#6 - Just to clarify.
This morning I was reading some of my previous entries and I got the feeling that maybe I was being a little bit too cynical towards some of the cultural aspects of my host country, which I don’t like to sound I like I am being. I wondered why I had been writing in a certain style and I couldn’t really figure it out. I guess my goal is to make YOU laugh as much as possible when you read this and to try and bring some lightheartedness to the experience of living abroad. The truth of the matter is that this is my third experience living abroad and no matter where I go, I always find that there is no place like home. What I mean by that is that living abroad is different than living at home, wherever that may be. For me, it’s California, and California and South Korea are not all that similar to one another. Because of that, I find a lot of things unusual about this place and those things are what inspire the posts on this blog.
Living abroad is always a new and exciting experience that is full of exciting, eye-opening, and educational experiences. It’s also always an experience that is full of cultural differences that can seem scary, strange, uncomfortable, confusing, and sometimes angering. That’s why they call it “culture shock.” Regardless, in my own experience, living abroad has definitely opened my mind to another way of life that exists all over the place. It’s not good or bad, it’s just another way. In the United States we have “a way” of doing things and believe me, many people think our “way” is shallow, abusive, and completely nuts. But I don’t, because the U.S. is my home and I see our “way” as just being normal - for the most part. When in my teenage years I may have viewed some of the customs in Asia as downright disgusting, weird, or stupid, I now view those things as just another way that things are done and lives are lived. The way things are done over here, they’re not good, they’re not bad, they’re just the way things are done over here. The experience of living abroad erases many of our judgement’s about another culture and in turn allows each of us to be a little or a lot more accepting of everyone that we encounter in our everyday lives.
So, although it may seem as if I am nitpicking at every little minor difference I encounter in Korea in order to release my frustrations on life, I’m not. I just want to let you in on the way things are done here and try to make you laugh in the process because let’s be honest, for me, there are a lot of things that I experience here that strike me as unusual. And why wouldn’t they? I didn’t grow up here and I’m not really used to the differences yet. When I go out to eat and I have to sit on the floor, cross-legged, I do sometimes think “hmmmm, there are half a dozen perfectly good tables with perfectly good chairs just 10 feet away. Why don’t we sit there…?” Because sitting on the floor is more comfortable? I don’t know. I don’t think so. But that’s just the way that many Koreans eat at home and that’s the way many Korean’s eat when they go to restaurants. The important thing for me is to always keep an open mind and to constantly remind myself that I am a guest in this country. So respect! I really do enjoy myself here, the people are friendly, the cities are safe and clean, and there is a lot of good fun to be had. It’s a beautiful place in many ways.
So with that all settled up let me get back to trying to make you chuckle. Savvy?