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TLDR – What do Students Think of North Americans?

May 27, 2011


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Ok, so hopefully we won’t get any comments about us overgeneralizing, or painting Koreans in a bad light, or painting Westerners in a bad light, or us doing something that gets some hypersensitive person butthurt. This was a difficult question for us to answer, and we tried to do so with trepidation.

If you’re new to this segment of ours, every Thursday we answer the top rated question from our Google Moderator page. Last week we were asked about our funniest stories in South Korea. This week Pinkpancakes18 asked the top-rated question which was “What are some of the weirdest things your students think about america/canada?”

Now, this wasn’t an easy question to answer. We wish there was something like “oh they think all Canadians/Americans like chicken and watermelon” or something clearly inaccurately stereotyping. But it wasn’t that straightforward. There were just some cultural differences that lead to some misperceptions. Again, allow us to say that not all of our students think this way. The three points that we go over are just the common reactions we got from our students. And so, on with our list!

1) North Americans have lots of guns:
This is an easy one for us to dispel. Martina’s never even seen a gun before in her life. Simon, for all his gangstaisms, has only seen one before, but never actually held one. In fact, it was his father’s hunting rifle. Anyhow, we don’t know anyone else who has guns, either. We see guns all the time on TV, though, and in video games, but never in real life, and we think this is the case for a lot of people. Moving on…

2) North Americans are rich:
This is an easy for one as well. We sure ain’t rich! We’re not poor, either, but we’re not wealthy. We would get this reaction from our students whenever we showed them pictures of our homes back in Canada, which are by no means large. Martina’s parents live in a nice bungalow, but it’s…just a nice bungalow. You’d probably drive by it and be like “oh, that’s a nice bungalow.” The reactions we’d get from students, though, would be far more extreme. Like “WOW TEACHER YOU ARE SO RICH!” and lots of oohs and aahhs. We’re assuming their reactions are so strong not because Korean people love bungalows, but just because houses aren’t really common in the Seoul and surrounding area. People mostly live in apartments and officetels. We haven’t seen anyone with a house in Bucheon or in Seoul. Korea doesn’t really have a lot of land mass, and since the population density is so high here, there isn’t a lot of room to build houses everywhere, while in Canada there’s oodles and oodles of land, and a smaller population than South Korea.

3) North Americans are…floozier?
This one’s a bit more difficult to explain. Students have asked us if we kiss or hold hands on a first date, and, well, yeah, we sometimes do. And that’s amazing to our students. Then they watch stuff like Gossip Girl and think that we’re skanks. Oh boy.

Anyhow, what’s interesting about this is the difference in propriety. Hugging between sexes isn’t common in Korean culture, while we – as Canadians – don’t really have much wrong with hugging someone goodbye. But that’s a big deal here! On the other hand, Korean people of the same gender can hold hands when they walk together and it not mean anything, while to us, it would mean that they’re dating. Hmmm.

So that’s it for this week. Woohoo! We almost answered the Love Story question that keeps on making it almost to the top of the question list. We’re glad that we didn’t answer it yet. Three Thursdays from now, though, will be our 4 Year Wedding Anniversary, so maybe then it’ll be appropriate? :D On a side note, this was the first video we ever shot in our new apartment! Yay! What you saw is a bit of our kitchen, which is what we did for our last TL;DR, so we thought we’d keep it kinda consistent :D



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