Han demonstrates the Aussie way of carrying babies…
While we were in Sydney last month I stopped by Pitt Street Mall with Sophie and Alice to see my brother busking.
You can see the interview I did with him here:
Reverse culture shock is such an interesting thing. People who have never had the experience of living in another country and then going back to their own country probably can’t understand the full extent of how shocking it can be. I had no idea how strange it would be. In some ways it can be more shocking than going to another country. You are prepared for cultural differences in another country but in your own country you expect to fit in, and then when you realise how much you’ve changed it brings up conflicted feelings about identity. As the saying (and book title) goes “You can’t go home again” because something has altered your perception and the home that you once knew doesn’t exist anymore.
Things I struggled with in Australia were the greetings and not knowing what to do. I felt anxiety that I had never felt before. I was uncomfortable meeting new people and how to interact with them. The extremes of customer service also bought on another level of anxiety because I just didn’t know what to expect because it could be either extreme or just somewhere in the middle.
In Korea I know foreigners can have trouble with the way people can push and bump in crowded cities and view that as rude, but I’ve realised in Korea it’s not personal, it’s done with blank faces and it’s just people trying to get through their day in a crowded city. In Australia, it’s so personal! You bump into someone and you don’t know what you may get. The person can smile and say, “No worries” or you can be given a look as if you’ve just murdered their whole family because they are so offended that you accidentally bumped into them.
In Korea there is more of an acceptance of mothers and babies in public places. There are many older women that are happy to help out mothers and easily chat with them or even hold your baby while you do something. It’s also normal to bring babies everywhere, especially restaurants, and be out late with them. Because I was with Sophie and Alice while in Sydney and we were out doing things in Sydney, I witnessed the way that she was treated because she is a mother. It was disturbing to me how much she was dismissed and treated as if she was taking up precious space because she had a child with her. Also because we sometimes switched who had Alice or the pram, it would have sometimes appeared that I was the mother and I felt those looks and disapproval directed to me. At one point I had hold of the (pretty small and lightweight pram/stroller) and was trying to get a hold of Alice who starting to run just out of my reach in a shopping centre. A business woman in her 50’s or 60’s had to side step around the pram as I frantically tried to grab a 2 year old, and she did so with the nastiest look on her face and a very audible sigh and eye roll. Oh I’m sorry that you had to go sideways ONE STEP that took ONE SECOND. I was incredibly shocked at how easily people showed their displeasure to strangers. I can see how a more community orientated society has a lot of benefits for mothers in Korea. You also see many of the grandparents looking after the children in Korea too and it’s normal to be out in public with young children. I also see a lot less public tantrums from children in Korea too.
Some great things about Australia, in particular Sydney, was the multiculturalism and the access to lots of different food! Ironically it’s easier to get authentic Asian food (other than Korean) in Australia than it is in Korea. While it’s definitely getting better in Korea, it’s still normal for foreign food to be made by Koreans and be extremely adjusted for Korean tastes. In Sydney, in Thai town, we had $4 boat noodle soup with Han and Sophie because it was a Thai place that catered to Thai people, whereas in Korea it’s less authentic and more expensive. Being more multicultural allows for there to be more authentic cuisine and a huge variation of food. But on the other hand, restaurant prices on a whole in Australia were more expensive than normal Korean food restaurants in Korea.
Another thing I didn’t mention was how much skin people show! Seeing low cut tops and cleavage was quite shocking to me in Australia. In Korea it’s okay to show the legs, but not the chest, back and shoulders. While in Korea it can be annoying to not be able to wear skimpy tops in summer, I really have changed how I think about what are appropriate clothes.
Of course both countries have pros and cons, but sometimes you don’t really realise what they are for your own country until you live in another country.
As always, these are just our opinions and our experiences.
We are back in Korea! We did film some things in Australia and have a few more vlogs to upload, but mostly it was a holiday for us. We have a bunch of photos to show you (mostly food) and then we’ll be back to normal schedule!
We were trying to film in my parents’ backyard and the rooster next door decided that he had to interrupt as much as possible. We were filming something for Hyunwoo, for Korean TV, that kinda needed to be one take but it ended up being impossible. Eventually we had to film somewhere else! That rooster was pretty lucky that Hugh didn’t eat him!
It’s still been warm enough to go swimming! It is Autumn in Australia but it’s much easier to go swimming here than in Korea. I’m getting all my swimming in now before we go back to Korea. Not sure why Mr Gwon felt the need to cover his pecs when it was just us in the backyard pool.
Just a quick update video! We are currently editing our backlog of vlogs as well, so they will be coming soon…. hopefully… This very short video that would normally take about 10 minutes to upload on our “slow” Korean countryside internet took 90 minutes on this Australian internet haha.
We are heading to Australia next week! We will stay there for a month. I’ll be bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding and we’ll catch up with friends and family. Hugh is packed already! In another comic I showed how he quickly unpacks when he gets home from a trip, but he also likes to be packed early. I’m a last minute packer though. What about you guys?
I think part of the reason for early packing this time is that he is so excited to go back to Australia. We are not sure how much blogging we will be able to do while there because we will be busy, actually from this week on we are quite busy. So please bear with us over the next month as we deal with busy schedules (and unfortunately some health problems).
This reminds me of that scene in The Simpsons:
Homer: I’m like that guy. That Spanish guy. You know, he fought the windmill…
Marge: Don Quixote?
Homer: No, that’s not it. What’s-his-name, the Man of La Mancha.
Marge: Don Quixote.
Marge: I really think that was the character’s name. Don Quixote.
Homer: Fine! I’ll look it up! (Goes to look it up).
Marge: Well, who was it?
Yup, pretty much. He wasn’t saying “Okay, you were right,” he was saying “Okay” angrily because he didn’t want to admit I was right! hehe.
Australians travel a lot. I know sometimes the government is concerned that there isn’t much domestic tourism because we all go overseas. But we still love Australia… Hugh was just trying to get a reaction out of me.
Yes we have conversations about tea. Yeah Aussie girls! (With British heritage). Cuppa just means “a cup of tea”. I drink so many cups of tea.
Also, speaking about the word “tea”, when Mr Gwon first stayed with my parents, he got confused because my mum also calls dinner “tea”. And then to be more confusing, my nanna called lunch “dinner” and dinner is “tea”. And then we also drink lots of tea!
This is a topic we’ve talked about before – not having similar childhoods. Our childhoods were influenced by different TV shows, movies, trends and books. While Mr Gwon has seen many episodes of the The Simpsons and has heard many of the famous quotes from it, he saw and heard it as an adult, he didn’t absorb it when he was young. He didn’t quote it with his siblings and in the school playground with his friends. The perfect quote doesn’t come to mind in certain situations and he doesn’t pick up on the times when I do it, even if it has been explained to him, because it just wasn’t part of his childhood or teen years. Although not every western person my age watched The Simpsons, they would have been very aware of it and how it affected our generation. For example Sophie wasn’t allowed to watch it as a child but she was aware of the characters and some of the jokes and the influence it had. It is such an iconic TV show, especially the earlier episodes.
The top video that comes up from the scene I was quoting is just someone filming a TV, but look at how many views it has and how many people are reminiscing in the comments.
It’s also a kind of sad reminder that it doesn’t matter how well I can speak Korean later, there will be some things that he says that I just won’t understand because our childhoods were so different.
(Oh and why was I on that gym equipment? I was just laying on it but he pushed the button and made me go upside down… I think you are supposed to do sit-ups or something. I didn’t do that).
We were talking about respectful terms for in-laws and what my siblings should call him if they were Korean. I told him he could ask them to call him that, but he thinks they are “too naughty” and wouldn’t.
Understanding cultural differences is so important! What he deems “naughty” is pretty normal behaviour in Australia because ours values differ. Something seen as good, such as an easy and casual way of speaking regardless of someone’s age, can be offensive in Korea. He knows it’s just cultural difference, but he still likes to say they are naughty… especially when he sees my youngest brother pat my father on the head. Shock, horror!