While we feel that are far from functional in our new culture, we can at least compare the few experiences that we have had here in Korea to those that we had during our two years in Taiwan. We’ve found that there are times that we are homesick for Taipei and others that we are glad to be settling in in Seoul. Here is the short list of a few comparisons we’ve made so far and who comes out ahead in our book.
1) Food. In case you don’t already know this about me, I am a big fan of eating. I consistently find that our vacation planning tends to revolve a lot around what food is served where and how we can manage to try everything in sight. So, a country’s food is pretty important to me. During our Korean investigation time before we moved, we had a lot of mixed reviews about Korean food. Some love it, some hate it. I couldn’t help but notice, however, that most of the fans of Korean food tended to be of Korean heritage themselves and thus presented a somewhat biased opinion. For the sake of cultural education, I will let you know that Korea’s national dish is kimchi. This spiced fermented cabbage is about as tasty as it sounds (for me anyway, Chris is actually a fan… more to come in blogging future) and as ubiquitous as ketchup on the Korean table. I have to say, with dumplings, milk tea, and mango bing, Taiwan wins this battle hands down.
Score: Taiwan 1, Korea 0
2) Weather. Clearly, the climate in the place you live is extremely important. In Taiwan, the summers were hot and very humid with lots of rain. The winters were cold and very humid with a lot of rain. How were spring and fall? I wouldn’t know; we never experienced those seasons while we were there. In Korea, the summer was hot and a little humid but mostly sunny. The fall has been cool, dry and crisp with just a few thunderstorms. We have yet to experience the cold winters and the blossoming spring but from what I have seen so far, Korea beats the heck out of Taiwan in this category.
Score: Taiwan 1, Korea 1
3) People. From the moment we stepped off of the plane in Taiwan, we were overwhelmed with how friendly the people were. Simply wearing a lost expression in a public place would send a half a dozen helpful locals wanting to help you on your way. They were always kind and forgiving with our horrid Chinese and generous with the English that they knew. We heard rumor that while the Taiwanese were more like Southerners in their hospitality, Koreans were more reminiscent of the aloof New Yorker too busy with important meetings to help out some pitiful foreigner. We have found this to absolutely not be the case at all. Koreans have been just as friendly and helpful as the Taiwanese were. They are always eager to jump in and guide you if you look lost or be patient as you stumble through the shattered remnants of their native tongue that you have destroyed. So, as a very pleasant surprise, we will rate the people the same and give a point to Taiwan and Korea.
Score: Taiwan 2, Korea 2
There are many more comparisons that can be made but we’ll leave it here for now. The obsessive compulsive in me likes equality.