Ni hao at me?

When I was almost walking past him, he looked at me and said ni hao with his hands politely folded. His smile and polite gesture pleased me, and yet I said “Oh I’m not Chinese.” After a moment, I started thinking why I had to say that. I could have greeted him nicely because I kind of felt pleasant with his gesture somehow.

I was walking down the street this morning to get a nice cup of coffee in an environment that’s more vibrant than my room, when I saw a man giving direction to a group of young men who left in hurry. The friendly looking man was wearing a flash orange uniform with his presumably cleaning materials in the cart he was pulling. When I was almost walking past him, he looked at me and said ni hao with his hands politely folded. His smile and polite gesture pleased me, and yet I said “Oh I’m not Chinese.” He didn’t seem to understand English, though. After a moment, I started thinking why I had to say that. I could have greeted him nicely because I kind of felt pleasant with his gesture somehow. I know that it can be often called racism in some context when people just assume who you are based on the look or inaccurate interpretation of the look. Saying ‘ni hao’ instead of ‘goede morgen’ when he obviously could do it can sound a bit wrong. Still, I hated that I had to say who I’m not or who I am at the genuinely-felt greeting.
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Curious case of studying culture

I study culture. I am enthusiastic to know how we all live differently or similarly in different frames of understanding our surroundings we are connected. Now that I officially study culture at university, I keep questioning to myself what is the reason to study people and their way of understanding the world. My own purpose was always clear; I work in development and I can only do my work by understanding how people understand their surroundings. But perhaps often inevitably, I face the conflict between my pleasure and the justification for the pleasure.

I study culture. I am enthusiastic to know how we all live differently or similarly in different frames of understanding our surroundings we are connected. Although the ‘culture’ was not what I told myself that I liked to know. I just gave it a name ‘culture’ because it sounded most suitable within my language limitation. Now that I officially study culture at university, I keep questioning to myself what is the reason to study people and their way of understanding the world. My own purpose was always clear; I work in development and I can only do my work by understanding how people understand their surroundings. But perhaps often inevitably, I face the conflict between my pleasure and the justification for the pleasure.
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Why write about the “wrong”?

Why do I always write about something “wrong”? Such stressful thoughts? The topics I choose are by nature “something wrong” that I need to somehow unweave in order to feel okay. Writing about “annoying things,” for me has a therapeutic effect. There are many annoying things that touch my nerves on daily basis. But the process of writing itself often gives me the answer. Of if not, the activity of writing becomes my company and that’s good enough.

Why do I always write about something “wrong”? Such stressful thoughts? The topics I choose are by nature “something wrong” that I need to somehow unweave to feel okay. On and off, I’ve been thinking about what my boyfriend said after he read my post. He said he couldn’t finish reading it because I ramble too much about things that are just obviously wrong and annoying. Why care about it, just ignore. Something along this line. Of course I was hurt because he called my rambling ramble! How dare he calls my ramble ramble. I call it ramble just to push down expectations of others on my writing. So that I feel safe from not being criticised as a rambling, because I had already disclaimed that it’s not more than a ramble. Anyway, I understand his point, though. Why do I care about naked women in music clips and every little annoying things happening in the world?
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Splitting bills

I’ve always felt awkward for splitting bills with close friends. When I walk to the counter waiting for the cashier to tell us how much we need to pay, I suddenly feel the whip of socio-cultural obligation-like urge during the 5 second interval between the announcement of the addition and reaching for my wallet, I claim “I’ll get it.” I thought I was simply too used to this kind of culture until I couldn’t just take it anymore. It turns out, this isn’t a choice for me to like or hate splitting bills.

A few days ago, I had a huge fight with my boyfriend. It was about money that had nothing to do with money indeed. I hated that we always split the cost for things that we do together instead of taking turns so that we don’t have to be calculating our share. Every time I put my share of cash on the table, I felt part of me connecting to him was silently withering. A few months back, I had already complained how negatively it affects my feelings towards our relationship. He understood and he made an effort to fix it. He wasn’t just used to it. Money is the last thing I care about when it comes to my relationship. Yet, experiencing negative situations that always had to do with money over and over made me extra aware of money and paying. I was already so poor. I had no income but only spending from my savings. I almost cryingly admitted that it is especially a sensitive issue now that I have no disposable income to treat people whenever I want, which already makes me feel miserable and owing something more than money to people I care about.

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No such thing as everyday rebel

I struggle against social validation. Some says that’s how it is, some says my standard is too high. Shouldn’t anyone’s standard be higher than just “fitting in” to the society? Or is it the wisdom we need to nurture to be able to live in symbiosis?

I can’t fight every time. And it’s not like I can easily change the fundamental problem that’s rotting from the root. I was on the phone with my friend and told her how frustrated I was about my workplace. My mental health, my ethics, my project, my team, the people all were at insecurity because of the rotting work culture. She asked, “is there anything you can do to stop that?” I said, “I can’t do anything anymore and I don’t know if I want, either. I’m worn out.” That was a few weeks before I left.

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Fantasising foreign culture

It’s not easy to be correct about unknown things. That’s why we support education to minimise destruction out of ignorance. But what if because of information we are incorrect? I’ve been watching entertainment TV shows and realised a great deal of multiculturalism has been brought in but with potentially problematic impact.

As I’m spending most of my time at home now, I use TV sound as a white noise that can expectantly boost my productivity and perhaps make me feel busy. Thanks to the habit, I had good chances to familiarise myself with what’s happening on Korean TV world, with a little help of my sister’s TV preference and heads-up.

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Being a millennial and watching my mum cook

What my mother learned and how she acquired the knowledge from her mother has lost its place in me. I learn from the internet and books and I try to satisfy the social role that’s different from the one she was supposed to satisfy. The knowledge that I didn’t learn, is it considered as loss or substituted by different knowledge for newly emerging demand?

I google constantly. Things that enlighten me and things that help me survive, from how to cook eggs to what are the prerequisites for comprehension of new information. As I’m spending more time with my mother now, I realised I didn’t inherit a lot of her knowledge in a natural way, on a conscious level. As I’m watching her preparing meals, I began asking questions why she decided to take certain steps. I ask “why are you drying it first before cooking it?” Then she responds with reasonable answers.

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Aren’t we appropriating music?

You can’t believe how much I love looking appropriate. Especially when it comes to listening to music. I appropriate to impress.

While I was working on office party planning ahead of Christmas day, I decided to buy a set of speaker so that we music lovers can listen to music as loud as our sing-along noise. A few days later, I set up the new speaker on my desk for a test run. Even for a test run, my music selection process isn’t usually quite simple. I consider several factors like emotion, audience, occasion, and so on. This time I chose from my playlists songs that involve bouncy beats such as dancehall and reggaeton that give African-y vibes.

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