Where are you from? It’s a simple question that should have a direct answer. You are either from here, there, or anywhere. I never knew how to answer this question. Born in Korea, then immigrating to Canada during elementary school, and now at Syracuse University, my identity was always ambiguous. Am I from Korea? Am I from Canada? Where is my real home?
So I gave an arbitrary answer: one time, I would say Korea, the next I would say Canada. It was funny to see people’s different reactions to my two homes. When I was from Korea, people would nod with an “I knew you were from Asia” expression and ask why I came to Syracuse, far away from home. Some would ask, “North Korea or South Korea?” while others would say, “I thought you were from China or Japan. I can never tell.” I hated these ignorant remarks. It was rude to think that all Asians could be corralled into one race. It was annoying to know people did not know about the history between the two Koreas; I felt like I was stigmatized into a typical math-loving Asian.
When I was from Canada, people were surprised. I “looked Asian,” so people assumed I came from a Asian country. They would then ask, “But where were you born?” When I told them I was born in Korea, they would give me an “oh now I get it” expression. I wondered: why do our images stereotype us into a particular race? Is it abnormal to think that you can look Asian, but grow up in America your whole life? What about the idea that a blonde with blue eyes has been born and grown up in Africa? What happened to a multicultural world? A place where all cultures and races co-mingle with no stereotypical stigmas… Can this kind of place only exist in dreams?
I am proud to admit I am a person with a multicultural background. I am a Korean. I am a Canadian. I am glad to have homes around the world, one in Korea, the other in Canada and now at Syracuse. As I prepare to graduate this December, I can’t wait to venture into a different home, somewhere in the States, along the east coast, for my graduate school and future employment.
London: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The Beatles, and fish and chips. All of these famous connections can be made when thinking of the beautiful city of London. The most popular on a tourist’s to-do list? Fish and chips.
Sure, back in the states as kids we would order “fish and chips” at a restaurant and get served soggy looking fish sticks and over cooked French fries. As kids, we were happy. Well, London does not take their fish and chips so lightly. The city has taken this childhood treat and turned it into a meal for people of all ages to enjoy, and it’s just one of the reasons why this dish is so popular across the country.
Just ask the locals; fish and chips is not just a dish for tourists. It is enjoyed as a shoe-in for the local diet. Thanks can be given to the famous author, Charles Dickens. There was a rapid development of trawl fishing in the North Sea, and the dish was popular among the working class. More importantly, fish and chips gained popularity from segments of A Tale of Two Cities and works by Oliver Twist. Frequent mention of fried fish warehouses and chips of potatoes within these novels allowed upper and middle class to believe that this dish was socially accepted among their class.
The difference between American fish and chips and English fish and chips is pretty big. First, when ordering fish, do not expect finger foods or something that seems easily edible. Chefs will deep fry an entire fish, usually haddock, and place the greasy concoction on a heaping pile of deep fried chips. Though this snack is usually paired up with ketchup, in London salt and vinegar is more common. This dish is also not strictly a sit down meal. You will find locals running into the tube with an interesting carrier that is actually made for fish.
Locals and tourists will always have different opinions. Big fish and chips stores near famous sights such as the London Eye will reel in all kinds of travelers. But the locals know that the smaller shops are where one can find the best batches. Local Harry Huggins explained that a small shop on Clerkinwell called “The Fryers Delight” serves the best fish and chips you’ll ever have—guarenteed. This shop is crammed among Pret-A-Manger’s, Costa’s and Cafe Nero. With a small green banner and seating for ten, you wouldn’t think to get your fix here. But, after tasting this delicious concoction, it is safe to say that Huggins was correct. As a local, one might think that they are bored of fish and chips but, really, it just makes it better. “When we were children we would not go to Macadonalds and get a happy meal. We would have fish and chips. It’s not only has memory with our childhood, but something delicious that we cannot resist,” Huggins says.
Whether you’re a tourist looking for a typical London food fix, or a local indulging in the traditional culture, fish and chips is a dish that will never do you wrong.
OWS and the Change in Our Culture of Communication
#OWS. This hash tag marks a shift in the way Americans receive information.
The Occupy Wall Street Movement taking place all over the country is the manifestation of Americans’ dissatisfaction with wealth distribution in the United States. It started on September 17 when people gathered in Liberty Square in Manhattan to “fight back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.” They have since set up camp in the financial district in peaceful protest of greed. Since that day there have been many “occupations” all over the nation.
How have all these “occupations” been organized across the nation by a movement that started in Manhattan? We witnessed this shift through social media last year during the Egyptian revolution. However, this is the first time that social media has moved masses of Americans to protest - the entire movement is coordinated through social media.
In late September, many protestors complained that they weren’t getting the media coverage they deserved. While this argument will continue between protestors and the media, it is undeniable that large media outlets are not responsible for communicating the happenings of this movement. Images and videos of the protests as well as information of where to gather have been sent to the masses through outlets like facebook, twitter, and youtube.
Social media has had a clear impact on our culture. #OWS indicates another change: if you think back to 9/11, all of our footage, information, and coverage of tragedy came to us through news stations. There were no tweets, no facebook mobile uploads. Of course, Occupy Wall Street is very different than 9/11, but it still shows the change in how Americans get information after only ten years.
With this change, however, it becomes crucial that Americans be more critical of the information they receive. Popular media outlets such as CNN and The New York Times are credible sources that do extensive research and fact checking. Social media is an unregulated outlet where anything goes. As social media becomes a more popular way to receive information, Americans must be more careful about what they are accepting as fact.
The Picture-Perfect Costume: A Cultural Halloween Reflection
I am a witch with a big black hat, a creaky broom, and a purple dress.
It was 1996 and I couldn’t wait to get out the door to get my treats. It was a cool windy night in Canada, and me, my sister and our friends trudged around our local neighborhood following the same routine: knock on the door and say, “Trick or Treat.” Growing up in Korea, I never knew Halloween existed. Until elementary school, I never knew you could dress up in any quirky costume and get free candies. I learned about this holiday when our family immigrated to Canada 15 years ago. It was surreal. I was always an imaginative kid who loved to dress up, and now there was a day to dress up as anything I wanted, and get candies in return.
In Syracuse, I remember spending my freshmen and sophomore year, buying costumes at Boom Babies and having a good ol’ time with close friends.
If I walked around in a witch costume on October 31st in Korea, knocking on apartment doors for treats, people would rudely stare and send me to a hospital. Here, there is so much emphasis put on physical appearance. Everywhere you go, there are ads for plastic surgery plastered on buses, flyers and walls. Most people get nose jobs, face lifts and work out to maintain a fit, svelte shape. Perhaps, the pressure to look thin and pretty perfect is why Halloween is not celebrated in Korea. Dressing up like a giant green Frankenstein or an old wrinkly witch is far from the culture’s affinity toward a picture-perfect Korean with a nose job.
Firenze per Fortuna, Dopo della Partenza Lungha 9/5—9/7
Benvenuti a Firenze!
I’ve been hearing that a lot for the past 48 hours, and now I can safely say it to you readers as well. After quite a long trip between planes, trains, and poker games (my travel buddy/roommate, Kelly, and I, turned many a boring hour into eventful games of rummy and briscola), we’re finally in Firenze and almost completely settled. It was a long journey to get to this point; an emotion departure from family and the USA from JFK airport after a three hour car ride from my house outside of Boston, followed by a six and a half our flight over the ocean to Frankfurt, then, after a five hour layover in Frankfurt and meeting some awesome, amazingly friendly people from college such as Emory, Bucknell, and McAllister (and new Cuse peeps, too!), a short flight to Nice, France, finally ending with six hour bus ride along the French Riveria and Italian coast to Firenze, stopping only for a bit to grab food at an Autogrill.*
At the time of writing this, I was running on about three hours of sleep total from my day of travel and the short bit of sleep I got once arriving to the Hotel Mediterreano early this morning. Today was a day of orientation overload, but it was productive because we were able to get many of the much needed things out of the way. The permesso di soggiorno process is up and running, my computer is connected to the Villa Rossa wi-fi (although it’s spotty, but it’s to be expected in a place like Firenze), my Wind phone is charged up and powered with about 50 euro, and I was able to hear my mother’s voice—finally. I was getting antsy only being able to text my family.
Speaking of family, that is one of the things yet to be discovered—the host family Kelly and I will be living with. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much after tonight’s hilarious Q&A with SUF faculty and host families. All the host families who were there to welcome us were so fun, warm, and welcoming. One middle-aged couple, the wife, started introducing her family by saying, “Ciao, we have a family of four persons, and we are loud.” She also said students have gotten nervous hearing her and her husband “talk” about what to have for dinner that night or the next. In my mind, I was thinking, “That’s what my family does all the time! The sassy, nearly argumentative discussion of, ‘What’s for dinner?’”
The most peculiar thing happened during the Q&A for me; it hit me how much my family’s culture sticks to typical Italian culture. Sure, we’re Americanized in many ways, there’s no doubt about it, but after hearing the host families and the faculty explain the rules and typical customs of a traditional Italian family, I found myself nodding and agreeing more than giving blank stares or question-marked faces to my friends. It was a true reminder for me that America has such a different family culture than Italy, and my family has stuck to many of the Italian traditions that this kind of living, while it will be an adjustment with new people and experiences, will not be so much of a culture shock to me. I could tell it shocked many students to hear that dinner will most often be an hour-and-a-half to a two-hour affair because Italians use dinner as a social time to talk and spend time with each other. It shocked students to hear that Italians don’t normally snack in the middle of the night if they have a hungry urge, and it would most likely not be allowed in host family houses. It shocked students to hear that Italians, more often than not, clean their plates at dinnertime and don’t like to leave food to go to waste.
Many of these shockers are about food, but the conversation and questions quickly turned to food as more and more students started asking questions pertaining to the differences between Italian and American food culture. The director of SUF, NAME, explained simply into her microphone that food in Italy is just as important to the culture as religion, or spending time with friends, or any other great force of identification groups of people have to make connections between each other. It made me really question my relationship with food, as complicated as it is, in the context of Italian culture. But that’s a whole other topic, for a whole different kind of blog, hah.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow, having a little more free time, meeting the faculty an some of our future professors, and finally meeting our new family! I’m also not adverse to settling down for real and getting most of my stuff out of two suitcases. I think once we get settled and orientation dies down, we’ll all be in much higher spirits, and have more energy! But, you know, considering the high levels of spirit we all have shown thus far, I can only imagine the fun times to come in the future.
Buona notte. Sogni d’oro.**
*The Autogrill was a highlight of the bus ride, because the roadside chain brings back nostalgic memories of family travel for me, but also because the caprese panini and gianduja chocolate I had were just the right pick-me-up after such a long journey. The Autogrill was only out-shined by our new friend, Peter, falling out of his seat in the middle of his deep sleep. If he’s reading this, I apologize, but I had to mention it, because like we said before, it will never get old.
**I also apologize about not having a photo for this post. With all the moving in between campus and hotels, and luggage being transferred from one place to another, my Nikon D40 has been neglected. Soon to change!