Talking about Culture

Reading the blackboard after our hour of intense survey and discussions of culture, here is what I see. Rather this is what I don’t see. Because I remember that at the very beginning I first talked about the culture at the school. I asked you to tell me about the culture at Gyeongju University. I could see that you thought Prof. Laurence had lost his mind. So I explained that there are smaller cultures that we live in all the time. Each family has a special culture. If you go to church, that church has a special culture. Every group that we belong to, even the clubs on campus, those too have a special culture. I told you that every company has its own culture, such as Pohang Steel Company, POSCO.
POSCO has its own motto “oo-hyang-oo” meaning Right Face, Right, and indicating that everyone in the company, should the company fail, would execute a right face and march into the sea to their death. I think that I convinced you that there are small cultures within the big cultures, and so we began to talk about the culture of Gyeongju University.  You began by telling me that Gyeongju University had a drinking culture.We talked about colleges and universities which do have a party culture.  I think that saying that a school has a party culture is a way to talk about a culture of drinking without saying “drinking”. We talked about the culture of Gyeongju, the city, and Gyeongju University as being very friendly and kind. We talked about a very competitive college culture at Harvard University where kindness might be rather rare. At Harvard Universitywhere the average student is probably studying at home, outside of the classroom, for 10 hours a day, we can see that they are very competitive. There is a big difference between Western culture and Asian culture in terms of drinking customs. Some people in Western culture begin drinking early in the morning. In Asia men begin to do their drinking in the evening. So one person thinks that Western culture is a very strong drinking culture. People feel that Asian culture is much more friendly and kind. Western culture seems to be very selfish, self-centered, and egoistic. When we talk about Western culture, we are usually talking about European culture and American culture, but we also include Australian and New Zealand. We also talked about food and Western culture, and we think that Western food is fast food, and McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and other places that sell junk food. In Korea the fast food is probably ddok-bogi, and kimbab, but kimbab seems to be pretty healthy food. Junk food on the other hand is not healthy food. We thought that bibimbab was probably the healthiest food in Korea. When we talked about the culture of Korea we thought that Korea was especially practical, and that Koreans like results. Lawrence thought that the culture of France is more fond of ideas than results.meng2012-03-15 composite wordle 70

From the time that Nodira came to Korea from Uzbekistan in 2008 until now, a period of four years, she has observed a lot of change in the culture of Korea. Many people are aware of the long hours that men work, and that men are very often strangers in their own house because they leave early in the morning and come home very late at night. In the years from the 1950s until the 1990s, men were frequently seen in their homes only on Sunday afternoons, but they were usually sleeping. This has been changing and man now want to be more close to their families. Women are becoming more and more independent. The fact that there are many young women at Gyeongju University indicates just how independent they have become. Now many women are coming to the University so that they can pursue a career, and not find a husband. Some of the young men in our class are looking for wives, but the young women are looking for careers. The changes for women have been much stronger than the changes for men. Men also want to change their roles, but the pressure on them to provide the daily bread is still very strong. Most women in our class still believe that the man is the main money earner in the family. We have heard of man who stay home and take care of the children, but we don’t know any of those men. We also know that in the old days it was considered very bad to be divorced. But these days people accept divorce as an okay thing. And we know that many people who are in their 50s, and whose children have left the home and begun their own careers, are now getting divorces. Trust and love are essential to every marriage. Many of us feel that the marriage is being made today will be stronger than the older marriages because the value of love and trust is much stronger. Laurence felt that there were many pure hearts in the classroom. We also talked about the strong international or global culture of Gyeongju University and its strong emphasis on the alpha rising extraordinary culture that the president of the University wants to create.

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