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Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Know You See Me

I have been in Korea for about 12 days, and so far I love it. I could definitely go for some cooler weather, but I'm sure that will come soon enough.  

I know it's only been a few days, but there is something I am having a hard time adjusting to: 
The Stares. 

When I go out, people stare at me. Let me clarify: Not everyone does, and I know that not everyone that does is doing it in a mean way. Most of the time I think they are just curious. In fact, it's usually people in the older generations and really young children that I find staring at me. 

At one restaurant we went to a toddler turned all the way around in her highchair and stared at me for a good five minutes. At first it was really funny, but then I started to feel like I had two heads. Every time I smiled and waved her eyes just got real big and her mouth dropped open. 

 Before I moved here I had friends telling me that I should expect this because of my hair and eye color, so I was trying to prepare. I knew this was going to to happen, but I don't think you really know what to expect until you're actually in the situation. And honestly, it's a little disconcerting. 

So I have two options to chose from
1. I could let this bother me and take offense 
2. Accept that I will, at times, get weird looks and move on with my life

Of course, I am choosing route two. Getting strange looks is going to happen, and maybe some people will talk about me (but I don't know Korean so I really will have no idea). But I really can't let this uncomfortable fact ruin my time here in Korea. What I can do is make sure my actions show that I am not some crazy foreigner with no respect for local customs and practices. I can make sure that when people stare- they will see something positive. I just have to remember that no matter what country I am in- people are going to watch, and that is okay. 

{image via

So what if at times I am being looked at? Just because I am uncomfortable doesn't mean I can't have a good time. This is the start of a very good adventure. If I was 100% comfortable- it wouldn't be an adventure. 

What do you think? Have you ever had a similar experience? What did you do to overcome it? 


  1. Growing up in Malaysia, my family got stared at all the time. I hardly even noticed it because it just seemed so normal. Plus, staring isn't considered rude there. When my husband visited the first time he was like, 'Rachel, everybody is staring at you guys...." and I was like, "Really? Oh yeah, I didn't notice." :P
    And now that I'm in the U.S., sometimes I err a little too much on the side of being completely comfortable with staring at someone who is doing something interesting or dressed interestingly and he'll have to nudge me, "Stop staring!" I forget that you're not supposed to do that here. haha!
    I think you've definitely chosen the best route to handle the staring!

    1. Rachel, Thanks for leaving your comment. I hope I get to the point of not noticing the staring sometime soon. I always feel like I have done something wrong.

  2. So, so true! And what a good way to cope with it (especially since it's a bit strange). My husband is a really pasty ginger so he got all sorts of stares in Korea. He also got treated like a total rockstar by any kid--they always wanted to high five him :) I think getting into it and having fun--smiling back to the people staring, etc.--makes it a much more positive experience on both sides. Good luck!

    1. Hahahaha that story about your husband is hilarious! I wish people wanted to treat me like a rock star. I have been told I look like a doll... so I guess that's a good thing. Thanks for your comment and your support!

  3. Haha, I remember this process. At first kind of funny, then annoying. Good thing you're already making the choice to accept and move on. I remember sometimes still being annoyed after I'd been abroad a while (more so when people tried to take pictures of me), but it makes the time a lot more enjoyable when you can roll with it and let it roll off your shoulders too. :) My friend and I got to the point that when people would point at us and shout "foreigner" in Chinese, we'd say, "Chinese person" back at them. They always laughed, so I think it was an alright way to deal with the situation. lol

    1. I have heard stories from some of my friends that went to China and they were always getting their picture taken. One of my friends has person grab her baby from her and take a picture. Thanks for sharing your story!


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- Alex