The water here isn't potable without being boiled or treated first. When we first moved here we purchased a pack of six 2 liter bottles each week. In an effort to save money, I started boiling drinking water for us. It was very time consuming to boil enough water for two people and a dog. I can't imagine boiling it for an entire family. Something that, according to a friend, is fairly common. Thankfully, we were able to rent a water machine that filters water for us.
In addition to not being potable, hot water isn't available with the turn of a spigot. For hot water, we push a button on the thermostat and the water will heart. It doesn't take long, maybe 5 minutes or so. However, this means when you take a shower in the winter, the hear turns off until you signal for the thermostat to stop heating the water.
In the winter time, out bathroom is freezing because we must leave the window open to prevent mold. There is no other ventilation and because of the bathroom's design, the entire room gets wet when we shower. Likewise, the kitchen window stays cracked because that's how case, cable and other things are run into the house.
Some smaller, random things come to mind, like food safety and hygiene. Many restaurants don't have soap or towels. I've seen a waitress drink from a soup ladle and then return it to the pot.
As I've mentioned in a previous post, I've come to be more grateful for the smaller, everyday, blessings in life and I see God's hand in them. This past Christmas I was overjoyed to receive a box of American toiletries. The Christmas before, if they same person had given me toothpaste and deodorant, I would have believed them crazy or thought that they didn't care enough to purchase a more personal gift. Not that you can get more personal that armpits and tongues.
Slowly, I've learned to be more grateful for what God has given me and for where he has allowed me to call my home. I've never been more thankful that I was born an American. ( I realize the environment and living conditions in Korea are not the worst in the world and that saddens me.) I still think that as a country we've made some bad decisions and have wandered off the path. But now, I truly know how blessed we are and I hope we are brave enough to hold on to it.