Saturday, 20 July 2013

Cultural Culture Shock

There are a lot of people in Seoul. In K-W, not so much. There sure seemed like a lot when I grew up here. The physical size is a lot different, too. A couple of kilometres didn't seem to be that much for some reason in Seoul. I would often walk two or even four kilometers in about an hour without batting an eye in Seoul, just to enjoy the atmosphere of the bustling street. Two or four kilometers here seems like I'm walking across the whole city and if time is relative, the time it takes seems longer, too.

My nearest corner store is actually not in a corner at all, but in a strip mall, 1.6 kilometres away. It takes almost 20 minutes to walk there, so I don't just go there on a whim because I'm feeling peckish. It's a hike. As luck would have it, or maybe coincidence, or fate or irony, the store is owned by a Korean couple. They've lived here in Canada for 7 years. I found out they were Korean when I wore my Korean Football shirt to the store. Now, whenever I come on, they speak Korean to me. I can't escape it. As soon as they knew I understood Korean, English went out the door-- they have no desire to learn English.

It's very strange to walk into a variety store in Canada owned by a Korean. At the front of a store is a big display of trinkets. 90% of it is drug paraphernalia. Bongs, pipes, papers, vaporizers, pot grinders made from wood and stainless steel. The selection is a little overwhelming. There are lighters, Zippos, blueberry flavoured papers, Zig-Zags... They could run another store that was only paraphernalia separate from the corner store. Surely they couldn't order this stuff to sell without knowing what it was all used for. There are pocket flasks, and other drinking gear, too, but the pipes sitting with the watches and jewellery are what stand out.

At the back of the store is the "Korean" section. When I was in Seoul and went into a store there, there would be a "foreign" section that had such things as deodorant and coffee. Maybe some tomato based products. This store has ramen and go-cho-chang. No Kim-chi. I was really disappointed with that. It's only a couple of shelves, it's almost pathetic.

No matter where you go. The slushi is the same.