Monday, March 23, 2009


Some people have mentioned that it seems as though I'm always out playing as I never talk about school or studying... (gosh though, I wonder which one is more interesting...?)
Here's my account of a pretty typical school day:

I love Mondays and Wednesdays!
This morning, I woke up really early (like 6:45AM) to shower, pack up, and try to talk to whoever I could online.. then I had my first proper breakfast since my arrival at the new iCafe on the 1st floor of the dorm. It was a somewhat typical continental-style buffet breakfast with a bunch of fruit (Koreans really like to emphasize that a tomato is a fruit!), salad, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, sausages, some sort of soup, orange juice, milk, and toast with jam... all for 5,000won. Not very many people eat there for breakfast because it's only available between 7:30-9:30AM which is usually too early... they'd much rather spend their time sleeping.

Breakfast kept me awake throughout Korean Culture and Society. Ah I really like that class. The teacher makes me feel really comfortable to participate in class discussion and we talk about interesting things. Today, we compared Korean values to American. For some reason, it was difficult for me to think of American values when he posed the question. I guess it's because it's something I've been brought up with - it's natural to think that way... and I had assumed some values to be universal because they were common sense to me! Some differences that surprised me or that I thought were interesting:
- Honesty -- Americans value honesty (apparently Koreans don't??). How many times have you seen on TV the phrase "I want you to look me in the eyes and tell me the truth"?
- Collectivism -- Koreans do/buy things in view of how others would think and react, but Americans value individualism -- they don't care as much of what other people think and would much rather be unique.
- Koreans emphasize hierarchy whereas Americans merit equality.
- Americans donate a lot of money and time to charities, but Koreans don't do much for the less fortunate at all.
- Filial piety -- Koreans have an eternal obligation to take care of their parents even when they pass (ancestor worship rituals). In America, you're just considered a good person if you do.
- The most important Korean values are success + prosperity, health and long life. They would consume practically anything if you say it is good for their health.

Korean values are shaped through both Confucianism and Shamanism. Shamanism is linked to animism which believes that everything has a spirit... and that there are evil spirits and good spirits. Because of this belief, Koreans pray before EVERYTHING to wish for good fortune. Similar to the making, preparation, and laying out of food as families would do when they bai saan to their ancestors in certain Chinese religions, Korean worship also involves a whole pig's head. They also usually offer Makkolli (the traditional rice wine drink that I learned has a lot of calories in it) to the spirits, too. The prof showed us pictures of when such an elaborate occasion would come about. Directors and production staff pray before the filming of every movie or drama, wishing for success and high ratings, transit staff pray in front of their buses, wishing for safety of the drivers and a year without accidents, and medical professionals even pray in doctor's offices and hospitals, wishing for the equipment to work well and produce accurate results!!

The prof also asked this question: would you rather live a full life - date whoever you wanted, travel the world, experience a lot, but die somewhat young (like 50's) OR get an education, marry, have 2 kids and care for them and live a relatively dull life but live a looong life? Most people in the class chose the 2nd one. He said that most Koreans do choose that, too... which emphasizes their values of education, family, and long life. Which would you choose?

I had Korean language class after (sorry B, you're not allowed to attend this one unfortch). I'm so happy to be finally learning how to construct sentences. We learned how to ask where someone was going or where they are. I have to study some "place" vocabulary after I post this. OH yesterday, I wrote my first e-mail (to my professor) in Korean using the computer downstairs in the lobby! It took me around 20 minutes to write 4 sentences hah... but it was worth it because she e-mailed me back saying that it was well done and that she could tell that I study hard =)

Theeen was Marketing Management. Why can't all professors be as passionate about teaching as this professor? Enough said. Unlike Accounting and Operations Management, the local students are very friendly and aren't as shy or cliquey. Recently, we've been learning about the different ways to segment the market (such as through demographics like marital status, and psychographics like personality and lifestyle) and how to target specific customers using segment evaluation (the 3 C's Analysis: Customers, Competition, and Company). This is probably the only class that has been consistently interesting since the first week.

Dinnnerrrrrr -- we tried this tiny shack of a restaurant around 3 blocks away from campus. I have no idea what our meal was called, but it's tied as my 2nd favourite meal of the trip. In the picture on the menu, we pointed to this thing that looked like a pizza (but clearly wasn't). There's pork, cabbage, some sweet and v. mildly spicy sauce, rice cakes, and potato and it's topped with a bit of cheese, pepperoni, green peppers, and this unidentifiable white sauce. The servers cook everything in front of you in these types of restaurant... it makes me feel bad not to tip ('cause tipping isn't customary).
On the way back up the hill to our dorms, we passed by this mini stand in a car. This is a light, Korean snack that's made out of rice, I believe. It tastes like nothing. I tried it back in Vancouver and have always wondered how they made it. It scared me.

haha OK maybe not too exciting but I thought it was fascinating.

And now I'm back at the dorm listening to the Boys Over Flowers OST (official soundtrack) =) New episode is released tonight! I can't believe this drama is almost over... =( No more Gu Jun Pyoooooo.

Sidenote: Baseball and soccer seem to be the main sports Koreans love to watch right now. I'd love to watch the soccer game on April 1st between North and South Korea LIVE if I could to experience Korean pride full on!


  1. Yea I saw them making those rice cakes cracker things at H's LOUD!!!

    Oh did you get OST part II??
    DOUBLE the amount of music...
    *sigh* there is only five more episodes so sad.
    I'm still pulling for Yi Jung and Ga Eul!!!

  2. DUDEEEEEEE i just finished watching ep 22 AND I wish it was tues night! I NEEEEEEEd to see ep 23, and then I will die until next monday and tuesday

  3. medical professionals even pray in doctor's offices and hospitals, wishing for the equipment to work well and produce accurate results!!

    neat!!! :)

    and good job with the "bai san" thing, nat!!!! :D

  4. i would choose the first option.. die young(ish) with a full life. which would you choose?

    have you seen this?
    somewhat interesting... a bit conflicting in my mind, about how he feels he "saved" the girl, but your discussion of american values vs. korean values made me think of that...

    lol i cant even see what's happening in that vid (not dissing your vid skills) it's just funny how all i see is POOF! a pancake looking thing pops out...waiiit.. waiiiitt...waaaiiiittt... POOF! :P

    those different values u listed - really quite fascinating. and it makes sense once i think about it. as in, i can see that in the respective societies.