Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Talking to my Parents and Other Things

I had a very eventful weekend. On Friday, I drove my roommate to my brother's house, which is 10 minutes away from the Detroit airport, and we stayed there for the night. Then early Saturday morning I drove her to the airport so she could go back home to Korea for winter vacation. My brother, who is an automotive engineer (among other things), said that my car isn't safe for anyone to drive because of the brakes. So, now I'm driving his old Lincoln Mark VII and my 1996 VW Jetta is at his house waiting to be repaired :(

Saturday evening I went to my mom's house and talked to her. Since we had already talked on the phone about my going to Korea, it was more like a normal visit. The only thing she had to say was that I should figure out how to deal with money in my move (her suggestion was to keep my account here and transfer money to myself once I get there) and that I should make sure I know the laws and penalties in advance. She had to study for her exam on Monday (she's in law school) so we didn't have much time together. Then I went to a friend's house to celebrate his university graduation. He, like my brother, dad, mom (until now), and my second and third boyfriends, is an engineer. I have never had any desire to be an engineer. Haha.

Sunday I went to my father's house. I had not yet talked to him and my stepmother about Korea. They seem opposed to the idea, but resigned to my decision. They tried to scare me out of going. My dad told me horror stories about how rude his Korean coworkers are and how he's been cheated and disrespected by them. He said that they made his female colleague sit in a corner in meetings even though she was the expert, and they were even reluctant to talk to him because he was American. He also said that they wasted a lot of time during business dealings eating and drinking, and then made him pay. My stepmother brought up the example of the boy who was caned for doing graffiti in another Asian country recently. Also, the story of the English teacher who was raped and killed by one of her students was thrown around, not to mention the group of English teachers who were abandoned by the company that brought them to Korea (or was it Japan?) and were stranded with no money, place to live, or plane home.

Here are my thoughts on all of the negative things about Korea and Koreans: there are good and bad people everywhere. There is crime in every big city; Seoul is just like New York or L.A.. There are always cultural misunderstandings in business dealings, and while Korean society is more chauvinistic and xenophobic than American society, it will be much more accepting of me than some other cultures, like in Saudi Arabia. Yes, I am a very young girl going to a harsh, unfamiliar place, and there will be a lot of people just waiting to take advantage of me. I know that. I will deal with it accordingly. I'm not stupid or blind. I don't trust anyone. I have people there to help me with the things I can't handle myself and people here to teach me how to handle daily life before I even get on a plane. Yes, I am really scared. No, I will not change my mind. I'm going. I'm not going to get myself killed, robbed, raped, or kidnapped. Millions of people have dropped their whole lives to go live in a completely unfamiliar place before and been successful, or at least okay. I'll be fine. Don't worry about me, okay? I can take care of myself and when I can't, I have learned to ask for help.

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