I am half-Japanese, half-Korean, but as my father was born in Japan and raised in Japa, he cannot speak Korean and he was not able to experience Korean culture, therefore, I cannot speak Korean and I know hardly anything about Korean culture.
But in Grade 9, for the AISA Tennis Tournament, I had flown to Korea for the tournament. Before I got to Korea, I had no plans on what to do and I was only thinking about playing tennis and I did not have Korean culture in my mind. However, as we were in homestays, I was able to gain the perfect opportunity to interact with Korean culture. My homestay was a very kind person and he had shown me around the city and had taught we about Korean culture and had taught me some Korean.
To begin with, for dinner, he had brought me to a famous Korean restaurant. The restaurant was famous for their chicken and I was very excited to eat Korean food. However, the chicken that was served was extremely spicy and I had struggled to finish it as I had never eaten something as spicy in Japan. Although I knew that in Korean culture, spicy food is a specialty, I did not think that the food would be so spicy that I could not finish it.
After dinner, as seen above, we had gone to the public sauna. Unlike, the hot springs in Japan, the saunas in Korea were a mixture of the big baths, hot springs, and saunas. This was my first time in a sauna, as Japan only lets older people into saunas. Also unlike Japan, we borrow clothes and wear it, where in Japan, we would go into saunas naked. As seen above, we had been in the sauna with both boys and girls together for a very long time and I was able to talk to different people and learn more about their culture.
This trip was great, as I was able to learn a lot about Korean culture and as I am half-Korean, it is important that I know something about Korean culture as it is part of my identity. I was able to understand that culture is part of our identity, and instead of sticking to just one culture, it is important to experience/interact with different cultures to become more global. As I am a student from an International School, it is important that I experience as many cultures as I can.
A year after this trip, my homestay had come to Japan and this time, I was his homestay and I had shown him around Yokohama and I was able to introduce to him some Japanese culture to him. As I knew the importance of interacting with different cultures(from the trip the year before), I had tried my best to let him interact with Japanese culture, as he had done the same for me.
Above is a picture of me and my homestay.