Why Do Foreigners Behave That Way?

My Friends TJ and Nicole. TJ actually doesn’t drink. This is a pose.

A good person once said to me, “other people don’t react like you do”, in connection with my sometimes ill-mannered responses to invalidated or otherwise un-remedied cultural abrasion.

I respect this person enormously-for her intelligence, nature, philosophy, creativity, professionalism, and her sense of calm and public decorum. She is Korean, and as such has been raised in a far more formally codified culture than was I, and I know it is always easier to cope with one’s own culture, even if it looks hard to others.

For the most part, Korean society is known for over-arching etiquette, politeness, and an observance of harmonious behavior and service which makes it probably one of the most enjoyable countries to travel in.

On the other hand–especially from the point of view of visitors–as in every culture, there are habits, traditions, and bad behaviors in evidence and experienced here-recognized by good, honest, and cosmopolitan Koreans themselves- that we foreigners only experience in the lowest strata of our own native cultures.

Herein I wish NOT to criticize Korea or Koreans for this. All societies have their problems–including, of course, my own-and all societies develop at a rate commensurate with local awareness, need, and opportunity, so I understand-and love the Korean people no less than I love the rest of humanity.

However, I want to discuss how cultural abrasion affects foreigners and how their requisite behavior affects Koreans’ opinions of those reactions and of foreigners themselves. It is my firm belief from many years of intimate relations with Korea and her people–both here and abroad–that their generally poor opinion of foreigners is largely based on an inability to understand the pressures, stresses, and mental isolation we foreigners feel here.

For my dear friend-mentioned above-to test her mettle and see just how fair her assessment is, however- she’d have to go to a place that has cultural differences of a grating sort-in relation to the culture she is used to. Truth be told, all the foreigners I know have displayed eccentricities and extremes in their behavior here.

I have a gentleman friend who is in his sixties-who possesses one of the the most understanding and uncompromisingly fair states of mind. He teaches at a university he is sixty-two and mild-mannered, usually quiet, and a compassionate person. However, I’ve seen him speak out-loud in rhetorical fashion to local people who’s public behavior frustrates him. They don’t really hear him, and he doesn’t intend for them to. It’s a means of reducing stress.

He once got up and gently and playfully banged on the accordion wall of a restaurant and called through it, “Cancer! Cancer!” because the men on the other side were smoking-common, here, and ruining his meal. My friend is an epicure and a gourmet who enjoys the olfactory nature of his meals. He even carries his own wine glass and bottle of a favorite vintage. In Western countries and Japan, smoking (or “doing nicotine”, as I and a Korean-American friend call smoking) is sensibly illegal in all public places. Besides the airborne dispersal of nuclear radiation, carbon monoxide, arsenic and 3,998 other harmful chemicals spread about by smokers-my friend also doesn’t care for parents who put their children on cafe tables feet-first, obnoxiously loud conversationalists, and people who cough and sneeze without shielding others; people who cut in line, litter, push & shove, and drive rather recklessly. Who can blame him? These are ubiquitous behaviors in our beloved host-country-at least by a consistent percentage of people.

I can’t speak for all those concerened, but I know quite a few foreigners who-like myself-enjoy and appreciate Korea very much, but whose experience is made less enjoyable, even highly frustrating at times, by these and other deleterious habits. Having been raised Christian-and having studied Korea’s philosophically traditional religion-Zen Buddhism (or Seon, in Korean), I have two spiritual bulwarks that make me more compassionate than many foreigners I meet here-who complain. Unfortunately, my lovely friend mentioned above, hasn’t met these people.

More proof of foreigners reacting in less desirable fashion-to stresses in living here: A friend who has since emigrated to China was so distraught over culture differences with his Korean girlfriend once, that he took off all his clothes in the subway, in some effort of protest. In his spare time he was a philosophizer and enthusiast of mythology, world history, and psychology, an avid reader and, a very well-adjusted fellow with many friends while in Korea.

Another friend jumped in front of a motorcycler and yelled at the motorist for endangering pedestrians by riding on the sidewalk; another ubiquitous practice here. That friend was a graduate of a most prestigious school in New York, and something of a social genius with a quiet personality. He once slammed a taxi door in protest against a rude and controlling, un-accommodating and racist taxi driver. His Korean girlfriend at the time was very upset, but of course had no experience with the daily stresses her foreign boyfriend met in such situations, including other ubiquitous travesties such as racism and not being paid by employers for services rendered.

To Be Continued…

© Copyright 2012 Carl Atteniese Jr., All Rights Reserved. Peace, Love, Joy, & Imagination to you.

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Dear Visitor: Welcome! Peace, Love, Joy and Enlightenment to You and Yours. The Basics: I author essays, video essays, poems, advice, drawings, photographs, and petitions; I also can do narration and have done stand-up comedy. I taught and tutored English as a Second Language for 15 years in South Korea and for about 3 years in the US. Intellectual Interests: My chief personal interests are in... -Love as a Practice -General Philosophy -Consciousness -Aviation -Spaceflight - especially as an avid advocate of an AG module for deep space missions -Culture -All forms of Art, especially Japanese Woodblock Prints, Conceptual,  Film, Comedy -Language - especially in the use of Standard English and as Usage relates to Cognition, Reason and Peace -Restoring Democracy to the United States via Public Campaign Financing -Saving the Earth's biosphere from Climate Mutation -Human & Species Rights via Personhood -The Immorality of Theism Being: I am a secularist, an ex- and anti- theist (The word 'atheist' is presumptuous, prejudiced, inaccurate, insulting and harmful - like the word 'race'). I am also a non-superstitious Zen Buddhist - "Mando" being listed as my middle-name, is my Dharma Name and as opposed to my legal-name is my True Name. Likes -My favorite podcast is Dr. Sam Harris' #WakingUp . I like it so much I support it. -My favorite Vintage TV Shows are Star Trek, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Dream of Genie and That Girl. -My favorite TV Current Shows, now, are Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos, The Bill Nye Show and Curb Your Enthusiam. My favorite Music is Theme Music, so I love movie soundtracks and mood music, such as that by Kitaro and Vangellis. I also love classic Rock and Blues. I work out to Mission Impossible, Pirates of The Carabean, and Van Halen's Mean Streets. I also love Japanese pop, like that of Puffy's and Keske Kowada. I also love Blues and "Non-Insane" Jazz. Reading: Unfortunately, I have little time for fiction. I mostly read scholars such as Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Bart Ehrman and Karen Armstrong as well as referring back to Monks such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Suzuki and the Tao Te Ching. I also read and/or listen to the narrations of Plato on Socrates. I also read a lot of astronaut biographies and about the space agency. Goals: -I love flight sims and plan to get my pilot's license. -If wealthy, healthy and "asset" enough, I will hire a space agency to train me and launch me in orbit and beyond. -I intend to publish several books. -I intend to have gallery shows. -I may need a PhD to talk to some of the people I want to talk to in public forum and influential way. -I want to see Private Campaign Finance Banned in the United States. At the time of this writing, I am single. Thank You for Your Generous Interest. CΛRL ΛTTΞNIΞSΞ 卍道 NOTE: 卍道 ("Mando") is my Dharma name

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