That’s right: cultural shock. If I were teaching one of my classes the breakdown of this post might read as follows:

T(opic): Culture Shock

(Implied) M(ain) I(dea): People visiting foreign countries experience culture shock in some form or another, however some cases of culture shock are less extreme than others.

S(upporting) D(etails):

Okay, so more seriously, before coming to South Korea, I actually kind of geared myself up for culture shock. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I could expect something. When I first arrived in Suwon one of the other teachers (who is shockingly jaded, on a side note) told me I should expect a lot of culture shock here because Koreans are, as he put it, ‘weird’. But honestly, I really haven’t experienced any culture shock, emphasis on the word shock. I’ve noticed cultural differences but all in all they haven’t been all that shocking, surprising, startling, etc.

HOWEVER (contrast transition!), there is one thing I’ve noticed that I would call a culture confusion. In Korea, they do not use paper towels. Oh, they SELL paper towels, if you look hard enough. And they certainly do things that either require paper towels or would be simplified through the use of paper towels, ie cleaning up spills or eating cake in breakrooms (not super fun eating off of a sticky, flimsy piece of plastic Saran wrap). But as far as I can tell, paper towels are not  one of the gadgets found in the handy-dandy Korean tool belt.

Today I was in HomePlus picking up some groceries (after lugging my personal paper towels to work so I could clean my white board using something more substantial than toilet paper) and while walking past the juice aisle, I noticed two employees mopping up a sizable orange juice spill. With toilet paper. A great, big roll of toilet paper that easily comes apart under saturation of that magnitude. And only three rows down, maybe four, they sold paper towels. Plush, absorbent, made-especially-for-situations-like-this paper towels. I did not understand this scenario.  It was not what one might call culture shock, but it was rather confusing.

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