Visiting the USA: 10 Cultural Differences That Shock Koreans
Korean visitors to the United States often find themselves surprised, pleased, or shocked by the cultural differences they encounter. From sleep habits to workplace etiquette, Koreans have a unique world view due to their different culture, history, language, eating habits, and climate. Here are 10 things that Koreans always remark on or notice when they visit or work in America.
1. No Daylight Saving
Koreans are surprised by how Americans complain about the effects of daylight saving changes on their sleep-wake cycles as there is no daylight saving in Korea and most of Asia.
2. Patience is a Virtue
The average wait time for a call in Korea is three to four minutes, so Koreans are shocked at how Americans expect to be on hold for 20 minutes or even an hour when they call a company or government department.
3. Resumes Are Shorter
When Koreans apply for a job, they are forced to mention their parents’ job histories and education, reflecting the importance of family ties in Korean society.
4. No Military Conscription in the USA
Korean visitors are usually pleasantly surprised to note that there is no military conscription in the USA, unlike in South Korea where all males between the ages of 18 and 35 must serve in the army for two years.
5. Service Expectations Are Different
Koreans always notice how much longer everything seems to take in American restaurants, where catching the waiter’s eye is considered more polite than shouting for service.
6. Great Variety of Food and Meals
Koreans love eating in America because they are stunned by the variety of dishes and different menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
7. Formality vs. Informality
In South Korea, everyone greets each other with a little bow as a sign of respect, while in the USA, first names are used even with strangers. Koreans find it strange that everyone seems to be on first-name terms.
8. Distances Take Some Getting Used To
When you consider that South Korea is about the same area as Indiana, you can understand how Koreans find talk of travel and distances disconcerting.
9. Americans Have More Free Time
Koreans work very hard and often have very short vacations, so they envy the amount of free time Americans have to relax and enjoy life.
10. Workplace Etiquette is Very Different
Koreans are used to addressing their manager with respectful titles, wearing suits and ties, and not being allowed to dress casually. Workplace status is so important that Korean grammar reflects this.
In conclusion, Koreans are often puzzled or have difficulty adjusting to the friendly, informal, and direct nature of American culture. As they say, “At the end of hardship comes happiness.”