Tag Archives: facepalm

American law school: the single most inefficient, arrogant educational system I’ve ever experienced.

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The title says it.  I finished my 1st semester.  It’s officially the lowest GPA I’ve ever received (and no, I’m not using the Asian standard here), and you all know I’ve been unhappy with the program from the mid semester.  Indeed if my grades were a bit better, I wouldn’t be this upset.  But now that most of my grade rolled out, it’s like throwing a gas bomb into a burning house, burning house being my complaints which started from mid 1st semester.  Here are my point-to-point complaint about the law school system as a bit older student than average.

1. Do they know this is 1st year and all of 1st year students have no idea what the law is?

With very few exceptions, law school doesn’t teach anything in 1st year, which is ridiculous. They just throw you bunch of cases with zero context explained.  Then, in class, most of the professors talk about whatever they think is relevant or important.  Are you being tested on it? Hell no.  The exam is about how to apply the rules (which is rarely talked about in class) to the given situation (again, rarely done in classes).

If this is psychology or political science grad program, ok, I get it.  It’s legitimate to assume that 1st year students know a thing or two about the subject because they learned it from undergrad, and thus professors can throw materials and their ideas as much as they want.  Law? no.  There is no “law” undergrad major in America.  Many of us don’t know anything about the law.  Think it this way.  There is a group of people who have no idea about American football.  A chaperon takes a group to a game, without much pre-game explanation.  The game starts, and all the chaperon talks about is “that John Smith is an awesome quarterback,” “the linebacker is useless here” when people have no fucking idea about the general rules of football, let alone what is quarterback or linebacker.  After viewing one or two games without much explanation, all of sudden, the chaperon pushes the kids to the field and play the game, or makes them to write an analysis about a game strategy as a whole.  Then you are graded on that one thing.

I get, to some degree, why the law is taught in this way.  Lawyer’s job is to find a bunch of relevant cases and rules and draw a summary from it.  Oh, was this explained in my class? NO.

2. Ridiculous schedule

Yeah, okay, professionals are paid that much money to work under pressure in a tight schedule.  I get it.  But, I don’t know whether it’s efficient to work 1st year noobs under such a schedule.  Shouldn’t a school be a training institution, where you can practice and make a lot of mistakes and learn from it?  As I said before, because the nature of lawyer’s job, I think it’s essential to give the students some time to think about the material in various ways.  Then, as you get used to it, it will get faster.

Sadly, the law school doesn’t allow this.  From day 1, it’s assignment assignment assignment.  If you really follow what your professors say and their syllabus accordingly, you just do your reading assignment, go to class exhausted, and read for next class.  That’s it.  There’s no time to think.  And your grade depends on one-shot exam.  As the students got little bit more used to the law school system, the internship period rolls in, so you’ll have to send out your resume like crazy when the semester is still running.  And your first-ever grade in law school will affect that your first-ever internship.  In only 4-months timeframe of your 1st experience.

Look, I’ve had some BS, and I worked under pressure schedules.  Thing is, I was getting paid and actually worked on something, progressing toward a tangible result.  Here, you paid (a lot of $$) to learn and be a competent professional.  Do I think the system can achieve this goal? NO.

3. What’s most important carry the least weight. 

So far, the only practical and make-sense course is legal writing and research.  This is the class that is most closely related to the actual work of lawyer.  Yes, it’s a lot of work but I somewhat enjoyed it, because I really felt like I’m learning something practical.  I wanted to enjoy it more and put more time on it.  Well, you can’t.

So this single-most important class (and mostly taught by people with a lot of professional experience) gives far less credit than other courses.  In my school, all the other theory courses (which roughly falls under #1) are given 4 credits.  Legal writing? It’s a shit ton of work and 2 credits.  WTF. And, here’s the most ironic thing – because of the ridiculous workload and schedule, now I wish it was pass/fail course like some other schools, while not hating the course.  And most of these courses are taught by non-full time professors. WTF again.

4. It’s professional school but thing is sooooo geared to academics.

It’s professional school.  IMO, the professional school is a high-end trade school.  You are there to learn skill, and after learning, you should be able to use that skill to either earn your own $ or contribute something to the office.  When you sit in the class and listen to the lecture, you realize so much of the class is geared to the nerd academic side of the law.  I’m not downplaying the academic/philosophical side of a knowledge.  But, if more than 50% of the class is geared toward that way, in a school that doesn’t aim for purely academic career, there’s something wrong.

I see a young professors who actually practiced and new to the teaching trying to avoid this.  They try to throw in the stories of actual world and show a lot of real docs in use.  I thank them, and it’s a good change.  But still, it’s unsatisfactory.

If I can build a law school of my own, here’s what I would do.  I would make all 1st year students to take legal writing and research courses for a full year.  After they finish the course, then I would move on to the theory courses.  I would make each theory courses as 2 semesters long, so people can actually have time to think and discuss about the material.  I would definitely make more mandatory practical courses (with much more credit), like how to write formal documents, how you should behave when submitting the docs/face officials and what to do when bring the plaintiff/witness in, etc.  I would use commercial outlines and study aids as main textbooks, and then make the students read the case relative to that day’s class.

People did warn me about the ridiculousness of 1st year.  I thought I can just get over it, since I’ve taken some BS too.  It’s harder than I thought, because I paid a lot of money to be a competent professional, not an academic.  Yet I really don’t feel like I can acquire practical skills that can get me working from 1st month on the job.  The system is so flawed – on the top of the expensive tuition and useless classes, you have to buy bunch of study aids, and then you have to pay again for your bar exam (it’s well-known fact that schools are somewhat useless when it comes to bar exam preparation).

My 2nd semester stared, and I’m just not sure what to do.  If the market is good and my citizenship/visa isn’t an issue, I know what I do.  I’d fucking quit,or switch to part time program.

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Drama Kings. Ugh.

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As a student who is slightly older than the average, the stress from law school isn’t only from the workload, psychotic professors and oh-so-breached system (which is a lot like Korean public education).  Social dynamic is one of them.  It’s not about me being a CCK or the only Asian person or the only international student in the lot.  So many people here don’t have any work experience, and their life and social interaction are limited to the school they are attending.

The school population is pretty small.  I see almost every one of them every single day.  There’s not much to talk about.  I don’t necessarily want to see them even in the weekends.  When asked, “hey, how was your weekend?” all they did was either work or drinking with yet another classmate.  I never enjoyed hardcore drinking even in college, and I don’t like drinking with people I don’t know well.  So, so far, I spent my weekends with my college alumni club, a friend living nearby with two kids, and another friend who is working nearby, happy with his partner for 10 years.  At week 4, people started to talk about who dressed trashy and who is sleeping with whom.  Not my thing since high school, especially so if you are well over mid 20.

Today, a great exemplary event has occurred.  Ken, a Korean-American classmate of mine, sits next to me.  He’s nice, but he is still pretty immature young – never serious, talks a lot, somewhat careless.  I never went out with him for a meal or drink, but I tried to keep things friendly.

So today, as I sit down, take books out and getting ready for the class, he started talking.

Ken: Yo, I went out with this Chinese kid, and he thinks you are Ajumma.  We were talking about you, and he was like “yeah I think she is Ajumma.  She looks like one.”

For those of you who doesn’t know what Ajumma means, here’s the link.  It’s not the most flattering word.  I can’t say I was in the best mood after hearing this, but honestly I really don’t care what these kids do or say.  I replied, “well, I’m older than most of you guys anyway.”

Then Ken said, “see, that’s why you have to come out and hang out with us more often.”

Oh wait…I think I’ve been in this situation.  Back in the college, a b*tch in Korean students community did pretty much same thing.  The difference is, she meant bad.  Ken just doesn’t know better. Oh lord, forgive this naiveté.  There’s a reason why you should not pass bad words, because it gets you in trouble, not the person who said it.

And, if you want to make someone to hang out with you, you should keep passing positive things, not “hey, so-and-so said you are like a pot dealer.  That’s why you should come out more.”  It should be more of trying to please the person – “hey, come on, it’s gonna be fun.  I know you like video games, we’ll play Wii.”  I wasn’t mad at Ken – but my frustration with these “young kids” was let loose.

Me: Well, why do you pass such words to me? They aren’t necessarily good words.  Why make troubles?

Ken: No, no, it was just that, nothing more than that.

And then he started to think I’m mad at him.  He messaged me how he is sorry.  Well, that’s not the point, is it? So I replied again:

You don’t have to be sorry because it’s not your fault. It’s just that if you expect someone to hang out with you, you guys should think twice and not pass the words, or talk things about people who are not present with you guys.

Then, like 10 hours later, he sent me an e-mail: details about how the conversation went, how they have better things to do than talk about me (then why pass the words to begin with?), how he was just throwing jokes and that’s what friends do, and how he’s going to keep things strictly ‘professional.’

First, I don’t care about what went on at their drinking table.
Two, I don’t think we are friends.
Three, even if you thought it as a joke, if the person hearing it isn’t very pleased, that’s not a joke.
Four, “professional?” since when we are “professionals?” Are we in the same workplace?  To my knowledge, we are full time students.
Five, if you want to apologize, drop all the bullsh*t and stick with your apology.  No background, no explanation, no sh*t.
Lastly, why sending me all these details 10 hours later?

I guess this is what guys feel when a girl they dated once or twice send them some long, mad letter with all these details and BS.  But hey, I gotta thank that he figured we are not BFF and how to leave me alone.  If I were a few years younger, I would send some long reply.  But as I age more, one of the life wisdom I realized is that it’s just not worth it.  Some people just don’t understand no matter how hard you try to explain.  If you see the sign, just walk away and leave it there.  As the Beatles said, let it be.

Drama Kings are no better than Drama Queens.  Boy I just can’t wait until the first year ends.

Rule of Good Biz 101: Don’t be an Ass.

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My law school has started, and the first month has been absolutely crazy.  Thanks to the superb infrastructure and service industry of South Korea, I’ve been taking a lot of things for granted.  For instance, Comcast installation took a good three days.  DHS took forever to update my status.  DMV registration took almost two full days (I never stayed more than 1.5 hrs in DMVs of Seoul).  Insurance took forever.  ‘Nuff said.  And then professors kept throwing assignments.  They don’t really explain things in class.  I feel very fortunate to have some friends living nearby (one of the benefits of CCK!). Though many students are nice, it can be frustrating because I see them every day, and majority of them are kids fresh out of college.  On the other hand, I’m the “unconventional student” with several years of work experience.  I feel more at ease when chatting with other “unconventional students” (no offense, but teaching English for 1-2 year doesn’t really count unless you really meant to be a professional teacher).

One of my professors is quite a character (I’m using politically correct statement here).  Here’s the history of our interaction.

First.

I sent e-mail to all of my professors to explain my every-delaying Comcast installation situation, how I’m new to the area and there isn’t really any place to use internet, so it would be great if they could provide me some hard copies of online reading if there is any.  I said it is likely to be sorted within next 1-2 weeks and added an apology.  Most were friendly.  One provided hard copy.  Another reserved a book in the library.  Another said the readings are from textbook so I shouldn’t worry.

Well, this…”special” professor’s reply was: No, I can’t.  You just have to figure out.

So as you can tell, my first impression of him wasn’t the most positive one.

Two.

He posts on the webboard constantly, from his iPhone, 9 pm, whenever wherever.  Then one night, he sent the whole class an e-mail with a picture of his puppy, and how it’s late Friday and how his spouse is working late so it’s only his dog and him in the home, so we all need to post on the webboard.

Why an earth would you send everyone an e-mail about your spouse, life, and pup?  To STUDENTS?

Three.

He started to bring beam projectors.  I don’t know why, but he doesn’t use screen.  He doesn’t turn off the lights completely.  He doesn’t really use zoom in features.  He projects it right on the board.  The board reflects light.  So unless you are sitting right across from the screen, it’s hard to see. He restricts seating to first four rows.

I knew what’s going on and what’s being projected, but I couldn’t really read.  Then he called me and asked question.  I answered, “the thing is…I can’t see it from here.”  So he said to come up.  I came up and answered his questions.  That evening, he personally sent me an e-mail, saying I should sit up closer.

I couldn’t help thinking “what the fuck…” I’m not a pre-schooler.  I replied:

Dear professor,

Yes, the same thought has occurred.  I guess it was the lighting and small letters, because I can see the board mostly fine.  But I will sit up closer.  Thanks for your concern.

Kind regards,
Ceberus

And next class, I pulled up two rows closer.

No change in lighting.  No zooming.  He called me again.  Same thing happened.  I was thoroughly annoyed.  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only person having this trouble.  One girl was called, and she, too, answered: “professor, I can’t really see.  Could you zoom in?”  Now that I think about it, most questions and answers came from the other half side of the class, but not my side.  So I posted on the class webboard:

Dear Professor,

When you are using the beam projector, could you please either turn down the lights further and utilize zoom in, or provide us hard copies of what is projected?  I know I’ve had the most problem regarding this matter, but I don’t think I’m the only one with this problem…

Kind regards,
Ceberus

Guess what his answer was:

Sit closer or speak up, otherwise I wouldn’t know.  Lights are already turned off, and hard copies are useless.

And then his TA told me he was annoyed, and somehow thought it’s rude for me to post it on the webboard.  His TA’s word of wisdom was, that that’s just the way he is, he wants his students to treat him like God (btw, Miss TA, teaching English in Korea for a few years…doesn’t really count as “work experience.”)

If I were a few years younger, my reaction would be fighting it.  But now that I have a bit more life experience, I know I’ll just have to suck it up.  After all, he’s the grader and I’m being graded.  I hate such kind of people.  I don’t readily give my respect.  I’ve seen a lot of not-so-respectable sides of big name people and wealthy family.

I bet he would love to be a professor in Korea.

Few weeks ago, a classmate of mine – another unconventional student, ex- Marine recruiter – had a chat, wondering why this professor left his job at some big Philadelphia firm after 7-8 years of practicing.  I said he’s the hard type to work with.  The classmate was basically thinking the same thing. “You see, even the law firm, in the end it’s business.  He talks and writes e-mail in a very condescending manner.  It’s hard to do business with that kind of person.”

After those three interactions, I think my classmate is right.  And it was a learning moment (even if it involved emotional roller coaster ride).  Even if you are a professional with the best performance and skill, or seller with the best product in the world, it can only take you to a certain point.  In the end, it is human interaction.  As long as you are not doing hopelessly lousy job, a lot of people will end up doing the business with someone who might be less in terms of the performance but has better personality and listens to you.  I certainly would.  If he was attorney and I am his potential client, I think I will go to someone else.

The success of business, or anything, isn’t a hidden skill or higher knowledge: be nice.  Don’t be an asshole.

Mad World

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I took a TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) today.  TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) isn’t much of a big deal for me, so TOEIC isn’t too hard either, if not easier.  Listening and reading boring 200 questions can be tiresome though.

These tests are not big deal for me, because I grew up in the United States and got good education, thanks to my parents who were dedicated and could afford to do so.  But for many others, these tests are big deal.  A lot of people did not have same experience with me (which is why I dislike people who credit no one else but himself for good outcome).  So far, I took TOEIC twice in Seoul – one in a high school building right next to my home, and another high school a bit away from my place.

These are 4-stories building, and I think their capacities are about 3-500.  Every single time I take TOEIC, the whole building is full.  The entire classrooms and wings are posted with test room numbers.  As the test is finished, a big crowd heading down to the 1st floor fills the building.  Many of them are college students, taking TOEIC for their job application (and this is why I took TOEIC, too – they just need it).  I saw more than five people, talking on the phone, saying things like “oh shi*t, that was so tough,” “How was it? I frigging bombed it.”  The sight of it makes me frustrated every time.

This just shows how system in South Korea is massively flawed.  English is a language.  It is a tool for certain purpose.  For instance, based on our common sense, someone who works in a domestic sales or teaching young students does not use English on daily basis for her/his job.  This person doesn’t really need to be a good English speaker.  Or, a college student who majored in Classic Korean Literature probably won’t need good English skill either.

The opposite is truth in South Korea, though.  You just have to have that TOEIC number even to apply for…everything.  A reporter once asked several Korean companies why they require TOEIC/TOEFL for candidates, and the candidates would actually use English on daily basis if hired.  Not one company could answer.

There is no evaluation system to make a good analysis of each candidate.  Well, to begin with, many of them don’t know how to write a job description, let alone the necessity of it.  So the only “standardized evaluation” they depend on is TOEIC and TOEFL.  How sad.

This is the core of problem in South Korea and its education.  It is so competitive.  Failure is not an option – especially in a world where certain behaviors and positions are expected depending on one’s age and gender, and being different is frowned upon.  So people end up spending loads of money, time, and energy on their kids, to make sure their kids to go to high-ranking college.  The finished products are dozens of test-taking grinders, who can’t do anything but getting a good grade and excel at tests.

The Korean public education is destroyed long before, but the government is turning blind eyes.  Sick and tired of the situation, the parents who can actually afford it (or have a chance to do so) send their kids abroad.  Those who can’t send their kids even temporarily, even if it’s not developed countries.

It’s more of “looking good” than the quality.

Mad world, it is.

Don’t Be So Wry, Sir.

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http://samurai01.egloos.com/tb/2802138

The above link is a blog post written in Korean.  I would look at his blog from time to time, since he is studying Japanese history, which is closely related to my 2nd major (And also a topic that continuously interests me).  Usually, I don’t really comment everything on someone’s blog.  Everyone is bound to think differently.  If I don’t like it, I don’t have to pick a fight.  Just leave it and do your stuff.
But this post really bothered me.  Mainly:

– That these parents of Korean students in prestigious American university have no reason to “spend frigging +$50,000” other than placing their kids to some financial firm at Manhattan.

– That the Korean students at his prestigious American university are well-behaved and nice, more than he used to think.  Because their parents “brainwashed” them to behave so being pretty wealthy family, and some thinks it’s the way to keep their reputation as “pretty wealthy family.”

First point.

What kind of crooked view is this?

Sure, maybe some Korean parents have such strange desire to place their kinds in some well-known financial firm in Manhattan.  But why make such a big leap of generalization, based on one school in one specific region?  Same can be said for many white American parents of my high school.  I know a plenty of them said to their kids’ college advisor, “I am not going to let my kid apply non-Ivy schools.”  I also know a ROTC guy (not Korean) who was terrified when he got his camp assignment – everyone in his family went ROTC and served in a same camp, and this guy didn’t get in.

I know a lot of Korean international students’ parents who sent their kids to America for a lot of different reasons.  Some just couldn’t handle the intensity of Korean high school students (which also greatly affects parents too).  Some didn’t want their kids to be order-following test-grinding machine (my parents, I guess).  And some had family crisis, such as divorce, so they sent their kids abroad.  Some had kids that really, really wanted to go abroad and study.

So don’t you fucking make such generalization, based only on a small portion of population, limited to a certain area.
Second point:

Again, what the heck is wrong with him?  He just can’t even appreciate someone’s good behavior?  And the reason behind their good behavior is only because they are from wealthy family?

Maybe, unlike myself, he had a plenty of well-behaved people around him so started to take them for granted.  All of the well-behaved, gentle people I’ve ever met were not limited to a certain social class.  The cleaning man and guests at the local homeless center were some of the best gentlemen.  Some of the most impolite, good-for-nothing kids I’ve ever met were from everywhere, from very wealthy family to just average.

At least based on my experience, someone’s manner and behavior have nothing to do with their family’s earning and social class.  If there is one standard that can tell anything about someone’s behavior and manner, that’s their parents’ value and personality.

Honestly, if you had a chance to meet someone who is nice and well-mannered, you are lucky just fucking appreciate it.  Don’t add things in and twist your view, like “oh, of course, it’s just another dirty trick to satisfy their vanity.”

Look, blog writer.  Few years ago, you wrote, as watching 20-something lady so surprised after crashing her Nissan Infinity, you didn’t really feel any sympathy, thinking “well, she’s got rich family, I bet.” Then you found yourself getting greatly worried over your friend’s phone call, saying he was involved in a car accident.  And that you were embarrassed to hold such double standard.

How do you know that Nissan Infinity is from her parents? Maybe it was her dream car, so she worked really hard or got a loan or was on a really good deal lease.

You, apparently, finished your Ph.D in one of the most prestigious universities over 6-7 years.

Shouldn’t you know better?  Generalization is no-no in the States, for most of people.  And, when you are writing things in open blog, you really should be careful of what you are writing.

See, this is why I don’t like many Koreans in America, especially those who came over much later in their life.  They generalize everything.  Everything is either black of white.  They only see a very small part of life.  They can’t just accept things as they are.  And, it’s not uncommon for them to bash on younger people who have international experience, saying “oh, those kids must be so spoiled, rude, just lucky kids with rich parents, blah blah blah” without ever considering the fears and stress they have (and consider them “nothing” compared to their own worries.  Now who’s impolite?).

People like you make us wanting to further distance ourselves from Korea.

Few years ago, a good friend of mine, Susie, shared one of her worries.  Back then, in her early 20s, Susie was going to one of the best schools for biology, so she was working at on-campus bio lab.  Susie is pretty hard-working student, who hates getting involved in politics and arguments.  So she just do her job, say bye, go back to her place and work on her assignments.

There was one Korean MA student (mid 30) in the same lab.  He finished his BA in Korea, and never lived abroad.  For no reason, he started to spread bad gossip on Susie.  He would approach Susie’s lab mate, and say stuff like “Susie’s so rude, she doesn’t greet me properly, it’s pretty selfish to just finish her job and go, blah blah.”  Susie was so stressed out, because 1) she didn’t have nerve to spare on this, and 2) she really could not figure out what she did wrong to him.  She said greetings to him properly, and they weren’t that close.

The only answer we could think of was…that he was just jealous.   He was jealous, because, being 30 something, he was struggling to swim in this brave new world he had never been, let alone language.  Then there was Susie, who was far younger than himself, yet speaks far better language and seems to handle stuff far better than himself.

Honestly, if I were him, I would just ask for help or focus on my damn business.  I don’t really understand him.  But now reading the above linked blog post, I think I know why.  Even if they go abroad and spend long years, they are still very Korean.

My Father is Constant Reminder for Why I Never Think Korean-Korean Guy as My Partner.

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I thought things have been going alright between my father and me.  I don’t mean that we started to talk so much and spent a lot of time together under rainbows and flowers and unicorns.  He didn’t pick on me, and I just kept my head low and did my things.  Well, there was a reason things were going too well, because he picked on me. Again. For nothing.

Few days ago, I ordered a gadget which I’ve used back in the States.  My father wondered what it is, so I handed him the manual.

Father: well, if you want me to read it, you’ll have to turn on the lights and get me my glasses.

So I rise from my chair to do them.  Then he said it’s not necessary, he was only joking, and I take everything too seriously.

My reaction?  What the fuck.

If someone handed you a manual, you can surely get your glasses and turn on the lights on yourself.  It’s not that difficult.

Earlier on that day, he said my amount of studying is nothing compared to what he did back in high school and college, and how he studied until he nosebleed. Guess what.  You were in your own country, your mom doing all your laundry and getting your meal.  You just had to study, not to worry about paying the bill on due date, tax filing, location of Korean supermarket and how to manage your movement for weekend shopping so you can do grocery shopping AND still work on your 40 pg paper, and most importantly, constantly worrying about your language skills, because you were studying in your first language.  And you just nosebleed a lot: doctor said you just have weak blood veins in nose.

Today, I was busting my butt off for working on some of the last sections of my online course (I am getting tired of this. Urgh).  It was near dinner time, so I called my mom’s cell to check where she is about.  No answer.  Maybe she’s back at home.  So I called home.  Father answered.

I: Is mom there yet?
Father: No, she’s not here yet.  I’ll call her.
I: No, that’s fine.  I called her a minute ago and she’s not answering.
Father: Okay I’ll call her.

…Did he not hear me? Nevertheless, I said I’ll be back.  On the way back, I had a bad craving for Garden Fresh Pizza from Papa John’s, so I dropped by to pick it up.  I made it back to home, with deliciously smelling fresh-cooked pizza (note: my father doesn’t like “healthy” “vegetable” stuff.  He doesn’t even try it, or try to). I said hello to him, sat down and munched down my pizza.  Then he found me with my pizza.

Father: Is that your dinner?
I: Yes?
Father: Then why didn’t you call me? I’ve been waiting so we can eat together.  What you did is rude.

I was dumbfounded.  Rude? If he is the kind of guy who just can’t eat alone, I’d knew it.  But he is man who can set his own table and eat alone (note2: as a Korean man, he deserves credit for this one).  If I remember correctly, there was no mention of anything like “let’s eat together” or “I’ll wait.”  To be honest, I’d rather drink a cup of milk for my dinner instead of having 5-star French course meal with my father only.

But, what can I say as a powerless daughter of Korean family.  I just said “yes, yes, my fault, sorry about it.”  So I ate my yummy pizza and he had his dinner in the kitchen.

After he finished eating, then he started picking on me again.  That:

– It is so ludicrous that I didn’t even call that I’ll just have my pizza for dinner while he is waiting for me.
* My answer: you didn’t say anything about it.  How the hell would I figure that out?  I’m no mind reader.

– Are you ignoring me? You don’t feel any weight around me?
* My answer: no, more like I want to minimize my contact with you, because I don’t feel like developing a good relationship with someone who can’t put his/her feet to others’ shoes and doesn’t give any single credit to others who are different from yourself.  So I guess my answer to your 2nd question is yes…?

Then he AGAIN complained how I don’t ever greet him in the morning or evening.
*My answer: AGAIN, I have my agenda to run, and my way of getting things done.  You didn’t really call me anyway like other fathers back in my school.  I didn’t complain.  You are complaining.    If you are grown up, you really should not expect others to do it for you.

Of course I didn’t say any of my answers out loud.  I just say yeah, yeah, sorry *munch my pizza*.

He still wants to be babysitted.  He doesn’t understand other family members have their own life and their own things to do, and not everyone will be just sitting there, waiting for him.  He doesn’t think that there are different ways of doing things done; and he thinks it’s bad because it’s nothing like his way.

Unless he approves that there are different ways, and accepts that his daughter grew up in a very different culture/surrounding from his, there will be no improvement.  That’s the minimum starting point.  But now I really don’t hope for anything.

He is a constant reminder of why I don’t like Korean-Korean guys and never consider them as a potential partner.

My Last Blind Date and Some Scary Wedding.

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Today’s posting would be something of girly and not very important personal update with Korean flavah.

Do you remember this post?  Yes, the wedding has happened and I went there with my family.  I could see they spent fortune on this wedding.  But the quality was…disappointing.  I know Korean wedding (to be more specific, Korean westernized wedding) is not the most exciting event in your life.  Invitees bring some money for gift, the couples just do ceremony in white dress and all, people clap, some boring and politically correct speech by someone with nice title and connection with family, maybe a song or two, everyone rush to the canteen/catering, eat and leave.  Sometimes the venue staffs will herd you out, so they can have multiple ceremonies per day.

Based on the venue, gossips, make-up and dress rentals, I wouldn’t be surprised if they spent one million hundred KRW (about 87,000 USD) in total.  I don’t want to comment on the amount of money – I didn’t pay it, they never asked me to chip in so I don’t get a say.  But if you spent that much money, you either expect a breathtakingly beautiful decorations, or 5-star rating food or…I don’t know, Adele singing live?  None of that happened. In sum, it was expensive yet totally tasteless wedding.  Expensive yet out-of-place Emanuel Ungaro dress, not-so-great food, whole bunch of mismatching flowers…My family all thought, “it’s just waste of money, I feel really bad for them…but they didn’t have any taste to begin with, no?”

Now, after the wedding, I keep hearing about the landmines that’s waiting to explode between Marza, Marza’s family and her husband’s family.  Well, well, fingers crossed (this is cynicism).

Since I am writing about wedding, I think this is a nice Segway moment to talk about adult man-woman relationship and marriage in Korea.  I know a lot of you American folks are cringing at “arranged marriage” and think it’s some barbaric custom.  But I, an Asian who grew up both in no-Asian town of America and Asia, am not too averse of it.  There are different “kinds” of arranged marriage.  Basically, the core of arranged marriage is your (or the date’s) parents get the potential date for you.  If you have laid-back parents who places priority on their kids’ emotion, then it’s not required to get the marriage date ASAP.  Now, if you have parents who are really anxious, the pressure is on, obviously.  Overall, the pressure increases as you get older – Korean people have problem accepting their children’s choice of life when it isn’t the norm, at least to them.  And there’s the notion thinking “my child doesn’t know better” – Amy Chua didn’t make up her Tiger Mom story.

Maybe it’s because there’s no such pressure on me (or any of those around me) yet, but anyway, I’m okay with it.  What’s to lose by meeting more new people? And they are recommended by people who know you very well.

So I had one of this nature last weekend (note: other than general background and contact information, our parents’ involvement was next to nothing, which was good.  Really, it was just like any other blind date).  The guy – let’s call him Peter – was recommended by my mom’s friend, who is a fine, gentle, hard-working person.  Korean Korean.  All I know is Peter’s family has been working as oriental med doctors for more than 100 years.  Though their earning is good, they still follow their ancestor’s will: that is not to move away from its original place, and keep the business at manageable size.  That deserves massive respect.

We texted to arrange a meeting place.  He just kept asking this and that in text, making me think “he can just call….” but then I thought maybe he doesn’t feel it’s appropriate.  Okay, whatever.  He suggested a Japanese dining bar.  I thought it a bit unusual – usually you are going a bit of high-end place for your first blind date, no? Ohhh, maybe he wants it to be casual.  I guess it’s not a bad idea to have first date over a cool pint of beer.

The date has come and I was there.  I was on time, but I wasn’t sure Peter – today’s “host” – is here yet. I called.

Ceberus: Hello? Hi, this is Ceberus, the person you are meeting today. 
Peter: Yeah.
Ceberus: I’m at the place, right outside. 
Peter: Yeah.
Ceberus: Are you in?
Peter: Yeah.
Ceberus: Okay I’m going in, see you in a minute.
Peter: Yeah.

Honestly, I was a bit off at this point.  This already sounds odd, no?  If a man is thirty something, I expect him to be able to respond to the “business” calls in formal manner.  How hard is it to say “Hi! Good evening! I’m in so come on in!”?

Anyway I went in, and I asked him to suggest/order for me because it’s my first time here.  He just ordered foods.  Fine – but if you are just going to order foods, what’s the point of meeting at izakaya?  We could’ve gone to the other Japanese restaurant.  Since the host isn’t ordering, I couldn’t either.

We started chatting.  I found that he served at public service unit (all Korean men has to serve in military: if your physical condition prohibits to do so, such as bad waist or terrible eyesight, you are usually placed for public service), so I brought up some of my guy friends doing the same thing.  Then for some reason, he started to talk about some fist fight initiated by Korean age hierarchy.  Which is hardly a good topic to start if you want to leave someone a good impression.

We soon started to talk about our majors.  His major was oriental medicine (in Korea, oriental medicine courses are treated similarly with western med schools and they are officially doctors, subject to medical insurance).  Surprise.  I said my major was political science.  Then Peter looked very excited, saying he wanted to study politics but couldn’t do it due to his father’s objection.

Oh, this may be a good sign.

No it wasn’t.

His question: “so which political party do you support?”

….I thought politics, religion and abortion are big no-no in any kind of first meeting, regardless of country.  What the heck is happening.

I had to find a way to answer this politely, so I just said “well…they all look same!”

Peter said he wanted to study politics because his childhood home was near to the Blue House and envied the president’s parade.

Fine, this I can take as a sweet childhood memory.

Then he said, all man should aim for being a president before dying.

Fine.  But you are thirty.  Time to wake up.

I really wanted to talk about other stuff, but he was too excited and went on. He said Korean race is the best and brightest in the world and he supports nationalism.

Oh fug.

You are talking to a TCK, people in general hating nationalism and ethnicism.  And this is 21st century, the era of globalization.  What time are you living in?

So finally I had to say: “Peter, honestly, having been grown up in one of the most diverse countries in the world, I don’t really sympathize with nationalism and ethnicism-centered education of Korean history.  In fact, I really don’t like nationalism.  IMO, it’s the seed of all wars and hatred.”

He looked startled, and said, he thought I would be interested because I’m…politics major.  Again, I had to explain: “there are two kinds of politics major students. One is those who want to change the world with their hands; another is those who likes observing the whole situation from background and analyze the data.  I’m the latter.”

I don’t think he was too happy with it.  Same here anyway.

At least he was well behaving, so we had a tea, and he drove me back to home.  In his car, he talked about his studying.  I chimed in.

Ceberus: It sounds like your dad is oriental doctor, too.
Peter: He is.
Ceberus: Oh, that’s wonderful!
Peter: No, not really.
Ceberus: Why?
Peter: Well, dang, I want to play but it’s impossible to skip my study and lie since he knows everything.

I’m speechless…

So that was the end of my blind date.

Someone said: the more blind dates you do, the list of awful man increases.

Sometimes though, I feel like Korean men, in general, are immature than American guys.  I think I know why.  In the States, kids – men included – are encouraged to live independently.  People rarely live with their parents (and there’s some stigma attached to those who do, though there is increasing number of kids who are doing it due to recession).  For most people, they live away from their family and do a lot of things on their own once they start their college education.  Meanwhile they have experience of earning money on their own.

For Korean guys, this isn’t the case.  Since their birth to college, majority of people live with their parents.  They’ve never done things by themselves – doing laundry, preparing meals, earning stipends, repairing their bike, etc.  A lot of them live off from stipend given from their parents.  It’s pretty obvious who matures first.

I understand why.  But I just can’t sympathize with them (I bet I startle them too).  Maybe it’s one of those pains of hidden immigrant.