It’s Thursday, which means it’s your weekly helping of Vanessa. No, you cannot have seconds. 

Teaching English to (mostly) adults has some pretty neat perks. For one, I get to have delightful discussions in my conversation classes about a whole range of topics — travel, weddings, philosophy, aaaaand, my absolute favourite… money! I bring up money and the economy SO often and I love hearing opinions from people of a different culture. Here are some things that I’ve learned:

Girls get an allowance until they’re married, men until they have a good job: Most parents feel that their children shouldn’t have to have a part-time job while in school (or in the summer) because their job during that time is to get A+ grades. The select few employed students I know are ones who have taken temporary, part-time jobs over summer vacation. In order to afford $5 coffees and “playing with friends”, Korean youngsters receive an allowance each week. And, seeing as Korea is INCREDIBLY sexist at every turn, girls continue to get their allowances until they’re married. This makes sense, in a way. Young Korean women have A LOT more expenses then men (beauty!) and earn a heck of a lot less money.

Women grow up to be housewives: Woe upon he who suggests that the father stay at home while the mother works! In fact, when I suggested this to one of my classes, I was met with peels of laughter from both the men and the women. Similar responses were had when I suggested that women put their babies in daycare at a year old to go back to work. Korean women don’t seem very career-oriented and I’ve only met one high-up businesswoman in my time here.

Eating out is delightfully cheap: Why? The minimum wage is $5 and there is no tipping necessary. Sure, some restaurants tack it on at the end of the bill (I’m looking at you, stupid TGI Friday’s!), but generally you’re paying a total of $6 for a full meal — mainly because labour costs are negligible. The service is better too!

Bank notes are in small denominations: When I first got to Korea I took out $300 in Korean won — most of which came in 50s. I used my 50s as I would back home — Anything that I needed to buy over $30 was paid for by a 50 and anything less was paid for by a 10. Imagine my surprise then when producing a 50 was met with either a deep sigh or a confused look. This bill has been around for 5 years! This isn’t supposed to be a shocking transaction! Later, in my classes, I understood. There is this weird, deep resentment towards the 50,000 won note. Koreans see the bill as a way to spend more money easier and as a better way to hide cash from criminal activities. What? Debit cards exist! No criminal has ever thought “oh gee! Now I can really ramp up production since I’ll be able to carry 5x less bills”!

Korea is really wonderful and definitely a way different place from what I’ve ever seen. As a frugal girl looking around, I’m definitely envious of Korean teenagers who have a ton of free money and lots of cheap places to spend it :/

Tell everyone, yo!