Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Culture learning curve

I know that no matter how hard I would try I would never completely fit in in Korea. I think there are many values that I share with the Korean people, but the way their society works is so different from what I am used in the U.S.A. It's hard for me to explain in a short blog entry. A good place to witness those differences is on the subway. I went into Seoul for the first time on this trip today. I took the subway to meet a friend and then to go to a movie. To get a good sampling of Korean society, riding the subway is an excellent way to do that. It can also be a very frustrating experience as people push to get to the train or are completely oblivious to you, your umbrella or bags. The train is often full of young lovebirds who are constantly preening each other. Tonight on my short ride, I saw them fixing each other's clothes, playing with each other's hair and staring at each other's reflection. Sometimes, like tonight, it takes a lot of patience to ride the subway.

However, when you get to know Koreans they are very wonderful friends. Some of the best that I have ever had. They make me feel so special because they are always happy to see me, are caring, generous and kind.

I was able to meet with several former students today, including some from my "housewives" class. We went out for a really nice lunch and had a good conversation about USA, Korea, our lives and so forth. When the group of six started to speak Korea, I just leaned back and listened. It's fun to listen to Koreans talk because they will throw in a random English word. Some of the random English words today in a stream of Korean were credit card, music video and scientific.

Unfortunately, it is really hard to capture Koreans for what they are, but I did take some pictures of office workers playing basketball terribly today in their shiny gray suits (Korean men appear to love very shiny gray suits).

I am also trying to get back in the habit of using my few Korean words to communicate thanks and hello. The harder thing to remember is to hand things to people in the polite, proper Korean way, which is with one hand on the other arm's upper portion. The same goes for handshaking and pouring beverages.

I have not been able to take as many pictures as I would like to so far because of the horrible weather. It rained rather heavily for most of yesterday.Today, it was sunny in the late morning for about an hour and was rainy, cold and really windy the rest of the day. As I was looking for an office tower in the financial district where my friend works, my umbrella flipped inside out four times! Not exactly photo-taking weather.

Starting Thursday, the weather is supposed to get warmer and sunnier. I can't wait because I am anxious to take more photos and not to have my options limited so much by the weather.

(Silly thing. I am keeping track of how many white people I see. So far I have seen three of us in two days.)

1 comment:

jess unavailable said...

"…korean men in shiny gray suits playing basketball" lol.

—hey, no harm/no foul on counting white people, i'd probably be accidentally doing the same.

any shopping happening yet? im curious to see what you find while being immersed in the culture there.