This Drama Is Fiction: My year on the other side.
What was six weeks in Seoul and one year in Kyoto, Japan.
Now I'm in Spain and trying to return to Japan.
Check out my gel nail art tumblr!
I was out tonight by myself to see the night illuminations at the Alhambra palace (so many couples wow) and, after, bumped into another Easter procession on its way through Alhambra.
I was ready to go home around midnight but there were still loads of people on the streets so I reaaaally felt like popping into a bar on the way back and trying some of the famous Granada drink and tapas… But in the end I couldn’t pluck up the courage to go in by myself.
Man, I really want to be one of those independent people who can go into an unknown bar alone, order a drink and not feel uncomfortable. That’s another thing to work on while I’m here…
This is long but I’ve been thinking a lot about this the last couple of days, from suddenly being in places with people from round the world.
It’s a bit of a shameful admission but I still have a lot to learn with people from other countries. I can say that I’ve been to many places before and have met people from different cultures but I still struggle to deal with people who do things that go against what I was brought up with, even when these are cultural aspects that I’m aware of.
First, queuing in the airport the other day. Even though there was plenty of space, the people behind me kept touching me with their bag because they were standing too close, and I couldn’t help but feel really irritated. They can’t have sensed how uncomfortable I felt when I kept moving away because they kept coming closer again.
Next, the Spanish girls who came to sit next to me on the plane and threw their bags onto their seats, right past my head, without so much as a look of apology. To me it seemed like such arrogance that my personal space should become theirs just like that.
When I arrived at the airport I went to do my make up in the bathroom. I left my makeup on the counter next to my two suitcases and went to dry my hands. While I was drying them a Northern European woman came in, stood right next to my stuff, took off all her clothes and started changing (for about ten minutes). That there was so much space in the bathroom and she chose to get changed right next to what were obviously my things mystified me. Plus where I’m from people would never get changed in the middle of a public bathroom when there are about ten free cubicles because it makes people uncomfortable. After getting tired of waiting, I had to navigate right around her to pick up my make up and take it to another corner of the bathroom and she still didn’t read the signs I was sending that she was too close to my stuff.
Finally, the Korean ajumma who barged right in front of me yesterday to get some water from a fountain when I was right next to it, had my bottle in hand and had been waiting for someone to finish. She completely ignored my astounded looks and casually called her husband over saying ‘맛있어’. My blood was boiling but it’s been so long since I’ve studied Korean that nothing could come out and I stood there, mouth open in shock at her audacity.
So, if I step back from this I can see that my reactions were laughable. And I do know from experience that a lot of European people are casual about nakedness in front of strangers, that in some countries people can’t read your subtle signs and you have to say something directly, that people have different ideas of personal space and that middle aged Korean women will push in front quite often. But it is still really hard for me to react in a reasonable manner when I’m confronted with that situation. I can be inflexible I guess.
I know I’ve made mistakes too. In Japan my best friend was Finnish. Sometimes I interrupt people when they’re talking, to express agreement or to add to their story briefly, and then I expect that they’ll carry on with their story, no problem. But sometimes if I did it to her she’d fall silent and I had no idea why. Finally I read somewhere that it’s really rude to interrupt people in Finland. I felt terrible but she had never told me so I didn’t realise.
Sometimes in those situations I have to say to myself, like a mantra, ‘it’s just a cultural difference. Not wrong, just different’. I wish I could be more flexible and open minded and less irritated by these things. I wish I was less fazed by nudity and able to go naked in front of strangers, like in a Japanese onsen or a changing room in Germany. I wish I could be more casual about personal space and not think that people ought to apologise for everything. Ah, I still have so much to learn.
There’s really not much to do in Semana Santa in Granada. I walked around today for three hours in one area of Granada, seeing parks and buildings, but I’m happy to never go there again because there is nothing. Everything is closed now for either siestas or Easter, I’m not sure, so outside the centre it’s like a ghost town. I’m hoping it’ll get more lively after this week.
The last two nights I’ve been out with the host family and the other student staying with them to see the Easter processions. They’ve been great - really interesting to see considering there is nothing like that in the UK - but they’re all quite similar and I don’t really want to go through three more nights of the same. The most interesting are the people wearing pointed capes and women dressed head to toe in black with black veils down to the ground, carrying rosaries and looking really pissed off. The processions last hours and many of these women were wearing heels so I’m not surprised. The guys in the pointed hoods were really unnerving at first because they look exactly like KKK but I think it’s some that’s very traditional in Spain which might have been appropriated by the KKK. I’m not sure.
Tomorrow I’ve got tickets to see La Alhambra palace at night time so I’m hoping to take some cool pictures. Anyway that’s all for now.
I’m done packing, finally going to Granada tomorrow morning!
I sacrificed so many clothes to fit my UV gel nail lamp but no regrets…
It’s going to be a horrible journey tomorrow so I’m going to sleep while I can.
I don’t get it. If people in Spain eat lunch late and eat dinner late, how do they survive on biscuits for breakfast?? Don’t they get hungry?
Eh, whatever. I’ll find out in like two days.
For you white girls who say you love Koreans, ya’ll sure don’t treat the mods over at ThisisNotKorean very nicely. Oh wait. Because you only love the cute little ‘submissive’ Koreans, the ones who aren’t there when you say disgusting racist fetishizing shit-not the angry ones who are sick an tired of being homogenized, sexualized, and objectified as sexual objects for a bunch of white girls in need of a new trend to make them look worldly and cultured.
Things are getting stressful. I’ve just remembered that I need new contact lenses and I need to get expedited delivery for them to arrive before I go to Spain. Three months’ worth will cost about £90… Which is possibly more than I have in my account now. I’ll have to dip into my savings even more because my deposit from halls still hasn’t been returned and student finance aren’t going to give my minuscule loan until the end of April.
Where did the money go? I just don’t understand. Okay, okay it probably went on jäger bombs and gel nails but surely not all of it…
I also have to pack, do job applications I’ve been putting off because they are so complicated and long winded, deal with relatives all coming to stay at the wrong f-ing time, see friends, go to a birthday party, entertain relatives at London f-ing zoo….Three days! No time!
I was on the tube yesterday when two teenagers got on. The girl was talking loudly and excitedly so it wasn’t difficult to overhear their conversation. It reminded me so much of the people I’ve met around in the last few years.
She was talking about k pop. About how much she loved bigbang, mblaq and c n blue as well as trying to teach the guy the Korean words for ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you’ in her strong English accent. Eye rolls.
The guy mentioned something about girls generation and she said ‘I don’t really like any girl groups. I don’t know why.’
My eye rolls. I can’t even. The number of female Kpop fans I’ve had the misfortune to meet who’ve said exactly the same thing. Do they really have so little self awareness?! That they don’t really like the music. They only like guys doing fan service, playing up to to these girls’ fantasies and fetishes. *That* is why they don’t listen to the girl groups.
Back in 2009, when I started learning Japanese, I went to a few gigs by Japanese bands on tour in Europe because I was into rock and metal and wanted to see what Japanese music was like. I was really shocked by the behaviour of the predominantly female fans who sexualised everything about the guys in those bands and were obsessed with everything Japanese. Everything was ‘kawaii’ and they only ever bought Japanese things like cc lemon and melon pan. I have never felt so out of place.
After a few years jrock lost its popularity and Kpop became really big in Europe. Those exact same girls I knew from those gigs, who wore all black, with crazy dyed hair, shaved off eyebrows and piercings, who listened to Japanese death metal about despair and pain, suddenly were the biggest fans of shinee and bubblegum korean pop music. They wore cutesy pastel colours, tried more girly make up and grew out their hair and their eyebrows. They called each other ‘unni’ and would only eat bibimbap and kimchi.
It wasn’t just one fan. It was all of them. So call me cynical but it’s never about the music.