Welcome to thingsyoulearn – short for “things you learn when you move halfway around the world to teach for the first time in a country where you do not speak the language”. Obviously, you can’t fit all that in a username. So hi! I’m assuming you know me if you’re reading this, but for the sake of introductions, I’m Drea. I spent five years getting a B.A. in English and five months running around unemployed after graduation. But now I have a job: teaching English to 8-12 year olds in Daegu, South Korea.

Rather than just be a blog where I yammer about the craziness that’s going on with me, I’m also making this a list. One thing I’ve learned, each day, for the 365 days I’m going to be living here. Since I’ve been here for 10 days already, you get 10 right off the bat:

1) Airports in Korea close at 10 pm, even international ones. Meanwhile, everything else, including markets, restaurants, and arcades, stay open until 3.

2) Everyone takes their shoes off upon entering a home. This does not mean you should do this in a public place, like, say, an E-Mart (what you get when you mix an Acme with a Wal-mart that’s open 24/7). People will look at you funnier than usual.

3) No one has a dryer in Korea. When it’s 30 degrees out, and you’d rather not have freeze-dried underwear, you improvise. Improvisation may include explaining to your Korean co-workers why your clothing is spread out across your floor. Improvisation may also include then convincing your Korean co-workers that you are, in fact, a sane person.

4) The phrase “comfortable mattress” does not exist, nor does the phrase “mattress pad”, unless you wish to go all the way to Seoul, order one, and pay out the wazoo for it. If you are a Delicate Flower who needs a feather-soft bed, multiple pillows, and 5000-count sheets, you are going to have Problems. You will be fine sleeping atop one comforter and using any other bedding as warmth.

5) You’d be surprised what pointing and mime will accomplish, but it’s still best to learn a little of the language. That being said, stick to what you know, or you end up thanking the counter girl for polishing the squid when you really just want to ask how much your bill is.

6) Pizza Hut in Korea is not only way classier, it tastes better, too. How much of this is because you’ve been eating PB&J,¬†various types of noodles,¬†and cereal for the past week is negotiable. It still doesn’t change the fact that it tastes fantastic. Also, the buffalo wings don’t actually come with sauce in Korea, no matter how many times you point to it on the menu.

7) Everything, whether it’s Korean, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Indian, or Greek food, comes with sweet-and-sour pickles. Not kimchee – it comes with that, too – but sweet and sour pickles in vinegar brine. There is no explanation for this.

8) Inexplicably, most of the Japanese food you encounter in Korea is terrible, where most of the Italian food is fantastic.

9) Don’t drink the water. You can bathe in it, cook with it, brush your teeth with it, and wash your clothes with it, but it’s best not to drink it, even when you live in a big city like Daegu, where they treat their water. Buy a 2 liter of bottled water for 50 cents at a corner store once a week.

10) If you see someone who’s driving a motorcycle, they’re a delivery driver, and it behooves you to get the hell out of their way posthaste. They can smell fear, and they love terrorizing foreigners.