8 habits I’ve picked up in Korea.

Can I kick these habits when I go home?

1. Bowing; When first I came to Korea, I would stare in amazement at all the people bowing at each other. They bowed all the time, to say hello, goodbye, sorry, the list goes on.  Then I started doing it.  Turns out it’s really fun.  It completely takes away the language barrier, I bump into someone and I just bow.  They know I’m sorry.  I smile and bow, they know I’m happy to see them.  I bow several times while back away towards the door, they know I’m leaving.  Brilliant.  Now, almost four years later, I bow all the time.  I even bow to my foreign friends.  Yes, it gets kind of awkward but whatever, bowing is bowing.


2. Shoes; Before I came to Korea, I saw shoes as shoes.  Now, I look at shoes and buy them according to how fast I can get them on and off.  Since we take our shoes off when we go into a lot of places, this is essential. You do not want to be slow as a wet week getting your shoes on after you’ve all eaten.  Chances are your party will already be sitting down for beer by the time you get your ridiculously complicated shoes on.  Or worse is at the airport. Sometimes they make you take your shoes off at the security clearance.  The last thing you need is to be holding up the whole line because you can’t get your shoes off.  Fact.


3. Replacing my ‘v’s with ‘b’s; Possibly my worst habit.  I can’t help myself.  Four years of hearing it day in day out will do this to you.  Koreans have difficulty saying the ‘v’ sound so it usually comes out like a ‘b’. Now, I’ve started to it as well. It’s a bery bery cold day today.  Mostly on the word ‘very’. I’m bery happy!

4. Saying things twice; I have no idea where this one came from, but I say things twice.  For example in a normal school day, I might say, “clean up clean up, hello hello, goodbye goodbye, hey hey, why why thank you thank you”

5. Speaking louder when people don’t understand what I’m saying; When I speak in Konglish and someone doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say, I repeat the sentence a tone louder.  I can’t help myself.  It’s possibly to do with the fact that my Korean skills suck or that my English has gone down hill (refer to points 3 & 4). I must remember that if a person does not understand me, it’s not because they’re deaf , it’s because the sentence itself didn’t make sense.


6. Making a V when taking a picture; For this one, I think I’m going to need years of therapy to help me stop. When someone takes a picture, or there’s a camera is the vicinity, my fingers automatically make a “v” beside my face.  Every time.  It gets pretty awkward when I’m at an event where doing the V is really not appropriate, in which case, I spend the entire night telling myself not to do it .


7. Looking at myself in every reflective surface; Korea is the land of mirrors.  There are mirrors EVERYWHERE, elevators, bathrooms, toilet cubicles, handbags.  The list goes on.  People in Korea are always looking at themselves in reflective surfaces and now I’ve joined them.  I’ve got a pretty mild case and I’m not one of those girls who takes 5 million pictures of herself on the subway (that’s random as hell) but I do use the elevator mirrors and other convenient reflective surfaces to make sure I’m still foreign.

8. Brushing my teeth after lunch: I never did this in Ireland. Now, it’s a habit and if I don’t do it, I can feel the guilt gnawing away at me. Must….brush…..teeth…….


If you’ve got something you’d like to add, leave it in the comment section below!

11 thoughts on “8 habits I’ve picked up in Korea.

  1. Re: number 4. I totally do it, too! In fact, I’ve gone the extra step with single-syllable words, to the point where, last year, my daycare kids thought that “cutcutcut” was the actual word, and they started using it, too. True story.

  2. Don’t think you had any problem with No.7 before you left Ireland, haha. Regarding “v” & “b” that’s also a problem in the Spanish language e.g. vino = wine they pronunce it with “b” so bino, then in English I have students who will say bery and not very, hahahaha.
    Great post as usual!x

  3. Any eating habits that you pick up? like ask for chopstick instead of spoon/fork? Ask for side dishes? Need rice for every meal?

    Also I know you are in South Korea right now but this video from CNN might interest you

    It is about Koreans in Koreatown LA USA.

  4. This post is so funny .lol..I found your blog by chance as I plan for my seoul trip last march…We went to Paju¡¡ .. 🙂 ..keep on writing {from Malaysia}

  5. I come across this blog.
    This post is soooooo funny.^^
    I think Irish sense of humor, specially sarcasm, is similar to Korean.

    One of my favorite comedian is Denis Leary.
    I know he is not Irish but Irish american.
    But He is used to joking about Irish things at his own tv show & drama.
    I love his joke & Irish sense of humor.
    I can find same thing in your blog.
    I think I’m going to be one of your BIG fan.

    by the way, I’m a korean, live in Seoul.
    만나서 반갑습니다.^^

  6. how about always using your hands and arm gestures to explain what you are saying? I find that even when talking to my foregin friends I use gestures way more than what I did back home.

  7. Great blog! Very funny and great craic! It is also very useful for preparing our first trip to Korea next month for a holiday and to collect our daughter, Lucille, after her year in university there (she enjoys Korea too and will be back). And, no, we are annoying her with the “when are you getting married?” bit. Keep up the good work.
    God bless

  8. Oh my gosh… yes. I have been trying to teach my students that it is not necessary to brush their teeth more than twice a day or unless they have just finished eating a bowl of onions. We don’t usually brush our teeth after lunch either in the US. I still don’t do it and it still feels strange to see Koreans standing in public bathrooms, casually brushing their teeth for five minutes while I wait to wash my hands. Bowing is the universal cure for everything! I have picked up the nasty habit of saying ‘uh’ ‘uh’ instead of yes while a person is talking. Going on seven years in Korean now. I wonder if I will ever recover when I go back to the US. Great points made on Korean habits!

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