I’m grading at the moment, and I ran across something so priceless I couldn’t NOT share. (I am not mentioning the student’s name, so it’s anonymous, but as a piece of observation by someone from another part of Northeast Asia, it’s fascinating and made me laugh aloud!) It’s from a paper discussing the hybridity of Korean popular culture, and what foreign influences have affected Korean popular culture. It’s written by a foreign student who had the following to say about her experiences of “culture crash” (ie. Culture Shock) and the shock of coming into contact with real-life Korean culture, in part as follows:
In addition, the activity known as MT is also [a] novelty to me. It is really [an] amazing experience. If I do not be (sic) an exchange student here, I will (sic) never know that there is this kind of “Member[ship] Training”. It is not really a member[ship] training but drinking, eating, game playing, and vomiting. I think culture is a magical thing. (emphasis on the punchline is mine)
She also expresses shock and somewhat tepid appreciation at how much Koreans like to drink together, and how complicated (and necessary) it is to learn to drink in the “right” way. This is something I’ve heard many, many exchange students from China and Taiwan say, though the Japanese exchange students seem to find it not at all unusual. (The one male Japanese exchange student I’ve had in fact came to class quite red-faced a few times, but he was amusing and had been taken out by profs, and couldn’t very well say no, so I let it slide.)
Man, brings me back to my earliest days of grading essays, back in Montreal, when I was learning to drink Glenfiddich and Wild Turkey with Jack and Jessie the right way. (Or the wrong way, perhaps, though I should note that I never went to class drunk. In one poetry class, our prof had a whiskey-tasting-and-describing exercise, and it was my first experience with the stuff, but that’s as close as I got, and, having a terrible flu, I didn’t have too much that night, either.)
Musically, all this reminds me of when my old friend Jack introduced me to the wonders of Mississippi Fred McDowell and his intrepid musical kinfolk. So here’s a little of that, to go with the story…
(For you LJers, the only thing that follows this line is an excellent song worth checking out. Since embedding Youtube always breaks the LJ crosspost off, I’ll end here. Click through to this video if you, like me, have any reason to have the blues. Because, as Howlin’ Wolf said, “When you thinkin’ ’bout evil, that means you thinkin’ ’bout the blues.” And grading midterm stuff brings out the wickedness in every teacher’s heart, I assure you…). Enjoy, and beware the dreaded MT!