The Weight of Tourism

(This is a response I did for my class based of Elizabeth Becker’s essay titled Don’t Go There: The Whole World Has the Travel Bug. And It’s Ravaging the Planet.)

I circumnavigated the world before I turned one. Rather than crossing the Pacific to return back home to America after visiting Korea, my parents decided to go through scenic Europe. I got to crawl through the L’Ouvre and explore Switzerland, even if I don’t remember any of it. And my traveling grew from there; after this, I ended up living in five different countries, two different continents, and visiting every continent except Africa and South America (and Antarctica, if we want to be really legalistic).

I’ve had a fair share of being a tourist. I’ve visited lots of the tourist hot spots and taken pictures by the stereotypical Eiffel Tower and Tiananmen Square. I’ve bought souvenirs for friends back home, trinkets of different cultures, pieces of the foreign lands I’ve seen. But I’ve also seen the darker side of tourism. Continue reading

Five Days to Beijing and Yet…

have you ever gotten to that point

when you know you have things to do,

ambitions to fulfill,

boxes to check

and yet

nothing.

not to say that the fire has been quenched

but rather, I’ve been lulled to sleep by my circumstances,

prey to the deceiving enemy of false security

because there’s still things to do

and I can’t run forever

or use my ignorance as an excuse. Continue reading

Mandarin Experience: No, I’m Not Chinese…

Even before I decided to go to China, I learned some basic Mandarin for fun but mostly because I got confused too many times as a Chinese person by Chinese international students. They would just go off in rapid fire Chinese on me and I would stare at them blankly and sometimes they’d get mad/frustrated until I explained that I was actually Korean. Sorry guys?-

One time, I was walking to class and a Chinese woman latched onto my arm and starting speaking Mandarin in a panicked voice. This was one incident when I felt bad for not knowing Mandarin because she seemed like she really needed help but only spoke Mandarin… All these incidents cumulatively pushed me to decide to try to learn Mandarin. And yes, I wrote try to learn intentionally because it is hard to learn the language. I want to one day master it, but now my Mandarin is limited to saying the following (somewhat?) phrases: Continue reading

My First Mandarin Experience

So, as you guys may or may not know, I have been *trying* to learn Mandarin this summer to prepare for Beijing which is happening in two weeks from now (WAIT WAAAAAAT). I’ve improved from my last post about Mandarin . I now know the four different tones and can somewhat recognize a tiny amount of characters. Also, I have a new tactic for learning the language, thanks to my Chinese friend; rather than trying to conquer writing and reading, I’m going straight to the pinyin and learning phrases because holy cow guys SO MANY CHARACTERS SO LITTLE TIME. I also bought a handy dandy phrase book as well and I’ve been putting phrases on flashcards to practice.

A couple of days ago, my mom told me she was going to Chinatown to get a haircut (cause the guy there cuts hair really well) and invited me to tag along to eat dim sum and pick up my Chinese visa. This was my chance to finally put my Mandarin skills to use! And so I brought along my Mandarin phrase book and went in feeling all confident. Continue reading

Mandarin Tongue Twisters!

Today I learned that English tongue twisters have nothing on the Chinese ones. I mean, I heard of them before and they were pretty mind blowing but geez when you actually see it yourself it’s like WAIT WHAT? I mean, wow, it sounds mostly the same but it’s all different characters! *mindblown*

My Taiwanese friend taught me (well, tried to teach me) some basic Mandarin tongue twisters. By the end of the video, all I learned was that ‘shi’ is pronounced many different ways with many different forms and that putao means grapes.

Continue reading