In recent years, Korean culture has played a prevalent role in Asian-Australian culture as it has molded my generation with music, fashion and overall style. As an Asian-Australian, Kpop was the largest influence in my curiosity in South Korea. It was a major hit when I first began high school all the way to my current life at university.
My first day in South Korea I would describe as very tiring. The biggest shock would be the weather, since Australia is located in the southern hemisphere thus seasons are be flipped. Winters in Australia can go as low as 4 degrees Celsius, averaging around 15 degrees Celsius during the day. Rain is common during this season, but it is never really humid. In Korea, temperatures would immediately hit you at 30 degrees, which when compared to Australian summers is not too bad, but what made Korea’s weather hard to adjust to was the humidity. Everyone from Australia, including myself, felt very sticky and uncomfortable.
The overall flight to South Korea was not too bad considering how the students from the US were forced to fly up to 13 hours straight depending on where they came from. For Australians, most would transit in Singapore which is approximately a 4 hour flight then 7 hours to Korea.
Despite the uncomfortable weather, the Korean people have been very friendly, helpful and considerate. Our taxi driver from the airport enjoyed American music which very much allowed us to easily bond. Our experiences with local restaurants have also been very pleasant as locals were well-adjusted to foreigners which made it even more enjoyable. Korean currency was easy to understand and most menus would have some form of English writing to allow us to easily pronounce what we were ordering. My enjoyment was further accentuated by the fact that I was never experiencing this alone. Someone was always by my side and help was always a text, call or conversation away. The students from the US were extremely friendly and helpful due to the fact that they arrived around one month before us Australians and understood what we were going through.
The largest difference we noticed during our first day in Korea was the significant price difference for food and products. Australian prices tend to be bloated due to generally higher incomes but Korean food and general necessities were much cheaper in comparison. Items that would cost around 15 Australian dollars would only be around 2-5 in Korea. This was a major opportunity for us to frivolously spend on products we would not normally get in Australia without worrying too much about the price.
Arriving in one of the largest mega cities in the world I describe would be an experience and a half. Korea has been one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited, completely different to life in Australia. It is a country that must be visited by any travel enthusiast and I would highly recommend any street food you come across on your first day if you are feeling nervous at restaurants. Not only are they delicious and cheap, most street food vendors will understand english. So go find yourself lost in a city with an amazing scenery and enjoy South Korea!