Not only is South Korea an amazing place to study abroad. It’s just amazing in general. Don’t believe me? Here are five of my favorite qualities about this country that I came to appreciate during my time living abroad there.
1. Heated Floors (Ondol)
If you’re from a cold climate (like TEAN HQ in Chicago when winter comes) you will painfully remember the glum winter mornings when you pry your eyes open and attempt to psych yourself up to face the deep/dark winter freeze and your snowy and windy commute. I can’t think of many things that can ease the icy pains of such a winter. Oh wait, yes I can. In fact, one brilliant creation, with love from Korea, is called Ondol. This imaginative little treasure is under floor heating that uses smoke vapor, which transfers to the underside of the floor and creates heat. A lot of hanging out, eating and sleeping happens on the floor in Korea, so clearly Ondol comes in at the top. And while Seoul winters aren’t that bad, you’ll surely grow to appreciate waking up to a warm and toasty floor.
2. Smart Elevator Buttons
Have you ever accidentally pushed the wrong elevator floor button? Of course you have, we all have. Usually you notice what you’ve done straight away and then have to travel through the literal ups and downs of your simple mistake. In Korea where the buildings are especially tall, thankfully by the grace of some engineering genius, you can easily click the same button again to deselect your wrong choice and carry on with your life without the extra stops. Who can say b-r-i-l-l-i-a-n-t.
3. How Fast Can You Say Internet
I remember when I first moved to South Korea, just like any other digital native, I was nervous about having to live with a sluggish internet connection while being so far away from home. I wondered if my new phone would be as good as my American device. I was delightfully surprised by the trouble-free process of getting a smartphone and then was overjoyed with the connection speed. During the time I lived in Korea, the 4G LTE was only just being introduced to larger markets in The States. At that point I’d only experienced a 3G connection with my C-average phone, but I quickly came up to speed with the local scene. The city of Seoul even has its own free Wi-Fi hotspot. With all of this being said, it’s my absolute pleasure to inform you that South Korea boasts the fastest Internet connection IN THE WORLD. Stream, download, upload, click, send, snap, post, pin and fast.
4. No Shoes? No Problem.
It’s my personal opinion that cleanliness is next to Godliness. If you tend to agree, then you’re going to LOVE life in the ROK. At every entry way of mostly all homes, temples, schools, restaurants and offices sits a rack or a designated shoe space. In most Asian countries shoes are not worn indoors and are replaced by slippers. This really comes in handy when your living and dining area is closer to the floor than ever before. That means way less dirt next to your beautiful shining face and delicious food.
5. Safe Haven
Speaking from the perspective of a young woman who has traveled solo around the world quite a bit, there is nothing I value more than feeling safe in my surroundings. Korea is without a doubt one of the, if not the safest foreign country I’ve been to. Another cultural aspect that I personally think is amazing is that guns don’t exist in the public domain. Essentially the only people who are permitted to carry guns are police and government security. Even if you feel the need to hunt, you have to obviously first apply, get approved, register your gun, but you also have to sign the gun in and out of the police department. The gun laws are strict and sturdy and it breeds a true sense of security among the millions and millions of people.
Angela is an Assistant Program Manager at TEAN. She has her BA in Women’s and Gender Studies. After graduation, Angela lived in Seoul, Korea where she taught English. With more than 40 countries visited and counting, she believes that the most magical experiences happen outside of one’s comfort zone and loves advising students to do the same.