Flying with Korean Air is really nice. In coach there were individual monitors for passengers to watch movies and shows on, and drinks provided every half hour. I caught up on my Hollywood flops since I couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep in my 6 feet by 2 feet allocated space, I watched every new release: Limitless, Red Riding Hood, Sucker Punch, Rango, No Strings Attached and Battle for LA. Besides the lingering smell of gas and feet, and the many times my mom screamed in her sleep, the flight wasn’t bad. The attendants were the amazing. Also I’m pretty sure they are part time models. Which brings me to my next point, what’s great and terrible about Korea: Looks matter. No, like really matter. Your job and how you walk through life, depend on your looks. I’ll explain when we get to Korean marketing and the billboards here that would answer to law suits in the US.
It took us 13 hours to travel 13 hours into the future (eastern time), crazy! Since all of my 2 readers are in Illinois, I’ll go by central time from now on. So, I’m 14 hours into your tomorrow. I haven’t experienced the jetlag everyone warned me about. I just stayed up as long as I could the first day after landing and that seemed to catch me up. We went to two dinners right away, once with my Mom’s friends then with our family, at my 4AM and 6AM, which was hard to be excited for, but I pulled off enough basic Korean to delay certain embarrassment for now :)
You know when you’re being a little neurotic and your boyfriend/girlfriend complains and tells you to quit, no one will even notice…? Koreans will notice. Every one of my aunts and uncles pointed out my chipped fingernail polish. To the rescue, my cousin Dahee promptly offered to treat me to a manicure tomorrow. From now on I’ll just show up haggard wherever I go, and freeload off of all the concern.
I’ve noticed what seems like a paradox in the culture. There are instances where Koreans don’t give one thought to keeping up appearances. Then in other situations, ignoring the fact will get you into trouble. For example, it is completely acceptable for Korean to impale you with their umbrella accidentally and not give a quick “sorry” or “excuse me” (and no Korean would expect one) whereas, an American would offer up a sorry, automatically. At the same time, it is Korean custom to turn away while taking a sip of their drink, as a courtesy to others. But then they’ll belch or slurp up their food, bits of it falling out of their mouth while they’re talking to you and call YOU out for being sloppy when you leave your chopsticks poking out of your rice bowl (instead of placing them neatly beside it). It seems inconsistent at first but I think I’m starting to see the functionality. Knowing Koreans seriously respect their elders, I think there is simply protocol for how you behave and address elders, how you’re effecting their time…no wait, that doesn’t explain the belching. I’ll get back to you. I guess there are just somethings that have always been cool with Koreans that just aren’t in America.
Culture Shocks of the Day:
1. July-August is monsoon season in Korea and it is either sufficatingly hot and humid or raining all day everyday. Looking forward to it…
2. High-rise apartments. Everywhere. Only 20% of Korea is flat enough to build on and there are 14 Million people in Seoul alone. South Korea is the size of Illinois.
3. The bathrooms are literally bath rooms where everything is tile or plastic and the floor, sink, shelves all slighty slope to the center of the room to drain all the water you’re going to splash about, without a shower curtain.
4. They use TP instead of paper towels at the dinner table and around the house.
5. Drinking is apart of meal time. All Koreans, including my saint of a grandma, can seriously drink. Without being alcoholics. It’s just how they do.
6. Koreans stay up really late, even the responsible ones. My aunt who works as a teacher and my grandma are always up until around 2AM.
7. Bidets, every Korean home has one.
Also I am driving my aunt crazy by not showering before bedtime. She say’s it’s gross not to. But in this humidity, I’ll just sweat on my floorbed all night for nothing and have to shower again in the morning. I won’t do it!