples are everywhere
Couple enjoying spring

Seoul is a city where you can feel the love everywhere. Romantics park, restaurant, merchandise and etc.  Especially during spring and summer, you can feel the love air once stepped out from your apartment. So many holding hands, pecks in the lip, hug or just staring each other dearly.

It's definitely not a place for single person. 

10. Coffee is like mineral water

Cute glass from a coffee shop
South Korea is definitely  has gone crazy for coffee. Seoul is home to the most Starbucks branches of  any city in the world, 284 in last 2014. Beside Bucks, there are lot of other coffee shop  from local, international established branches in here per say Coffee bean, Tous Les Jours, a twosome place and many others.

In my office building, there are two coffee shop, another 5 meter- another two coffee shops. Even between Bucks, the distance is less than 20 meters.

There is a reason behind many coffee shops in Seoul. averagely people drink coffee three times a day. And for your record, coffee is not cheap in here-even i heard it is the most expensive Bucks compare to any other cities around the world.

Apart from the satyr story why is it Korean youngsters love coffee as much as branded bag, i must say, their addiction to coffee is crazy. In a weekend, when starbucks 'should be' more quite (because not many informal meeting held), it's the total opposite. Youngsters flock on starbucks bring their laptop and sitting with a cup of coffee, enjoying music from their headset.

11.They love coffee, as well as skin care

One set Korean Skincare
Admitted, Korean skin care is very famous around the globe. Apart its popularized by beautiful skin of Korean drama actress and actors, but skin care is like a habitual.

Back in my home country, I can saw pharmacy in every mall, every block but in here, all i can see is Nature Republic, Innisfree and Olive Young. Even the skin care is very popular among tourists, but natives themselves love to taking care their skin. Both man and woman.

Korean skin care has no effect like make your skin lighter in a week, but in a long tenor, you will notice that your skin is fairer and younger. It is very common in Seoul, to visit Olive Young (pharmacy-brands for skin care) with no intention for first, but came back with a package. It's like visiting minimarket in my home country, it's always tempting to buy bubble gum or snack even when we are not hungry.

The most magic thing, so many 50-ish woman in here are looks like in their late 30's. The skin is well taken care of due to their love on skin care. 

12. They are One Year Older

Koreans usually start counting the age of a child when the fetus starts growing in the mother’s womb. Therefore, when a baby is born, Koreans count it as one year already, so practically then its` parents celebrate its` first birthday. 

That's why it is always a tricky answer when foreigner ask Koreans, how old are you ? (plus rude).

13. Very advanced of Garbage System
Garbage disposal in Korea can be a little bit confusing and annoying at first because we must organized it since beginning. Generally, there are several type of garbage : Food waste, PET bottle, General bottle and plastic, glass, cans and anything not belong to that are general waste.  To throw general waste, you will need a plastic bag namely seregibongtu that can be purchased at convinience stores. 

Not yet stop, in some apartments, you should do your own recycle and prepare a coin to do that on recycling machine. Also for food waste, i need specialized ID for my apartment number to store it at the machine. The machine would also calculate weight of your food waste to give you a mental conscious how much you throw your food in a month. 

In a public area, it is bit difficult to find garbage waste. Most people carry their own waste in the bag and throw it later at home. Also, don't try to littering, there will be a penalty imposed.
However, bear with it as South Korea is trying to take action in reducing its carbon footprint. 

But of course there are many unique things other than those! So how is it? I Love Seoul, especially when noticing how the city council really really care about the beauty of this city. I wonder how many times they change flowers in every corner of the city whenever the season is change and how integrated the transportation system!

Will write what I learnt after a year living in here, I guess? 


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