Monday, January 26, 2009

Being 28 and 26 at the same time - Happy New Year!

Today (Monday) is the Lunar New Year...ah, four day weekend. :)

It's a big holiday here, and everything today is dead and probably closed. Being it is a big holiday, every teacher at my job got a nice gift from the school.

Isn't it pretty? I was excited to open it and see what was inside...

...and was surprised to see four cans of tuna fish and six cans of spam. Control your jealousy!

Did you know spam came in a blue and a black version? Perhaps it's a Korean thing. While my dad is a fond consumer of spam, in my impoverished little life I have managed to never have to eat it. Part of me thinks I should try it for the cultural experience - it's a common house warming gift here and I am curious as to what makes the black container different from the standard blue container.'s spam.

I'm also a little worried about the tuna. You would think it would be normal tuna, but it makes an impressive sloshing sound when you shake it and I looked and it doesn't expire until the end of 2013. That seems a little long for tuna, or any food really. It expires after the spam even. I may end up leaving the whole thing as a welcome gift to the next person who moves into my apartment.

Anyway, with today being New Years I figure it would be a good time to bring up Korean age. By legal standards, today I turned 28. Twenty-two days after I return to the US, I legally turn 27. Makes perfect sense, right?

Here's how it works. In Korea, China, Vietnam, and potentially all Asian countries (I haven't looked), you are born at one year old instead of zero, like we are. Then everyone in the entire country becomes legally one year older on the New Year. This is where I think the main problem lies - you turn a year older regardless of when you were born.

Let's take the screaming baby I live next to. (I think it must be teething or has colic, because it has been hollering non-stop for the last week). The baby was born not long after I got here, around three or four months ago. Today it turned 2. So after being alive for three months, s/he is two years old. However, a baby born today is one, and will turn two next year on the New Year. So we'll have a 1 year old that is two and a 1 year, 3 month old that is three.

I had this in my kindergarten class. It was a class of six year olds...which really meant five year olds. One of the kids was one of the late year births though, so he was really only four. He was expected and taught at the same level as the other kids, because they are all seen as six. He, understandably, had the worst handwriting of them all, since he didn't have as much motor skills as they did.

It's odd, and I don't quite understand why they do it, but another reason why the holiday is such a big deal.

So today I'm 28, and in two months I'll be 27. Now there's something I wasn't planning on experiencing in my life. ;)

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