Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Black Friday Blues

In Arnott Mall, Black Friday, Myeongdong, shopping in America on November 28, 2010 at 3:12 am

V. Michelle Bernard photography, empty street of DCBlack Friday provides a fun, festive kick-start to holiday shopping in America. Call me crazy, but I love the hustle and bustle of shopping in a packed store.

This past Black Friday, as the Bernards‘ always do, we headed up to the Arnott Mall in Horseheads, NY.
Of course the holiday sales are nice and the Christmas music loud. But, what really makes the day special is the business of it all.

A lonely 7th Street in Chinatown, Washington DC.

I recently realized that a shopping trip in Seoul on any day of the year makes Black Friday look boring.

I still get sentimental thinking about my time in South Korea and often find it hard to articulate why I loved it so much. But, Black Friday 2010 helped me put those feelings into words.

Shopping in Korea, and life in general, are always busy. Myeongdong, one of the busiest areas in Seoul, is always crowded with teenagers, Japanese tourists and ex-pats looking for a good deal, eating tasty street food, and enjoying the activity of it all.

Even in my little neighborhood in Seoul I could grab coffee, Indian food, buy produce, hike up a mountain, and hit a karaoke room.

I wish that more shopping areas in America had that kind of energy and connectedness, and a solid stream of shoppers– as do the business owners. Yes, some malls in the city are busy, but it feels so contained.

Get in your car, drive to the mall, shop, go home– done.

Even in my beloved DC it’s hard to find a busy area downtown at night (minus Georgetown, of course).

Maybe it’s time for a trip to New York City.


Spicing Things Up (not the Kimchi)

In battling reverse culture shock, beating reverse culture shock, South Korean race incidents, South Korean race issues, V. Michelle Bernard on November 3, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I was lucky to have a diverse group of friends in South Korea.

I’ve been back in the states for almost two months now and am still excited at our diversity, and my ability to easily blend in with the crowd. But, I’m not exploring my community like I did when living in Asia.

One of the first things I noticed in Korea is the ethic homogeneity. It goes without saying that foreigners are easily noticed.

On one of my first weekends living in Gwangju, a city in the southern part of the country, several of my African American friends came to visit. After going out for dinner we caught a seemingly dull cab ride home.

But, for the cab driver, our trip was an exciting event.

She had never seen a black person.

She cranked her head around and stared at Fabrice and Natacha. She began to brush their cheeks to see if the color came off, and kept on pointing to the black ceiling.

We eventually understood that she was excited about their different colored skin.

Not happy about the event, my friends couldn’t believe what had happened.

That cab driver was excited/curious/nosey/ and even rude towards my friends because they were different. (I’m white, something not as exotic in South Korea.) Excited and curious about are obviously good things. I’ll leave the rest alone.

But, her behavior got me wondering how much more would I notice if I was more curious, got more excited when I learned or saw something new? I hope I wouldn’t try to remove the color of people’s skin, but would want to delve deeper into my environment and community.

I don’t want to get complacent now that I’m back with my friends and family in America.

This week’s goal will be to rediscover my community.

Does anyone know of hidden treasures in the D.C. area I should check out?