Friday, 25 May 2012

Friday Favourite V6: Pity Gifts

My coteacher, Jinny, who loves to give!
The concept's pretty easy; at the end of every week I'm going to write down one thing I love about Korea. Last week it was drinking hot drinks with straws and here is this week's...
If you're not lucky enough to be our friends on facebook, then I think it would be pretty hard to guess that this week it was only Natasha's birthday and not mine.

Before I came to Korea I read about this weird gift giving ritual and etiquette that existed over here; accept the gift with two hands, don't open it infront of the giver, never give the gift of homemade cooking to someone whose house you're attending or else they'll feel obliged to return the container filled with something similar...the list goes on and on and on. Since we've been here the only gifts I've been given were presented by a small, sticky hand accompanied by puppy dog eyes, and they don't really care how you accept their weird drawing or orange segment, as long as you take it.

We arrived at work on Monday morning (having just eaten a massive part of the Baskin Robbins ice cream cake for breakfast) to be serenaded by our lovely co-teachers who presented Natasha and our other English speaking teacher a massive cheese cake and gifts (it was also his birthday). They forcibly crammed massive bricks of the cake into paper cups and shoved them into our hands, complimented with a pair of chopsticks. Even though I had just eaten a big breakfast of ice cream cake, I thought that it'd be rude not to eat this piece of cake too...

As soon as the bell went for first class and Tasha trotted off, one of the co teachers shuffled over with a sachet of instant coffee and told me to take it. When I asked her what it was for she said something about feeling bad about Natasha getting so many gifts and me not getting any. I assured her it was ok, but she was pretty insistent, and knowing how much they get offended when you don't accept a gift offering, I popped it in my drawer. 2 minutes later, another of the co workers came over with a handful of coffee sachets and plonked them down on the table, within 10 minutes I had a drawer filled.

We went for coffee with Jinny, my coteacher, and she pulled out two neatly wrapped gifts, handed one to Tasha and one to me. She explained shyly that she'd decided to buy me one as she'd been feeling sorry for me because of Natasha getting so many gifts.

However much I feel like a toddler who has to be bought a special present on their siblings' birthdays so they don't start throwing a tantrum at the new sparkly bike and gift wrapped presents, i do secretly quite like it. Honest, I do enjoy watching others get gifts though.

Then there're the freebies you're given in make up stores...I'm sure they pity the state that this hot weather's driven my skin to and put a few pity face masks in the bag when I'm not looking. I've bought 2 face masks since i've been here, somehow i have 5 left...hmmmm.

The only downside to these pity gifts is that after reading my Culture Shock book, I've just noticed that the majority of the time, they expect gifts to be reciprocated. I'm going to end up bankrupt!