04 October 2008

You can take the girl out of the Motherland, but can you take the Motherland out of the girl?

In movies and books, the protagonist often comes back from a year abroad having experienced some great change or epiphany. I'm more of a gradual change type of person, so I can't say that I came back from the Motherland transformed in some fundamental way (other than some eyelash extensions and a cheap dress addiction). On the other hand, after a few days in the Homeland, I've noticed that I picked up a few new habits and preferences from my time in the Motherland.

Okay, people. Sit back and relax. It's time for another list.

10 Signs That You've Just Returned from a Year in the Motherland (aka South Korea)
(in no particular order because I don't like to rank things)

1. Immediately after finishing your meal, you walk up to the cash register and demand the check only to have a perplexed hostess say to you, "Please have a seat. Your server will bring you your check."

2. You forget to tip your waitress.
"Oh, right. 15%. What? 20%? That's outrageous! Service is my divine right!"

3. You openly examine yourself in reflective surfaces without any hint of sheepishness or irony.

4. You wear heels to do un-glamorous tasks like walking the dog or buying detergent at Target.

5. You eat samgyupsal without any rice.
You don't have the "meal" or shiksa until after you've had your fill of grilled gogi.

6. You go out in public even though your face is a shade lighter than your shoulders.
(In my defense, I'm not purposely trying to look "whiter." I'm just trying to cover up my blemishes with some b.b. cream!)

7. You crave a steaming hot tang or jigae on a blistering summer day.

8. You take pictures of yourself.
Eww. Not those kinds; ones of you acting cute or silly, usually with the camera angled above your head.

9. You automatically bow with every greeting or thank you, as if you were some Geisha robot.

10. Social gatherings never end with one round.
You need to at least hang out until sam-cha, "round three." Typically, 1-cha is dinner. 2-cha involves soju. 3-cha is the time to sober up at the noraebang. If your night carries onto the 4-cha or 5-cha, you'll need to make sure you have the number for a cab or daeri-oonjun.

I'm really glad that I didn't drive in Seoul. I can only imagine the gnarly driving habits I'd have learned. Running red lights and stop signs, u-turning wherever I pleased, swerving into lanes like a convict on the run -- I'd be an accident waiting to happen.

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