Small time celebration in a big time holiday
July 6, 2011
Taking advantage of Seoul’s diversity – Mexican food
July 12, 2011

Day 7 in US: Seven Things That I Have to Say

 

It has been 7 days since I left. Well, I spent the first day in the airportS but that was another part of expedition. People asked me what’s my first impression or what I think about the US so far. What do I think? I let all the things flow through me. I see, I eat, I walk, I feel, but I don’t think hard. I don’t want to make any assumption. I want to flow with everything, sort of floating on the current. For celebrating a week of my travel, I wrote seven brief impressions I got while I am floating.

Long story short, I’m having a really good time.  Here are seven things that I have to say at this point.

 

People are friendly

Just ‘talking’ feels natural. You might say that’s an odd thing to say, but it is true and I really like it. Koreans don’t do small talk with strangers. In fact, somehow look someone directly in the eyes is rude or something that not encouraging thing to do. But eye contact is really important factor of communication. Anyhow, yes, I like talking to people here and there, about random things. We met a nice man who loves fishing when we were at George Washington’s birth place. He suggested looking around Colonial Beach, and that’s what we did. Surprise surprise, few hours later we met him again at Colonial Beach! Turns out, he’s been to Korea several times for the tour. I am enjoying talking to friendly people here.

 

Party!

 

Funny signs

Since this is a diverse country with lots of different factors, there are unusual signs on the street. Signs that I would never see in Korea. I think I can pull out a whole post about the signs I saw. Please tune in!

 

Funny sign

 

Thank you, You’re welcome and Bless you

I like these little things that people say all the time. They hold the door and say ‘thank you’ and ‘you are welcome’. Say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes. People always say ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ when I come in to their store. Even though I don’t really know what to respond to that question – I know that’s just a friendly saying, not that requires an specific answer, it’s friendly, I like it. There’s a joke between Katie and I about ‘bless you’, so I said ‘being in the US remind me of that joke all the time. It’s killing me!’ and she said ‘oh right, I kind of forgot that people say that a lot there!’.

 

Summer is special here

Not like Korea, the US cannot be described as a single climate. Summer in Seattle and Austin are going to be totally different atmosphere, I can tell. Fredericksburg Virginia, where I’m staying at is at similar latitude of Seoul, but of course atmosphere is totally different. This summer is important for me as well, moreover I got the feeling that summer is a special season for Americans. Everyone is saying ‘Oh summer is really good time to be in the US.’ And I think really is. People are enjoying this season very much in different ways. I love fresh feeling of summer in Virginia.

 

Beautiful summer

 

 

Food and beverage portion is bigger

In general, so far, I noticed that restaurant food is more expensive than Korea. Coffee is much, much cheaper though. However the portion is just.. whoa! Talk about big hand! French fries come with a big brown bag instead of a little cup, grande size coffee is really ‘grande’, and the size of bread and cheese and chips and soda and well a lot of things. Everything is bigger. Do I like it? You tell me. 🙂

 

Now that's an onion ring!

 

Culturally broad choices over groceries and food

Multi-cultural is one of the great things about America. Naturally, people are open to diversity in many ways. Sometimes, have to prepare two or three different types of food due to religious or personal lifestyle reasons. People in the street are not lookalike. International food restaurants are everywhere. Grocery store is filled with international stuff that are not really considering as international here. It is international but those are normal things to be in a grocery store.

 

This country is SO BIG

Well, I knew it. I can easily tell based of the thickness of the guidebook. 3 months is just not enough, I thought. But more and more I stay here, read newspapers, listen radio programs, and see all the maps, I realize it day after day, wow this is really a big country. Again, Korea, south-not the northern part, is about the same size of state of Indiana. Whenever I look at the map and try to make itinerary, the miles between two places surprise me, still. Fredericksburg to Chicago is 15hours of drive!

 

Big country, different climate

 

These are my brief impressions. In general, I’m really enjoying summer time in the US. I am more than sure that I will feel and learn more about this country and about myself. More stories are coming up. Please tune in!

 

 

 

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

61 Comments

  1. Great post! Although I’ve seen quite a bit of the U.S., traveling around the world this past year has made me want to go back and travel around there more too!

    • Juno says:

      Thanks Evi. You are from the US? It’s really a huge country. I would love to spend more time for sure. But you know, due to visa.. 🙂

  2. Jaime says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I think every thing you mentioned is 100% true. Let me know if you make it to Houston. I wont be there but I have a lot of friends who will be and I will make sure they take care of you. Hope you nejoy the US its a great country with so much to see & do.

    • Juno says:

      Thanks so much Jamie! I may not go to south this time but I’m sure I will look for your advise when I make it there. I really wish I could spend more time here.
      It’s really an interesting place to be, and a lot to experience.

  3. Alouise says:

    Nice post. I love reading about your impressions of the US. I’ve only been there a few times, but it’s definitely a country filled with variety. The sign post sounds like it will be amusing. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  4. Juno, you are right about a lot of things in the US. You started in the right place for friendly people. Being a Southerner myself, we are incredibly friendly! You are also right about food and drink portions. However, there is a down side to that – it’s also one of the reasons why we are an obese nation! 🙂

    • Juno says:

      Great to hear that I got the right point! People are friendly here. Or at least they are open to talk! The BBQ place we went, I think they were from south, a little bit southern accent, I think. And they were really really nice. And the food. mmm!
      But you know, a lot of people are so fit too! I love that how people run and exercising here.

  5. I can tell that you were somewhere where there is an Amish community. If coffee is cheaper here it must be VERY expensive in Korea. It always amazes me how much people are willing to pay to get their Joe as it is sometimes called here. Have a great trip!

  6. Jim Saunders says:

    Going home to England last summer after spending a year in Canada the shop-keepers must have thought I was on the rob or something.

    “Who’s this geezer talking to me? Will he want the till in the next few seconds?”

    Now that I’m back on Jeju, this Canadian (North American?) habit of small talk has stayed with me.

    “오늘은 잘 지냈어요?”

    “네~ 잘 지냈어요… 어디가요? ”

    “오름 등산 할거예요.”

    “아, 진짜? 나도 오름 등산 좋아요…”

    Just a little bit of small talk at my local Family Mart revealed the server shared my passion for oreum hiking. And ever since that time we’ve taken time to chat about oreums. Trading advice on the ones we’ve liked and he ones we’ve hated.

    All thanks to a bit of small talk.

  7. Maria says:

    Glad you’re having so much fun. Let me know if you travel through Texas.

    • Juno says:

      Thanks Maria! I don’t think I can make it to Texas, but will do if I go! But I really would love to visit Texas someday. 3 months is just not enough! 🙂

  8. Sharon says:

    Austin is a great place! If you think Virginia is friendly, wait till you are here. Make sure to visit Whole Foods #1 and some of the food trailers. And drive out into the Hill Country.

  9. Andrea says:

    So glad you’re having fun and everyone is welcoming you! How could they not adore you? =)

    • Juno says:

      Aww, how sweet of you to say that! 🙂 Your country is treating me really good so far. I am enjoying myself every single day. Hope you are doing great down there! (and I know you are 🙂 )

  10. Shannon says:

    Love this post! I have lived in Minnesota most of my life (stop by the Mall of America if your up this way), it’s really interesting to hear a visitors opinion 🙂 I am so glad you are having a good time!

    • Juno says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post Shannon! 🙂 I don’t think I will drop by Minnesota this time but if I go, will ask for your advise for sure.

  11. Ashley says:

    You said you don’t know what to say when someone say ‘how are you?’ or ‘how are you doing?’ Always just respond with ‘good’ or ‘fine’ or a variation of that. That is all someone is looking for when they ask that. 🙂

    • Juno says:

      Well, not how are you, more like “what’s up?” or “how’s it going?”. As a second language speaker, sometimes rhetorical questions can be heard as literal question. But I think I’m getting there. 🙂

  12. Chris says:

    Great post. Americans often forget how big and diverse our country is. I work with people from all over the US and we compare slang sayings, food, standards of etiquette, and even liquor laws. Different regions are like different countries. I’m glad you get to spend the time to see so much.

    • Juno says:

      I can only imagine that. I mean, like I said Korea is same size as just Indiana state, and we compare our regional differences all the time. Really intersting!
      And yes, I am really enjoying everything here.

  13. Evan says:

    Awesome! Hahaha, I love the onion ring picture. I’m sooo glad you’re having a good time here!!

    • Juno says:

      I really love that photo as well. Didn’t expected to look that great (means, funny)!! How are you doing? Enjoying your homebase?

  14. That’s a neat post! The portions are certainly larger than in Korea and the coffee is cheaper. In fact, I once heard or read likely a news article mentioning that Korea had the most expensive coffee in the world. One of my ‘savings’ tips when I taught there was to avoid going out for coffee..HA! Keep having fun!

    • Juno says:

      I know. Odd. In my opinion, Korea ‘over do’ a lot of things. If one thing is popular, everyone does it and it vanishes so quickly once they lost interest. Same thing as coffee. They don’t grow a single coffee tree but coffee is everywhere in the country and they are so expensive.

  15. I love that you’re keeping the joke alive! And that you’re keeping your eyes and mind wide open. I can’t wait to see how you grow as the country grows on you. And there’s plenty of room to spread your wings!!

    • Juno says:

      You don’t even know — how many Dane Cook moments I have in just one day. You’ll be so proud of me to see how I hold it in. But it’s painful at the same time because I can’t Dane Cook out of it, you know!?
      Your country is pretty amazing so far. Interesting people, interesting culture, food, places, opinions, and broad range of everything. It’s really, interesting. Wish you are here zazu!

  16. When are you coming Maine?! Lori and I would love to hang out with you!

  17. I like your travel style of flowing and floating.

    I’m not at all surprised that you noticed the size of portions in the US right away. In Latin America, when I read the nutrition info on food packaging, I have to remember to look at the portion size because it is soooo much smaller than what we are used to in the US. Suddenly that 150 calorie pack of cookies isn’t such a good snack because it’s actually 2.5 servings!

    • Juno says:

      Really? Interesting. I thought Latin America is pretty generous about food too. I mean photos of food I see, those were huge..!!
      I love giant coffee cup here. Now, that’s grande coffee!!! 🙂

  18. Brilliant post, really interesting. The food portions are immense, aren’t they?

  19. jade says:

    Yay- I’m happy you are enjoying your time so far in America. Summer is a special time and Fall too. The food portions are huge… it’s easy to gain weight here, especially since most cities don’t require a lot of walking around.

    Enjoy!!

  20. Love this post…so interesting to read! I’m an American and so, I’m fascinated by what someone traveling here who’s from elsewhere thinks.

    It is a huge country and it’s easy to underestimate the distances–especially if you’re visiting the national parks. And yeah, the portion size is large, too. Friends of mine and I often share a dish because having our own is just too much.

    I’m not sure what your itinerary is, but I hope that you get to visit many different regions and definitely lots of small towns and some medium-sized cities. Those who limit themselves to only the big cities miss out on a lot, I think.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading more!! PS: I’m in New Jersey, a state that’s misunderstood by many!

  21. It’s so interesting to see what the US looks like through your eyes! So happy to hear you’re enjoying it! When we moved to California from Canada we were constantly struck by how friendly and outgoing people are here. Americans are definitely chattier than Canadians!

    Oddly enough I don’t remember coffee being that expensive in Korea. We just remember that there seemed to be a vending machine selling it every 2 feet! We also loved the mochachino milk and all the other awesome flavors at the corner stores! (Yes, small things amuse us!)

    Yes, the portions are IMMENSE. And yes, sadly, we often become the same way… But I do remember getting HUGE portions of vegetarian sushi on the street in Korea. And CHEAP (by US standards), too!

    Enjoy your trip! We’re looking forward to following along!

  22. Odysseus says:

    Oh, this makes me so HOMESICK for the U.S. And we never did get to meet in Korea! Well, have fun on your trip. That onion ring photo is the best!

  23. Meaghan says:

    Everything is bigger in America, including our butts. Glad you are liking it so far! Also, very happy you ate hush puppies! I LOVE them and miss them in Hong Kong!

    • Juno says:

      Hush puppies, I’ve never heard of it but I really loved it. The people in the restaurant sounds little Southern accent. It was a great restaurant. 🙂

  24. Jillian says:

    Everything is bigger in America! haha You’ll see something else this summer if you go to fairs and festivals, we can deep fry just about anything (oreos, ice cream, etc…) I highly recommend sampling some of those, not good for your body, but good for the taste buds! 🙂 So glad you’re enjoying the beginning of your trip and look forward to your next destinations!

    • Juno says:

      Not good for body, good for taste buds… I wonder, why all the great tasting things are bad for us, right? That’s not fair! 🙂
      Already fell in love with the enormous onion rings!!

  25. Abi says:

    Bon voyage! (And yes, the portion sizes have to be seen to be believed!)

  26. Ted Nelson says:

    Great to hear that you are having a great time. Look forward to more observations as you become more accustomed to the country.

  27. I loved this post! It’s fun to read about your country from a foreigner’s perspective. I love how friendly everyone in the US is too. I hope you have the BEST time on your adventures. Hope you make it to the Carolinas???

    • Juno says:

      Yes, really enjoying talking to people here. It’s not that everyone is ‘trying’ to be friendly, it’s just a natural reaction to conversations. Love it.
      I think I can’t make it to Carolinas this time. I’m heading North from Virginia. This country is huge! But would love to be back and travel more. Hope to bump into you in somewhere Andi!

  28. Leigh says:

    The portion sizes take a bit of getting used to – but do I ever miss the big coffees in Europe. I find you can often order one meal and that it’s more than enough for two people.
    And I would totally agree with friendly and big.

  29. Gray says:

    I love reading your 1st impressions of the US! Yes, food portion sizes here are huge (a little too huge if you ask me). I love that Amish horse and buggy sign. If you came to Vermont, you’d see moose signs. 🙂

  30. Marsha says:

    It’s wonderful to read a visitor’s perspective of the United States, my home country. I’m so proud to live here and excited that you’re enjoying your visit so far. It really is a massive country, and there’s so much texture and variety to experience as you move from place to place in terms of culture, food (and yes, our portions are massive), accents/slang, landscape, etc. Look forward to seeing more of the U.S. through your eyes.

    • Juno says:

      Thanks Marsha. The potential about country with a big land, is unlimited. I can only imagine how different cultures would be due to the areas. My country is small, compare to the US, and there are so much differences between regions. That’s another charm of the US, I think. Get to know your own people. And in my case, get to know these people, in these different areas. Gladly, I have enough English skills to understand and figure out the differences, thankful for that.

  31. Juno, I love seeing my country through your eyes! After coming back from six months in Southeast Asia, I was struck by how Americans hold themselves and interact with each other.

    Enjoy your time in the States and let me know if you come to Boston! I’ll tell you what to eat!

    • Juno says:

      Thanks Kate! I really like to talk to people here. Communicate is really important factor in my life and I think I didn’t get that enough by where I’m from. Lots of places in Southeast Asia are friendly, but it’s different.
      If I make it to Boston, I will give you a shout. Thanks for the nice words!

  32. Jim says:

    This is so great to read, it made me look at my own country in a completely different way. Well put.

  33. Elle says:

    What a great post! I am glad to see that you are enjoying your time in our country. It is funny that you mentioned the horse and buggy sign. Those are even a rarity for most Americans!

    Enjoy the rest of your trip 🙂

  34. Lourdes Petersen says:

    If one thing is popular, everyone does it and it vanishes so quickly once they lost interest. But you know, due to visa..

  35. Sophie says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Your insights are awesome. Keep the great content coming!

  36. Sky says:

    Lovely post! It’s always interesting to hear the observations of the US from someone who doesn’t live here. Also interesting is the fact that, after living here for nearly 18 years, I would have to disagree with some of your observations. I’m sure you’ll soon run into an area where people aren’t so nice and easy to talk – generally the farther north you get, the crankier people are (at least on the East Coast). But Southerners are lovely. 🙂

    (COMPLETELY agree about the food portions – they’re so huge, it’s ridiculously and people have a “don’t waste food!” mindset, which leads to people eating WAY too much food sometimes. Also the funny signs – I was once going through a car wash and saw a sign that said “No snow plows allowed” which really just made me crack up.)

  37. Joe says:

    Love that funny pic. It reminds me of a trip a friend and I recently took. We took photos of the craziest signs we could find and shared them on pinterest.

  38. A friend of mine went to the US and thought she’d ordered some sort of “wrong size” to her portion, haha! Portions were BIG… but she quickly learned the doggy bag concept 😉 Thanks for sharing another great post, Juno!

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