An increasing number of foreign students from diverse backgrounds have been registering for studies at Dankook University (DKU). With this increased cultural diversity on campus, has come greater opportunities for interaction with people from different backgrounds for all Dankookians (students of DKU). Nevertheless, there hasn’t been enough opportunities for students to learn about other cultures on their own. Moreover, it is often difficult to understand each other because of the variety of cultural backgrounds. To avoid any problems, its best to take the time to get to know more about your fellow students and to work towards closing the cultural gap. The Dankook Herald (DKH) interviewed international students currently attending DKU to learn more about our differences and try to shrink the gap in understanding one another.
|▲ It is important to understand the cultural difference.|
Category 1: Dating Culture
Most international students enjoy Korean dramas and when they imagine a relationship between a Korean guy and girl, they picture it as lovely and romantic. Is this true? What’s it like to date in other countries? We asked a few Dankookians what they thought.
The DKH) What are the different stages of relationships in your countries?
KOR: In Korea, we talk a lot before we go on a date. Once you are certain you are interested in and after a few dates, we call it “Sum.” At this stage, if the couple holds hands or makes contact of a sort, it means they are likely to start a relationship.
USA: In America, we have getting to know stage called ‘talking’. It is literally talking to him or her. We ask about things he or she likes. And before we start dating, we introduce him or her to our parents. It can be through a dinner or inviting them to our house. It helps them to not take the relationship for granted.
UKR: When we have a relationship, we hide it for about 1 month because if you don’t, it brings bad luck like a break-up. We open it to friends and families after 1 month.
The DKH) Do you celebrate anniversaries?
KOR: We have various anniversaries. 22-day, 50-day, 100-day, 200-day and 1 year. After a year, we only celebrate every year. But we celebrate 1000 days. It depends on the person, so if you date, you need to talk about it with your partner.
USA: We count 3 months. We remember the first date of relationship and we celebrate at 3 months, 6 months and 9 months.
MAL: We only celebrate holidays and 1 year. We go out to have some romantic dinner or it depends on how the boy treats a girl. He can give gifts like flowers or a couple T. The guy usually pays.
|▲ The Dankook Herald was interviewing the international students.|
Category 2: Drinking Culture
Most countries around the world have set their drinking age limit below 21. However, some of the countries do not even have drinking age laws while others completely prohibit alcohol consumption.
The DKH) In Korea, we often get to know each other while playing drinking games. Does your country have a culture of playing drinking games too?
KOR: I want to introduce a drinking game called, “The game of death” First, point to any person you want. Then, someone says a number. The number indicates how many times the arrow of your arm will move. Then count the numbers and the last person you point to drinks.
USA: I'd like to introduce you to a game called "Beer Pong," which is the most famous game in the United States. A crowd of ordinary people plays this. The rules are simple. First, divide yourselves into two teams and place 6 to 10 cups on the other side of a table. Each person in the group throws a ping pong ball. If someone manages to land their ball in a cup, the other team drinks alcohol. It is easy to learn, classic drinking game and fun for everyone.
MEX: This game is a dice game. This game is played by a person who rolls two dice three times and gets the lowest total score. If you get the same number on both dice, you can get a lot more points than if you don't, they make a drink for the loser.
DKH) What cultural differences exist between the drinking culture in Korea and your country?
KOR: In Korea, you should drink all the alcohol that adults give you. Also, in Korea, there is a culture that mixes alcohol and we call it 'bomb alcohol'. In Korean culture, drinking alcohol well is taken as a symbol of strong manhood.
VIET: I understand that Koreans celebrate their birthday with friends mixing alcohol and various foods, which at first, I didn't understand. It seemed to kill people, but the longer I stay in Korea, the more I realize that this is just part of the culture.
UKR: The first thing that surprised me when I came to Korea was that a woman drank without her boyfriend. In our country, women must drink with their boyfriend unconditionally. That's because men can take you home even if you're drunk.
Category 3: Dining Culture
What’s considered polite at the dinner table in one country might be considered rude in another country. So to avoid embarrassing yourself or offending your fellow diners, it’s good to know some basic dining etiquette before sitting down to a meal with foreign friends.
The DKH) Do people in your country say some phrases before eating?
KOR: We do. We usually say ‘dig in’ before eating (kind of meaning that I’ll eat well). This shows appreciation for both the chef and the food. Also, some people pray before eating and end with ‘Amen’.
Kyrgyzstan: We have a similar one. We do ‘omin’ after eating. Omin is a Muslim tradition. We say omin lowering both our hands from up to down. This is to pay respects to our ancestors.
UKR: We have to say “have a nice meal” before eating but not after eating. We accept it as good manners, so we have to say it before eating.
The DKH) Is there anything else that is special or different in Korea?
USA: Tip cultures. We have a tip culture. Customers leave tips as a percentage of price: 10% means the service was okay, 15% means it was good and 20% means it was excellent. Customers who do not tip are considered rude and some restaurants blacklist customers.
MEX: In our country, all people eat food at the same time whether young or old while Korea, elderly people eat first then younger people eat. And similarly, we wait for our friends to eat together.
|▲ The Dankook Herald knows about the cultural differences in different countries through the interview.|
Category 4: Culture Shock in Korea
Every country has their own culture, but there may be some things that some foreigners find hard to accept. From our panel, most of them said that they knew a lot about Korea before they came, but this is what we learned.
The DKH) Did you experience any culture shock after you came to South Korea?
MAL: In Korea, they have a thing called a “birthday glass” where they add lots of food into a jar with alcohol and the birthday guy or girl must finish it. And when Koreans say cheers they need to finish the cup which is full of alcohol and it's considered rude if you don’t finish your drink.
USA: Koreans like to wear couple shirts, buy couple phone cases and other things like that which are very weird and make me cringe because couples in America don’t do that. It’s also kinda weird for me that Koreans order food like 2 big dishes and share them because in America we don’t share food, we order food for ourselves.
TWN: The elderly we see on the streets in Korea is very different from those that we see in K-dramas. In K-dramas, the elderlies speak and act very politely. However, in reality, they are actually quite rude, especially those that you see on the subway. For example, even if they accidentally bump into you, they will not apologize and sometimes even get angry because you are blocking their way.
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