Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cultural Immunity?

So, being that it's the second year for me here, I've noticed that certain things about being here don't phase me anymore. Stuff that last year would have left me jaw-dropped and wide-eyed. Now it's become part of the landscape that I hardly notice. Here are some examples:
-When I see a student or coworker on the street, they bow, rather than wave.
-People bump into me all the time without saying "excuse me" (or a Korean version of that)
-There are routinely dancing girls with balloons in a store-front, to signify an opening.
-Quite a few people on the street wear the SARS face-mask. Remember that from pictures back in the early 90s when it was a problem in China and Toronto? Well, no fear, SARS isn't here- it's for people who have respiratory problems or are sick.
-In the grocery store, each counter (meat, vegetable, seafood, etc...) has a yelling-guy who advertises the specials of the day. Because they're all yelling into microphones non-stop simultaneously, it really creates a relaxing shopping experience.
-I have to order a "Banilla Latte" instead of a "Vanilla Latte" at Starbucks because Koreans don't have the letter "v" sound.
Finally, I was in "HomePlus" the other day (a store like Target, but not nearly as cool) and I saw a father crouched down in front of his 2 year old son holding a bottle for him to pee in. Yep, right in the home and garden aisle. Why would you take the escalator all the way to the ground floor when you can simply pee in a water bottle? Actually, this one did sort of catch me off guard, complete with a double-take and "grossed-out face".
I want to remember these things. Because when Korea is a distant memory for me, I want to look back and laugh at all the things that I considered "normal" while I was here.


Anonymous Heidi said...

That reminds me of something I witnessed here on the streets of Milwaukee the other day. I was walking down the street, and it took me a minute to comprehend what I was seeing. The rear hatch of a station wagon was up, and inside, there was a crying boy (probably around 3 years old?) sitting on a potty. Yes, taking a poo in the middle of a cold, windy, busy street with people walking and driving by! The mom was upset with the boy for some reason, and I'm thinking, "You're making your poor kid take a crap in the cold in front of the world, and YOU'RE getting angry?" Is this like the latest parenting trend? To drive around with a potty in the back of your vehicle? Anyways, just thought I'd reassure you that strange parent/potty issues aren't just happening in Seoul. They are happening right here in Milwaukee, too. :)

1:39 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Maybe it's a new trend. god, I mean, if I were the kid I'd just crap myself the next time so I wouldn't have to suffer through that. Real smart potty-training, mom!

8:41 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Wait, you mean you DON'T pee in a bottle when you're shopping?? Does that make me weird....?????

7:57 AM  
Anonymous AJ said...

hi shannon! i remember being weirded out by the kids in china with the split pants. i was like, how do they know to go outside, and not on the store floor or something? unlike good ol' milwaukee, i haven't seen any peeing kids in minneapolis. however a friend of mine did witness a naked 5 year old in target. i wanted to ask you about the sars masks? is the pollution in korea as bad as in china? i remember seeing a lot of people in China, particularly bikers, wearing masks and it was because the pollution was so nasty. i'm dying to talk to you- email me!

11:04 PM  

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