Thursday, March 14, 2013

Consumer > Joy

Shopping in America is dangerous for me, that's because everything I see I pretty much want. I know the size of the clothes will fit me, the taste of that cheese will be just right and a trip to Target fun. I didn't really go out of my way to shop in Korea, except for every Sat or Sun when I went to the local mega-store supermarket (Lotte Mart or Homeplus). There I hoped the cheese aisle would live up to it's name and that cilantro would be on the shelf. So having been here for the past two weeks almost feels like being a kid trapped in a candy store.

I don't have an income anymore, so I have to remind myself I can't buy everything I want. I'll have money for school and to get by every month but I have to readjust my shopping habits back into being a student. I'm not really a materialistic person who needs to go out and get the latest this and that, but it is a readjustment. However, it's one I can live with!

For the most part I have been stocking up on things that I don't have and needed. For example I needed a hair straightener and blow dryer. School supplies such as notebooks and post-its's were also needed. So most of my shopping has been necessaries. I think I have most of what I need now and can move on to routine grocery shopping and supplies. Maybe I'll spend a little bit more on sightseeing before school starts.

All of this reminds me of the notion of "reverse culture shock" and how for some they found being back in America's "consumer culture" unsavory. To be honest, Korean people consume just as much as Americans and I find it really strange people didn't notice that. Also I just find it easier to shop here, not just because I can find what I want, but there aren't hundreds of people crowded around me. I guess you could say I'm a happy consumer here in America.

Some funny differences I noticed about shopping here are that "Being Green" has gone big. Now, in Korea you did have to pay extra for a bag, but that was a plastic bag. Here you can't get a plastic bag if you tried. It's either pay 10 cents for the store's paper bag or bring your own. I think it's a great idea to keep pollution and excess at bay, but it's strength and presence here was a surprise to me.

I guess a part of me will miss the meat guys shouting the latest sales in the meat department or the tofu ladies who worked hard to convince me their tofu was better. I think mostly I was ready for this change, especially after five years of limited choices. Sorry Korea, America beat you on this one.

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