Culture Shock Redux (part one)

Coming to Korea was an experienced marked by plenty of culture shock, mostly of the “Oh, how interesting” and “Pardon me, I shan’t make the same gaffe twice” variety. I hadn’t counted on returning to America after almost five years being fraught with moments of culture shock, but an exchange I had with my mom today made me realize that it is an inevitability.

Mom: Have you set a date for your flight?
Me: We haven’t bought the tickets but we’re looking at August 16th.
Mom: Oh, you know I think Uncle Pat said [their childhood
friend] Carl’s [second] wedding is on the 16th.
Me: Oh, well make sure of the date, if it is the 16th we’ll come a day
earlier.
Mom: . . .
Me: I’m sure Miyoung would like to see an American wedding.
Mom: Well, I’m not even sure if I’m invited, you know Uncle Pat
was always closer with him than I was.
Me: Well, whatever, give them a call and tell them we’re coming.
Mom: . . . I think they’ll probably want to keep it small, you know, second
wedding and all.

I was not getting at all that the wedding was invitation only. My poor mom did her best not to insult me by telling me that we wouldn’t be welcome at what was sure to be a small private event, but I am so stuck in the Korean ‘come uninvited with money, grab a meal ticket, skip out in the middle of the ceremony to eat and then leave as fast as possible’ thing that I had completely forgotten that that’s not the way we do things back home. This, I’m afraid, is sure to be only the first of many culture shocks for me, as Koreanized as I’m afraid to admit I’ve become.

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~ by Joe on May 20, 2007.

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