Friday, July 1, 2011

Culture (shock)

Yesterday was actually quite tiring despite waking up late. I quickly ate leftovers from the Vietnamese I had the day before and got ready for class.

In my Korean Studies class, we learned about Korean culture and perhaps the origins of why Koreans do certain things. The professor had worked for a company that asked him to help its workers understand why Koreans are the way they are. So it really highlighted the differences between Koreans and other cultures. He argued that perhaps more than any other culture, Koreans are sensitive to age and language. The language is so nuanced that you have to speak a certain way to people of different ages.

Also, there was the idea of "Confucian by day, shaman by night." Koreans are very formal and orderly based on Confucian principles. They essentially out Confucianed the Chinese when interpreting the text. Anyways, although the ideals of Confucianism and shamanism seem to conflict, they reside together in Korean culture together easily. It's common to see someone super business-y by day and then at night, turn into a completely different person: drunk and crazy. And this is normal for Koreans.

In my language class, people keep dropping down to my level so it makes me feel even less competent. ㅜㅜ But I guess it should help me get better. The class is super stressful as it moves fast and often I find that I have to play catch up. I know I'm not the only one, but the ones that have to do this are definitely the minority.

After class, we went to go eat. It took a while as we waited for groups of people but we finally made it to a BBQ place. Nima took us there because he's familiar with the area and he even had us take a short trip on the bus. Unfortunately, he couldn't stick around to eat with us. I'll show you our food. The meat here was cheap and amazing.

 Here it looks like...pork. I'm actually not sure. All our meats were either pork or beef.

 Hi Sara! We were having camera wars at dinner. BUT, you can see the girl behind her is the restaurant. =(

 Thick pork belly! My favorite. This was my third time having it since I've been here. -_-

After eating, we went to an arcade nearby and basically played DDR the whole time. The arcades are pretty similar to those back in the US, except that there seem to be a lot more intense people...

 Korean/Japanese DDR.

A shot of the arcade. I guess we weren't supposed to take pictures...oops.

After sweating a lot, everyone wanted to go drink. Here, I'll have you know that drinking culture is a lot different in Korea. First, the legal drinking age is "19." The Korean age system is weird, but for drinking, it's based on the year you were born. This year, anyone born in 1992 or older can drink. So...that's me (I got carded at the first place we went to and passed so I guess 1992 works). Also, you don't have to go far to find alcohol. There are literally bars on every block and restaurants serve as well.

I watch what I drink, so I didn't have much at all, but it seems that the people here go crazy. With the freedom to drink, that's all they do. I can't say getting drunk, throwing up, and blacking out is the best way to spend your time abroad, but it's quite common here. We ended up going to a couple different places. One place has little rooms where you and your party can hang out and eat and drink. It was really nice. Then, we went to a bar where since we ordered so much food and alcohol that they started giving us stuff for free. Hurrah!

We walked back and everyone seemed to have controlled their alcohol intake despite the large amounts that were ordered. I guess we had some heavy drinkers with us. As we were walking back, the group seemed so hyper and walked really fast, leaving Bernard and me behind. Along the way, Bernard agreed to help me with my Korean so we only spoke Korean on the way back. Of course it was difficult, but it's the only way I'll learn.

I fell asleep super late and had to wake up early for cooking today. I'll talk more about that tomorrow! Off to do laundry... =(

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