Disclaimer: This in no way should be taken as fact or as a depiction of how all Koreans treat Foreigners or African Americans. These are my experience with a select group of people while I was in Seoul. This is in no way indicative of Koreans as a whole this is just a retelling of my experiences and others.
Alright, Alright if you don’t know by now I’m Black and a foreigner those two things go hand and hand, but it would be cool to know a POC (Person of Color) that was born in Korean and get their perspective on life here. Regardless being that I am a Foreigner and Black I can’t discern where people are reacting to one or the other or just plainly both. Whatever it is the level of unconformability I sometimes feel is real. So, here is a list of things that have happened to me and others
~Being asked if I played basketball / Being a Basketball player (usually because of my height)
~Trying to be sold on Basketball shoes or Basketball Jerseys
~My Friends has Dreaded Locks; People are intrigued by them
~Once at a hip-hop lounge someone tried to touch them
~Being in a hip-hop club and when songs come on people repeat the N-word when used
~Going to a park cypher and having a guy saying “hold up, let a real N-word rap.”
~Taxi drivers here can be picky
~Once we couldn’t get a cab for 30 minutes and had to walk to another location to find a taxi that would pick us up
~A Biracial couple (Japanese female, Black male) couldn’t flag down a taxi either
~When I was practicing Japanese with my friend an older gentleman gave me like the hardest eye adamant glare
~I was in Maccas (McDonalds), and a little girl started at me for what I felt like a long time
~My other black friend and I got shooed out of a restaurant ordering and like an hour before it closing (the attendant said something in Korean, but we didn’t know so that may have added to it)
Look, no place is perfect, and not all Koreans act the same. That’s the same of everyone. If I went around thinking everybody I see on my day to day has something semi “racist” to say, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy life. I don’t know what to say of a bigger picture. My blog not an afterschool special just statement from my mind. Rest assured foreigners as well have said things as well. It was back in the 2nd week I had been asked what’s it likes to be black in Seoul so many times it mentally affected me. We were in I-Park Mall it’s kind of like a physical Ebay you negotiate prices on electronics and other things and me in my friends were sitting at this intersection of the mall where all the people walk pass. My thought process was something along the lines of “there aren’t any black people or individuals who look like me if I don’t see any I might freak.” Luckily I guess this couple walked by, but it was a weird experience to have that thought process and a possible anxiety attack maybe. I been good since then but that was an oddly real moment for me. I guess the easiest thing to say is nobody is perfect and respect others and their culture question mark?
This one isn’t Seoul-related but more what I want to do next in life. Once I leave my semester abroad, I will have a year left in college. They’re internships and jobs that need to apply for, but where is the question. I no longer feel limited to the United States as a place of employment. I think my school giving me a chance and Sogang giving me a chance gives a lot of needed confidence. A dream of mine is still to go to Japan. The hard part is trying to figure out by what means to get there. There are many options for work (usually English teacher) to international internships or even through my homeschool taking the intensive language course during the summer in Japan next year and staying a few months after to explore. I like that option the most just cause the learning of Japanese will still be fresh in my mind. Although I don’t know yet, there are many avenues to take I just have to be willing to put the time and effort in to achieve them. Wish Me Luck!
It has now officially been one month and two days ( I left February 24). There are many questions to be answered. Has he thrown in the towel, called it quits, homesick and want to go home? Not really, Not in the slightest, But before I make myself seem like some Ex-Pat (EX-Patriot) who never wants to come back to America, I just haven’t felt the needs of home. I have been in weekly contact with my friends and family; I still have access to most of my American television programming. Thanks to my dad and his mini speaker I can still blast music at whim. Albeit not on the same scale, and you know the computer I am currently writing this on helps a lot. Although there are things, I have missed from the States. Sadly it’s only really been food and tiny things from home like American breakfast, Americanized Chinese food, My computer and my speakers I use to blast music, but I would also be lying if I didn’t say I missed hugging my parents or hanging out with my friends from home. Sitting in E’s apartment while we played video games and listen to music I miss those things but I can’t let them stop me from enjoying my time here, although what is a real hindrance is what I’m going to call “Clock down Syndrome.” It ‘s where at least once a day or week I think about “oh its March 27 I leave June 20 that mean I have less than three months left.” and rinse and repeat. I wish I could stop thinking about it, but I don’t think I can, because even though I live here, I don’t live here. Like yesterday, I caught on to how I was referring to the dorm as home. It is where I lay my head, take showers and change clothes and essentially live, but in less than three months later it will be gone. Reverted to what it once was, only to linger for the experience again. These are thoughts just after the first month; I’m going to be some mess once month three hits. My friend “L” said, “you’re just in the honeymoon state”, and she’s right when I first arrive I likened everything to newborn experiencing things new for the first time. Seoul is my first major city to live. I went to New York as a youth, but that was under parental guidance. Being is Seoul is something a tad different. I want to get out of that “honeymoon state” so I can just think of this place as nothing particular and live life normally, but I don’t think I will. The time it takes and the time I will be here don’t match up to me. I think the result will be a memorable experience with breathtaking moments up until the end where somber goodbyes will be given. Although like I said this is only the first month I can’t predict the future.
Disclamer: I have only been here 3.5 weeks to be honest I don’t know all of Seoul nor Korea so take this with a grain of salt.
Recently I went to Itaewon it’s like the foreigner district of Seoul and I was looking of shoes and im a pretty tall guy with large feet size 13 to be exact. With a foot that size I knew I was looking for diaster becasue I have trouble in the states, but you know it’s the foreigner district its got to have something for me right? kind of not really, not even the big name stores like Nike or Reebok had things in my size closest was a size 12, but when they did have something it was like one shoe and me being picky was not buying a shoe I did not visually like. So what ending up happening is had to ask the parents in the states for the quote on quote hook up so I could get some shoes sent here. Im pretty sure if I did a little bit more deep diving I could have some online store or place that sold larger items but wearing vans with no cushioning hurts so I needed something asap. I think It will be helpful if I ever decide to live in an asian culture, to know where I can buy clothes. Becasue I can’t be asking mommy and daddy everytime I need something new
School, social, blah blah excuses are just a form of putting blame on something or someone else and for that i’m sorry. This really in a sense is not a “I will change” but more of an acknowledgement of my wrongdoing. Anyway the sappy part over now to the more sappy stuff. Today I started learning hangul the Korean alphabet which is cool. I am learning really fast and repetition and reading it around the city will definitely help, but this where my thoughts came in. As I sit wating for my club members to go to the PC cafe I see a mass group of Korean students laughing and having a great time and realize I couldn’t join in on it. It’s not that i’m saying dont have people to hang with no it’s that a connection with Koreans is somewhat impossible. That where the statement my inexperience hinders the experience. I don’t know Korean I barely know japanese to a level of any forms of basic conversation. This is not supposed to be a post downing myself or anything of that nature. I just think you know if I knew more I could experience more thats all……
Alright so last week when I was still getting adjusted to the sleeping change. There was a night I didn’t get enough sleep nor alot to eat. Fast forward it was mid-day I was cranky and starving hanging with my new friends and one who had become the leader of our rag-tag “squad” let’s say her name is Karen. Oh! Most importantly she was Australian, important detail. So I was standing behind her on the escalator and she asked me where I wanted to go eat Maccas or Subways. I still little out of it thinking Maccas was a cool Korean place to eat food I said Maccas, so after walking we get to a McDonald’s and she enters and I’m shouting to get here attention cause I thought it was the wrong place. I go inside and say something along the lines of “Karen, this is McDonald’s” and she’s like “yeah, this is Maccas.” In that moment I had the biggest realization that Maccas is McDonald’s. I have never felt so much emotion it that situation than I have In my whole life. I think it was because me being tried and hungry that add to the over the top feeling. I felt so duped but so happy to finally buy food. So now it’s a reoccurring joke/phrase in my group to now refer to McDonald’s as Maccas. I’m using it often when I get home so get ready. Moral of the story if someone say a word you don’t Know ask or you might be going to McDonald’s.
This one’s more of a diary get this off chest one than anything else. This is the 1st official like 5 day week of school and it’s different for me at least. Everyone is studying and I’m like where’s the popcorn? Because for the most part all I’m doing currently is watching movies for homework. There are tiny readings and writings but most revolves around movie watching. Did you know the god father movies are nearly 3 hours long I almost bugged out, like now have to chuck out 3 hours for this movie and I know it’s a petty complain, but there’s a reason the average run time for a movie is about 90 minuets no ones got time for anything longer than that !!!!!!
Well, it’s been about a week sense my last post and I do apologize for that. School has just started and I’m trying to get into the swing of that. So the post may become a little stagnant until I figure it all out.