Cultural Shock

Cultural Shock The day was finally here. It was November 11, 1990, the day that our family was to go to Land Of Liberty. I heard so many different things about this country called United States of America and I was warned that it would be nothing youve expected. The plane ride did not seem as long as it was; partly because I was lost in my own thoughts with hopes and anxiety. I thought about what I will become in this massive country I was headed and how soon I will adapt to this new culture and people.

Every bits of hope I had faded as we drove to our new house after the plane landed. All I saw was open space and emptiness; something I did not expect or was prepared for. I lived in urban part of Korea all my 9 years of life and I was never aware that there could be any place as empty as I was now. I was a bit relieved when we reached our 2 floors, 6 rooms house in Northbrook. It was like a castle to me.

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My father told me that this house cost as much as the little 1 bathroom, 3 rooms apartment we had in Korea. As I was getting used to the castle we have just bought, the emptiness filled my heart again. I looked outside and saw houses across the street. For a week, I thought those houses were stores. Living in Korea, everywhere you look out, there are myriad number of stores everywhere. I could not get used to this suburban life that nobody ever warned me about. My next cultural shock came when I attended my uncles Thanksgiving dinner.

For the first time, I encountered what seemed like a gigantic chicken: turkey. There were many other foods besides the turkey, but overall, I was overwhelmed by the abundance of food at such low price. I began to understand why there are so many cases of obesity in America. I couldnt escape the abundance of food either. I gained so much weight as I got used to American food.

I got so chubby to a point where my relatives did not recognize me when they came to visit us from Korea. My biggest problem in getting used to this culture was the people. I was astounded when I first entered 4th grade. It was so different from what I was used to. I couldnt decide which system was better.

In Korea, the school system is very rigid. From first grade, kids have to sit in chairs that they cannot move out of. There is no feedback from the students whatsoever. Its always the teacher teaching and students answering hardly ever. Also teachers would hit the students if they did something they werent suppose to and even for bad grades.

It was nothing like that here. Our class set on the carpeted floor to just talk and for the teacher to read us stories. The teacher always asked for our feedback. The teacher would not even yell at her students no matter what the situation was. Another strange this was, when a student found another way of doing a math problem, the teacher complimented him whereas in Korea, if a student did a math problem another way, the teacher would yell at him and tell him to do it the conventional ways.

Both systems have their drawbacks. I noticed in America there are so many people that are insane but on the other hand they also have so many people that can innovate and create such great ideas. With their more free and loose structure, success is up to the people who want it. In Korea, not many people drop out of school, but there arent too many people who have creative minds. Everyone seems to be the same and know the same stuff that everyone else knows. Another difference in two education system is in America, they ask why and how, but in Korea, they ask what.

America is more concerned with how some things came about whereas in Korea, they only care about facts. As I think back now, the American system is much better. That is obvious through how much American education prospers. Nowadays, Korean government is working to change Korean education system more like Americans. When I think about what I went through, it seems funny to me.

Such a slight difference in cultures affected me in so many ways. Even nowadays, I can feel the cultural difference among different Koreans. I look at my parents, the first generation immigrants, then myself, what people might call 1.5 generation, and then the 2nd generation Koreans and we are all different affected by the American culture. Even the 2nd generation Koreans, who were born here, they still hold some of the Korean cultures. Geography.


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