Different standards

This Friday and Saturday I spent together with my colleagues on a team outing. Such events are quite common in South Korea and usually take place once a year.

 

After collecting all ideas what we could do and we everyone wanted to go we agreed on going to the mountains. Friday morning we left the office and after driving for several hours we arrived at Seoraksan in the north west. Unfortunately it was raining and so everyone had to wear rain covers and rain jackets.

 

Two hours later we returned to the cars with wet shoes, pants and fed up with rain. A quick shower later we met again for dinner. Fresh seafood and sashimi was the menu for this evening. The quality of the food was great. Being at a location right at the sea, the fish couldn’t have been fresher. After dinner we sat together with some drinks discussion, talking and socializing until late at night.

 

Saturday morning after breakfast we met in the seminar room of the accommodation to discuss what everyone of the team feels that should be changed, what our strategy for the next year will be and what new projects are on the horizon.

Until the early afternoon and before going back home we had covered many topics, identified some weak points and defined measures for improvement.

 

Even though every team member knew about stereotypes of Korean and German people, we often came across things that were regarded as ’normal‘. Either the head of our team and me as Germans or the local colleagues with Korean roots thought of┬ásome habits or behavior as ’normal‘ not thinking about whether the other side felt the same:

 

One example is being on time. Germans are famous for being precise and on time. In Asia, both China and Korea, when being 15 or 20 minutes late is still accepted and no one will complain.

Another topic is personal information. Asking for your marital status, your educational and social background or even your income is quite common here. In Germany you either do not share this information at all or only with people that are closer to you.

 

The list of topics could be continued adding many aspects of every day life and this is exactly what makes life abroad so interesting. You never reach a point where you can say you know everything about this new country you have been living at for the last years. Each day comes with a surprise, you just need to keep your eyes open.

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