What was Your Culture Shock Experience?(2)
What was Your Culture Shock Experience?(2)
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  • 승인 2009.09.03 21:46
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Daniel Svoboda
English Language & Literature
Yeungnam University


I love to eat. Almost everyone does. I have yet to meet a person who doesn't enjoy a good meal now and then. As a species, we set aside specific parts of the day for eating. Pity the student who proposes a study session at twelve noon or six in the evening! We don't take kindly to people interfering with our meals. Lovers meet over a romantic dinner, friendships are cemented during lunch and previously distant classmates bond when they gather for a simple breakfast at one of the three student cafeterias at Yeungnam University.
Anyone moving to a foreign country can expect to be a little surprised when they first sit down to eat a local meal. New ingredients, smells, flavors, cooking styles and eating methods can tempt as well as repel the taste buds and appetite. When I first moved to Korea, I came face-to-face with a variety of new foods and dining experiences. The first among them was sitting on the floor for a meal served on a low dining table called bapsang. My legs were cramped, but I soon grew accustomed to this new way of eating. The eating utensils were also interesting. No other country in the world uses metal chopsticks. I have since learned that the spoon is ideal for scooping up soups and stews and the thin chopsticks build the necessary dexterity to pick up even the most slippery of foods, such as acorn jelly 'dotorimuk'.
The ingredients used in some of the dishes were often ones I had never eaten before. Squid, raw fish, pork intestines, spicy rice cakes, and wild vegetables 'na-mul' were not part of my regular diet until I arrived in Korea. The sauces that these novel ingredients were cooked in were also either too spicy or too salty, at least until I got used to them. Korean food preparation styles were also different. A lot of food, such as kimchi and bean paste, is fermented. Fermented food has a strong odor in addition to a very unique taste. I didn't like it much when I first arrived, but now I can't imagine eating Korean food without kimchi.
The key to enjoying foreign cuisine is to remember that the adjective different is not a synonym for better or worse. Food is not to be judged but enjoyed. I encourage all foreign students at YU to try as many types of Korean food as they can. YU students studying overseas can also explore new and exotic foreign foods. In this win-win situation, the only potential loser is the ever-expanding waistline.


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