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"Smiling’s My Favorite!"

January 22, 2012

I love simple gestures of kindness.

I always get so surprised in Korea when someone is kind to me. You see, I’m used to being stared at, told to “shhhsh”, pushed around, nearly spit on, yelled at by Adjashis and Adjumas… It could also be because I’m a Southern Bell who comes from the land of manners and being sweeter than honey. I was never one of those “refined” types necessarily, but definitely more kin to manners than this sort of thing. I feel like a lot of my polished manners have become unpolished since being in Korea. Southern culture clashes with city culture and Korean culture all at once. It’s been an interesting mingling of the two.

You see, manners are not viewed the same here. Good manners can be considered smacking when you eat to let people know you’re enjoying your meal– for example.

I guess you adapt over time to certain things. Some things you never grow accustomed to; you just learn how to tolerate it if you know you can’t change it.

Well, I am always so happy when someone does something kind to me in this country. A lot of places love to do little things for “service”. When I went to the Pharmacy yesterday, the lady handed me a warm bottle of herbal tea. Now, I know that she was giving them to everyone, so you could say that it really wasn’t that kind, rather just the way it was done. But, nonetheless, it was nice to receive it.

I love when people offer their seat to me or do their best to speak English (even though I should be trying to speak Korean!). Or when people smile at me from time to time (a rare but precious occasion). One time when I was on the subway with Semy and Melody, coming back from grad school, there was this sweet old man who was just smiling so big at us, as if he was so pleased to see us there. It wasn’t that uncomfortable stare or lustful stare that you usually get, it was a genuine, sweet stare and smile. Those are the kinds of gestures that make me smile and make me remember how much I love people.

A smile can go a long way. When I was running by the river a few years ago, this old woman smiled real big at me– like she was so pleased to see a foreigner out running. It was during a time when I was hating Korea. That was just the smile I needed.

Sometimes I miss home where everyone smiles, even if you’re a stranger. It just spreads joy. I wish people smiled more here. The wrinkle cream market in Korea would thank me. šŸ˜‰

Next time you’re out and about, remember to smile at someone. One smile can go a long way.

As my good buddy , Elf, says, “Smiling’s my favorite!”

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