My vs. Our

My last trip to Korea I had a friend explain to me why I can’t introduce family as “my mom, my dad, etc.” He said they use “our mom, our brother, etc.” I thought this really interesting and completely in contrast with the US.

I can’t speak Korean, but in learning the few phrases I have, I’ve already noticed a change in the mindset of Korea vs. US. In Korea, and probably most of Asia, the idea within the family is “OUR”, whereas in America, everything is “MY”. In Korea, within the family, everything is shared; house, money, food, child raising, parent caretaking. And it spills over into friendships; paying for meals, bringing back gifts from trips. Even something so simple as grabbing an extra coffee for coworkers in the morning regardless of whether or not you’ve asked. It’s IN THE CULTURE to think of others. I really love this. I find myself saying “my” and “mine” so often, and I see how it’s led me to be stingy with my money and possessions. It’s hard for me to freely give because I’m always looking out for #1. I wonder how our society might benefit from letting go of a possessive attitude to a shared attitude. I mean, it’s things…stuff, for cryin’ out loud.

I’m going to watch you watch me watch you watch me….

There are many ways the Chinese respond to seeing a foreigner like myself. You’ll most likely find yourself in a staring contest, to which I’ve become very good at, and intimidating as well. You have your ever-so-innocent laughing and pointing children yelling “Laowai, Mama, Laowaii!!” (“Laowai” means foreigner) It is for some as though an alien life force has landed among them and their jaw seems to hit the floor. (Can you blame them??? haha nah nah jk jk jk!!!) They might even walk a little closer to you to get a better look as though trying to see your pore size, unable to function any other part of their body amidst mind-boggling flabbergastion. (I think I just made that word up.) Most fumble for their phone in efforts to snap a pic to capture this moment as proof that people like me really do exist “and they’re here among us. Look!” I get random sentences in English like “How are you? I’m fine! hahaha” or “I’m going to the zoo today. hahahaha” The unfortunate part for them is that their accent jacks-up the sentence so badly it usually doesn’t register with me until they’re 10 meters behind me already. The funniest ones have been while I’m running or walking and the man (or woman) on the moped is staring so hard that as his eyes fixate on me and his path continues, he’s staring in the completely opposite direction he’s traveling, starts to veer into the oncoming traffic and almost dies. (or man walks into pole) This might be flattering anywhere else, but here, I’m no superstar or hot girl, just a phenomenon they’ve only seen on TV. Today, however, I had a little girl of about 10 yrs old, who was sitting in front of me at the coffee shop, turn to me and ask what time it was. How endearing! That takes guts!!! She was cute and I politely replied with a smile, “It’s 1:50.” I hope her mom was proud of her.

Today was my fasting-from-computer-and-apartment day. I woke up (30 min after alarm went off but still enough time to drink a cup of coffee and do my devos), worked out (clear day and not too chilly, perfect!), left the apartment (feeling like Amelia Earhart in my new black leather jacket with red scarf), went to church (to meet with churchmates AFTER their service for a small kine Bible study and encouragement), walked the entire city (with blisters to prove it), ate too much (I found a coffee shop AND a Subway! What??!!!), met another foreigner from London (who seems to hate it here), came home (and almost witnessed a death when the entire bus flew to the front b/c the driver slammed on his breaks for a pedestrian…one of these days I’m gong to video a ride to the store so you can have an idea of the madness that ensues on the roads here), read a book, and ate more sweets (that stupid chocolate cake is still lyin’ around here!)

Not a lot of deep thoughts, just a great day of people watching and watching people watch me.