Putting My Studies to the Test

Going to Korea has been a dream of mine since I was in middle school. My imagination would run wild, and I’d think about all the different ways I could make that dream come true. I could teach English there. I could be a diplomat. But, when all was said and done, I had never imagined that I would take the trip to Korea to work on an organic blueberry farm.

After years of reading and watching videos about Korean culture, I was finally able to get a first hand look at it. While there are still countless things to learn, some things stood out to me:

1.  Hand gestures- There are two main gestures that I had read about but was unsure of how prevalent they are in Korean culture. The first was how people call each other over. In America, you may just wave your hand in your direction in order to tell someone to come to you. But, in Korea, you do the same thing, but with your palm facing down. Like many Korean gestures, it is a matter of respect. Second, when people hand over money to pay for something (or to return change), the money is held in one hand with the arm stretched out. The other hand is used to support the elbow. I started doing this one subconsciously too.

2. The House- Perhaps my biggest regret about the trip is that I should have brought a pair of sandals. I knew I would have to take my shoes off before entering the house which for the most part was not a big deal. But, when I had to carry in groceries, I would put on my muddy boots to walk to and from the car but would have to sit down and take them off each trip I made. That’s not the easiest to do with hands full of bags.

Also with the house– I noticed the absence of three familiar components in an American home: a dryer, an oven, and a shower/bathtub. I saw this trend in a few places around Korea. For example, I stayed in some hostels and visited some houses. And most of the time, these things were not to be found. It didn’t really surprise me, but it took a little getting used to. I mean, technically there was a shower; it just wasn’t not an enclosed part of the bathroom like I was familiar with. Instead, the whole bathroom is the shower, so you can clean the walls and bathe at the same time! This would always require you to strategically place your clothes, so they don’t accidentally get soaked by a rogue handheld shower.

Oh yah, and hot water was hard to come by.