– Am I experiencing “pretty privilege” here? My overall experience in Korea and my interactions with everyone from students to co-teachers to shopkeepers to crusty old taxi drivers have been lovely. Everyone is friendly and kind. However, (almost) everyone also comments favorably on my appearance. It’s easy enough to bask in the glow of all this praise and admiration, but if I just peek under the surface of things, troubling thoughts begin to arise. Would it be harder to build relationships if they considered me unattractive?
(By the way, I assure you that in America I am by no means close to the ideal standard of beauty for women. I’m just an ordinary-looking female person. But in Korea, my pale skin, for example, rather than a liability, is considered perfect. You’ve no idea how nice it is to hear “Your skin! So white! Beautiful!” for a change, rather than “Are you a vampire? Do you ever go outside?”
How crazy is it that what one culture considers ideal (tan skin) is something to be ashamed of in another culture, and vice versa? Of course, it has to do with socioeconomic status and the country’s age and history – in Korea, tan skin is still associated with heavy labor, working out in the sun, lack of education, poverty, whereas in America tan skin is associated with being rich enough to afford fake tanning and/or the leisure time to sunbathe. But that’s a separate topic that I could write a whole different post about.)
– It is absolutely adorable to see a brother and sister, maybe 8 and 6 years old respectively, walking hand-in-hand down the street, singing cheerfully together.
– Daegu in summer is that distant relative who always gives you an awkwardly long, uncomfortably close, disgustingly sweaty, so-tight-you-can’t-breathe hug… except Daegu hugs you in a sauna. And doesn’t let go. All. Summer. Long. Although temperatures only reached about 82 degrees Fahrenheit today, our humidity levels climbed to 89%. Eighty-nine percent. And we’ve only just begun the hottest period of summer here.
You should see my hair. It has reached insane levels of frizz. Something like…
– The 1st and 2nd grade students (13-14 year olds) at my main school are so freaking adorable. I have a bunch of them in my summer camp right now (post on the camp to come later this week), and they are so sweet, polite, bright, and attentive that I feel significantly better about switching to them next semester. It doesn’t take away the heartache from leaving my 3rd graders, but it soothes the sting.