Yesterday I posted about all of the wonderful things that I’ll dearly miss about my 6 week stay in Korea (read it here!). Today I’ll be talking about the opposite — the things I’m rather glad to leave behind.
1. Stairs Galore
Man, Seoul has a lot of stairs. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, to get to the entrance of my dorm, I had to climb 112 stairs multiple times every day. Making that climb with a heavy backpack was pure torture — I always ended up huffing and puffing harder than Po in Kung Fu Panda.
No matter where you go, whether you’re transferring subway lines or exploring a historical/cultural landmark, you’ll probably have to go up and down several flights of stairs to get there. If you’re lucky, there might be an escalator or elevator to help you out, but don’t count on it.
My legs are stronger and sexier than ever, but I’m glad to be back in the comparatively flat U.S.
2. Menu Shortages
This is just a personal pet peeve, but for some reason, restaurants in Korea only give out one or two (if you’re lucky) menus, even if you have four or five people in your group. I guess I’m spoiled, because I’m used to having a menu all to myself to peruse, and it’s frustrating to have to peer over your friend’s shoulder or, even worse, attempt to decipher the menu upside down.
The reason they only give out one or two menus is probably due to the fact that Korean people usually order dishes to share amongst the whole group. I get that, but I still prefer to have a menu all to myself, so that I can see all that the restaurant has to offer. It was great to return to the US and once again have my own personal menu whenever I go to a restaurant.
3. No Dramafever/Viki access
I probably should have foreseen that Dramafever and Viki would have viewing restrictions in Korea, but I was definitely not expecting it.
While I was disappointed to find out that my go-to drama-watching websites weren’t accessible in Korea, it was probably beneficial that I was less distracted from my studies and more motivated to study Korean in my free time rather than veg out and watch dramas.
4. Limited Wifi
Since I have a foreign data plan, I was completely reliant on wifi throughout my 6-week stay in Korea, which essentially meant that whenever I left my dorm, there was no guarantee that I would have any access to the internet until I returned to my dorm once again. Cafés usually had free wifi, and occasionally I’d be lucky enough to connect to other public wifi sources, but 90% of the time that I was out and about in Seoul, there was no wifi. I adjusted, but it would have been a lot more helpful to have access to the internet and especially KakaoTalk while I was out on the streets.
5. Lack of Trash Cans
There are hardly any public trash cans on the streets of Seoul. If you have trash, you have to either hold it or put it in your bag/backpack until you find a trash can to throw it away in. Apparently Korea got rid of a lot of their public trash cans in order to encourage people to be cleaner? There was some sort of logic to the lack of trash cans that my Korean teacher explained, but I still don’t really understand it.
6. No Refrigerator
My dorm at Korea University (Frontier House) had no refrigerators available for the residents. I’m used to having a refrigerator at my dorm, so having to live without food storage for six weeks was extremely difficult.
Not only did we have no food storage, we also weren’t allowed to eat in the dorms at all. This meant that we couldn’t even order delivery or eat ramen in the dorms. Essentially, because of our dorm regulations, we were forced to eat out for EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL. This was definitely the most frustrating aspect of the entire trip, and resulted in way too many trips to the GS25 next door (a common Korean convenience store).
Thankfully, this frustration is isolated to that one specific dorm, so if/when I do return to Korea, I won’t have to deal with those restrictive regulations again.
Despite the negatives, Korea’s pros definitely outweigh the cons. Overall my experience was a positive one, and I’m looking forward to the next time I’m able to visit.