I chose to write about Korea because that’s where I spent the longest time in my life and hugely influenced my early stage of my life(but not the very first stage). To encompass all the experiences I had there, Korea has been closest and most distant country and culture for me.
I was born in Palo Alto, CA and moved to Korea with my family when I was five years old in cold winter. Living in warm and sunny California for five years, I got a terrible cold as soon as I arrived Korea and the cold last several years.It was also not easy start because I didn’t know how to speak Korean at that time. And eating Korean food all time was challenging as I’m not good at eating spicy food( I still struggle with spicy and hot foods). I wanted PBJ and cereal for my breakfast but my grandma was not happy about her granddaughter was so americanized in eating preference. While Palo Alto has variety of races and cultures, it was culture shock to me that everybody looks relatively similar.
So it wasn’t good beginning. It took me several years to understand and conform to the life style and culture of the country.
After I started to speak Korean well enough , the tight competition within the country was unavoidable. I had to go to “cram school” to catch up school and get good grades since I was in middle school. This school and cram school life continued till the end of high school. In retrospect, it is mysterious how I had endured this life for almost six years. Especially, during the last high school year, I had to stay at the school from 7:30 AM to 12:00AM every weekday to prepare College Entrance Exam in that year. And the chance students can take the exam every year is once a year. ONCE a Year. Unluckily, my test result was kind of lower than my expectation.
Although I have close families and loyal friends back in Korea whom I still keep in touch and miss a lot, the time in Korea was mostly bitter to me.
Since I started school in Minnesota, I have visited Korea once a year mostly in winter to avoid freezing to death winter in Minnesota for about three weeks. Unlike my past, I have started to view Korea more as a tourist and found out there are a lot of charms that I was too busy to recognize before. It’s a small country with a lot of beautiful mountains, scenic beaches, hard working people, great public transportation and fast changing &dynamic city. Recently, the corrupted (previous) Korean president was kicked out by unanimous votes from judges and I believe it became possible because of Koreans’ passions and cohesive communities. Most of all, this hard working attitude stimulated this country from devastatingly poor to one of the richest Asian countries.
In this blog, I would like to post some pictures and write some excerpts that I found unique about Korea as well as my travel experience in different parts of the world. More things to come!