Dealing with Cultural Differences and Breaking Stereotypes

One of the very interesting things about dating someone from another culture is all the differences you will no doubt encounter, as well as the stereotypes that you might have gotten or heard from people who have had bad experiences.

As for stereotypes, Hyo and I both admittedly had a few that we thought about when we first met each other. This has never stopped us from prematurely stopping us from taking things further in the beginning, they were just there. And we both seemed to continue to break the stereotypes that we might have had about one another.

For example, coffee. If you didn’t see the first episode on this site, I HATE coffee. Now this came as a a surprise to her as she thought that all Americans just drank coffee. My coworkers also express the same surprise.

Another one was that many Koreans simply find black people to be scary and have many prejudices about us (think LA riots, US military in Korea)…especially since the only experience they get with a black person is through a tv or movie screen where we are often portrayed as criminals and…mean looking. I am known for having a straight and serious face most of the time and Hyo admittedly said to me that when she first met me, it made her think of what she and others had thought before.

And I’m not a scary person at all…unless you get on my bad side which a few unfortunate souls have seen.

Another one was all these stories I had heard from other guys who had dated Koreans about how they had to pay for everything, buy expensive things, and were nearly all broke after all of this (this can happen in any culture). Of course, they lambasted all Korean women, and took no responsibility for sticking around instead of leaving while all of this happened.

Admittedly though, this had made me weary of getting involved with anyone here, but after knowing Hyo and dating for awhile, I knew that she wasn’t that type of person so it was all good.

Now one of the biggest cultural differences we had to work through was the fact that like many Koreans, she still lives with her parents. In the USA, living with your parents past a certain age is a bit embarrassing, but in Korea, it’s pretty common to still live at home even into your thirties until you are married.

It is changing a bit now, but it’s still more common. So with her, I had to get use to her having a curfew. Yes a curfew. It was frustrating at first, but I wasn’t going to mess up a great relationship over something that could be worked out. And one thing I had to learn was to stop comparing my relationship to other friends who were able to spend more time with their girlfriends. Comparing is never good and quite frankly now, I could care less what other people think.

And we have worked it out. She has been able to “get out of it” so to speak on certain occasions and I really cherish those times.

We have been able to take weekend trips around Korea, to Hawaii, to my hometown Detroit (boy do I have a story about that), and New York and she has stayed over many times….with permission from her mom of course.

Which brings me to my final point. In the states, it is common to meet the parents of your significant other fairly quickly even if you haven’t planned on getting married. It’s really no big deal. In Korea though, you usually will not meet the parents, especially the father until you are certain that you are getting married.

For us, I was able to meet her mom and sister after about 6 months of dating and they love me. I also enjoy being with them and they make an effort to invite me out for bar be que and other outings with her mother, sister, and her sister’s boyfriend. They have been really kind to me and really try to make me feel at home even with the language barrier.

It’s also good because I was able to see how Hyo interacted with her family and where she gets a lot of her personality and mannerisms from (as she did with me when she visited my family). Despite her short stature :p, Hyo is a very independent and head strong woman who really rebels against many of the conformities that are put on women here in Korea. After meeting her fam, I saw that she definitely got this side of her from her mother….her mother actually scared me a little bit when I first met her lol.

Now as for the father, I still haven’t met him yet. It doesn’t always work like this, but it is a pretty common situation with many couples here (Korean couples included).

The good news is that me meeting her father will probably happen sometime this year and I have been studying Korean even more so I can at least have a basic conversation with him.

So that’s it for now. There will be more posts about other subjects along the way when they come to me. Look out for a new episode of the webtoon on Friday as I’ve been recovering from a nasty cold and been busy this whole week.

Have any of you who are involved in/have been involved in a relationship with someone from another culture had any similar experiences? Or different experiences?

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Episode #8

So Hyo often likes to call me a big baby because I like to do things like this (hiding socks, shoes, hats, etc). I just find it funny to do sometimes and it just comes to me. Sometimes when she actually forgot where she put something, and I really didn’t hide it, she will still blame me until she finds it….but that’s my fault haha.

I also might hide from her and try to scare her, but I’m pretty sure she started that and I was just retaliating.

She’s a pretty good sport and likes to joke around too so it works out well. You’re never too old to have a bit of fun and act like a kid sometimes. Have some fun!

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Sick Dom

So I’m sick now. I had a full day of teaching which was then followed by a school dinner with Korean bar-b-que and of course beer and soju. The PE teachers and vice principal were understanding of my condition, but still gave me about 4 shots of soju. Currently laid out at home and going to watch some tv shows tonight until I fall asleep. So sorry if there is no new full episode until maybe Sunday or Monday. I just don’t have the strength to draw a full toon right now.

One of the things that is great about being sick though is that Hyo is a great nurse. It’s too bad we are not living together (usually doesn’t happen until marriage in Korean culture) because I always feel guilty that I can’t take care of her like she does to me due to her still living at home with her parents.

Whenever I’m sick though, I can count on her to come over and maybe cook something, give me some tea, or just be next to me for some comfort. I always end up feeling better and feeling like superman afterwards. However, me being sick doesn’t stop her from trying to tickle me. I don’t think she will ever give that up no matter my condition. Here’s to Nurse Hyo.



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Episode #7

So I’m obsessed with chocolate. I really eat it almost everyday, though I’m trying to “cut back”. Hyo claims that I look possessed when we are walking and I spot a chocolate shop I’ve never seen before. Possessed is a very strong word…very interested is a better term. Here’s something a little embarrassing that happened to me on Valentine’s Day…

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Episode #6 한국어

이런 말을 하면 Hyo가 저를 죽이려고 하겠지만 Hyo를 처음 보는 사람들은 그녀가 키가 작다는 걸 먼저 알아채요.
저는 저희 할머니가 작으시다고 생각해왔어요. 그런데 올해 초 Hyo와 미국으로 여행갔을 때 Hyo가 할머니 보다 약간 더 작다는 것을 알았죠.

하지만 작은 키 덕분에 Hyo는 너무 귀여워 보이고 공원같은 곳에서 산책을 할 때 제가 업어주기도 편하답니다.

연애 초기 때 Hyo는 조금 더 커 보이려고 힐을 신었어요.  이번 에피소드는 Hyo의 작은 키에 관한 내용이에요.
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Episode #6

She is gonna kill me for this, but one of the first things people notice about Hyo is how short she is. I thought my grandma was short, and we recently returned from a trip back to the states where Hyo met my her. And she was slightly shorter than my grandma lol. But, it makes her look too cute, and it makes her easy to pick up or carry for fun when we are out at the park or something.
When we first started dating, she wore heels often to make herself look a bit taller with me. Here is one of several stories about this subject…


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