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13 signs you’ve been in Korea too long

1. You have mastered the wipe and toss.

Not in your own bathroom of course, you’re not an animal. In public toilets, you always remember to take the toilet paper in with you before you go in, and you always remember to toss it into a garbage can afterwards. You don’t want to be that Westerner that clogged the toilet.

2. You’re not embarrassed to take a selfie anytime, anywhere.

Koreans are the kings and queens of selfies. They take out their phones on subways, in restaurants, city streets, and snap away happily. You don’t think twice about looking like a tourist or weirdo doing the same.

3. You use Internet Explorer.

You love to hate it, but you still have to use it. You sometimes forget and when you get to the payment part of your order on Gmarket or some other Korean website, you curse yourself and start the process again in IE.

4. You sit down for a meal at convenience stores.

On more than one occasion you have grabbed your pot ramen, a few pieces of lukewarm chicken and some beers and taken a seat at one of the plastic tables setup inside a convenience store.

5. You don’t even feel people staring at you any more.

At first it was annoying, then it was kind of flattering, now you don’t even notice.

6. You’ve forgotten that Cass and Hite are actually not good.

When you first got to Korea you couldn’t stand the taste of these watered down Budweisers, but now you don’t even care, you probably even prefer one over the other, as if there’s a difference.

7. Self-serve bars seem totally normal to you.

A bar full of fridges, prices labeled on the outside — why haven’t other people thought of this? It doesn’t even feel strange that you have to take your bottles up to the front to pay at the end of the night, it’s just logical.

8. You now consider toothpicks to be a utensil.

Hot rice cakes, french fries, pickles — it doesn’t much matter what you’re eating, but you’re happy to do it that toothpick they gave you.

9. You know how to brace yourself on a bus.

You’re not even surprised when it starts moving before you’ve gotten all the way off. You actually get annoyed when you get onto a bus where the driver stops fully at each stop and doesn’t run red lights.

10. Kimchi tastes heavenly.

Like, really good. The smell invokes some sort of weird hungry feeling instead of a desire to wretch.

11. You call the body of water between Japan and Korea the East Sea.

You don’t even mean to. What does everyone else call it again?

12. You order food at a bar even though you just ate.

You can no longer go into a bar and just order beer, it’s ingrained in you now. You’re not even hungry, but you’ll have a few so-maeks and the sausage platter, please.

13. You wear your coat inside.

You’ve stopped trying to explain to people that it defeats the purpose of wearing a coat or arguing that now you don’t have another layer to put on once you get outside. You just want to be warm.

Photo: Jordi Sanchez Teruel 

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