We’ve had a South Korean student staying with us for over a month now, and while I realized there were a number of differences between our North American habits and his Korean culture I didn’t think it was too much of a problem. However, Thursday evening I discovered just how vast the cultural gap really is.
I was in the washroom and I happened to look down at the garbage can and to my horror I saw used streaked toilet paper sitting in it. What the heck? So I walked back downstairs and met up with my husband in the kitchen. “Go upstairs and look in the garbage and tell me if that’s what I think it is, would you?”
Chris looked at me strangely, and I said ” I think it’s used T.P., go look.” So off he went to check the garbage can. From upstairs I heard him say ” Oh my god it is!” and “Oh, that’s gross!” Meanwhile the boarder is in his room right next door to the washroom, and while I’m sure he must have heard Chris I have no idea if he clued into what Chris was talking about at the time.
Chris came back down stairs into the living room where I was waiting for him and he said with a most horrified look on his face “that’s just crazy!”. I tried to reassure him that it was probably something cultural. Gross to us, but probably not crazy. We decided to speak with him after dinner about it. Well, we actually decided that I would conveniently leave the room so that Chris could talk to him man to man, which would probably be less embarrassing for our boarder.
Since our boarder moved in over a month ago I must admit that I have been seeing neatly folded, but thick bundles of T.P. or what I thought might be a lot of Kleenex in the waste basket. I wondered about it, but then he got a cold about two weeks ago and I guess I figured it was from him blowing his nose (with a lot of t.p.?). I guess I was wrong, huh?
My husband had a very short talk with our tenant while I was out of the room. I don’t know exactly what was said but when I asked Chris how he reacted he said that he’d apologized and stated that, that is what he did at home. So it was cultural after all. I did a Google search. Here’s a strange one for you “Korean puts used toilet paper in garbage instead of toilet” to see what I might find, and the search did confirm my borders habit.
This might explain why I’ve been seeing ants in the washroom upstairs.
We’ve only had ants in the house once since we moved in and they were in the kitchen. They were coming in from the enclosed back porch where we kept the recycling. We solved this problem by keeping the recycling outside during the warmer months when ants and other bugs are active. So I was surprised to see ants in the house again this year, and upstairs of all places.
Our boarder carries a knapsack with him when he goes to school. He also smokes. So I thought maybe he might be bringing his knapsack outside with him, and placing it on the ground, when he took smoke breaks at school and accidentally bring home some extra passengers in the form of ants as a result. However they are getting in, I now know what’s been attracting them to the bathroom. Time to set some ant traps out.
We’ve been trying to get to know our boarder and spend some time with him each evening when we sit down to dinner and occasionally watch T.V. together afterwards. We’ve asked him if the food we are serving tasted good or if there is something else he might prefer. He always states that the food is good and that he likes it, but I’m not sure if he’s just being polite or if he’s being truthful. I know my cooking is
excellent pretty good, but the food we eat in North America is quite different than what he ate in South Korea. The only thing that we’ve discovered that he doesn’t really care for is asparagus.
We have also tried to ask him about what life is like in South Korea, and while we get little snippets of information here and there we haven’t heard enough to discover how different it is from life in Canada.
If there are any people from, or, who are originally from South Korea who can give me some more information on Korean culture and it’s differences from North American culture I’d appreciate it.
When we asked him about this months rent, on Tuesday, he didn’t seem to know what we were talking about. His English is getting to be fairly good so I’m sure it wasn’t a language barrier that was causing his confusion. He almost seemed to act like he didn’t think he had to pay rent yet, or again. Perhaps he called the agency that put us together the next day and did discover that he needs to pay rent each month, because we finally got the rent on Thursday evening.
The toilet paper stuff really threw us. Do we have any more surprises in store? Please tell me if I do because I’d like to either deal with them before they become an issue or before I get another nasty surprise. I now know that putting used T.P. in the waste basket is something that is commonly done in South Korea, but it was a bit of a culture shock to discover it in my own bathroom! Yuck.