6 Things I Love About Living in Korea
As of February 17th, I have officially been living in South Korea for three months. Learning how to live in a completely foreign country has been frustrating, and confusing at times, but also very fun and exciting. Now that I’ve been here for three months, I’ve gotten used to how things work, and I’ve developed a sense of comfort living within these new borders. While everything is still relatively new to me, I’ve made a list of 6 things I’ve grown to love the most about Korea in my first three months.
1. The Food
The sort of food that you find in restaurants around here is obviously very different from the kind of food back home. While it took some getting used to, Korean food has become a new normal for me. Only a few months ago, when I was living in the United States, I wouldn’t dare touch any kind of spicy food. When I got here and realized how much Koreans use their spices, I decided to force myself to adapt. I ate the spiciest soups and the spiciest kimchi at every meal, and I’ve now grown to love and even crave the spice. I also like how unhealthy, and processed foods like cheese and bread are not as common in traditional Korean cooking. Korean barbecue, kimbap, and bibimbap have become some of my favorite meals.
2. Cost of Living
Living in Korea is very affordable, especially if you’re not living in Seoul. Groceries and household items like cleaning supplies are all extremely cheap. Also, transportation is not very expensive. A 15-minute taxi ride in Jeonju is often only about $7. In addition to these low costs, English teachers don’t pay their own rent, so that's not something I have to budget for either. I can’t believe how easy it has been for me to save up some money, which is saying a lot because I am usually terrible at saving money.
3. Feeling Safe
Every English teacher here that comes from the United States can agree, Korea is a safe place to live. Crime rates are very low here compared to the United States. I feel safe when riding in a taxi alone, walking the streets by myself at night, etc. It's refreshing not to have to worry about crime on a daily basis.
4. Traveling within Korea
I absolutely love how easy and affordable it is to get from one city in Korea to another. Every decent sized city has at least one big bus terminal. You can go to the terminal, buy a bus ticket to anywhere and be on your way within the next 20 minutes. For example, I often take trips to Gunsan from Jeonju, which is about a 50-minute drive. These buses leave every 15 minutes and cost about $5. If I want to go to Seoul or Busan (about 3 hours away), I can show up at the bus terminal, buy a ticket for around $20 and be on a bus within the next 20 minutes. The buses are extremely comfortable, too. They are always spacious and clean. Taking the train is also very easy. The KTX is fast and does not cost much more than a bus ticket, but it's usually only the quickest option if you’re going to Seoul.
5. Foreigner Community
Being a foreigner in a medium-sized Korean city is like living in a small town within a big city. Everybody knows everybody within the community, everybody is connected in some way, and we all have at least one thing in common. We are all outsiders, so there's more openness and willingness to get to know each other. There are certain places and bars where many of the foreigners can be found on a Saturday night.
6. K-Pop Music
I had no idea what K-pop music was before moving to Korea. K-pop is an extremely popular genre of music that people all over the world listen to. I wasn’t very impressed at first, but now that I’ve been living in Korea for a few months and hear Korean songs ALL the time, I’ve grown to love them. The most popular K-pop boy band is BTS. All the young girls here adore them. I consider them to be the One Direction of Korea. BTS even had an interview on Ellen, which was great to watch.
BTS on Ellen:
My favorite BTS song: