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Advice: Be The Dumb White Guy

December 18, 2011

Hmm, hopefully this post still counts as being on the 17th. I’m posting in the morning instead of the evening, so you might get two 18s instead.

Another quick advice segment! I mentioned in the last post that it’s important to realize that if you’re going to live and work in a foreign country, you’re going to look stupid a whole lot. This can range from simple misunderstandings to full out “what the fuck” type moments, such as when you wander into what you thought was a barbershop only to find out that it was a brothel. Luckily, that story had a happy ending.

predictable ZIIIING!

Anyway, once you come to peace with the fact that everywhere you go you’re going to look like a bit of a confused moron, you can use this to your advantage. When you don’t know how something works or what to do (such as the exact workings of how to pay for your subway ticket), you can always just make an attempt and then look stupid. You’ll never truly get in trouble. You’re a dumb white guy! People don’t expect you to be good at this!

That’s the thing, there’s a very strict line between the westerners that manage to acclimatize and those who don’t. There are ones that will manage to slip by and look like one of the Koreans, and then there are ones that will stand out 100% of the time, no matter what they’re doing. I don’t think this is an issue of effort so much as it is an issue of how deeply imbued one’s own cultural quirks are. I find that even when I’m doing my absolute best to fit in, I still look like a bit of an uncomfortable asshole.

Luckily, being the dumb white guy does have many advantages. Because you’re expected to always be a bit of a fool, you’re almost immune to being a complete fool, as long as you are able to exercise my previous bit of advice and “just go with it” at all times. There are a couple other perks, too. Koreans love to try out their English on you, and will often strike up conversation if you look nonthreatening. You’ll get various freebies at restaurants too. At your hagwon, you’ll probably end up with less work, or at least less crazy expectations. Basically, your overwhelming foreignness can be played as disarming just as easily as it can be played as irritating.

So my bit of advice is this: unless you can convincingly pull off being an acclimatized foreigner, you should proudly be the dumb white guy. Skip through life with your shoelaces untied and let all the Koreans laugh at every attempt you make at their language and customs. By admitting you’re stupid, you’ll actually learn a whole lot more.

You know, like Socrates. Only dumb and white.


From → Advice

One Comment
  1. TheWhiteSwoop permalink

    Hey, Dumb White Guy !!

    Keep up the good works. Love your Blog.!

    Write, write, write !

    Compose, compose, compose..dammit !



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