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Interview with Juyoung Bae

Bae, Juyoung
Riley, Jim
Date of Interview: 
Cultural idenitification
Juyoung Bae tells stories about her visits to the US, including the culture shock she experienced.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Jim Riley interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
JR (Jim Riley): Um, I want to say, um, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, um, how are you doing today?
JB (Juyoung Bae): I'm good, how are you?
JR: I'm good, thank you. Um, I'd like to begin by asking you, um, what is your full name?
JB: Um, my full name is Juyoung Bae.
JR: OK. What is your nationality?
JB: Um, I'm from Korea, South Korea.
JR: South Korea, OK. Um, do any parts of you name have a particular meaning in your native language?
JB: Um, yes, um, my first name, Juyoung, um, it has meaning, and, Ju means 'all of the world' and, young means 'brightness' and when you combine Juyoung, it means 'bright all of the world.'
JR: Bright all of the-, all of the world?
JB: Um- // hum. //
JR: // OK. // OK. Um, if you had to describe yourself using only three words, what words would you choose?
JB: Hum [pause], actually, um, I like to choose three words. Um, um, um, for my future, not right now. Um, I'd be faithful, faithful-.
JB: -And, independent-.
JR: // Um. //
JB: // -And // strong. Um, first, um, I trust in God, and I really want to trust in Him 100 percent so I'd be faithful, and, actually I'm the youngest in my family, so I depend on my family so much, so I'd be independent.
JR: I see.
JB: And, also I would be strong based on that reason.
JR: I // see. //
JB: // Because // I'm the youngest.
JR: // OK. //
JB: // Uh-huh, // yeah, I would be strong.
JR: OK. If your friends could describe you, what would they most likely say to describe you?
JB: Um, they would describe me as a mature person, because [laugh] when I was with my friends I tend to behave mature and, um, they would say I'm a person who listen others well, because when I was-, when I'm, when I'm with my friends I, I like to talk about my other friends ( ), and mainly honest-.
JR: // Yes. //
JB: // -Because // I try to be honest to my friends.
JR: OK, OK. Thanks. Um, where were you born?
JB: I was born in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: Um, what is the first big thing you remember when you first came to the United States?
JB: Actually I came to the States in 1998, and I was so excited to come to the States. But I got, got the airport in Washington, D.C. Um, I was, I was so how can I say? Um-.
JR: Overwhelmed?
JB: No, my, my expectation [pause], is weird because people were saying buildings around, uh, buildings around the airport were same in Korea so I was so, yeah although I was so excited about being in the States, but when I, when I was got to the States my expec-, yeah, my expectation, yeah, lowered, you see.
JR: Um, it was, it was lowered I guess because you're saying that a lot of the things seemed the same?
JB: Um-hum, because-.
JR: Compared to where you came from?
JB: Uh-huh, yeah, since I was, yeah, I always dreamed about coming to the States, yeah so, uh-hum.
JB: Uh-hum.
JR: Um, when did you first come to the United States?
JB: Um, like I said I came to the States in 1998.
JR: OK, 1998.
JB: Uh-hum.
JR: And have you lived here ever since?
JB: Um, actually at the time, um, I was in the States for sightseeing and to visit my sister. Actually my sister lives in Maryland, so at the time I visited my sister. And, I stayed about two or three months at the time and I went back to Korea then.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: Um, do you still have family living in, in Korea?
JB: Yes my parents lives in Korea and my other relatives also live in Korea.
JR: OK. Um, do they visit the United States very often?
JB: Yes, because my two other sister lives in the States. They visit the United States once a year.
JR: Once, they visit-.
JB: // Uh-hum. //
JR: // -Once // a year?
JB: Yes.
JB: Uh-hum.
JR: OK. Um, is there a person in your life who you consider to be a role model, and if so, who would it be, and why?
JB: Um, first of all, I'm not sure God is a, whether God is a man or a, but I'm a Christian and God is my perfect role model. I try to live by what the Bible says and, yeah, definitely he's my role model and second my parents they, because they always encourage, encourage me to [pause], go on and they provide everything I need so they are my role models.
JB: Yeah.
JR: Um, now do you have friends that still live in your native country?
JB: Yes, most of my friends live in Korea and they graduate from college and they, they are working now.
JB: Uh-hum.
JR: OK. Um, have you gone back to visit your, your, have you gone back to visit, uh, Korea, um, very much since you've lived here in the United States?
JB: Actually I been in Charlotte for six months, so I think it's too early to go back to Korea, so, yeah.
JR: OK. Have you lived, um, anywhere else other than, um, your native country and, Ch-, and Charlotte, North Carolina?
JB: Um, I lived in Silver Spring, Maryland from 2000 to 2001. I took intensive English classes there and I, and I stayed about 13, 13 or 14 months in Maryland.
JR: Um, what other countries have you visited besides, um, Korea, oh, obviously you're from Korea, but what other countries have you visited, um, besides the United States?
JB: None.
JR: None?
JB: Yeah, Korea and the United States are, yeah, the country that I visited.
JR: OK. Um, what brought you to the United States?
JB: Um, I came to the States to study, study in graduate level to get a Master's degree in teach English as second language.
JB: Yes.
JR: Um, now what languages do you speak other than, other than Korean and English?
JB: Um, actually I majored in Polish in college, so I can speak Polish a little bit. Yes.
JR: OK. Um, how old were you when you were learned, um, to speak Polish?
JB: Uh, I majored in Polish when I was in college, so I, I studied Polish when I was 19 years old.
JR: Um, now was that, was that a language that you were required to learn in sch-, in school, or-?
JB: No, you mean Polish?
JR: Yes.
JB: No, I choose to study Polish in college level.
JR: I see.
JB: Uh-hum.
JR: I see. Um, was it a hard language for you to learn?
JB: Yes, um, because Polish has so many sections in grammar, and I couldn't remember [laugh] all the sections and, um, at that time when I studied Polish, the language was too foreign to me, so. Actually, I, although I took some classes about Polish language, but I didn't enjoy it, the classes much. Um-hum.
JR: Um, [pause]. Um, if you could learn a new language, what language would you choose to learn?
JB: I would learn Chinese because when I was in, when I was, when I was in pre-teen I loved to watch Chinese movie and Chinese movies were so popular in Korea at the time, so, yeah, through watching Chinese movie I, I, I had interest in Chinese culture, so yeah, I, I like to study Chinese possible.
JR: Is there a particular Chinese movie that you saw, um, that you, that you liked? Your favorite or-?
JB: Um-hum. Yeah, at the time, um, Yun-Fat, do you know Yun-Fat? And-.
JR: Yes.
JB: // And-. //
JR: // Yes. //
JB: And Jackie Chan?
JR: Yes.
JB: They, they were so popular in Korea, so I loved it and I, I watched their movies, all their movies, so, uh-hum.
JR: OK. Um, what do you like most about living in the United States?
JB: Um. [Pause] Oh, I can have freedom when I live in the States because in Korea, I live with my parents and they, they told me what to do, but here, yeah, I actually, although I live my big sister right now, but I feel, I feel I can have more freedom, yeah, than when I was in Korea.
JR: Um, what has been the hardest adjustment you've had to make living in the United States?
JB: Um. Actually, when I was in, when I first lived in the States in Maryland, I also lived with my little sister because so, I didn't have much culture shock but the, I did have difficulty with answering phones or talking to someone over the phone because it's hard to understand what native speaker said over the phone.
JR: Yes.
JB: So, I'm afraid to pick up the phone, so.
JR: Do you feel, do you feel that it's easier to do that now?
JB: Yes, I think it's, it's becoming more easier but, yeah, all, right now I, although I didn't understand what other native speaker said 100 percent but I can get the gist of their, yeah, gist of what they're saying and, I'm more comfortable with talking with, talking to other Americans over the phone.
JR: OK. Um, now what do you like least about living in the United States?
JB: I really miss my parents and friends and I wish they were here with me.
JR: Do you call them quite often?
JB: Yes, um, at least twice a week. Uh-hum.
JR: Do, um, do you ever e-mail them?
JB: Yes, to my friends. I sometimes e-mail my parents but [laughs], but because they, they a little old so they're not, it's too-.
JR: Not used to the tech-, to the technology.
JB: Um-hum.
JB: But they check e-mails, yeah, I send.
JR: My parents are the same way.
JB: Uh-hum.
JR: [Laughs] Um, [clears throat] are there any American customs you find particularly strange and why?
JB: Um, yeah, I don't, I don't think it is strange, but is, is inter-, interesting, um, when you cough, someone next to you says, "Bless you," and it's a little thing but, yeah, when I first, first got, yeah, other, other, yeah oth-, other peop-, someone near me said, "Bless you," I kind of, "Oh yes." I think it's very funny and that, yeah, Americans blow their nose in public, right?
JR: Yes.
JB: It's seldom, it, yeah, you can hardly see that, yeah, Korea blow their nose in public // so-. //
JR: // Is // that considered to be rude if you do // that? //
JB: // I // don't think it's rude but you, yeah, you try not to [laugh], blow your nose in public.
JR: Um, if you were to, if you were to cough in // public-. //
JB: // Um-hum. //
JR: -In Korea-.
JB: Um-hum
JR: -Um, what, would there be an equivalent, um, sort of, uh, gesture such as, you know, "Bless // you"? //
JB: // Um-hum. //
JR: Or-?
JB: No, maybe they would just say, "Do you have a cold?" That's it.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: Um, are there any American customs that are similar to customs in your native country?
JB: Uh, right now I can't think about similarities between American and Korean custom because America is a western society and Korea is a eastern society, so, I can't remember, why, why similar between cultures.
JR: Um, or maybe, uh, instead of using the word 'custom' maybe just things that are, things-.
JB: // Yeah. //
JR: // -That // we do in our, things that we do in our daily lives that might be similar or-?
JB: Uh, OK. Uh, in education in Korea, um, Korean parents are eager to make their child to study and I, I thought maybe American parents didn't do the same thing, but [laugh] when I came to the States I saw lots of American parents were eager to push their children, yeah, to study. I think that's the same.
JB: Yeah.
JB: Uh-hum.
JR: Um, what made you decide to, uh, attend UNC Charlotte?
JB: Um, first of all, yeah, as I said before, my big sister worked in UNCC-.
JR: // OK. //
JB: // -And // she recommended me, yeah, um, she recommended me to UNCC Charlotte, yeah, UNCC, so, yeah, I decided to come to the UNCC. Uh-hum.
JR: Um, what year are you? Are you, you're, you're a graduate student?
JB: Yes.
JR: Correct.
JB: This is my second semester at UNCC.
JR: Um, how much longer do you, do you have?
JB: Um, about a year and a half.
JR: A year and a half?
JB: Um-hum.
JR: OK. Um, what is your major?
JB: Um, my major is T.E.S.L. Teaching English as a Second Language.
JR: OK. Uh, what made you decide to pursue this major?
JB: Um, I majored in Polish in college and also I minored in English. I've always interest in language, especially English, so, um, I thought about another major, but I stayed to my interest so that's why I chose T.E.S.L. as my major.
JR: Um, what do you plan to do with, um, Teaching English as a Second Language eventually?
JB: Um, I want to be a E.S.L. teacher, so I will teach English to non-native, non-native speakers.
JR: Would you, uh, want to teach, um, like the high school level or would you go, go beyond that teach, um, maybe at the college level?
JB: Um, right now I don't have a licensure so I wonder if I can teach in school settings-.
JR: // Yes. //
JB: // -So, // maybe I, I teach English to others in out of school setting. I don't know the term, but // not-. //
JR: // You, // you would want to teach, um, in a, in a non-academic setting?
JB: Yes.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: I see.
JB: Uh-hum.
JR: Um, of all the class you, you're taking this semester, what is your favorite?
JB: Um, my favorite is Introduction to Linguistics because I took that class in college, but I forgot many concepts [laugh] in linguistics, so when I take the class right now, um, I learn the basic things in linguistics. I, yeah, that's very interesting.
JR: Um, is there anything particular about it, um, about linguistics that you like?
JB: Oh, during the class we covered the basic things and we, drew, we drew some tree diagrams and, yeah, um-hum ( ).
JR: Do you think linguistics has helped you to develop your English?
JB: Um, um-hum, yes, sort of.
JR: OK. Um, now what is your least favorite class this semester?
JB: Um [laughs].
JR: And you don't have to say a particular professor's name.
JB: Yeah // [laughs]. //
JR: // [Laugh] //
JB: But, um, I took Curricular Studies and it's about, um, curriculum, the history of curriculum and other stuff linked to curriculum in American school, so I've never attended American school so, although I read, although I read some chapters I couldn't understand what was going on, but my other classmates help me to understand the curriculum in America better, so, yeah. Um-hum.
JR: If you, um, do you think it would help you, your major, um, to, to visit some, some schools in Amer-, // in-. //
JB: // Uh-hum. //
JR: -In Charlotte-.
JB: Yes.
JR: -And see how things are done?
JB: Uh-huh. Yeah, I'd love to see what's going on in American class.
JR: Yes.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: Um, if you had to choose another major what would it be?
JB: I would choose, um, Management, especially a MBA. Yes.
JR: Why would you choose that?
JB: I think it's cool [laugh] and when you get an, um, MBA, you get less, less money so.
JR: Is there a particular, um, job that you would pursue if you had, had an MBA?
JB: Um.
JR: Do you can think of?
JB: Maybe Financial Analyst.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: Um, now do most of your friends, um, here at school, do they, do they come from Korea, or-?
JB: Um, um, in school I have little contact with other Korean students. I have a friend from Japan and, and mostly I have friends from America.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: Um, what do you like most about being a student at UNCC?
JB: Um, um, you can meet people from other countries, and especially in my program there are, there are little international students, so when I took classes with other classmates ( ) teachers, I can learn lots of things from them. And, I can improve, I can improve my English when I talked to them, so-.
JR: Yes.
JB: -It's very good for me.
JR: Um, um, what do you find different about being a graduate student at UNCC compared to being an undergraduate student?
JB: First of all, first of all I have lots of things to read and as an E.S.L. student, it's hard to read three or four chapters in a, in one time for one class, so, yeah, I am kind of overwhelmed by so many readings and I should write lots of papers and [laughs], yeah, I have to write some proposals and I never written proposals in my undergraduate level, so-.
JR: Pro-, proposals?
JB: Yes.
JB: So it was, it's very challenging.
JR: Do you find that it's easier to read in English or to write English using, is it easier to write English or to read English?
JB: Um.
JR: Or, which one is, which one would you say is the, the most difficult, reading English or // writing English? //
JB: // Writing English. // I think reading English is more, more easier than writing English because when I, when I write something in English I always blurb up. Did, are, are sentences, sentences, American student really write. I, I can write something and it is gram-, gram-, grammatically correct and it looks grammatically correct but it, sometimes it sounds odd because American students don't use that sentences to convey same meaning, so, yeah if you improve your writing in English it will take lots of time to do that.
JR: OK. Um, were there any other colleges you thought about attending other than UNCC?
JB: Yes there were. Um, I thought about other state university such as University of Illinois and University of Indiana because they are, they are so famous for education.
JR: Yes.
JB: So.
JR: OK. Um, are there any other professions you would like to pursue other than the one you are currently pursuing?
JB: Um, OK.
JR: I think you mentioned-.
JB: Yes, as I said, I yeah, I would be Financial Analyst.
JR: Uh huh, Financial Analyst? // OK. //
JB: // Yes. //
JR: Um, now what career would you least want to pursue?
JB: Um, maybe doctor.
JB: Because doctor is so demanding-.
JR: Yes.
JB: -And they have to, doctors have to study, oh, much, yeah, much, so I hate, I think.
JR: OK. Now, um, I wanted to ask you to describe just in briefly something that happened to you that was really funny.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: Um, something in your life that happened to you that was really funny.
JB: I wonder whether my story is funny, but when I was three or four years old, my family was on vacation and we went to, I think Gobal, um, the town was famous for thermal springs.
JR: This is in, in America?
JB: In Korea.
JR: In Korea, // OK. //
JB: // Yes, // and we had good time there and my family went to swimming pool, swimming pool near the hotel we stayed, where we stayed and at the time I couldn't swim, but I wore a tube? It's like-.
JR: An inter-, inter-tube?
JB: Yeah, inter-tube.
JR: Yes.
JB: Yeah, with that I really enjoyed being in the water-.
JR: Yes.
JB: -And, um, as, as time went we-, is time for lunch and everybody got out of the water and my mom prepared for lunch-.
JR: Yes.
JB: -And I really enjoyed being water, so, by myself, I wore inter-tube and jump to the water-.
JR: Yes.
JB: -And [laughs] I think that pool was not deep.
JR: It was very shallow.
JB: Yes.
JR: // Yes. //
JB: // Shallow, // but because I was too young, I almost be drowned.
JR: Um.
JB: And [laugh], my middle sister saw me, how can I say it, saw me-.
JR: Struggling?
JB: -Struggling.
JR: // Struggling. //
JB: // Yeah, [laugh], // struggling in the water so she jumped in the water and she rescue me. Ever since that accident I'm afraid of water. I can't swim, so, yeah, in future I, I want to learn how to swim. Yeah, I do, yeah, I want to get over that fear-.
JR: Yes.
JB: -Of water, so. Yeah, it's kind of scary but to me it's at the same, at the same time it's very interesting.
JR: Yes.
JB: Yes, yeah.
JR: OK. Um, I wanted to also ask you to describe, just very briefly, an event in your life that you feel had a very positive impact on you.
JB: Um. OK. Um-hum. In 1998 I, as I say I came to the States to visit my sister. At the same time I was in the States because I had surgery in University of Maryland hospital, so after that, I was reborn. I, yeah, I think God trust me and [laughs] I, I was born again, so, yeah, the surgery was very painful to me but, spiritually I, I was born again and, yeah, I totally depend on, depended on, I've totally depended on Gods since that surgery.
JR: Yes.
JB: Yeah, I think that // accident is a-. //
JR: // [Coughs] //
JB: -Positive impact in my life.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: Um, do you you'll eventually return to Korea, um, to live or will you, do you think you'll stay in the United States to live?
JB: [Sigh] My parents want me to [laugh], go back, yeah, want, want me to be in Korea as soon as possible, but I think after getting a Master's degree in T.E.S.L., I will stay in the States at least for one year and I like to teach English in public school as a E.S.L., E.S.L. teacher-.
JR: Yes.
JB: -So after I, I be get experienced I'll go back to Korea-.
JB: -And teach English there.
JR: OK. [Clears throat] If you knew someone from your, from Korea who was going to visit the United States for the first time, what is the most important piece of advice you would give them-.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: -So that they can make the adjustment to American life?
JB: First of all, um, I like to say don't hesitate to speak English. Yeah. ( )Korean people are afraid that they make mistakes when they speak English, but I think it's natural because we are, we are non-native speaker and we can make mistakes and don't intimate-, intimidate by Americans. I think they are all humans like us, so don't be afraid. Yeah, don't, don't be afraid to Americans.
JR: OK. Um, my last question I wanted to ask you is, um, if you knew someone, someone who was American-.
JB: Um-hum.
JR: -Who was going to visit, um, Korea for the first time what would you, what advice would you give them?
JB: Um, // don't judge-. //
JR: // [Clears throat] //
JB: -How they look because, um, when you, when you, when you are in Korea you see, um, the Korean people since, facial, I mean, they look empty because they, they, they don't smile and they seem, they seem rude because when they step on your foot they don't say, "I'm sorry," 'cause they just pass, passing by so. Because, because we are, we are not used to saying, "Thank you," or "Excuse me," "Sorry," to other people who we are, who we, who we see for the first time. We are not, we are not familiar with that things, so Americans could be shocked, uh-huh, so, and maybe they, they can wear same kind of clothes and same kind of makeups because I think Korean is so homogeneous, they, the Korean, try to follow one norm and one fashion and fashion trend so it's kind, to Americans it's kind of weird but that's the life in Korea so don't judge how they look. Um-hum.
JR: Well, Juyoung I want to say thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me today.
JB: You're welcome.
JR: I really appreciate it.
JB: Thank you.