Last week I read a Cracked.com article discussing the 5 major Virtues of Mr. Fred Rogers (from Mr. Roger’s neighborhood).
I can’t tell you how many hours I spent watching that show when I was younger. Actually, I’m not gonna lie, reading the article and watching the video clips made me tear up. Mr. Rogers definitely made a huge impact on me, even though the effect of his show is very subconscious.
In his award acceptance speeches Mr. Rogers asked people to take 10 seconds and think about the people who have helped them become the person they are today. Although many people have crossed my mind, too many to name, some of the first people I thought about are the people I have met in South Korea.
Moving to a new country was TERRIFYING. I spent the whole 13+ hour flight to Korea sick to my stomach, feeling like I had made a horrible life mistake. But once I got here, I calmed down and realized that Korea is really awesome. I love my new life here.
A large part of that has to do with the people I have met, both other foreigners and Koreans. Most of the other foreigners I have met here are not only super friendly, but also, like me, they are willing to go off on random adventures at any place and at any time. I also love how most of the people here have such a positive outlook on life! It’s hard for me to talk to people/ be friends with people who are constantly serious and/or negative because they suck the joy & fun out of everything.
My favorite types of people are the ones who are ready to laugh at anything (even about crummy situations) and I feel that this describes many the foreigners friends I have made here.
Living in Korea I interact with Koreans all day. I have to say that as a whole my experiences with the Korean people has been extremely positive. I find that most Koreans are very kind and friendly, ranging from the students who yell “Teacher, I love you” down the hallway at me (those crazy middle school kids!!), to the Korean friends I have made, and to the random strangers on the street.
Case in point: Last week it was drizzling and I didn’t have an umbrella. I decided to just tough it out in the rain during my 5 minute walk home from the bus stop to my apartment. As I was waiting on the sidewalk for the light to change so I could cross a busy street, a random Korean woman walked up to me and held her umbrella over my head.
I insisted in Korean I was okay, but she insisted emphatically that I stay under her umbrella. We talked for a few minutes (with my broken Korean) and then we crossed the road together before going our separate directions.
Since Korea is not as ethnically diverse as the US and other countries, non-Koreans really stand out. I feel that many Koreans will go out of their way to try to talk to foreigners and to show kindness that I have not often experienced in America. Of course, there are some things that Koreans do that I find rude (like shoving you in a crowd and not apologizing @__@; coughing/sneezing with their mouth open, etc.) but in general, I find Koreans very helpful and nice.
All in all, I feel really lucky to have met so many awesome students, teachers, friends, and strangers, who really go above and beyond to try to help me and show kindness to me just because they can, not because they are obligated to.
For them and for all the other people out there who have offered a friendly smile to me I say “Thank you. I like you. I appreciate you. You make me happy when skies are gray.**”
*Nod to the rainy weather that night.