So far, Korean life has been similar to life in North America, but different enough to vibrantly stimulate my learning process.
My hometown in Washington State is a village much smaller than Seoul, which makes life here exciting. I’m trying to learn the Korean language, culture and as many hanja as possible before I return to my country.
As a journalism student, my dream is to become a correspondent for an American newspaper here in Korea.
My first priority is to become fluent in the Korean language which can be difficult because so many Korean people speak English. Since English is studied at the world level, North Americans are easily able to speak their native tongue in foreign countries. Avoiding my native language is a burdensome task because speaking English is so easy.
Therefore, sometimes I need to lie about my country of origin and deny my English?speaking ability when meeting strangers.
Upon arrival in Seoul, my attention was captured by the similarities shared between Seoul and North American cities. We have abundant advertisements, fast food, churches in almost every neighborhood, tall blond?haired mannequins standing in department store windows wearing fashionable clothing and Christian evangelists preaching to sidewalk pedestrians in any North American city.
In Seoul, traditional tea houses have been replaced by coffee shops like Pascucci and Starbucks where people talk with friends. Such phenomena lead me to assume that the internationalization of industrial capitalism couldn't avoid contributing to a process of cultural imperialism.
Since we don't have many traditions in the U.S., experiencing Korean traditions is very exciting. I've learned about yoochnori, to jong bi gyeol, danjeon hohub, drinking manners, calligraphy, making kim chi and other traditions that will be fun to share with people in my hometown upon return.
In Korea, adapting to the differing social roles among women and men is relatively difficult for me. I don’t believe men have any natural authority or superiority over women. I don’t believe women should be expected to endure any circumstances they are uncomfortable with. I believe men should listen to women with respect and never try to boss them around.
Although gender discrimination certainly exists in my country, normal gender relations are much different than that of Korea. In North American families, for instance, it’s considered very conservative if the wife is the only family member who cooks meals. It’s normal for women to ask men out on dates and express their opinions openly in my country.
Especially because I support gender equality, it’s difficult to accustom myself to the passive role that’s assigned to women and the active role that men undertake in Korean culture. However, I will learn to adapt myself as time goes by. I came here to learn, not to teach.
When I return to my homeland, I will miss spicy Korean food and makkolli, which we don’t have in North America. Since my stay has been fabulously interesting, I will miss the entire experience of life in Korea, which will further motivate my return.