Embarrassing Moments

While I have lived and interacted with a number of different cultures, living in a foreign country still simply has it’s embarrassing moments for me. I come in to contact with two types of people. The people who think living in South Korea is super dangerous and the people who think it is one big party. It is neither. Here are a few stories of strange things happening to me when two cultures colide. Some of them I know why they happened other ones I have no idea. So go ahead and laugh or cry in embarrassment for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

The morning I waved at people in a store…
I haven’t been back in Korea for long. Just a week or so. I went to Daiso (it is like a dollar store) to buy some cleaning supplies. While attempting to get into the store, being use to American automatic doors, I went for the door. It didn’t open. I didn’t run into it, I just stopped. A little stunned that it wasn’t opening. I moved around a little. Still nothing. I then lifted my hand above my head and waved a little….nothing. People were inside (watching me) so I knew it was open. I was so confused and a bit jet-lagged that I stood there somewhat dazed. The thought of “just be cool” running around my head. Of course being cool was so far gone after the hand wave move. I acted as though something outside caught my attention. I moved over to the side of the door. That is were I saw it….Yep, a push open button. Sigh. That is right Korea does not always have automated doors. Most doors are either manual or push button. The buttons are placed off to the side of the door for easy access. I simply had forgotten that. With the realization hitting me, I pushed the button and guess what?! The door opened. I walked in and acted cool.

Korean snacks
Korean snacks

The afternoon I was yelled at for being respectful…
Just like everyone I have to go and buy groceries. Usually the corner store (Homeplus Express) is a pleasant place. The cashiers recognize me by now and I know the times when it is too busy to walk down the isles. On this day, it was oddly busy. I had forgotten that it was the weekend where they would be closed on Sunday (in my area the corporate stores close to help the mom/pop stores every 2nd and 4th Sunday). As I was attempting to navigate around people in very narrow isles, there was an older man in a suit standing somewhat in the way. I was stuck in the middle of the long isle with this man in a suit and several other Koreans wanting by, but I was leading the way. So I say in English just to get his attention (at the time I did not know how to say anything in Korean), “Excuse me.” He turns around and SCREAMS “EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE YOU!!” in English. All the people in the isle stop what they were doing and looked at us. I froze with shock and confusion. At that point, I had no idea what happened. I just bowed slightly and spotting an opening between him and the shelves, I escaped past him. While checking out I did see him yell at the cashier for some reason. Either he was angry with something or he was a little crazy. Either way that moment still causes me a little anxiety.

The evening where I gave a women a concussion…
Okay so maybe I didn’t really give a women a concussion but I did do this….
While riding a bus from Myeongdong, ย all the seats were taken so I was required to stand in the back. I was carrying a lot of items that were pretty heavy. The bus all of a sudden stoped and I quickly reached up to grab the hand strap. While I did this my heavy Korean crafted knick-knack slips down my arm and before I could grab it the corner of its box came down hard on a women sitting in a seat. It hit her so hard it made a sound and I felt bad. I told her sorry and bowed (bowing seems to take care of a lot of things). She said in English, “That looks heavy. Let me hold it.” I said thank you and gave it to her. This is a normal thing in Korea and was very considerate to take a bag from someone who is standing on the mass transit. Especially, since I just hit her on the head. I am sure she just didn’t want it to happen again.

Korean bus stop
Korean bus stop

I am sure these moments could have happened in the United States. The difference is, in the United States, I would most likely be able to communicate and explain things. While living in Korea not knowing Korean things are difficult. You feel rude, misunderstood and often you cant express yourself properly. This is one of the reasons why I want to lean Korean this year. Not being able to properly communicate is such a nuisance. So wish me luck as I reach out to Korean friends to teach me and pay for a class. My goal is to be proficient by the end of the school year. Wish me luck!

4 thoughts on “Embarrassing Moments

  1. Love this post! Living abroad always makes so many embarrassing moments. I love that you’re sharing them.
    Best of luck in the new school year!

    x, Juliet

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