Yesterday, Tarita, who took Korean with me last year, arrived in Seoul. She is staying with a homestay family in the same Dreamtown apartment complex.
When we went to lunch, the restaurant ajumma immediately handed Tarita the English menu. For a hot second, I was perplexed as to why I also did not receive an English menu. The ajumma was then very confused when I asked to see it.
After wandering around Dongdaemun, we grabbed coffee (purple sweet potato latte? Okay!) and headed to e-Mart, the Korean equivalent of Target/Walmart to stock up on living essentials. Because the towels in Korea are so small, I ended up buying an ugly mumu to wear in between the bathroom and my room.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
See our blue cart? We saw it sitting abandoned in one of the aisles, so we grabbed it. Later, an employee came over and started jabbering at me. I eventually figured out that we had the wrong kind of cart; all the other shoppers had smaller gray carts. The employee told us to stay where we were and trotted off. Right as I was going to tell Tarita that we should just make a run for it, she came back, this time with an official store cart.
For classes next week, I have to bring in two 2.5×3 cm photos of myself for my university ID card. Yesterday, homestay mom took me to a photo kiosk to get these taken. The photographer was rather disgruntled by my swoopy bangs, but it’s not like this is a passport photo, used for international identification–not a big deal.
I picked up my photos last night:
Do you think it looks like me?
I guess it’s standard to photoshop all images. My skin is now flawless and plastic-looking, and the dark circles under my eyes are gone. I can’t tell if he slimmed my jawline or not. I tried to tell homestay mom about this, but I think I ended up just repeatedly saying “Face! Change!” She kept saying, “No! Pret-ty!”
In any event, I now have like nine photos of my plastic self, so if you want one, let me know.
I also discovered that homestay sister wants to get plastic surgery for her eyelids during high school. This shouldn’t have been surprising, given the prevalence of such procedures, but it still distresses me. I made it obvious that I don’t think she needs to do it, but homestay mom said, “She has small eyes,” to justify the surgery.
[Edit: Apparently, homestay mom does not approve of her daughter getting eyelid surgery. Yay!]
Cultural relativism is a hard thing to avoid. On one hand, I don’t want to make judgments about other cultures through the lens of my own. On the other hand, plastic surgery for eyelids (and nose bridges, chin lines, cheekbones, etc.) seems so unnecessary and ultimately detrimental to one’s self-esteem. (Though many Koreans will argue otherwise, saying that it makes them feel better about themselves.)
On the note, I’m going to go get my Friday started. I will leave you with a picture of homestay dog being