(This post is part of the “Looking Past Korea” Series, my general wrap up on Korean culture. So far I’ve gone over superficial differences of Korea and cultural aspects that I think are over rated by foreigners. In this part I talk about the things that I think make Korea unique and different to Western Culture)
Even though I’m just a little over a year removed from a college atmosphere I think it’s safe to say that college was the greatest experience of my life.
I’m not married, I have no kids, and technically I have few responsibilities that go beyond myself, so perhaps there’s something out there that will change all this, but from the beginning of college to the end I have become a completely different person than I was in high school. I doubt such a transformation will ever happen again. And I loved every second of it.
You could blame it on the academic atmosphere and what not, but I blame it on the independence. No longer did I have to hedge myself to my parent’s wishes. No longer did I have to be home on time. No longer did I have to wake up every Sunday morning at 7 o’clock to get ready for Church.
In high school I was my parent’s son. In college I was myself.
In Korea, for the most part, people live with their parents till they are married. You’re 28 and single? You’re probably living with your parents. Imagine the ramifications. When I started college I could hardly wait to get out on my own. Who cares that I was dirt poor for a few years?
What are the ramifications? Let’s just say that the phrase “30 is the new 20” does not apply in Korea. If you’re 30 and unmarried in the United States there’s a 50/50 chance you’re either a loser or a socialite. In Korea, about 95 percent chance of being a loser.
People are eager to get married earlier. People are constantly surrounded by other’s who they have to answer to.
When I was in college I was completely surrounded by people at all times, but I did not have to answer to them. Once my freshman roommate didn’t come home for a week. I took this opportunity to steal all his porn from his computer, change his homepage to hotmale.com (re-read that web address again), eat his ramen noodles and drink his beer. Never once did I wonder if he was ok. I can’t imagine that happening with parents around.
Being on my own made me become my own person. I alone was responsible for myself.
Culturally, this is one thing I don’t think I will ever completely understand about Korean culture.