12/31/09

Stuff I've learned/observed/experienced

I've been back in Korea for a little more than a week. Here's some random stuff.

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If there's a line forming, then stand it. You won't regret it even if you don't want to be in the line. You never know when an entire elementary school of kids may show up. A colleague of mine who didn't take my advice dallied about for a few minutes. Suddenly, a million Korean kids showed up. He got back in line, but far enough that I needed binoculars to see him. Thankfully, the lines in Korea go quickly, so he ate about 15 minutes after I did.

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My favorite sandwich shop opens at 10 a.m. I learned that a few days ago at 8:30 a.m., after walking 15 minutes out of the way to eat there.

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I saw one of the directors at my job wearing a mask over his nose and mouth. Does he know something I don't know?

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As a foreigner in Korea, I often must trust the Koreans around me. My colleagues helped me set up my bank account. I was standing there, with my documents out in the open for anyone, along with my allegedly secret password that seemed to be available for public information.

People show up at my apartment saying they need to take me somewhere. I do ask them questions about who they are just to confirm that I'm not being shipped off to China.

I should blog more often just so someone will notice if I have gone missing.

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It snowed a lot a few days ago. It snowed the day after I arrived. Before I left D.C. I was slip sliding around in 16 inches of snow.

I hate snow. But I already knew that.

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There is occasionally miscommunication between Koreans and non-Koreans. The more I understand Korean, the more I see that there is plenty of miscommunication between Koreans, too.

That would be fine if it didn't involve me. But I had another example...a manager rushed to me, saying I had to be at the main office at 4:40 p.m. today. At about 5:10, after I asked many times in Korean and English why I needed to be there, the manager apologized that I didn't need to be there.

I knew that, too.

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Drivers can run red lights here at small intersections, as long as there are not pedestrians present, and as long as there aren't other cars speeding through the green light. Unfortunately, jaywalking is also rampant, meaning bad things happen at some intersections at which both drivers and pedestrians don't pay attention to signs and lights.

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The ATM machine I went to earlier today was bilingual (Korean and English). There may have been other languages, I forgot to check.

I was just happy to be able to do stuff with my money in English. I hate guessing, wondering if the button I'm pushing means that I'm transferring my money to someone else's account.

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A bad thing about banks here...a Korean friend of mine told me earlier today that they charge customers a fee for withdrawing money from an ATM. That's even when the bank is closed and you don't have an option to go directly to a live teller.

If there's a user fee, it should be for seeing a live person, not an ATM machine that is available 24/7.

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Not every Korean is generous. The guy who picked me up at the airport not only did not offer me and the other pickup anything to eat, but he also proceeded to eat a Korean snack as he drove. He was munching away.

He did arrange for food later before we stopped for the night at a remote location. He dropped us off at a 7-11.

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GPS machines in Korea warn drivers when they have gone several kilometers over the speed limit in an area with speed cameras. The damn sound can get so loud that you slow down just to shut it up. In comparison, radar detectors in America are almost always illegal. I guess the point here is really to get people to stop speeding, not to collect money for the city.

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I also love the gas stations over here. Stopped at one with a colleague a few days ago. Apparently every gas station in South Korea is full-service. I've never seen customers pump their own gas.

The receipt shows customers that 10% of the money collected was a tax.

They serve canned coffee at some gas stations. Of course, the coffee snobs won't like that.

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Drivers in Seoul are bad. I hate them.

The only thing I hate more than the drivers in Seoul are the drivers outside of Seoul.

CJL

linked by Booker Rising,

Update: Thomas Sowell was interviewed by Walter E. Williams on the show. I'll listen to it and mention their main points.