Light to celebrate new year from Eastern

(Picture from Zhengtao’s Facebook)

”         .”

By watching Zhengtao Chen, one of Chinese students in UMD, performing Tai Chi the traditional Chinese marshal art, I learned the true aesthetics of the margin. Lots of things between China and Korea are similar but also very different. Korea have Taekwondo which is also type of marshal art but more tough.

2014 is the year of horse in China and Korea. Since our ancestor used lunar calendar, January 31 was New Year’s Day in Korea and China. On February 01 Chinese Student Association celebrated New Year’s Day huge in Ballroom and MPAC.

2014_02_01_18_25_09This is the picture of food I had for dinner at the event. Different from other events that I have been attended, CSSA served dinner not by buffet style but as Chinese take-out style; white rice and sesame chicken with vegetable and fortune cookie in brown folded bag. I was quite surprised at first but it was quite clever thought since it was more ‘real’ Chinese style dinner.  Most of the food were marinated in sauce which are very sweet or little spicy. All of the food had meat in which might have been hard for vegetarians. But then I kind of realized that I have never met any Chinese who defined themselves as vegetarian which explained a lot. Since I was familar with Chinese food since I was young and also had been to China few days, most of it taste good. My roommate, Hmong, even packed and I do not blame her since the food quite fit our taste.

2014_02_02_19_36_00They had piece of paper that explains menu and handed us small red bag as you can see in the picture. It was really pretty bag and I had to save it. After dinner we moved to MPAC to watch performances. Since dinner started 30 minutes late, the show started late too. There were some complaints about the time but later bigger problem evolved.

They hosted in Chinese.

It was really new experience and made me felt that the event is not for all but for Chinese or those who can understand the language.

Most of the events I remain seated to respect but I could not understand the word the hosts were saying and even with awesome performances, it got boring. I could see lots of audiences ( who are not Chinese) were shocked that there were no translation and started leaving.  Personally, it could have been more successful if the association considered others who have different language background since they did not mention any language requirement or warning to people. After the show, this unsatisfactory led me to question the purpose of the event. No offense but it also led the discussion on ethnocentrism.

Whole construction of show was great and it is always awesome learning new perspective through other’s culture. However, it is also important for the culture who are expending to put lots of effort to help others feel inclusive if the purpose is to unite closer by sharing their cultures.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, the Tai Chi gave me a lesson on the beauty of blank through different mean. In Korea history, arts and life the margin, black was considered very important but Tai Chi was different notion of beauty. I couldn’t breath while the performer was drawing smooth but strong invisible line on air.

Culture could make us unite together but also could define us separate.

God bless Korea.

P.S. I love you

“That emotion showed me how much pain can sit in this body of yours;

pain and sorrow that you don’t know you have until it is unleashed.”

“If we are all alone
we are all together in that to”

-P.S. I love you-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Gerard Butler-

Booze, Hot chocolate, Booze

First time I met Shawn, he was holding a beer.

You might disagree with me but get the  fruity make-you-fat beer right now from the store. It is from my experiences and if you do not have as many International friends as me and you better follow me.

Okay that was too harsh. And that’s what happens when you drink. You cannot control your mouth. But sometimes it helps too because I tend to speak more fluently when I am drinking. The moment I put my mouth in to the beer bottle, I get 20 more friends!

I know that you may disagree but listen carefully. Let’s go back to 2012 summer. I was a FOB (according to my besties..) that time since I just came to United States on 2012 January. For six months I didn’t have any new friends except my super nice friendly 10 hall mates. During summer I happened to take the class “Intercultural Communication Class”, one of the favorite classes. Not in the class of course but outside of class I became friend with them so fast. Because of  the party we had  with tons of different flavor, nationality booze. I am still keep in touch with them and we still talk about that night since we had so much fun/history that night.

Second, I went to party hosted by homosexual guy and at that time I still had some negative perspective on them. Lots of thought and belief I had are strongly connected with Korean society. Not only since I was raised all my 20 years in there but it is so conservative society that you end up with making your own zone and never come out.  Anyway I became friend with him which I never could have dreamt  in Korea.

Because we played card games with shots and beers!

Third, the first conversation I had with Shawn was about the beer he was holding. And yes as you could see below picture we trade booze as belated birthday gift.. The green bottle he is holding is Korean vodka “Soju” which is around 20% but really really bitter. Usually Korean people drink 1-2 bottles.

IMG_6157Since we are talking about Korean drink culture I will explain it more. We drink Soju usually when we are having meal. We have these informal meat restaurants where could look ghetto but feel cozy. It is called a perfect table when it has rice, grilled pork/beef, 5-7 side dishes with Soju. Almost everyone drinks Soju so when you are making friend in Korea, take the friend to the most ghetto looking meat restaurant and order Soju. We use small shot glass for Soju always! We also have our own manner to have when you are drinking with elders in Korea. But it is complicated and I will tell you in later post.

20140105_212242And yes he gave me this. I had no idea that beer could have orange/raspberry flavor scent until he suggested one. First I thought it was okay but I became liking it more. I am not advertising or anything but it was just another cultural learning.

And even with 50 years old guy you can talk about your favorite beer and share some interest. In my previous culture, I can never imagine but it is possible because it is AMERICA! I love it!  You may feel like a kid when you have hot non whip cream on top hot chocolate but suddenly you feel grownup when you have that bottle in your hand.

Believe it or not it has made my college life smoother and also help me breaking some cultural/language barriers easier than other friends.

It must have a magic in it. Xoxo good night Blue moon.

We may have no country ..

How many Asian types do you know?

Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indians..and ..?

I don’t blame you getting confused distinguishing between Chinese and Koreans. Well, lots of asians can tell who’s nationality is China and Korea only by the appearance but when it comes to European and American we have hard time too.

Today I am going to introduce another Asian group that you may not know much about. They might be around you now and went to same high school as you. Hmong.

Specifically they are Asian American who have appearance of Asian but more influenced by American culture and use English.

To be honest, I did not know their existence until I came to UMD. And had no idea there is a Hmong town in St.Paul. First stereotype I got about them was ‘party people’ after I attended their valentine party.  However, later I found out it was their one of the strongest awesome culture.  In 2013, Far East Movement party hosted by APAA ( Asian Pacific American Association) was held.

2013_11_23_18_26_04This is the banquet picture of  the event. It was high quality decorations with elegant purple. 20131123_184449Amazing food I had. I couldn’t remember their names but they had lots of variety of dishes and some tasted similar with my country food. It’s embarrassing but  I had third round…since it was so good that I couldn’t stop my self gobbling..

Anyhow I also participated not only as a guest but also as a performer. I was part of fashion show and represented Korean traditional clothes. 1385272080852My self with Korean traditional clothes, Hanbok and my two best friends. I was up on a stage before as a host but it was my first time representing my country for other culture’s fashion show event.  They had well organized orders of performances and some had skit showing skit showing stereotypes that each culture can have to each other.

Some just know Hmong as a people without country but I want to speak up for them. Even without having own country, they are one of the fascinate ethnic groups who are trying to preserve and also pursue innovation on American culture.

So now after reading this post you will have an idea of another cool Asian American ethnicity group. You might say ‘Hey I want to be friend with them but how can I when they just flock themselves all the time?’ very good question.

Come to UMD and I will introduce you to them.

Okay that was just joking but I totally understand the difficulty because that’s what I felt when I first came to UMD, America. It is never easy to break the comfort zone. But if you just go to them and start with weather or the class you just had. You will find some common interest.

Congratulation, you just took another step to be a global leader.

Living with two ages.

23 & 22.

I am in the middle of the path debating between 22 and 23.

In Korea we count as one year old when we are born so in Korea I am 23 and here 22.

You might say ‘what’s to debate about? It’s good that you get younger.” and well I have to say you are 50%right if you didn’t experience. I didn’t put much meaning in it either before but there is significant different feeling between 22 and 23.

1. 2013 I had crazy new years day. Like other normal college kids do I stayed up all night playing all those card games, of course with more than dozen kinds of alcohol. Then we all went up to the Enger tower to watch the sunrise. Sums up it was crazy, crazy and crazy.

2. 2014 came to me 180 degrees different.

Yes. This was the start of my new years day. Well before that me and some Korean students gathered and made DDeokguk, our traditional rice cake soup we eat every New Year’s day.
Image다운로드 (9)This one is DDeokguk. It didn’t taste as good as the one my mom made but pretty decent.

Anyway, fruity high quality red wine and the book was enough to make me feel I am 23.

Being responsible is nothing big.

Getting old and preferring wine than bitter vodka, reading books and planning my future than getting wasted and suffer from hangover whole day one the first day of new year.

Of course I miss the time when I felt vodka as water. I miss the time when 95% Octopus rum just looked like coke. It is never too late to live young as some says. No matter where I am and what I have done in the past it is the universal thing that we getting mature.

Living two ages, it is unavoidable.

New Christmas

Red. What is the thing excites you the most in red color?

If you said ‘Of course Santa duh’ then get out of this post right now.

Today I am going to share my Christmas which I had without fat obese tummy, white and more puffy un-brushed than Gandalf’s beard, never get cold, always smile on face red cloth grandpa looking guy.

Don’t get me wrong, I too once loved Santa Claus and had fantasy in meeting him. When I was 8 I baked cookie and decorated with chocolate to feed this old grandpa Santa who might be tired climbing up and down everyone’s chimney.

But, the Christmas I had in 2013 was special. What so special without Santa?

What does it look like?

Yes. I had my ‘Christmas’ with my best ex-roommate, Satya Putumbaka and her nationality is Indian.

Most of Indians do not celebrate Christmas because of religion but Satya’s family are atheist so do  not put meaning on celebrating Christmas. While I was at Satya’s home for four days with her whole family including fabulous dog, Casey I got to try so many real legit Indian curries. One thing I learned was the different notion of curry. In my country, Korea, we have only one curry powder which was spread from Japan. When we ‘make’ curry we just stir curry power with water and put some veggies such as potatoes, carrots, onions and if we have some extra dollars to afford meat we put beef. Interesting thing is Indians usually do not eat cow for religion and belief reasons. Isn’t that funny that true curry doesn’t have beef and transformed curry has beef?

2013_12_28_11_18_41Anyhow, this is an Indian porridge mixed with special sauce. I couldn’t remember all the names and ingredients but who cares I have photo and I loved it. If you want to see more curry pictures, comment below and I will post more. Mrs. Putumbaka was an awesome cook! Their love will be forever remembered. It is such a blessed that you have friends even who look totally different from you but share same laughs and love.

So my 2013 Christmas did not have any big wrapped presents, christmas tree or big greesy meat, but it was filled with love from family.

I can’t wait what is going to happen next 2014 Christmas.