Tag Archives: UK

Watching the Meet The Amish

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http://natgeotv.com.au/tv/meet-the-amish/

Following the Meet the Natives, there’s Meet the Amish from NatGeo Adventure.  Five Amish kids from Ohio and Indiana goes on to the England for their Rumspringa.  I guess it was a bit of culture shock for Englishpeople who hosted their homestay, too – for Amish is something American (yeah, okay, definetely not mainstream) and a closed society.

For me Amish wasn’t that much of a big deal.  Sure, couple of white girls and boys running around together in head covering and big dress was not everyday thing, but then I grew up in Indiana, one of the top three Amish area.  It was quite common to see at least one Amish girl walking around the local shopping mall (so you can imagine MY culture shock by spotting an Amish girl popping out from the Hot Topic).  I also visited local Amish town, where it is heavenly quite, people awfully nice (and me being looked at – Asian in Amish town, take that).

It just reminded me of living in the Midwest.  Though I don’t necessarily agree with everything with Amish does, like no birth control and limited female role, some of their ethics and beliefs are very nice.

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Being Smart Doesn’t Help You.

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At least in hiring process in Asian company.

Sorry for being MIA for a long time, readers.  While I’ve been studying for LSAT, my motivation started shake pretty badly, because the employment for graduates were bad, and even worse for non-citizen internationals like myself.  People who graduated from top10 schools, like Columbia, were coming back to South Korea because no one was offering them a job, let alone internship.  Now that is something I really do not want, especially after busting your butts for 3 years and paying huge sum of tuition.  And my score stalled (which isn’t impressive at all, by the way).

Then I randomly ran into a global hiring posting by a prominent Japanese company (henceforth JC).  This company is fast-growing, young Japanese company who did really well even in the global recession, and they are very aggressive in international expansion.  Most importantly, they sponsor your visa and you get to work in Tokyo.  There aren’t many employers willing to sponsor your visa in times like this, and in my humble opinion, it is a bit foolish to not to take such an opportunity.  After all, I didn’t have much to lose.  Even after law school, I would love to work focused on Japanese market, and I thought it would be a good chance to test myself and the company – whether I can fare as TCK in Japan, and the company really means what they say.  And, I wanted to check I can actually handle the daily work.  Plus, they pay for the flight and accommodation – and the JPY is frigging expensive.  Hell yeah!  I applied, passed the resume screening, 2 interviews, and 2 personality tests.  Then I was invited to Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan for final interview.  According to the official e-mail, the chosen candidates were to spend 9 days in Tokyo, having some presentations, group discussion, 2.5 days on field, and then final interview.

The flight arrangement was not smooth at all.  Some of the factors are my fault, but again, many things could have been better if the outsourced company planned a bit more carefully.  For instance, my flight schedule was changed once.  The flight number and time were same.  I went to the Incheon airport on the day of my flight, and handed my passport and e-ticket.  The lady at the desk looked really confused, and said: “ma’am, your flight doesn’t leave from here.  It leaves from Gimpo airport.” (Seoul city has two airports).  Fortunately, I did not miss my flight but I had to give up all my practical duty-free shopping, like my formal black coat which was 30% off.  I am just glad Tokyo’s temperature did not drop much during my stay.  It turned out that the flights have exactly same numbers, but two different flights leaving from different airports.  I wasn’t the only person confused.  Honestly, it would have been more convenient to let people book their flight individually and file compensation to the company.

Then, for some reason, the company did not make a solid plan for meals.  So 15+ people who flew from all over the world had to just follow chaperon, visited a restaurant, wait outside for a seat availability, kicked out, walk, then another restaurant.  Had they thought more, they could have divided us into smaller groups (Roppongi doesn’t have big restaurants with lots of seats!) or made reservation to somewhere else.  Really, it’s not that hard.

But all of this are nothing compared to people from Russia and Mongolia.  Something went wrong in immigration, and they were locked in the airport for 3+ hours.  As soon as they arrived at the office, they were greeted by 3 hours long personality test.  During the program, We were given 2.5 days to spend in actual workplace.  After the first day, each group’s field experience was vastly different, and it wasn’t hard to infer that the pre-arrangement was next to non-existent.  Around the middle of program, a strange rumor was spread- that after the interview, the company’s human resource officers will secretly pick candidates to have final round of interview with the CEO.  Not everyone took it seriously, and many thought it is just some urban legend created by frustration and nervousness.  After all, you wouldn’t do such a covert operation when you are doing “international hiring,” and many people came all the way from the other side of earth, flying 10+ hours.  Right?

The 6th day was supposed to be wrap-up/review meeting with human resource people.  Well, in the morning, the human resource officer said the plan has changed and the interview will be today.  Not an ideal situation but not impossible to be understood.  But then, the interview arrangement was shit.  They had only two interviewers to interview 27 people in a day.  Expectedly, interviewers were totally worn out, and toward the end some candidates were given only 4-5 minutes, if not waiting for 6 hours locked in a waiting room.

Then on the next (and also the last) day, we were supposed to have a group discussion.  A lady from human resource picked 7-9 people, saying there is something wrong with their personality test so they will have to retake it.  Now, this already sound strange – retake? On the last day?  And those people were asked to bring their translation receiver.  When one candidate asked, “excuse me, but why are they taking receiver for taking a test?”  The officer said “well, they just have to be returned for a while.”  Nice excuse, ma’am.  The rumor turned out to be true.  In addition, the “chosen ones” were asked to lie to others (that they took test, not the final interview with CEO) by human resource in order to “keep everyone happy.”  Instead, the intention of “keep everyone happy” really made everyone awkward with each other.  And people knew it anyway, so what was the point of “lying?”  If you want to hide something, hide it well.

Since I had a working experience in South Korea (where the business culture is very similar with Japan), my reaction was more like “well, I should’ve expected it…” (not that I was happy with it).  Now, the people from UK were flipped.  Totally flipped.  They pretended that they are just asking others’ opinion, but really they made a pretty clear complainant to the company.  By no means I am saying the chosen ones were undeserving losers – but everyone who were called to the “secret final interview” were people who don’t really have their own opinion (or don’t really state it), a bit naive, zero to little experience living in Japan, and speak zero no little Japanese.  Now, if you say you are looking for someone who are going to work in Japan yet hire someone who has zero to little Japanese experience, I think the message is clear: the company wants people who are easy to deal with, follow their way unquestioningly, and easy to train. Some people who were active and/or received positive feedback on in-field experience did not get the job.

If the supervisors who actually spent time with us were decision makers, I think the result would be very different.  But they were not decision makers, and usually, Asian middle managers don’t want smartest/brighest/talented/skilled people to be hired – they don’t want to be outsmarted and lose their face in public.

Now I really don’t hold any hope on Asian big-shots’ “globalization.”  If you are doing everything in a very local way while hiring, how would you expect to have a diverse, fresh view in your company?  I would not expect the companies to be 100% honest on their intention.  But if what they want is “nice” malleable people, they really should not say they want someone active and self-thinking – for three days straight.  This company calls itself as young, active, and a totally new type of Japanese company.  They could’ve just told us such-such things are to be expected, instead of hiding everything (and never admitting it even after everyone knows everything).  Go and screw your sorry ass, and forget about globalization.

I don’t want to sound like ugly American/Westerner who believes everything  western is better (after all, I’m not exactly the westerner).  But in terms of communication and getting to the goal, west is better – there’s no crap and meaningless effort involved to hide.

On the positive side – my supervisor liked me, I got some compliments, and people whom I spent time together liked me.  And I got to visit some of my dear people in Japan.

All that whining music saved me

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Oasis

Oasis

 

 

Radiohead

Radiohead

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some people are not a big fan of downbeat, introspective, dark shoegazing music.  I.E, sissy and whinny.  Music does affect people’s mood.  For this reason, there are plenty of people claiming a depressed person should avoid listening to these sissy sad music; some goes further, dissing these bands/musicians altogether.  “Look,” they say, “stop locking yourself up in your bedroom and play that silly music all the time.  Come out and enjoy the weather.  Listen to some happy music.  That will cheer you up for sure.”

It’s not entirely untrue; but looking back my life, that didn’t hold true for me.

Plastic Tree

Plastic Tree

I might look like a normal geeky kid with no trouble record, decent grade and alright relationship with people, but I was so lonely in highschool.  After experiencing some tough incidence in my junior high, I knew that anyone can possibly backstab me and I’d better be careful.  I also knew that small community of girls can be very tiring – all that gossiping and making a big deal out of nothing.   I don’t know whether it was because of my INTJ man-scanning instinct or experience, but either way I am not all-out open person when I first meet someone.   My high school was a big, elite-club, cliquish bubble community.  Everyone knew each other – even teachers and students, since the school had preschools to high school.  Think of J-Crew catalogues.  Imagine Gossip Girl and Desperate Housewives: now move the setting to small, wealthy Midwestern town.  If you still can’t imagine, watch this:

Now you have the idea – I almost had goosebumps when I first saw this video, because it was so like my high school.

I turned for Korean student community.  After all, I wanted to try what it is like, and was excited to see that many Koreans in my school.  I thought I would have no problem, because I’m Korean.  Soon I started to see my expectation was wrong.  I could never understand why Korean kids always have to do everything together, even if you have to sit with someone you really don’t like during lunch.   If they spot you hanging out with some white kids or bail out of some kind of group activity because of your schedule, all of sudden the whole Korean community started to bash on you and deem you as some sort of traitor.

Syrup 16g

I still don’t understand why Koreans are so obsessed with “proper treatment of senior classmen” even when they are no longer in Korean school.  If you fail to use honorifics Korean or fail to call your (Korean) senior classmen with sunbae nim, again you just turned the entire Korean student community to your enemy.  I still don’t understand why Korean students HAVE to go to Korean church, when there are hundreds of other churches or religious community.  Lastly, I still do not see why the seniors expect you to do whatever they tell you to, and get flipped if you don’t, even with a proper explanation and excuse (they believe you are simply lying).   No wonder why so-called Global Club was consisted entirely of Koreans.  After my first year with Korean Student club Global Club, I quitted.  That was also the last time I ever joined any kind of Korean club.

I hung out of some Korean girls, mostly out of social appropriation and not making any enemy.  I couldn’t really be a full member of that group – after our school vacation, they would always bring some Korean pop CD and magazine to share.  While all of them are giggling about this new Korean actress and drama, I was really not interested (I tried).   For some reason, they were able to distinguish this actress from that actress while they were in States; I couldn’t.  I tried to listen my favorite Japanese pop album, then a plenty of them flat refused my suggestion, saying they don’t like to listen to a singing in foreign language.

Dir en grey
Dir en grey

By nature I enjoy being alone and capable of doing many things on my own (example: I can totally eat alone in the big restaurant).  However I was lonely and felt there was no one to turn to.  Until I find two of my good friends (bless their souls), all that whinny, sissy music was the only thing I can turn to.   I tried some happy pops, but I couldn’t really fall for it.  The words were about some distant world that I’m not a part of.

That was my blowhole.  Listening to these musics in my bed, doing nothing, with open window, cold winter breeze and sometimes snow, I could let all the things I wanted to say out – the things that no one quiet understood at the time.  That’s probably why I can’t let go of them, no matter how these bands fell into mannerism/plagiarism/bad music/breakup, etc.  They are part of me.  If they were not there, I really don’t know what would have become of me.  And I’m glad I was able to reach out for the music.

BBC’s Sherlock – UK and BBC, turning me into Otaku every day.

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Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant (x as much as you want).  If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes series, and have a wet dream of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson coming into real life of 2010, do watch this.  The show was this year’s BBC’s biggest hit, and caused the Sherlock hype all over the Britania.  I’m in for the hype, as I took my Korean version complete edition of Sherlock Holmes, and attempting to buy English edition in near future.

I knew Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss always write a fabulous drama (heck, they write for Doctor Who, and Moffat also wrote Jekyll – which is one of my favorite show).  Trevor Eve bashed on it recently, and he has a point, but hey.  They write good shows.  And, even better, they are Holmes fans.  Everything is updated to 21st century, such as Holmes taking advantage of smartphones and the pair calling each other “Sherlock” and “John” instead of their surnames.  The famous lines are so cleverly updated – “I’ll be lost without my Boswell,” “The game is afoot!” and such.  I almost wept.  So reader, if you are about to cringe, crying out “that is not my Holmes!! Blasphemy!!”  Chill out, no worries.  If you are one of those “purists” who firmly believes in middle-aged Holmes, and foggy Victorian London, you might not like it.  All the updates are within the fine boundary of original texts.  They would better, since the executive writers are Holmes fan.

The stories are based on original story and characters, but slightly twisted here and there.  But they never go too far from the original.  So very well written.

Your 21st-century version of Holmes and Watson at good ol' 221b Baker.

The characters and casting – the show will be dead without these.  I think they did such a fine job with the character “updates” and casting.  Benedict Cumberbatch, the 75th Sherlock Holmes (and possibly the youngest), is the Holmes.  When I first saw his face, I immediately thought “holy mother, where did they get THE Sherlock Holmes?”  He has such a distinctive face – high brow and cheek, tall and straight nose, sunken cheek, long face, skinny.  Almost all BBC actors are properly trained in acting, but his performance is very good – just on the verge of madman and sane, cold, unexpected, somewhat androgynous.  I’d love to see more of his Holmes.  One thing clear: unlike most of the BBC Sherlock fans, I don’t think he is hot, cute, nor sexy.  There is something sentimental and airy in his eyes, and I guess many women take it as “sexy.”  Honestly, if Cumberbatch or someone looks like him asks me whether they can kiss me, I’d frown a bit and say “er…”  I do like Cumberbatch’s acting and his version of Holmes though.  It’s addicting.

Watson is wonderful, too.  Yes, it’s still that good, friendly Dr. Watson who keeps getting dragged here and there by Holmes, fulfilling all of his choirs.  I think Martin Freeman added a clever improvisation on Watson’s character.  Usually Watson is depicted as one of the background person, except the fact that he is Holmes’ best friend.  He doesn’t really do anything except shooting at the right moment, recording the cases and compliments Holmes.  Sometimes you even forget he is an ex-soldier.  Freeman’s Watson is great.  He is the friendly Watson as we all know, but this time we can tell he is an ex-soldier, and shows why he is such a great sidekick of Holmes.  I think I’ve never liked Watson like this before!

Pilot was promising, but a bit boring.  1st episode was orgasmic, 2nd wasn’t bad but a bit lagging, and last was just….a Christmas.  With the worst (in a positive way) cliffhanger.  BBC, you evil bastards.  Give me the next season, right now.

I’d be ecstatic if they do the 21st century version of the Adventure of Yellow Face, Gloria Scott and the Hound of Baskerville – my all-time Holmes favorite.