Sunday, November 22, 2009

For 12 years of my life, I had to wear a school uniform. A tunic, white shirt, white ankle socks for summer and green knee-high socks for winter with brown lace-up shoes. I know, that doesn't paint a very good mental picture, does it?! I had to even wear special green panties. We could only wear stud earrings or thin plain "sleepers". Our hair had to be tied back neatly (only with a green hairband) and not touch our shirt collar. Even our school bags had to be a specific colour. I didn't question the rules. If I rebelled, I'd have gotten a one-way ticket to detention. But I didn't. I had a squeaky clean reputation. Yes, I was one of "those girls".

Then I spent four years at university. Even though I had the freedom of dressing how I want to, there were still all the rules I had to follow. On the first day of all my lectures, I got the course outlines detailing the objectives of the course and expectations of me. Deadlines of essays and assignments were penned into my diary as soon I knew them. I lived in res with girls from all over South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and other countries. There were rules about everything - using the Common Room, kitchen, laundry room and visiting times of boys.

When I moved to Korea in 2007, I thought I was breaking free of conforming and people havig high expectations of me.

I couldn't have been further from the truth. Since I've been here, I've had to follow a bunch of rules that sometimes I can't even recognize who I am anymore. These rules vary:

  • Don't wear shoes inside the house/apartment/restaurants

    (This can be a real pain especially in winter when wearing boots / sneakers)
  • Sit on the floor in restaurants / teachers room at school

    I've gotten used to sitting on the floor, and it's actually the best place to be during winter because the floor is heated. But there are days when my knees feel locked, and I simply can't sit as comfortably with my legs crossed fora long time like my Korean friends. I even hated sitting on the floor for school assembly.

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