Class and Culture

Today I regained that same feeling that I had when I was six years old and had to start school for the first time. I remember the many times I’ve stood there in front of a new school on my first day without knowing anyone, my legs trembling at the mere thought of saying ‘hi’. However, even with today being the first day of class, today was still different from those times: this time I knew someone: Kiki and Lokty.

I sat down next to Yumi, a nice Korean girl with Korean parents who have lived in Japan her entire life. This means that she speaksKorean but is unable to read and write. As it turns out I am the first friend that she has made in Korea, and even though communication is sometimes a bit hard (she only speaks japanese and korean) she is very nice and fun. I am sure that we will have a blast.

On the other side of me was the only other non-asian person in the room, and the only boy, Robert. His name is funny in Korean because it sounds exactly like Robot (I laughed on the inside). But he also seems very nice, turns out that he is a Kiwi and was a teacher in Korea a while back, so he knows more vocabulary than me.

After a couple lot of announcements we started lessons right away and learnt some basic things like talking about what is there and what isn’t, nationalities, countries and jobs. Tomorrow we have a small dictation so we were told to study well every day as it might pop up again anytime. I’ve learnt all of the words that I didn’t know before (such as eraser and handkerchief). If I just study a bit more before I head to bed I think that I will be ok for tomorrow.

After lessons ended (at 1pm) we had a short tour of campus where we were divided according to the languages we speak (english, chinese or japanese). In that english ‘class’, so to speak, I met four Thaï girls, all very nice. They were quite celebrity crazed and had plans to ‘stalk’ some in the next couple of days. I think they knew about all celebrity meet-ups, interviews, etc., out there, it was quite amazing. It also turned out that there were a couple of French/Canadian people, but I didn’t get a chance to speak to them, next time maybe?

Lokty and a Chinese girl that her and Kiki met on the Campus Tour wanted to go window shopping so me and Kiki followed along. It turned out to be a quite short walk, but oh well, we all had homework so it was probably for the best anyways. Me a Lokty bought some fruit to eat on the road. 1000 won for quite a big piece of fruit (Lokty got watermelon while I got Pineapple). Here comes the good part: Kiki says that fruit in Korea is very expensive, but when I calculate what it would be in Danish Crowns, it turns out to only be 5 kr. I am still a bit bewildered by that.

For the first week I kept thinking that I was miscalculating the valuta. Because how could my roommate think that a 20,000 won = 100kr skirt was very expensive? Well, actually now it all makes sense. My Roommate is on a bit of a budget you see, and coming from Hong Kong everything seems very expensive to her. Hence her perception of money is completely different from mine, me coming from Europe, and more precisely the rich Kingdom of Denmark. It turns out that I was right in my calculations, food here is extremely cheap for me, anything between 2,000 won and 22,000 won is considered norm, which is anything between 10 kr and 110 k. To spend only 100 kr  a day is something I would never have considered possible before coming here, but it has been my reality for the past week.  Now I know, so I won’t hold my money back anymore.

I’ve recently started to realise how different me and Unnie are, but the amazing and wonderful thing about this is that we still get a long fine. Here is to having a good roommate,  good-day and good-night!

Thilde Kold Holdt

I am a novelist by profession, currently working an epic fantasy series about 7th century Korea. My epic fantasy trilogy about Vikings, the Hanged God, is currently being published. I have lived

enough different places that the most difficult question to answer is: "where are you from?" I am, quite simply, from the planet Earth, for I have yet to set foot on Mars. Someday, though...

© Thilde Kold Holdt