From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

Things I Do in Korea that I Never Did in Pinas



Tonight, I left work a bit late. Thank God I didn’t miss the train, or I would have waited for 10 minutes, but when I got off the train, I felt like my bladder was going to explode. I stayed in the restroom for about 5 minutes, most of which was spent waiting for the janitress to put tissue in the empty tissue holder. I didn’t want to miss the bus, so even when I was wearing my favorite high-heeled boots, I had to walk as fast as I could, and run when I saw the bus coming. I was panting when I got on the bus, but I always make it a point to greet the driver, so I said “안녕하세요” (Hello in Korean), and swiped my card on the scanner. When I was in the Philippines, I would never run to catch a jeepney or a bus, especially wearing high-heels! Here in Korea, it seems as if everybody is in a hurry to get on a public transportation though they don’t have to wait that long. I used to laugh at how awkward Korean women look when they run in high heels, but now I am one of them. I run all the time, and yes, just in case you want to ask, it hurts to run in high heels. I don’t know if Korean women feel the same thing. It seems to me that four to five inches of heels is nothing to their pretty fragile-looking feet.


I was lucky enough to find an available seat on the bus. Usually, I have to stand and wait until one of the passengers get off, so I could sit down . Sometimes, I have no choice but to stand and grow more varicose veins for the whole 30- minute ride home. I have never experienced standing on the bus in the Philippines. I would rather wait for the next bus. I wonder why bus drivers in Korea keep accepting passengers even when the people on the bus look like sardines in can. In a regular bus in Korea (Ilban bus/일반버스), standees are allowed as the fare is cheaper compared to city express bus fare (Jwaseok bus/좌석버스), which is double the price… but how many standees can a regular bus accommodate?

In the Philippines, we have standees, too. Since I have been a “regular” standee here in Korea, I just might try standing at the rear of a jeepney in my own country. What do you think?


My 시아버지 (father-in-law) used to scold me every time I didn’t eat the food my 시어머니 (mother-in-law) prepared on the table. I couldn’t stand the smell and  the taste of kimchi. Most of the soup and side dishes are spicy. In the Philippines, I abstained from spicy food and I really hated vegetables. My mom never forced me to eat the food I didn’t like, but when I lived with my parents-in-law, I had no choice but to follow. When my 시아버지 brought home a live octopus, I had to eat it. It was ALIVE, and yes, the tendrils were squirming in my mouth!

My husband and his family are crazy about raw food. I have eaten raw fish, raw seashells and raw beef. Most Filipinos are meat-lovers, but no one would eat beef raw. I still can’t stomach raw fish and raw seashells, but raw beef is very delicious. It has become one of my favorite Korean dishes.

Now I don’t mind eating spicy food. I have learned to like kimchi and other vegetables, too. (Good news for my mom… ^^)


Well, this is the typical life of a housewife. I bet if I lived in the Philippines with my husband, I would be doing the same thing every weekend instead of going shopping or watching movies with my friends. (I kinda miss my Saturdays in the Philippines when I was single.)

In Korea, most housewives don’t do simple housework. We (the housewives) are always under the scrutiny of our mothers-in-laws, so we make sure that there isn’t a speck of dust to be found in the house once 시어머니 checks. My parents-in-law work from Monday to Sunday (It is common for Koreans to work even in their old age.), so my 시어머니 barely has time to scrutinize my “housekeeping skills”, but when she notices something “not right” in the house, she tells me right away. Good thing she’s not as strict as the horrible mothers-in-law portrayed in Korean soap operas. Sometimes, my husband and I share the housework. He volunteers to vacuum the hardwood floor in exchange for his freedom to go to the PC방 (PC room/internet cafe) or play billiards with his friends.


When I became a teacher, I made a promise to myself that I will never be a tyrant in the classroom, and I didn’t break this promise when I was teaching in the Philippines. In fact, I was one of the nicest and most amiable teachers who always had a way to “make students work” without “terrorizing” them. Here in Korea, you can’t always be nice and amiable to your misbehaving students. (If you have ever taught children in a hagwon, you’d know what I mean.) Most Korean students study for longer hours and go to several hagwons (학원/academy) in a day, so since they are tired and overworked, they tend to get lazy and become passive in class. Korean students behave differently when they are in their foreign teacher’s class. They swear; they shout; they complain a lot about school work and homework; they act rude, bossy and defiant. They think that since their foreign teacher can’t understand Korean and won’t reprimand them like their Korean teachers do, they can get away with anything. It’s a fact… some foreign teachers in hagwons just don’t give a damn. (Classroom management, please.) The foreign teacher I was asked to observe when I was having my training in one hagwon could hardly have his students stay in their seats. The boys were hitting one another. Some of the girls were tinkering with their mobile phones. Others were chitchatting. The class was a total chaos, but the foreign teacher didn’t mind. I had to witness that for 40 minutes, and told myself that would never happen in my class.

When I was teaching ESL in an international school in the Philippines, I had only one rule: SPEAK ENGLISH… but now that I’m teaching ESL in a hagwon in Korea, there are tons of rules that my students should follow or else…

Not all Korean students are little monsters. There are angels among them, too.

(I am going to discuss more about Korean students and teaching in Korea on my next post.)

Life in Korea has changed me and taught me a lot about being more responsible, open-minded and humble. I am pretty sure that I still have many things to learn and bring home with me when I come back to my beloved country. ^^


6 thoughts on “Things I Do in Korea that I Never Did in Pinas

  1. Pingback: Page not found « From Korea with Love

  2. Count your blessings. What doesn’t hurt you will only make you a better person. I never lived in South Korea but would count myself lucky if I did. You have to understand you are in country that is an economic miracle. From the end of its civil war with the north in 1950s, it transformed itself to one of Asia’s most economically progressive countries. And from the people commuting to mothers-in-laws to students everybody are in hurry or busy as there is no tomorrow simply because there so much more they can do and achieve for their country and for their lives. Hopefully, the positive values you gain living their country will be one you can share Filipinos everywhere but more so back in our country for us to learn and appreciate.


  3. I also make “telebabad” here in SK, eh… 3 minutes won’t be enough. ^^


  4. how about phone pinas call..


  5. Thanks, Jameelah. Enjoy life in SK. ^^


  6. nice one dear 🙂 congrats!


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