Tag Archives: korea

California Love

1 Sep

I can’t believe it’s been almost three weeks since I’ve been home. It’s been so fun and nice seeing my family and friends. I got to see Paulina, my best friend since McKinley and my entire crew from UCR which was just the craziest weekend I’ve had in a long time. My mom has been so sweet and caring since I’ve been home, cooking my favorite Mexican food. It made me realize how much I missed tacos, enchiladas, and salsa! I had my favorite Cantonese food my first week back, with the entire family. I’ve been eating lots of cheese and avocadoes too! It’s been food heaven!

ImageI would have to say one of the best reasons to be back home is seeing Bubba, and Ella; my sister Arlene’s babies. Well not really, Ella is 6 now and Bubba is 9 but they are much bigger than how I remember them. It’s been so fun taking them places and spending lots of time with them. We’ve been taking walks, going to the park and museums. I hope to make up for lost time but I know a month isn’t enough to make up for the two years I’ve been gone. I really think children need positive role models in their life, people to look up to and to stimulate their little minds. Teaching children for the past two years has taught me just how precious children are and how important education really is. That’s one thing that might be crazy about Korea, but one of the reasons I love it, the true value and importance that Koreans put on education. In comparison, Americans don’t care, and teachers are barely starting to get the respect they deserve. It’s sad.

Either way, it’s good to be home! It was much needed! I am excited for my European adventures that lay ahead but it was time I came home.

A Korean Wedding

13 Nov

Alrighty! So, at the moment I am practically dying of a sinus infection. The weather here is so dry that my sinuses can’t handle it and even after a week of anti-biotics and a shot, I am still no closer to getting better. I don’t know how the fifteen pills a day regimen didn’t help but maybe our drugs in the United States are just that much stronger.

So, I am sick, I have my GRE in five days and am not nearly prepared enough and to top it off, I had to go to a Korean wedding yesterday.

I’ve been here three months, and this is already my second wedding! What?!

I’ve been to more weddings in Korea than I have in my entire life in the U.S.

Even though, I genuinely didn’t want to go and was sick, my co-worker assured me that attending the first co-worker’s wedding and not the second’s would have been rude.

The first wedding I went to was about two months ago, and back then it was new, it was exciting, I was intrigued. BUT, this time it was totally different. I was bored, uncomfortable, and I honestly felt kind of dumb.

I’m sure being ill didn’t help, but Korean weddings are honestly just not very fun.

You go to a big hall, or church, or building, the first thing you do is pay for your attendance. Well, technically you are giving the happy couple a gift but you basically grab an envelope, put however much money you want into it, give it to the man at a table at the entrance and then you get a food ticket. Essentially, you’re paying for your meal while also giving them a gift.

The second thing you do is go to see the bride, who is sitting alone in a beautiful room surrounded by lights, white flowers, white vases, white everything, and you take pictures with her. It’s very systematic, you take a picture, you leave, the next person goes, and so on. All the while, the bride is sitting there for well over an hour smiling, nodding, and taking pictures with people she’s probably only met one time in her life.

Once that is over, the ceremony can begin, it’s not the traditional Westen-style wedding where the groom is at the front and the wedding song begins and the bride walks down the aisle and the groom sees her for the first time in her dress. Nope! The groom walks in first, then the parents, and then the bride, it’s like a train. haha I guess that is the only way I can put it. It’s not as romantic to me for some reason, the groom seeing the bride, them standing in place at the back of the room and trying to make it look like a Westernized wedding but it’s not really.

The ceremony lasts for about 20-30 minutes, and since I’m not fluent in Korean, I have no idea what is going on, I just doze off or stare at my phone. Not to mention, everyone is talking! I’m use to silence during the exchanging of the vows, but everyone is just chattering away, laughing, pretending like it’s just another day. I thought it was rude but, then again their technically was no exchanging of vows, the pastor talked and that was it. No kiss, no hug, no ring exchange, NOTHING!

Once that’s over, it’s time for more pictures. First, their is a picture of the bride and groom with their entire family in the background. Second, comes the “friends” pictures, where all the husband’s friends stand behind him, and all the bride’s friends stand behind her, apparently the larger the group, the more successful in life and marriage the couple will be. I think the sentiment is nice, but at this point, I’m hungry, in pain from my sinuses, grumpy, and tired of not understanding what is going on.

Finally, we can eat! We head downstairs and my co-workers and I sit at a long table. I sit next to the oldest and most religious teacher, and on the other side my favorite teacher who I love and doesn’t even teach at my school anymore because she’s pregnant. Across is the other older teacher, so already I’m like great, this is going to be terrible.

 But then I notice something that lifts my spirits, SOJU! Even though I’m sick, I’m thinking one soju might lighten my spirits a little bit but for some reason, no one is drinking the soju in the middle of the table. I’m staring at it, wishing I weren’t sick, wishing my co-workers would make themselves a drink but they don’t and I’m stuck. I decided since I am sick it’s best not to indulge in one measily drink, and I definitely don’t want to be the only one drinking at the table.

The first few courses are brought to the table, and the last few are buffet style which i didn’t really understand but at this point I didn’t care, I just wanted to eat. The soup was great, just what I needed, spicy shrimp not so much. Noodles were ok, bulgogi was ok, overall it was just OK.

All the teachers speaking in Korean just sucked, I couldn’t keep up, and was to sick to smile and pretend to be happy even though I just wanted to go home.

After a pretty lame $40 dinner, an American would want some drinks and some dancing, but not Koreans! Their is no reception, no party, no celebration, everyone just eats and goes home, the only time you get to be with the bride is for five seconds during the picture at the beginning of the whole thing. I thought the point of the wedding was to celebrate it with all of the people you love and care about, and to want those people to hear the special vows to the person you plan to spend your life with.

Is this really what the “sacred” institution of marriage is all about?

Another Day, Another House Wife

3 Nov

Teaching is amazing, it’s a truly great feeling. Seeing the smiling faces on the children every morning, seeing their cute little outfits, but I especially love their attempts to say “good morning Michelle teacher” because their Korean accent always sneaks in. Day after day, I slowly began to notice something though; every single child was being dropped off by their mother. Wow, I thought to myself.

There are a few rare occasions when I would see the grandfather and grandmother drop off the kiddies but eighty percent of the time, it’s their mothers. They are usually dressed to the tee, looking ready for a long day out on the town. Some of the moms carpool, some walk together in groups to drop the little Koreans off but it’s always the mothers, always beautiful, and they are usually always house wives.

At times, I think to myself that could be me that could be the life I could be living. But then I think again, and I realize that could never be me. I would never trade my life right now for their lives.

God willing, the mothers of my students are doing something besides shopping, eating and gossiping with friends. Hopefully, they are being active members in society and making a well-deserved contribution to Seoul society but more than likely they aren’t.

Many Korean women are raised to be house wives, focusing their attention on keeping the men in their life happy and healthy with little focus on their wants and needs. In many women’s minds as long as there is bread on the table and their husband comes home at a reasonable time, that is suffice for them, but not for me, never for me.

I want more; I deserve more and so do women all across man-centric Seoul and Asia for that matter. Unfortunately gender inequality is just another fact of life in Korean culture, another accepted norm by women across the country.

Yet, statistics show many women in Korea do work BUT one must always look at the socio-economic background of these women, many come from lower class families and therefore work to help maintain the family. Many of the married women in Seoul tend to come from the “high” society or from more respected Korean families.

I work and live in Songpa-gu, the wealthiest district in Seoul, and every single one of my Korean, women co-workers lives in other areas in Seoul, more inexpensive areas, less ritzy areas. Songpa is considered an area of happy families, and even happier husbands, considering most work in downtown Seoul and away from their families. After all, in Korean culture, it is normal to work sixty-hour work weeks at the very least, let’s not forget to mention, Korean’s largest company, its pride and joy, Samsung has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. So, something is going on here, what exactly happens behind closed doors? Well…one can only assume.