Life


I had definitely heard this song before, but I didn’t really find out what song it was until that one night in Seoul. So whenever I listen to this song on my iTunes, I’m reminded of this night, and I smile. Good memories, haha.

I think it was a Saturday. I was interning at SK with Jerome M. We decided to meet Saturday night and go to a few bars and clubbing around Hongdae. Man, I remember how freaking bitterly cold it was that night. Wow. Seriously, never has an evening’s temperature stood out so vividly in my mind. It was seriously like the analogical knife. The streets were almost deserted because people were thinking twice about vernturing out into the cold streets, much less party. They were probably all sitting on their heated floors at home, watching Gag Concert or something. πŸ˜›

I even remember distinctly what I was wearing that night. My working/intelligent girl glasses that I bought for W8,000 (~$8), my short-sleeved black and charcoal-striped turtleneck shirt, my black Uniqlo skinny jeans, and my vintage Gucci mod-style black and white heels. Why the hell did I wear glasses to go clubbing?! I will never remember the logic behind it. xD

Anyways, we meet at Sangsu Station and decide to go to a Japanese bar first. Had some hot and cold sake and that one Japanese food that has what looks like brown tissue paper sprinkled on top (it’s so thin, it waves in the slightest wind, so it looks like this strange food that you think could be found at the bottom of the ocean, haha). Then we decide to go hit the clubs. He takes me to a couple of his favorite around Hongdae, like Tool and oh, that one place… can’t remember the name. Both are deserted when we go in, then people slowly start coming in little by little. I was not feeling it whatsoever, so we leave the second bar we’re in and go to Ska 2 because it was free entrance that night or something.

It’s pretty crowded, and the music is fun and dancey. Then the song comes on! It’s a song that normally you wouldn’t even think you would be able to dance to, but hey, whatever, it works. Then somehow, we end up meeting a group of old high school buddies who are having their annual reunion at Ska 2. They have a table reserved and everything. Jerome’s a pretty personable guy, which is probably why we got pulled over to sit with them, haha. We talk to them, everyone is either drunk or pretty far gone or in bubbly good spirits. There are two other girls there, both American girls. We talk to them, eat the guys’ refreshments, blah blah blah. Jerome suddenly says he has to go, but I decide to stay because I like these people. He leaves, and ends up taking my camera (which I didn’t realize until later).

After awhile, all of us leave the club into the freaking cold winter. Our cheeks are red within minutes, haha. By then, it was probably like 5:30 or 6:00 AM, so the subway has been running for about half an hour or so. We all split up and go home, taking the subway or walking, all calling out byes to each other, them meeting us for the first time, but still so friendly and concerned about our safety, them splitting up and escorting us girls to our respective modes of transporation, walking away into the bitterly cold pale pink-red glow of the sunrise, breaths billowing out in front of us, hands thrust deep into our pockets, shoulders hunched.

Man. I miss Korea. No danger at all. No obligations. Just good, friendly fun. That night is still so vivid in my mind; I don’t know why it stands out so much. Thinking about it, there were plenty of more memorable nights during my year-long stay in Korea, but this somehow stands out. Looking through the pictures makes me smile. I’m so simple-minded, haha.

It’s one month until my 21st birthday today.

First of all, before all else, I want you to read this speech, given by Guy Kawasaki, one of the top marketing brains at Apple. You’ll be more prepared for my rant. And, hopefully, your outlook on life may have changed a little.

So this week I realized that one of the main topics my brain churns over is… the prospect of my future.

I realize I have many things going for me.

1. I am Asian-American, therefore a minority, therefore stand out from many audiences.

2. I am bilingual.

3. I have enough talents and know-how to succeed in this world.

4. A lot more, but that’s not the point of this post.

But how, though?! That’s the question that’s been dogging me for the past… oh… year, I’d say. Going abroad to Korea really changed me. It’s made me start to think more deeply about things I didn’t really elaborate on before. I definitely stressed about my future, but I didn’t elaborate on the specifics on what I wanted to do. Now, after coming back from Korea, I’m quite sure I want to go into fashion… but that goes against everything my parents worked for, my parents raised me for, and everything my parents even came to this country for.

Immigrant Korean parents expect only four things from their gyopo children:

1. Successful job (successful enough to generate subtle bragging rights).

2. To become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or “insert any other six-figure salary paying job”.

3. A great marriage. (Most often involving $$$$.)

4. Grandchildren.

I know that this makes immigrant parents sound horrible and selfish, but if you think about life from their perspective, it all makes sense. They came to this country to seek a better future than the bleak one they saw back in their home country. They toiled, shedding blood, sweat, and tears to try to provide a better future for their children, so that towards the end of their lifetimes, they could finally release their hold, sit back, smile, and say, “We have done well.” So can you blame them for expecting their children to become great, successful people? The only consistent, stable cases of success and a secure life they’ve seen is by being a doctor or some other occupation related to the sciences. (And this in all is not untrue. Doctors ARE successful, and they ARE high-paying, stable jobs, unless you like to kill your patients.)

As Asian children, we feel are compelled to listen to our parents so we don’t feel like we are failing them, breaking their expectations of a rosy American dream, we want to make them happy after a lifetime of working until they almost shed tears of blood… all this effort to prepare a better life for their children. I know I’m not the only Asian kid that feels this. I know there are countless other Asian kids out there agonizing over this. Some have succeeded in overcoming it, and doing what they love. Some have given in to it, and become what their parents expected them to be. Some have failed, and are more lost than ever. Just look at the high figures of Asian-Americans going to UC schools, then being put on academic probation or dropping out and returning home within their first year of registering.

I don’t know. I don’t know how to tell my parents that because I’m a second generation immigrant child, I have a totally different value system than they do… or ever will. How? How do I explain? I’ve hinted but… *shrug*

Thinking about it, I really don’t think I can ever 100% explain to them. They won’t ever completely understand why a doctor isn’t always a better job to have than say, a fashion designer or artist. For 99% of immigrant Asian parents, a job in the arts is worthless. Starving on the streets for your artwork? We didn’t work half our lives away in a foreign country for that. Go back to law school. Just my luck that the stereotype of artists the world over is lazy, promiscuous, starving, and drugged up.

I’m honestly quite sick of school. I just… want to go into fashion. It’s not all about “DO WHAT YOU LOVE” anymore. It’s a bit more complicated than that. There’s a whole different set of logistics involved now. However, I feelΒ  like fashion is something that I love that I can most definitely DO, and DO SUCCESSFULLY. It’s my passion, I realize! If only I had the chance! If only I had the opportunity! I don’t have all of the details worked out yet, but God knows I would work like a dog to be able to succeed in that field… more so than the major I chose now. My effort to work in that field would make my parents never again question my focus or how lazy I am…

Ironically, I found my passion in one of the most academically-focused countries in the world. Ironic.

I went to a UC school for a party at my friend’s place yesterday, and I have to honestly say… I’m kind of glad I didn’t go to one. In every school you will visit, I can safely guarantee that probably 40%-60% of Asian students will have majors in the sciences, particularly majors that will be most helpful to them in – you guessed it – medical school. I could sense something in them – a sort of vacancy and acceptance of the fate that their parents expect of them. So many kids blindly taking premed classes… all for a vision their parents have instilled in them from the beginning. Thinking of nothing else except O-chem and the next party where they can trashed to momentarily forget about the stress of their parents expecting straight As and the pressures of maybe doing something they didn’t want to do. I could have been one of them. If I had gone to one, I wouldn’t have experienced the many wonderful and different things I have experienced at my so-called sub-par school on a full scholarship today. I have met a wide variety of people that I know I wouldn’t meet as easily in the future. I have thought a wide range of thoughts and learned about myself. I’m not sure now if I would’ve had the same experience at a UC. I dunno. It’s kinda hard to explain. UC-goers, please try not to get offended too much. It is just my opinoin. I am one Asian-American in almost 3,800,000 Asians in America. (Since that’s a 1980 statistic, I’m sure it’s increased drastically by now.)

After weighing all the advantages and disadvantages of going to medical and law school, I think I can safely say that I am not cut out for them. Sure, if I applied my mind to them, I would probably do quite well. But then again… I’m notorious for not doing fantastically well in things I have no interest in. On the other hand, I am renowned for doing well in things I AM interested in. See where this is going?

I’m not trying to make it seem like I’m bashing on Asian premed majors or saying that Asian parents are selfish and controlling. Parents are parents; they love us unconditionally, and want us to succeed so that we won’t have to suffer the way they did in the future. However, that ambition fueled by fierce love for their children can turn into controlling behavior and unrealistic expectations. Often times in immigrant Asian households, children will have no say in expressing what they want to be when they grow up. They are influenced to be doctors. I was influenced to be a neurosurgeon. Not anymore.

I’m just saying that… we Asian-Americans are not ALL genetically-equipped to be doctors, lawyers, or engineers. We are able to become artists, counselors, teachers, entrepreneurs, cooks, singers, actors, whatever, and still SUCCEED. Trying your best is a given. We should not try with all our might at something that we’re just not good at, or interested in. That’s one definition of insanity: hitting your head against the wall repeatedly, expecting a different result. We should not feel obligated to anyone to follow their expecations of our lives blindly, without questioning and exploring.

I want to go to fashion school. I want to be a designer, if that’s not too late. I think I’d be good at it, I think I would enjoy it immensely, and, if it’s too late for designing, I can always combine the business degree I’m earning while gritting my teeth with fashion merchandising or something related. How can I make my parents more accepting of this life plan? How can I convince my parents to send me to Parsons or FIT, especially if it’s going to cost thousands of dollars, precious dollars that they don’t see any returns on???

I guess I’m lucky that I will be getting my undergraduate paid for. Heh. I guess that was prepping me for spending money on continued higher education elsewhere.

I don’t know exactly where I’m trying to go with this. I just know that I am frustrated, and worried about my less-than-satisfactory grades from a lack of enthusiasm for my major, and scared about failing in life, because that is my ultimate fear: failing at life. I can only pray that God understands what I’m going through, and guides me in whatever way He can. Going to Korea changed my life, and not for the better, according to my parents, as they will probably think once I really gather my courage and tell them I want to do fashion. I’m bracing myself. I don’t know even know what my game plan of the process of telling them is going to be. Bah.

I’m done for now. I’m sure I’ll write more about this in the future. Stay tuned, whoever’s out there that’s even remotely interested in reading about my life, lol.

I guess I just want us Asian-Americans to think outside the box.

P.S. Plus the fact that I seem to be constantly reevauluating my self and cultural identities… even subconsciously. Scary. More on this later.

P.P.S. This blog, in part, spurred this rant. Fascinating woman, her writing is great, as is her career advice.

[1] This is a great secondary source to get more scope on the Asian-American community.

…can’t come fast enough (June 2010, hopefully). Because, when it does, I can UPDATE THIS THING MORE without having to worry about a statistics practice packet due tomorrow. Ugh. Also, I can’t wait to return to Korea. See what it’s become.

…that I wouldn’t have thought twice about before I spent 8 months in a foreign land…

I just finished watching The Nanny Diaries and heard this quote towards the end and wow, it really struck me.

“There’s a common belief among anthropologists that you must immerse yourself in an unfamiliar world in order to truly understand your own.”

This is my second time taking midterms while in Korea, and there are pros and cons about it.

Pros

I appreciate the fact that there IS an official “Midterm Week” at this school; my home school doesn’t really have a decided midterm week so you’re always stressed about when all the different tests will be.

You get the rest of the week off!!! No classes! WHEEEE!!!!!!

Cons

Tests suck in general.

They don’t have a midterm schedule here (where the school officials draft an official schedule for when certain classes should take certain tests at what time, etc. etc. like my home school does); so the professors choose any test date they would like.

Because they choose any test day they would like, I have ended up having, like, three tests on Monday. Without fail, this happened both during midterms AND finals last semester. It also happened during this semester’s midterm. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again for finals. *stabs self*

Also because of this, you tend to have an “outlier” test; For example, my last midterm might be on a Thursday. Thus I have Tuesday and Wednesday wasted; I could’ve had the test on a Tuesday, then I perhaps would’ve been able to to travel somewhere! Urgh.

Finding places to study on campus can be a huge hassle… especially since you’re competing for space with 40,000 other extremely practiced and cunning Korean college students who know all of the shortcuts for reserving seats in Centennial Hall and the Hana Square study rooms…
The stress level has exponentially skyrocketed around campus.

Spring = balmy, gorgeous weather =/= focused studying mood. πŸ˜₯ You just want to lay out on the grass at Main Square for the whole day and order Chinese food to be delivered to you and… *sighs*

I’m sure I could find a host of other reasons if I really tried hard. πŸ˜€

As you can see, the pros most definitely outweigh the cons. This said, I believe all midterms should be abolished.
AT LEAST I’M DONE. HALLELUJAH. Everyone, good luck with the rest of yours! ν™”μ΄νŒ…! ^^

Oh ho ho ho. I see that my keen powers of observation are still razor-sharp even here in South Korea! :3 Damn, I’m good at this. I really can’t believe how good I am at this.

…Let me have this small moment of glory and self-narcissism, because God knows I don’t think too highly of myself in a lot of things, hahaha.

Korea University Orchestra (κ΄€ν˜„μ•…λ‹¨)
Phone number: (82) 11-9923-9114

I must find out more about this orchestra so I can go play my viola in it while I am here. Yes, I hauled my huge-ass viola all the way out here, 3,000 miles away from home just so I could play on it. Yes, I am devoted to music. I’m such an Orch Dork, hahaha.

       

I am about to go insane. The person above me has been bouncing something on the floor sporadically for the past hour and it is making me go insane. Oh. My. Goodness. My hypothalamus is overloaded beyond belief, especially since I went to bed at 4 AM. GAHHHHHH. I think this is the same person that I’ve heard having sex twice… I think. I mean, a consistently creaking bed for about 20 minutes?! Ughhhhhhhhhh. Oh, the joys of living in a city and having to live in an apartment…

Anyways, I’m hella tired after travelling for 5 hours on the bus yesterday. (It should’ve taken around 2.5 hours, but traffic was so insane because everyone was trying to drive back up to Seoul at once.) And then I went to a PC bang with some friends and played games for 2 hours (they played for 4). That completely sucked my brains out. Then I stayed up ’till 4 AM, God knows why. Well, ok, I did update this blog and edit the pictures. I really need to figure out how to change the time on this blog. It’s still on American time. It’s actually 11:33 AM and Thursday, September 27th right now; Korea is a day ahead of the States because of the International Date Line.

So! You must have some questions! Why did it take me 3 hours longer to get back to Seoul? What is a PC bang? Well, let me answer them for you!

So this week is the week of 좔석 (Chu-seok), the Korean Thanksgiving holiday. The actual holiday was on Tuesday, but, like in the states, we get the whole week off. What Koreans do during Chu-seok is all return to their hometowns, or the city where their family originally came from. The thing is, everyone (or 40-60% of the entire population) basically lives in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea that has about 10,400,000 people living in it. Most of these peoples’ hometowns is NOT Seoul, so everyone needs to leave to return to their hometowns. This translates into, of course, massive traffic jams and extended and delayed traveling times. I went with my cousins to λŒ€μ „ (Daejun), a city about 2 hours south of Seoul where they grew up, and we intentionally left Seoul at a weird time (midnight, haha) in order to avoid the traffic. This resulted in my cousin, who was driving, to become a little groggy, so we pulled into a rest stop and slept until dawn then drove to Daejun, but my cousin was still sleepy so we got into a car accident (just a simple rearending), which is another story in itself, but arrived after avoiding traffic. That was a bad run-on sentence. (The rest stops here in Korea – and Japan, my friend told me – are just simply amazing and so safe. Absolutely NOTHING like American rest stops. Wow. I mean, the ones here have freaking GARDENS, FOUNTAINS, and CAGES OF BIRDS inside the BATHROOMS. I’m not shitting you. I’ll take pictures next time.)

So, after arriving at your hometown, you just hang out and whatnot until the actual holiday. Then you have to get up at the crack of dawn and prepare food for the ceremony and prepare for the guests that will be coming. The family of the oldest male sibling will be hosting this holiday every year. My uncle (the cousins’ father) is the oldest male sibling in his family, so family came to his house. They hold the ceremony, eat breakfast, and then leave. We had a huge nap afterwards (preparation is huge so my cousins and uncle had stayed up late, but had to get up at 5 AM). Once I put up pictures, I will explain this in more depth.

Ok, next, the PC bang! Bwa ha ha ha. The infamous PC bang. Ok, first of all, the pronunciation isn’t “bang” as in, “Bang, bang! You’re dead!” but like the first “a” sound in “aria”. (Ah-ria, bahng.) It’s the Korean word for “room” (λ°©), so basically, it’s a room full of computers. It’s basically like an Internet cafe, where all of the computers have Internet access, but it’s mostly known for gaming. You go and play games or check your e-mail, whatever, and pay for how long you’ve been there when you leave. You can also get drinks, buy snacks, etc. I will also take a picture of this next time I go, haha. So we basically played online games against each other for what felt like a long time. I was so drained after I left, haha.

I now want Eggo waffles. Apple cinnamon flavor. Oh woe. *cries*

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