Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

Culture Shocked Without Leaving Home

In Native American culture shock, Native American reverse culture shock on February 28, 2010 at 3:47 am

Mary Winter and Lorraine Smith Mary Winter with her mother, Lorraine Smith

One thing that I really appreciate about my community, especially my church community is its diversity. I’m never without African or Filipino food at a potluck.

Tonight my church sponsored an international food festival complete with food and entertainment from 22 countries including Zimbabwe, Ghana, the Philippines, England, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Germany and more.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Romanian Sarma, Filipino egg rolls, British scones, and German sauerkraut, but also took the opportunity to talk to several of the immigrants and their experiences with culture shock in America.

Right next to my Pennsylvania Dutch food station was Mary Winder (the granddaughter of the Oneida Nation activist who started the fight to re-acquire native lands) and her mother Lorraine Smith, serving samples of butternut squash with maple syrup.

Winder was born on the Onondaga Indian Nation reservation in Central New York and is part Oneida and Seneca Indian.

Winder has always lived in America, but has often experienced culture shock when going between the nations and the general American population.

Winder spoke her native Oneida language at a young age, but was soon encouraged to speak only English in school. She didn’t speak it again until her 30s.

Members of the Oneida Nation use baby boards, like the one pictured, as a baby seat. The babies are placed on the wall at face level so they can see what is going on in the room.

Years later today, she tries to use the language, but struggles to understand everything said at Indian ceremonies.

When going to funerals she struggles to understand everything that is said and doesn’t fully comprehend that person’s greatness, she said. “I feel like I’m caught between” (the languages)” she said.

Winder has learned how to act to fit in both cultures, but still sometimes notices the difference in American funerals.

Emotions of sadness are freely expressed at funerals in the nation, but “off the reservation you’re not supposed to cry” she said. “It doesn’t make sense.”


Foodie Friday – Dolsot Bibimbab

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2010 at 2:48 am

Dolsot Bi bim babIt took me a trip to China before I realized how much I love Korean food.

During my time there the food was yummy but oily. After a couple days my stomach was ready to go back to the fresh bold spiciness that normally involved kimchi (and a happy digestive system).

I hope that it won’t take you a trip to China (not that traveling to China is a bad thing) before you discover the yumminess that is Korean food.

Even before I had fully embraced Korean food, I liked dulsot bimbimbap(pictured), a mixture of rice, red chili paste, an egg, bean sprouts, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini or any number of vegetables or meat–served in a very hot stone pot.

So, I figure it is the first dish I’ll share with you.

Warning: I am not a cook, so I’m sharing someone elses recipe.


Rice – 1 cup
Chinese Broccoli (Spinach) – 1 small bunch, chopped
Zucchini – 2 medium, peeled and chopped
Broccoli – 1 small bunch, chopped into florets
Bean sprouts – 1 cup, washed
Carrot – 1 small, thinly sliced
Eggs – 4
Soy sauce – to taste
Sesame oil – to taste
Salt & pepper – to taste

For the Spicy sauce:
Gochu jang – 2 tbsp Can be bought at any Korean market
Sugar – 2 tsp
Sesame oil – 1tsp

Mix all the sauce ingredients with little water to get a pourable sauce.
Cook rice and keep aside.
In a large sauté pan, add 1tsp peanut oil and sauté Chinese broccoli until just wilted. Season with soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper (S+S+S+P). Remove onto a plate.

In the same pan, sauté zucchini till tender; season with S+S+S+P. Remove onto a plate.

Boil 5-6 cups water in a sauce pan; add the sprouts and boil for 2 minutes. Completely drain water; season with S+S+S+P, keep aside. Steam broccoli and season with S… (you get the idea, just steam/saute/boil any veggie and season with S+S+S+P and keep aside).

In the meantime, make an omelet and keep aside.
When ready to serve, place some rice in the bottom of the serving bowl, add all the toppings so they cascade down from the center. Also make sure that same colored toppings are not put next to each other. Then put a dollop of spicy sauce and your omelet. To eat, mix everything together and enjoy the burst of flavors.

Special thanks to Pavani for this recipe

My first bimbimbap after coming back to the states. I was at a shop in Silver Spring, Md.

When I Was In Korea

In "When I was in Korea", ex-pat Korea stories, Korean withdrawl, Lee Myung-bak encounter on February 26, 2010 at 12:13 am

Lee Myung Bak Post a comment with your own “When I was in” story and I’ll share how I met this famous Korean.

People from my high school will probably remember Dean Ringer’s “When I was in Korea” stories. Why did he always tell them? Did anyone want to know about days gone by in a foreign land with lots of rotted cabbage?

Well, I do now. And, I have those very same urges to share my own “When I was in Korea” stories.

I’ll just get them out of the way so we won’t have to have this conversation in person.

When I was in Korea I taught some of the cutest kids on earth. No lie. You might think you have some little ones in your life that beat their cuteness, but no.

When I was in Korea I could travel from one end of the country on a high speed train in 3 hours. I could get across the entire city of Seoul on a train, bus or even in a cab(for less than $20). Oh, the transportation system was lovely.

When I was in Korea I could walk by myself in the middle of the night and feel completely safe. My first week in Syracuse I was afraid of walking to my car at night after class. And I still haven’t gotten over that one.

When I was in Korea I could spend a day at a spa full of saunas and whirlpools and get perfectly exfoliated skin for a only 7,000 won/$6.

I could keep on going, but I will stop for now.

A common issue among returned travelers is that they have so much to talk about and hardly anyone wants to talk about their travel/living experiences. OK.. That is not completely true. People do ask, but are ready to move on to another topic in 5 minutes.

When I first got back. I was lucky enough to have travel-friendly friends who actually wanted to talk about my experiences, and to have friends still in Korea that I could live vicariously through. But, a few more “When I was in Korea” stories would have probably helped me get through my KimBap Chungguk withdrawl faster.

Thank goodness I also started grad school soon after I got back. Now I can talk about my “When I was in bootcamp” stories with my fellow MNOers and discuss our exciting Syracuse winter weather with the senior citizens at my church. Still not as exciting as seeing a B-boy show in the middle of the night in Seoul, but fulfilling.

Now, please share your “When I was in” story.

Lost My American Loyalty?

In Kim Yu-na fan, Korean Kim Yu-na obession on February 24, 2010 at 9:58 pm

South Korean flag, V. Michelle BernardI’ll admit it.

I had no idea who the American female figure skating favorites were before the short program on Tuesday night.

I only knew Kim Yu-na. Granted, she is an impressive performer. But, maybe a bit of it had to do with seeing her on a regular basis on television ads, on posters, and in general– all around Korea (year-round). Maybe I caught the obsession?

I liked Kim Yu-na even before I ever saw her skate.

My heart does swell with pride when I hear the national anthem, think of Ronald Reagan (don’t judge), and apple pie. I just don’t get excited about Rachael Flatt or Mirai Nagasu.

Why am I even blogging about this you ask? In my pre-Korea days my heart flowed American during the Olympics. Nancy Kerrigan and Michelle Kwan were all I could see on the ice rink. Short-sighted, yes. But, it was my experience.

Now, I’ve opened my heart to Kim Yu-na. Brainwashed? Maybe? But, I’m glad my world is expanding to include other Olympic allegiances.

Maybe I don’t even have to choose which country’s team I’ll be loyal to. It seems like the world has opened up to me in more ways than one.

Battling Reverse Culture Shock

In Americans in Asia, Americans in Korea, reverse culture shock, V. Michelle Bernard on February 23, 2010 at 3:20 am

sisters, oppositesAt home with my sister, Kate
Check out my blog: Battling Reverse Culture Shock.

I wish there was a magic secret to speedily overcoming a yearning for times and places left behind, but there isn’t. Grieving the loss of your former life is a normal, necessary process that most people go through when returning to their homeland after living abroad. Unfortunately, many people are often unprepared for the reverse culture shock that meets them after returning home.

I came back to America last July after teaching in South Korea for almost two years. The process was painful. I was happy to be closer to family, but missed my life and friends in the exciting city of Seoul, South Korea.

My new life in Syracuse was interesting enough, but seemed dim and almost foreign compared to the constant new discoveries (both of self and the world around me) that awaited me while living in a culture foreign to my own.

It’s now months after settling back into American life again and it almost feels normal. I still miss living in Asia, but am fully embracing my life here.

Through this blog I’ll revisit some of the changes I went through when coming back, how I’ve changed since living in a different culture.

AND I hope to hear about your experiences with reverse culture shock.