So today was the Lincoln/Omaha area pre-departure orientation meeting in Lincoln Nebraska at Lincoln's area reps' house, Jeff.
There was, not suprisingly, only seven, yes SEVEN outbound (USA students LEAVING the country) students at this session: three Germany year students, two Japan summer students, one France year student and me, that Korean girl.
I thought it was going to be very awkward and uncomfortable but I was pleasantly suprised. Almost immediately upon arriving at Jeff's house, I was wrapped in the conversation about countries and cultures that I didn't know it was already time to start!
We started off with the usual get-to-know-each-other warmup activity that brought on a bunch of awkward glacnces and giggles.
Then we got down to business.
One of the rep's told this amazing story about sunglasses and culture. Basically she talked about how you leave your home country wearing yellow sunglasses and arrive in a country wearing blue sunglasses and what happened was, when the girl came back, she told her friends she saw in green. The problem was, however, that she carried some of her own beliefs and cultural bias so she couldn't fully experience the other culture. The moral of the story was that you must first remove your own yellow sunglasses before wearing the foreign, blue sunglasses to fully experience the culture.
After that intense session, we took a ten minute break where Lida, Summer Japan, won a YFU hat. Then we had lunch- Eating Subway! Oh! I have found a new love: Italian Dressing and Cheese Croutons! :D
Then we talked about what to expect, culture shock, as well as "facing the critics" in your host country about America. My partner, Samuel and I totally kicked butt with our reasoning! :D I found this stuff enlightening but I already had a general idea as to what to expect.
I honestly do not feel, at least at this point, that I will receive much culture shock primarily because I already know so much about the culture. I have researched it and I know the social norms. I have yet to live it, however. But I am not going into South Korea cold turkey- I specifically chose this country for a reason. And I also keep in regular contact with my host brothers- Tony called me yesterday and we had a very fun conversation for over an hour!
Then we had another raffle after "facing those darned critics" and I won! I received a nifty little YFU computer bag- it was black and blue! :D
Overall, spending those six hours, yes six! With those seven students- no, friends, has made me even more excited for my trip. I learned a lot with spending the day from them. It is not just me who is confused and maybe a little intimidated, and we all learned something new today.
And as we each part for our own different journey we are each connected in a way that we weren't before- We share a bond- We are each about to embark on a journey of a lifetime.
Nicole, Cassey, Erin, Lida, Charla, & Samuel