31 lessons from 31 days in Korea

Wow, where do I start?

I’ve been here one month now, and I could probably list 100 lessons. For now, here are the first 31 that come to mind:

  1. Korean doesn’t come naturally, even if you live in Korea. You still have to learn it.
  2. Most money goes toward the friend fund, the way the priorities should be.
  3. The front loader washing machine will never dry if the door’s always closed.
  4. It’s best to establish a morning routine as quickly as possible so you don’t waste time making decisions.
  5. Stick to only two rules in class.
  6. Three strikes and you’re out: tell everyone at the beginning of class, remind individual students if they forget, and then that’s it.
  7. Tell the students the rules but not the strikes. Let them figure out on their own that they don’t get many chances.
  8. Kids want limits. Show them early.
  9. You can walk a long way if you plan time for it.
  10. T-Money makes everything a lot quicker, but that means you spend money quicker too.
  11. When you arrive in a foreign country, it’s a good idea to memorize some contact numbers, at least one, and an emergency address / landmark that taxi drivers can find.
  12. If you can’t speak the language, cash is the next best way to communicate.
  13. The sky is never really clear in Seoul.
  14. I’m addicted to the Internet, being connected.
  15. It’s way more important to talk with people than… well, pretty much anything else.
  16. Eat as fast as you can. You probably won’t finish too quickly, especially if you’re not a native chopsticker.
  17. Use two hands to pass things or accept things from others. It’s respectful.
  18. Get used to bowing.
  19. The subway route with the least amount of line changes is probably fastest, even if it looks longer on the map.
  20. The less cash you carry, the less you’ll spend.
  21. It’s better to try something new than stick with something you know is good.
  22. Location beats luxury when it comes to apartments.
  23. The more memorable experiences you can cram into a given amount of time, the longer that time will seem looking back (you’ll feel like you’ve lived longer).
  24. You can teach complex words by explaining them, but you can only teach simple words by using them.
  25. A walk is its own destination.
  26. The more expensive, the less excitement.
  27. Three pairs of jeans are enough, if you don’t miss your wash days.
  28. Rice cooker? Yes.
  29. Meet people, as fast as possible, to settle in.
  30. If you tell your students you can do magic tricks, you better have something up your sleeve.
  31. What you think is fried rice, like you might have in the States, probably isn’t.

Which lesson do you think is the best? Secondly, what have you learned over the past 31 days?

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