Nowadays, the majority know the universal and general differences between all nations and that they vary according to their language, culture, usage, etc. Therefore, I figured out there would be no point of distinguishing the well known facts of our country and another. Instead of rattling on about foreign countries, for instance, that the air is by far cleaner than Seoul, or that I didn't go to school on Saturdays, etc, I decided to come up with something more peculiar, unusual and personal. Some may relate to my story and others may not. However, I hope my experiences approach everyone of you with unfamiliarity and amusement.
First of all, it's a pity I have faint remembrance of my infant life in London. To be honest, I don't remember much, apart from the fact that I used to learn the rules of decorum everyday at school and that my best friend had four different dads. However, fortunately, I recall every single thing that had happened to me in high school which I'm about to tell you right now.
To begin with, I graduated elementary school and attended high school in Sydney. Life in Sydney was carefree. Everyday was pretty much the same and I always had a clear conscience. High school was fun and the subjects were mostly elective as long as we completed the prerequisites. I participated well in activities and was busy most of the time hanging around with my friends and communing with nature. I lived in easy circumstances and led an easy life, and I thought that was how my life would end.
At school, my favorite subject was "Personal Development Health" where we were mostly taught about sex and drugs. At the time, my friends and I were teenagers going through puberty, so this class gratified almost all of our curiosities. We learnt so many incredible things through this class concentrating on the heavy matter of consequences, which was "sex". And in addition to this, we were informed about the causes and effects of drug use. Personally, this class helped me so much in a positive way that I became aware of the consequences of overdose of drugs or STD (sexually transmitted disease) such as AIDS. Unlike Korean schools, it was imperative we understood the need and importance of safe sex. I am grateful to my teachers for this education because I noticed most Koreans become narrow-minded when it comes to talking about this.
Although it's very difficult to pick just one cultural difference, the most distinctive one was that everytime my friends and I ate something we went dutch. When I had friends over at my place and ordered pizza, it was never my treat. Even though I insisted on paying for it, my friends wouldn't let me. Gradually, I got accustomed to this and later on I found out that this was so much more economical, especially when we threw parties and had to bring a dish of our own.
Back in Sydney, despite the enormous amount of people on the street, all the shops and malls closed before six o'clock except on Thursdays. Even today, the custom hasn't changed, which makes it terribly inconvenient to people like me who enjoy late night shopping. Furthermore, the buses in our town came only once in an hour; so if I missed one, I had to wait a whole hour or run like hell through the shortcut to the next bus stop.
Since I came home to Korea, there was never a moment when I could sit back and relax. My life was always so hectic and I strained myself to complete my work. But with my optimistic mind, I learnt to survive in this competitive world. And the truth is, I quite enjoy tasking my brain and energies to give my best shot. I am now full of vitality. This might sound insane, but sometimes tension eases my mind. In another words, I feel awkward and useless when I run out of things to do in Korea.
I sometimes lie in bed reminiscing about my past life in Sydney, yet I am glad I came back to my mother country because here is where I belong and feel most welcome. Still and all, I will always think of Sydney fondly, for my Aussie friends and my unforgettable memories will be tucked away in the draws of my heart always.
The writer is a student in the Dept. of Social Science at DU.
Yoon Na-rae email@example.com
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