Just as Korea and United States are miles apart, so are they in terms of culture. I realized that most issues were reversed as soon as I reached the US. In Korea, we used to put our surnames just before our own names. This is the reverse in America and it taught me to value my own name at the expense of the family name. When expressing love, Americans will say “I love you”, while the Korean will say “I you love”. With this statement of expressing love, I realized that most of English I used to speak in the Korean republic was actually wrong. This encouraged me to work hard and learn much more good English. I realized that these two countries viewed issues from completely different perspectives, done in opposite manners and even understood in an opposite version (Tsuya et al., 2004).
I experienced what I could call a culture shock in any way or form by wondering why things seemed so absolutely opposing to what I used to know. It is, therefore, very important to consider the cultural difference of the two countries, rather than assume that they are, indeed, similar yet, very far apart. In America, one would call you by your first name, while in Korea we used to be very general as we simply referred to people. This entity taught the importance of personality and the value of being very specific to your actions and calls. Indeed, migrating to America has really changed my attitude from a communism culture to the one of individualism. It focuses on the fact that every one for himself and God for us all.
The other issue that is reversed in the American dwelling is the address system. For example, an address would look like this in the US: Robert Song, 14 East Columbus Avenue, Chicago, Illinois State. This would be exactly the reverse in the Korean Republic (Sohn, 2006). This brings forth the importance of an individual in the US as opposed to the communal importance in Korea. The Korean language does not distinguish between singular and the plural simply because they believe the” I’ is just but part of the “we”. The American distinguishes the two as very different entities. Americans use “my” to refer to something, which belongs to them. For example, my school, my country. Koreans will use our instead. This collectivism goes to the extreme, where they refer to their husbands and wives as ours. This is very detrimental in the era of HIV and AIDS. This taught me to lead my life and defend my family, as it belongs to me and not the society as portrayed in the Korean culture.
My Korean culture instilled a notion in my mind that an individual that tries to be different from the rest of the society is viewed as being wrong. This made me value uniformity and conformity in adverse levels. This principle bred equal quality, rather than equality, which I found in America. In the US, people believed in equality and this gave every one chance to education and any other social service necessary. In case the US practiced this culture, then, with my Korean nationality, I could have been seen as a different individual and, therefore, very wrong in the society. This could have really jeopardized my education and the entire future life. Staying in America made me understand and recognize the value of unity with diversity as opposed to the uniformity with divisions (Sin, 1999).
Empirical literature explains that uniformity kills competition, venturing, enterprising, innovative, and entrepreneurial skills. This is why my parents could not make progress in their business ventures. Frankly speaking, no any major innovation right from barricade doors to the internet has come from a uniform society. This is why America seems much developed than the Korean Republic. Should I have continued staying in the Korean Republic, then I could have been a chaebol, rather than being a health provider. The social inertia in Korea has no flexibility, versatility, adaptability and proactivity that are required in the current world, which is, indeed, rapidly changing. The education system in America, which acted on the principle of ‘Show and tell”, encouraged me to be very creative, disruptive and even different. However, this spirit in America may also be attributed to the escalating crimes, street crimes, shooting and other antigovernment actions. The same disruptive systems have produced life improving innovations, like the internet and the transistor, affecting the people’s lives.
While in Korea, I experienced a lot of favoritism. There are three major connections in Korea that is blood, hometown and school. These, indeed, transform into the three key factors to success in life. Nothing is possible for those in the issuing end of the chain, while nothing is impossible for those in the receiving end. Regionalism existing between my Cholla province and the neighboring Kyungsang has not only created a lot of animosity between the two provinces, but also has halted the balanced and integral development of the Nation (Plotnik and Kouyoumdjian, 2010). This issue really played an important role in creating a hindrance to the advancement of the dairy farm business since there were civil wars almost in a periodic manner. These civil wars ensured all structures were burnt down and, thus, prompted my parents to pick up from the ashes every time the war erupted. By migrating to America, I learned the negative effects of favoritism and instilled the principle of equality for all.
In Korea, graduates are labeled by the year they entered college as opposed to the United States, where the same is labeled by the year of completion of the course work. This shows how Korean disregards the issues of relevancy and essential matters to be considered. Instead they consider matters of formalities and the face savings. The American opposite spirit encouraged me to understand and appreciate the importance of a person’s dignity. Koreans based their valuation on the looks, rather than the actual personality of an individual. Once something looked good, this guaranteed its fineness and also desirability. This implies even if I wrapped some rotten fruits nicely, then it would be considered as being very viable. In other words, the Koreans do not look into issues very deeply and I critically wonder why my parents had difficulty in facing the future cautiously. This explains the transparency problems in the Korean Republic (Gannon, 2004).
It is very imperative to consider what is right without considering the other issues of morality, ethics and conscience. The American society taught me the value of all these and, thus, became a very self reliant individual. Without conscience, a person would commit crimes, when not being seen. Korea is, indeed, faced with lots of scandals, which are being carried out behind the scenes. Koreans are obsessed with the ability to gain whatever they want no matter how little the resources they have in place to acquire the service or good. The issue has produced manias and cults that would go to whatever height they need in order to achieve their goal. This, indeed, enabled America to instill the spirit of hard work and determination on me that I used to scale my heights to excellence.
To sum up, I believe migrating to the United States has really shaped my life. With good mentorship I got in school, I managed to keep the positive traits that I gained in Korea. I also managed to accept the cultural differences between the two countries, which enabled me to cope well with the other colleagues both in school and at work. The language difference made me to be very persistent in the path to the attainment of knowledge. The fact that I started working in school, made me understand the value of money in education and the entire life of an individual as a whole. The life my parents lived in the US and back at Korea made me appreciate the significance and value of education to the life of an individual. The positive and very hospitable attitude I got from the Americans: my teachers, students and even work mates encouraged me to move on, although my parents decided to relocate back (Gannon, 2004).