Saturday, January 30, 2010

CLAM #4: My People

This is where I live, I guess you could say that these are "my people." Myrtle Beach, SC is pretty much the Jersey Shore of the South (the TV show too, I guess). In the Summer it is packed with mostly obnoxious tourists, and in the Winter it is a ghost town that still somehow manages to have large amounts of traffic. The locals are nice, full of Southern hospitality, they pretty much have to be in a town that survives off of tourism. I think individuality is a really big thing here, as it is on the country-wide level. I think with the Long Term Orientation in Myrtle Beach would be about the same as for the US. We have a disposable mindset, that we don't have to take care of material things because they can just be replaced, but we do want to show our culture and ensure that others appreciate it too. I think that in the US in general, the masculinity isn't that bad, when you compare it to other countries. Men mostly hold offices, and have more authority, and there are more stay-at-home moms than dads. In the South there is generally a more traditional view of gender roles, but it is definitely becoming more equal in the country, which also contributes to the Power Distance. Even though Myrtle Beach is kind of kitsch-y it still has a good history, and the area just south of us has rich history with plantations and the old south.
My family has actually hosted two exchange students. When I was a junior in high school we had Kate (Kateryna) from Ukraine, and this year we have Justin (Lai Sung Yau) from Hong Kong. It has been a great experience both times, but Justin fits in really well with our family.

This is Justin and my little brother Jeff on Christmas. Justin gave us these really cool Chinese shirts, as you can see below:

We've tried to show our exchange students how our country works, and I think the regional, local, and familial portions of our culture kind of were wrapped up in that. It's kind of one big package of information. It is important to take them places around the country, and explain how the cultures vary from region to region. They should also take place in our holidays, like Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc. It's mostly just showing them how you live your life, and they pick up the quirks along the way.

Friday, January 29, 2010

First Days in the Granite City!

I'm here! And the trip here wasn't bad at all! I was worried about getting through customs (I had many issues with the visa process, which I won't go into on here to keep an optimistic vibe going), but it took probably 5 min. The guy just asked how long I would be here, if I wanted to work, etc. Luckily the Manchester airport isn't really that busy at 7am, so we got to our flight easily. By the way, "we" means Heather and me- she is another Clemson exchange student at Aberdeen that I met at Pre-departure orientation. The picture here is the sunset from the Newark airport.

We got settled in to our rooms; they are single rooms with a sink, and then there is a bathroom with showers on each floor. My room is T4- the T literally means the top floor, which is only the
fourth floor (it's G for ground, F for first, S for second, and T for top). I took a nap (if you call 8 hours of sleep a nap- not good) and then Heather and I walked downtown a little bit so I could get some dinner. I had pork fried rice because a Chinese restaurant was t
he first one we saw. So far I only have two complaints, and they are about housing stuff in general:
1. the bedding that I ordered from a company over here was not delivered when
it was supposed to be, so I still don't have it. I've had to have makeshift bedding (mostly made out of scarves, jackets, and towels)

2. the bathrooms on our floor are being renovated, so we have to go down to
the first/ground floor to take showers or go to the bathroom right now. It's not too bad, and hopefully our new bathrooms will get done soon and be nice!

I didn't get to sleep until about 4am last night because of the 8-hour nap, so I woke up around 10am this morning. Heather and I went to the main building to see if our
bedding had gotten here (it hadn't) and then we caught the bus for 70p to campus. We've heard that if you have a student ID the bus to campus is free, but I'm not sure about the truth of that yet. Anyways, we went into campus, walked around, and took pictures. It has been snowing and windy all day, so that made it difficult for us to be very comfortable outside, but the campus is

After exploring campus a bit, we went to this pub called "The Bobbin" that is right across from campus, and therefore it is really busy especially right now because today is the last day of exams from the last semester. Heather and I are both under 21, so we don't drink back in the US (really), so we were a little daunted by the beer situation. We got burgers and pints of Foster's, but neither of us were close to finishing the beer.
We have orientation and registration tomorrow, so hopefully I get all of the classes that I need!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

CLAM Post #3

I generally find the origin of names really interesting, so I explored a little bit of the "nomos" aspect of the Aberdeen's culture first. The origin of the name "Aberdeen" is purely geographic. The original name of the city was Aberdon, meaning "at the mouth of the Don," which was the main river at the time. Now that the city has expanded to also encompass the River Dee as well as the Don, the name expanded too; Aberdeen, meaning "between the rivers Dee and Don." These names helped people locate the city and lend a lot of information about the city's origins as a port, and now as an oil capitol.

I think that Hirsh is correct in thinking that learning is combining old concepts with new ones, and I also believe that cultural literacy is the same. I believe that in order to understand more thoroughly another culture, you first must understand your own. Fortunately, we get that taken care of in grades K-12, and everyday outside the classroom too-just by living in our culture.

You can take a classroom approach to becoming Culturally Literate: reading books, chatting online with people from other cultures, taking language and history classes. This is a really good base, learning facts, associating ideas with one-another ("culture is like grass, not tulips" after all). You can become very close to being very Culturally Literate this way, but I don't feel that you get the full effect until you can immerse yourself in a different culture: the nomos, ethnos, archon, mythos, and techne.

To me, a more hands-on approach to learning another culture is obviously the best way. For example, last spring I took a "Wildlife of China" class. In class, we discussed China's culture and how it relates to their wildlife conservation and ideals, and also how our country's ideals compare. I learned a lot in the classroom, but it wasn't until we actually visited the country, wildlife sanctuaries, habitats, zoos, universities, and historical sites that it all came together for me. It was an incredible experience, and gave me a great amount of perspective on our country's culture, and my own Cultural Literacy.

I have my parents to thank partially for my level of cultural awareness (I think I have more than the average American, but is that really saying much anymore?). They encourage me to travel as much as possible, and have taken us on many unforgettable family trips. I may not have appreciated the exposure as much when we took the trips that we took when I was around 8-10, but I still have memories, photos, random travel journals that I find when/if I clean my room, and the memories of my family. I try to stay aware of what is going on currently around the world, and also try to learn more about the world historically in class.

At first I didn't think that going to Scotland would be that much of a cultural awakening, because I think that we Americans see the United Kingdom as being pretty much the same as us. I know that that is not true, and I am so excited to get immersed! I know that this trip (I leave in 4 days!) will broaden my horizons in so many ways, and eventually I can call myself "Culturally Literate" without feeling completely arrogant.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How I Use Social Media

Social media is everywhere we turn these days. It's on our phones, computers, video games, on TV, EVERYWHERE! It has changed how we meet people, how we then get to know them (the term "Facebook stalking" comes to mind), and mostly how we learn what happens in others' lives. I would have no idea which of my high school classmates were married and/or pregnant, who is dating whom, who just got a new puppy, or any other number of things without Facebook and Twitter. Personally, the only social media sites I am active in are Facebook and Twitter, and now this blog.

Facebook seems to have taken over the lives of college students, and now their younger brothers and sisters, parents, and even grandparents. I hate to admit it, but I do get sucked into it sometimes. It's completely ridiculous, but also ridiculously entertaining and informative.

Recently I joined Twitter, mostly because my best friend, who goes to Winthrop University, twittered (tweeted? I'm not sure of the correct terminology). It sounds pretty ridiculous when you hear what it is-140 or less words about "what's happening" that comes up on other users' feeds if they "follow" you. I just see it as an incredibly easy way to feel like I am keeping in touch with friends that are far away from me.

I also have a YouTube account that I've never uploaded any videos to. In case you feel the need to keep up with what I'm up to in the world of Social Media, here are the links to my pages:

I know, I'm extremely creative with my usernames. That's all for this week's assignment! Till next time!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What a Good Omen!

I wanted to try posting a picture on here, and then I thought about a recent fortune I got in a fortune cookie from some Chinese food:

I know, the first part is going to come true, so now I'm pretty much counting on the second half happening soon too! I'm heading to Clemson tomorrow to see the Clemson/UNC game, and to see my Clemsonite friends once more before I'm gone for 5-ish months. I'm so excited, but I still have yet to pack (I feel that this may become a theme in my life soon unfortunately).
I just got Photoshop on my laptop, so I'm trying to figure that out now. I've been snapping random photos and trying to jazz them up a bit, although all I've really gotten a hang of so far is contrast.
Only 2 weeks until I leave for Aberdeen!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My First [Real] Blog!

So this is it! My first [real] blog, and it's for CLAM, my online class that I am taking from Clemson while studying abroad! If my memory serves me correctly, I had a blog (or livejournal, I'm pretty sure it's the same) in ninth grade. I'm sure if I somehow found it now, I would be completely embarrassed at all of the ridiculous things that 14-year old me was thinking.
I am really excited about this class! I work in the camera department at Best Buy, and took two years of photography in high school, so I am mostly excited about taking advantage of some great photo opportunities once I am in Scotland.

I found the introductory materials to be very helpful. They answered all of the questions that I had and were entertaining at the same time, imagine that!

I look forward to experiencing Scotland's culture, blogging more, and reading about my classmate's experiences!