About a month ago I came across my first strange cultural difference. It was while my co-worker and I were discussing how many times a week the bathroom should be cleaned. What a crazy thing to have to discuss. But that's not where the cultural difference comes in. And that's a story for another time. While we were in this discussion my co-worker notices that I have a pair of shoes on my bedroom floor. I thought she was going to die as she freaked out because I had shoes on my bedroom floor. The woman doesn't think the bathroom needs to be cleaned but having a pair of shoes on the bedroom floor is a BIG NO NO. I understand where she is coming from as in Asia you are supposed to take your shoes off at the door and put on slippers to walk around the house. But that's nothing new to me. At my house in America we also take our shoes off at the door. I also understand that we live in a big city where God only knows what is on the sidewalk and what gets stuck to our shoes. So I understand that having a pair of shoes that you just walked around in on your bedroom floor my be gross. However, this was when I first moved in and I had not unpacked my stuff yet. So those shoes...they were clean.
Yesterday, I came across another cultural difference. This time I was furious. Every night I either take my students phones from them or I take the chip inside their phone so that they are not up all night talking and texting their friends. As I've told them a million times, sleep is important for brain function. Yesterday I accidentally left one of the girl's chip on my table instead of taking it to school. Since they can't have their phones during school hours I told her I would go home during lunch and get her chip so that she has it for after school. As it turns out I forgot to give her the chip. I went to Bible study that night and when I got back to the dorm I went to get her chip to give it to her and it was gone. I freaked out thinking OMG I lost her chip. I felt so bad. Fastforward to the next day at school. I thought it rather odd that she wasn't asking for her chip back so I asked her where her chip was and she told me, "I have, I get from your purse yesterday" And right there, I lost it. The girl went into my room, into my purse, into my glasses case to get her chip. Now yes, it is my fault that I did not give her the chip the day before, but where I come from you DO NOT go into some else's room into their thing especially their purse. I so MAD. As i'm explaining this to her, how she is not allowed to go into other people's things I am getting a weird look from all the Korean teachers and my friend Mo (who is Brazilian). They simply don't see the problem with going into other's things to get something that belongs to them. And I get if something belongs to you, you want it right. But you still have to have respect for other's things. The right thing to do is to ask that person if you can go get you thing. You don't just simply go get it without permission. For me that shows a lack of respect for that person.
I still have a lot to learn, but I refuse to back down on the issue of privacy of one's personal belongings.