Sunday, January 31, 2010

"A Continuous Exercise in Self-Defnition"

"Who am I, who are we--is that not the chorus of the moment? Perhaps postmodernism can be defined, after all, as a continuous exercise in self-definition" (Ihab Hassan)

In my Contemporary Trends in the Study of Society class (exciting way to start off the week Mondays at 9 am...), we've been talking about globalization in the context of modern and post-modern, with global being the next stage (or are these all different words for the same thing?). What a long in
tro sentence. Anyway, although most of the stuff goes over my head, some of the theories have really got me thinking...
  • we can't keep up with the speed of the global movement, so we try to hang on to identity (ie, national)
  • irony: in post-modernity and globalization, as things come together, they become more fragmented
I've been thinking a lot about this in relation to my "identity" as a Korean American (don't I always?). 250 years ago, an American (US) identity didn't even exist, let alone a Korean American identity. However, the growth of the Korean diaspora has led to the creation of a Korean American identity. For me, the points listed above reinforce the idea that identity is socially constructed and does not have a real basis. However, although identities may be socially constructed, this does not mean that they do not have real and direct impacts.
  • "As a culture we call ourselves Spanish when referring to ourselves as a linguistic group and when copping out. It is then we forget our predominant Indian genes. We are 70-80 percent Indian. We call ourselves Hispanic or Spanish-American or Latin American or Latin when linking ourselves to other Spanish-speaking peoples of the Western hemisphere and when copping out. We call ourselves Mexican-Americans to signify that we are neither Mexican nor American, but more the noun "American" than the adjective "Mexican" (and when copping out)." (Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldua)
Beyond the politics of a Korean American identity in America, coming to London has made me think about things on an international scale. It's interesting how I feel at home at a Korean restaurant in London but at the same time insecure about my Korean when speaking to the waiter. Meanwhile, the people I met here are often surprised to hear my American accent. Language, food, etiquette, this culture? Appearance? Blood? History? Geography? Can we choose the cultures that we are a part of? I've met a non-Koreans who are learning korean, watch dramas, and love bibimbap, but can interest in a culture make you a part of it? Or, for Korean Americans, is it more the interactions with non-Koreans and native Koreans that define the Korean American experience? I know I've posed a lot of questions (and can keep going), but what I'm trying to point out is how globalization may have increased the exchange of cultures and ideas, but this exchange has also revealed the instability of these cultures....and I ramble...

In conclusion,
"Anyone who isn't confused today, simply isn't thinking straight" (Simone Weil), but if you "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:26).

Monday, January 25, 2010

This Way to Portobello Market

I finally got a chance to explore London a little and went to the Portobello Market on Saturday :)

  • The masks freaked me out a little
  • We found a stamp stand and they had a book of old stamps from Korea!
  • Tiny elephant :)
  • Tiny elephant's friends :)

  • Antique jewelry
  • Silver chains I wanted but was too po' for :(
  • The ring I picked up for 5 pounds :)

  • They had a lot of random antiques
  • Cutlery (what they call utensils) used to be very fancy shamancy
  • Bread stuffs

  • Got me some banana chips and assorted gummies...picking up the essentials :)
  • This way to lunch!
  • Maybe not the best burrito I've ever had, but still yummy

  • The glamorous life of a fashion blogger!
  • Shini from Park & Cube
  • Answers to your questions/comments: Thank you for complimenting her hat; She got it from South Korea; Yes, those are paws that are attached (All the store owners loved her hat and asked these questions. She even wrote down the website she got it from for a Starbucks worker haha)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Things Looks Better in Black and White

I feel like an insomniac. Maybe its jetlag but I can't fall asleep at night but still have to wake up early, so have been sleep deprived :( I finally rode the tube on Sunday and took a picture to commemorate the experience :)

The SOAS library.

What would you like to study?

These aren't black & white. The more I learn about SOAS, the more I think I chose the right school for me. I think the people who come here and their interests are very different from others. I haven't done much touristy stuff yet, but I did buy overpriced postcards! :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Gendered TV Advertisements

Sorry for the really boring title. This isn't about London, but the guy talking has a British accent!

Now, I want you to write a 2-3 page response paper on the social construction of gender roles in this clip that.....just kidding :) I saw on another blog I read, the Grand Narrative, and wanted to share it with others. Hopefully you found it funny too...and are also thinking about what exactly is funny about it and what it says about gender roles. Put your sociological imaginations to work! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

London Drivers are Crazy!

Hello everyone! How is sunny America? I realized that I don't think I've seen the sun the whole time I've been here, and the forecast is basically rain for the next 10 days :( The weather hasn't really been affecting me though haha, I think Philly prepared me well for it :) It gets dark so fast! The pictures below were taken before 5, but its already pretty dark by then.

Anyway, London drivers are crazy! I'm used to Philly's grid layout, but even the major roads here change and curve all over the place, so even if you're going straight, you might end up on a different road if you're not paying attention. The street signs are located on the buildings, like the Acton Street sign, but they don't even have them on every corner! And see the striped pole with the yellow sphere on top? The drivers have to stop for pedestrians at those, but I swear, some come within a foot of me before stopping :/ If not for the "look right -->" and "<-- look left" signs (see below), I think i'd get crushed by a car....which almost happened the other day to me and my friend by a big ol' truck. I wish they would use their turn signals -_-

Things I've noticed/learned about London:
  • About 80% of the population smokes -_-
  • It's always pub time.
  • They keep their eggs on the shelf, not the refrigerator
  • The British are very lax. People just won't show up for work if the weather is bad! (2 cm of snow is crazy for them)
  • The alarms (fire alarm, police siren) are unbearably loud!
  • The city really reminds me of New York, everyone's always in a rush to get somewhere.
  • South Asians are called Asians here, and East Asians are called Orientals.

I must go have some tea and biscuits now! Just kidding, but I am eating biscuits and do have tea in my cupboard. I'm finally starting to settle down and am looking forward to cooking for myself! I have other random things to share but I shall save them for later posts. Update me on life in phillydelphia via comments, emails, messages, whatever! Ahnyoung my friends :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

I finally have internet again! I got here Saturday morning (its Monday night now) and was deprived until this afternoon of both the internet and a phone, or mobile as the British call it. Also, I finalllllly got to settle into my room today, well not settle just move in, its a mess right now -_-

Most of the British people I've come in contact with have been very friendly. A girl at Heathrow helped me buy a train ticket that was half the price of the express train I was going to buy. The cab driver man kinda looks scary there but he was nice. His daughter went to Cambridge and sings jazz, and when he visited Florida, he noticed there were a fat people. When I got that Splenda packet, i was very confused about how small it felt, and then it turns out the Splenda comes in a little pill o.O

I had lunch with Pablo today, lamb and chicken doners at Best Kabobs. He's lived all over the US and in London, and is doing a lot of interesting stuff with art history and cultural preservation/restoration in Korea this summer! He also gave me tips on what to do if mugged or attacked. Amy and I enjoyed wonderful
£1 frozen dinners haha. We're trying to figure out how to deal with cooking for ourselves :/

Mansize tissues? What is this nonsense? And on the right is the result of my pitiful first food shopping trip -_- I think I looked a lil crazy carrying a duvet, pillow, this food, and a 9 pack of toilet paper. Oh well!

Jacob and his friend! (I forget her name, I have not been good with names). They are both from Milan and both ate a pizza each with extra cheese on top. Italians know how to eat and enjoy their food! It was really interesting hearing their view of Americans and other Europeans. It's nice to meet people from all over the world, and who are interested in a lot of the same things as I am.

Okay I hope you enjoyed this long, random update. I will probably be taking lots of pictures of food and anything i find interesting, weird, or cute. Hopefully I will learn my way around the city and explore soon.
I don't feel like the city is that different from say New York, but there are a lot of different, interesting folks. I'm excited for whats to come! I start classes tomorrow so must sleep now. Byebye for now :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Flying Off to the Land of Tea and Biscuits

This past semester has been a lil cray cray. First appendicitis, then a car accident, then visa problems, and now there's apparently a snow storm that's supposed to hit London. No matter! I blast off to London tonight!!

I will be back in 5 months! I really appreciate all the goodbye stuff everyone did for me :) I shall update this blog frequently and keep you up to date on my life abroad! I shall post again when I am settled down in Londontown. Ahnyoung! Bye bye!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Learning to Be Insecure About Our Bodies

I will be flying off till London in 4 days! I shall update this blog with pictures and more light posts haha but until then...

Here are some excerpts from a entry about the above magazine cover:

Fashion for Every Figure: Size 0 to Size 20 — but only just this issue, then they'll go back to focusing on size zero.

Real Women Have Curves: Beyoncé at Her Best — If real women have curves, what are the women who usually model for Vogue? Fake?

NIP/TUCK: Designing a Perfect Body — Meaning there's something wrong with yours if you don't have plastic surgery?

WORK IT! Longer Legs, Leaner Lines, Sexier Silhouette — Can legs be made longer without bone surgery?

THE RIGHT SWIMSUIT FOR YOUR BODY TYPE — Instead of emphasizing fit, it's all about "right" and the implied "wrong," and your "type," meaning your body must fit into a predetermined box.

WEIGHT OBSESSION: One Woman Conquers Her Diet Demons — Sounds healthy.

"As for Beyoncé, the feature story in Vogue mentions her weight gain for Cadillac Records and describes her as "comfortably curvy," though writer Jonathan Van Meter also reminds us that she is working very hard to be a Vogue-worthy size. He writes that, on the day of their interview, Beyoncé "got up at the crack of dawn" and "ate a tiny portion of Honey Nut Cheerios, ran six miles, and then worked out with her trainer, who had her in every imaginable kind of squat to get her ready to fit into her no doubt skintight Thierry Mugler-designed tour costumes." Next? A dance rehearsal, after which she barely had time to "scarf down several bites of a salad with jalapeños and avocado ('so that it tastes like something that's bad for you')" and then dance rehearsal again. Van Meter also makes sure to point out that gaining weight to play Etta James in Cadillac Records was "fun." Beyoncé says: "I ate a lot of butter-pecan ice cream. But it's easy for me to gain weight. I'm not a naturally stick-thin girl. I'm not heavy, but I'm not skinny, either." It's almost as though she has to apologize; and Vogue has to stress that while eating may be fun and enjoyable, one should never let it distract from being totally dedicated to making sure you (literally) fit into the mold its editors prescribe."

Doesn't the fact that she has to work so hard to maintain a certain body size show something?! I'm not saying she should eat ice cream and unhealthy food all the time, but she shouldn't have to be working so hard to attain some sort of "ideal" body. There's always all this mumbo jumbo about how we should love our bodies, but it is often in conjunction with advice on how to improve them. Contradictory? I think so. We're encouraged to embrace our bodies, but not our natural bodies. Instead, we should work out, stay away from "bad" foods, and try to cover up our flaws so we meet standards of beauty. Who set these standards anyway?

I'm not saying anything new, these issues have been discussed since way before my time. However, most of the girls I know continue to complain about how they need to lose weight and hate their (fill in the body part). The few that are generally comfortable with their bodies would be considered skinny for the most part. Come middle age though when their metabolism slows down, we'll see if they're still satisified with bodies. These insecurities are applicable to all people, not just females, and it sucks because it has real consequences on people's self-esteem. I think people will read this and agree with what I'm saying, but that won't stop them from feeling insecure and disatisfied with their appearance. Or maybe I'm being overdramatic? I would rather that be the case...