Ever since moving to Korea, I started to change in many ways. My life here is just very different from my life in Abu Dhabi, and just like how I changed when I moved to Abu Dhabi from the Philippines, I also changed when I moved to Korea.
Here are some examples in no particular order:
- I wake up early. I remember when I was a kid in the Philippines, I always went to bed early and woke up early. Ever since moving to Abu Dhabi, for six years I slept late and woke up late. Now I’m back to waking up early for school–except on weekends.
- I eat healthier food. It’s not that I always ate unhealthy food back then, but back then junk was always readily available whenever I needed a fix because my parents were okay with buying them. Now I just preferred not to buy the junk because I actually want to take good care of myself for once. I don’t want to get sick so far away from my parents! But I don’t completely deprive myself of junk, I do buy them from time to time, but not as much as before. Also, the local food is mostly healthy and cheaper than other cuisines so I eat Korean food often. Fruits are everywhere as well so I snack on those instead of the cookies and chips I used to prefer back then.
- I exercise more. Korea is the land of walking. I walk to almost everywhere. I walk about 15 minutes to school, and walk another 15 minutes back home. Also, the weather here is quite nice compared to burning hot UAE, so I like taking strolls often at the nearby lake because it’s really pretty there.
- Friends are Family. In the Philippines, I considered my friends as like family. But ever since moving to Abu Dhabi, I lost my old friends and I really had no idea how to make new ones so I kinda didn’t have much friends. After 6 years of being sick and tired of being lonely, I tired to make friends here in Korea. When you’re living with a bunch of other students who are also far away from their families, then you all become one big family.
- And about family… Everyone views me as a baby. You’d expect me to grow up while living alone here in a foreign country, but no. In fact, instead of learning to fend for myself and figure out how to do the grown up stuff by myself, I learned to make friends with those older and more experienced than me so that I can ask them for help. They are more than willing to help me because to them I’m just a kid. Or God just put them in my life because he knows I can’t do anything by myself at all. I am still a big baby after all.
- Korean Honey Citron Tea is Life. Back then it was milk tea, but since I have no idea where to get powdered milk, I haven’t been making my beloved milk tea. So now I drink 유자차 instead. It’s basically orange marmalade made of really organic natural stuff. You put teaspoons of it in your cup and pour hot water and enjoy. It’s good for colds, coughs, indigestion, it’s an excellent source of vitamin C, it’s good for your skin, good for your voice, etc. etc. PLUS IT IS SO DELICIOUS. You even get to eat the orange slices after drinking it!
- I speak Korean more often than any other language. That doesn’t mean I’m pretty good, but I like practicing what I learned and some of my friends don’t really speak English so there’s really no other way to communicate with them sometimes. Plus, when I speak to Koreans in their own language, they tend to really like it when I try and say that I’m pretty good even though I’m slow and I forget my vocabulary sometimes.
- I watch Korean shows without subtitles. I just understand a lot of Korean enough to not watch those stuff with subs. I don’t understand all of it, but it helps me improve my listening skills.
- I’m better at memorizing Korean lyrics. I can also sing along while reading the lyrics. I’m pretty good at reading.
- I pick up bits of languages easily. I always hang out with people from other countries, so just by listening to them I get an idea of how their language works by listening closely to the sound patterns they make when they speak. This isn’t really a new thing for me, but this ability has improved since the UAE days. I also realized that languages are honestly not that difficult to figure out because there are only four major things you need to learn when learning a language: grammar, vocabulary, writing/reading, and pronunciation. The best way to learn is to immerse in the language–listen to it often, read often, write often (supervised by a teacher), and speak it often with a friend. It may be easy to learn basics but mastering a language will definitely take time and plenty of immersion.
- I bow/nod my head to everyone. In the Philippines, when I meet my friends, I wave my hand or just say “hi” or “hello.” When I meet older people (aunts, uncles, grandparents etc), they always come in for the beso-beso thing that I absolutely feel uncomfortable doing. But aunties just love doing it and I hate feeling their cheeks on mine because it’s just gross. Besides, it’s an auntie thing, so I don’t really do that to friends. In UAE, everyone does the American thing of hugging each other or doing the bro-handshake or a high-5 of some sort. I’m not a fan of hugging either but sometimes I like getting a hug because it makes me feel like I actually exist since I don’t have many friends back then. Here in Korea, I nod or bow and say “안녕하세요!” I really prefer not making physical contact with acquaintances so this really works best for my personality. This has become a habit actually. I can greet people without touching them and I don’t come off as a snob, yay!
- 10 degrees Celcius is considered warm. It’s winter right now. 10 degrees is a warm day. As long as it doesn’t go lower than 5 degrees, it’s warm. Meanwhile in UAE, everyone freezes at 14 degrees.
- I’m back to hating on rain. Okay, rain is great the first few moments of seeing it again after not seeing it in forever. But after raining for longer than 2 hours (let’s say, a whole week perhaps?), the world is just unfair.
- Snow isn’t that great. Yeah it’s so pretty seeing it fall, and it’s very exciting, but when you’re out there walking home combating the cold wind and ice, you’d really rather just watch it and not have to go out in it ever again.
- If it was sunny with a bit of clouds everyday, that would be great. I got used to the extremely predictable UAE weather so I never really had to dress to according to today’s weather and temperature. I don’t like getting rain or snow on my clothes because it means I have to wash them. Also, I never had to wash my shoes because mud doesn’t exist in UAE. Back then I wanted to see it rain or snow but now I just don’t want either.
- View of Korea. To me back then, Korea was a land of K-pop stars and Korean Dramas. Well now, it’s just an Asian country that thinks they are now very “westernized” but not really.