Thursday, April 23, 2009

Accustomed to the Customs

To those of you who are still reading my blog, I thank you and feel like just telling you about how my "Culture Shock" comes and goes each day of the week. First of all, I must say that I have had no outwardly negative experience from any particular Korean. By saying so, I mean that I have heard of stories of foreigners being yelled at, called out, and accused personally of their native government's discretions. This, I also must say has made me happy, but also somewhat surprised. If anyone looks different in this country, it's this guy right here. Me. Too tall, too big, too bald to even try to fit in. I guess I never tried and that may be my secret. Ironically,(and I absolutely love using that word whenever necessary), although being the most ridiculous looking foreigner (and I've had laughs and gawks), the Korean people love me. And I them. I never look at myself as superior to them because of my heritage; and I never let them look at me as inferior due to theirs. Period (as my Dad would say). That may be the difference. I think my curiosity toward their culture and respect for their formalities wins me with them Once they realize that I have respect toward them, that I follow the customs, and I at least try to use my basic Korean ability of speaking to them, they give in. I love it. It's not hard at all. And some of my special family members have always told me to just be "myself", and to be "genuine." Well it's working.

Bowing; as Americans, we all think of bowing as such an Asian idealogy. Well, we're right. It means respect. Respect for the person you are saying "hello" to, the person that is giving you Starbucks coffee for 5,ooo Won, and most especially to the person that is your superior (Older or your boss for example). I actually love it. I am used to it now after my very interesting 5 months over here. Bowing comes in many forms over here. The simplest bow is just a head nod, like the ones I get from 60 year old men who have never seen a bald-headed six foot man. Or, the way I bow to the girl at Dunkin' Donuts for making my coffee taste so good. My favorite bow is the one I get from my Korean banker. He stands up, looks down, puts both hands at his sides, bows down to his waist, and thanks me for my service. I do the same, except I fuck it up all the time by bowing and then doing the head bow. What the hell am I

In conclusion, yes, I am going to bow unkowingly to even Robbie at CITGO in West Islip when I get

Hand Gestures
When you give something to anybody over here you give it with your right hand, and tuck the left hand into your right "elbow armpit". It's become natural to me now, and yet when I find I'm doing without thought I get a little freaked out. What will people think of me back home when I do that to them????

To boot, when you recieve something, you're supposed to take it with both hands and bow (bowing type specified by above details). Pretty interesting. Pretty cool. Pretty much a cultural differentiality that I thank God that I have the opportunity to invest and explore. Peace and love from Seoul.


DAD said...


Chris said...

Thanks Dad,miss the cooking with you and the vodka ginsengs. I'm gonna have a lot of stories for you when I get home..Trust me. Thanks so much for all the comments. It seems you are my biggest fan. I'm proud of that. When the best have an interest in what you do, it makes you wanna do, if only my other family members could correspond so well I'd be the happiest Meigook (American) in all of