During the almost year that I’ve lived in Korea, a very good friend of mine has been compiling a list of rules that when followed, should help us to survive successfully in Korea.
For example, Rule #6 states that it’s OK to drink alcohol at school. This rule would NOT apply in Canada but it would foolish to decline should your Korean principal ever offer you a beer following a rousing game of foot volleyball.
Another rule essential for survival is Rule #10: Yes” doesn’t necessarily mean “yes” and “no” doesn’t always mean “no”. To make life easier, remember that all uses of “yes” and “no” actually mean”maybe”.
Other rules offer time-saving advice: Rule #16 – Always have a song ready for karaoke. (You could be handed a microphone anywhere and at any time.) And Rule #25: There will always be an Opening Ceremony and a Closing Ceremony. Plan accordingly.
My personal contributions to the list come in at #3: Just because it’s still moving, doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. And at #17: Don’t panic if the driver of the car you’re in pulls out into traffic without looking, weaves erratically down absurdly narrow streets, stops suddenly for no reason, parks confidently in no parking zones, pulls U-turns in the middle of the highway or drives at night without their lights on. If you are considering asking the driver how on earth they got their drivers’ licence, refer to Rule #1.
The most important rule is Rule #1: There are some things in Korea you will NEVER, EVER understand. It doesn’t matter how much you pester your co-T or your Korean friends, they won’t be able to explain. Google won’t help. Some things in Korea are simply incomprehensible, and defy explanation. Asking questions, or attempting to obtain a reasonable explanation will simply result in headaches and frustration for everyone involved.
Sometimes you just have to accept things without question.
For example, whenever I feel frustrated at my inability to store anything on the surface of my desk, I shake my head and mutter Rule #1 under my breath a few times. Then I feel better.
To help us remember (and hopefully avoid having our co-Ts kill us out of sheer frustration), my lovely friend had bracelets made. Aren’t they fantastic?