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Autobiography: The Eyes of an American Immigrant

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S: The Eyes of an American Immigrant

FC: The Eyes of an American Immigrant | In Woo "John" Hwang | Hwangster-inc.

1: Blue Leaf Publications Copyright© 2010 by In Woo Hwang | No part of this document may be reproduced without the permission of the author

2: I would like to dedicate this book to my friends and family for helping me and shaping me into who I am today in this world. | Dedication Page

3: Table of Contents | Foreword written by Moon Kyung Hwang Preface written by the Author Chapter 1: Going to America Chapter 2: Newsletter: Life in Korea Chapter 3: Wordsearch: Asian Food Chapter 4: True or False: Korea and America Chapter 5: My Career in the Future Chapter 6: Letter: School life Chapter 7: Expectations Chapter 8: Recipe: Good Grades Chapter 9: My Parents Chapter 10: My Brother Chapter 11: Friendship Chapter 12: Recipe: Relationships Chapter 13: Being a Pushover Chapter 14: First Impression Chapter 15: Bugs! Chapter 16: Poem: Florida

4: Foreword | My son and I have gone through many things in our lives. He has made this book with all his experiences he had from moving here to America. It was very difficult for him to move away from where he was from and it took him a while to get used to America and its cultures. Thankfully, he caught on to the English language very fast, which allowed him to be able to communicate with other people and make friends. My son and I had to go through the changes of the environment we were used to back in Korea. The cultures and the things Americans did were different than what we did. We had to adapt to this change as we lived here. But, as we lived here longer, we started to get used to the things people did here and eventually learned it by heart. I have taken care of my son while these things were going on. | Moon Kyung Hwang

5: Preface | As I was writing this book, a lot of things have been going through my head. Writing this made me remember all the past events I had gone through when I was little. When I first came to this country, it was a lot different than my hometown. Now, since I have lived here for a long time, this is what I feel like my culture is now. I have now lived longer in America than in Korea. I have lived in Korea for 6 years, while I have lived in America for 10 years. I do miss living in Korea and all the people I have met there, but now, America is where my home is. I would like to thank my family and my friends that I made in America. Without them, my life would not be the way it is right now. | In Woo "John" Hwang

6: Chapter 1 :Moving to America | When I was young, I used to live in Seoul, South Korea. It was where I was born and I loved it there. All my relatives were nice and my cousins were fun to be around. I also had good friends and played with them almost all the time. But one day, when I was six, my dad made a decision to move the family to America. It was a surprise, since I did not know what was outside of Seoul and had never heard of America. It was a new thing for me, and I was pretty worried about what was about to come into my life. But my older brother, Joe, would be moving too, so I wasn’t as worried as I would have been. I was very sad when it was time to leave Korea. I was not certain where I was going, but I knew that I would not return to live in Korea. It was pretty hard for me, since I was very close with my grandparents, who I lived with. I knew I could not see them as often anymore. This was very disappointing but I had to deal with it. When I first arrived to America from Korea, I was in shock of how different it was. When I lived in Seoul, I lived in a city, so I did not see houses and fields, but rather skyscrapers, local stores, and highways. I never saw a place where there were so many trees and grass everywhere. The only area that had numerous trees in Korea was in the mountains, but other than that, there were only a few trees. Houses were also a new thing to me. In Korea, it is the norm to live in apartments, because of the lack of space we have, and a rapidly growing population. Also, I could not walk short distances to get to places. When I attended school, it was pretty hard for me. I had to learn the English language. I had trouble trying to understand people and making friends. Thankfully, some classmates were kind enough to talk to me and give me a chance to open up. But sometimes it was the other way around. Some mimicked me on how I pronounced and said words. Also, I was not used to being around different races. I was raised around Koreans in Seoul and not being around the same race felt a bit awkward. This seems a bit judgmental, but I was little back then, I did not know much about the diversity in the world. After a while, I started to get used to the varying culture in America. I did not regret coming to America in the end. I began to make many friends and now I am more fluent in English compared to Korean. It may be hard in the beginning to deal with change, but after a while, a change just might be worth it.

9: Word Search: Asian Foods

10: True Or False: Korea and America | 1. Majority of Korea is rural. (True/False) 2. In Korea, it is convenient to walk to places.(True/False) 3. America has more trees and grass than Korean. (True/False) 4. Most of trees in Korea are located in the Mountains. (True/False) 5. Many Koreans live in houses rather than apartments. (True/False) 6. America has worse air than Korea. (True/False) 7. Education is more strict in America. (True/False)

12: As I attend high school, the biggest thought I have what my career will be. I never thought about what I will become, since I never had a huge interest on a certain subject. It’s overwhelming though. There are many choices I can make on my career. Yet, I could never pinpoint what I should do. Math is probably my best subject, the stereotypical subject that Asians are supposedly good at, but it’s very boring, just something to get it over with. Science, my second best subject, is not that bad. I enjoy finding out how the world works, especially about life and how organisms work to make us live. There are many interesting concepts like that I never knew about. I wanted to know what makes us, us. But, the career my parents would want me to take would is a dentist. It goes well with the fact that I enjoy science, but I don’t know if being a dentist is what I truly want to be. Dentists, from what I hear, make A LOT of money. Yet, they do not need as much hours as a surgeon. Still, becoming a dentist isn’t something that comes along right off the bat. Being a dentist would take a lot of time and dedication to actually become that profession. I am not too sure if I want to become one, since just because it doesn’t have many hours as a surgeon, doesn’t mean it’s short and stressless. I’ve always been the kind to check frequently, by which, I mean a lot. Every time I do something, I check it twice, maybe even three times. If I use a sink, I check if it’s turned off all the way. If I unpack my stuff, I check if I picked up all the items I need. If I take a test, I look at all the questions to make sure I didn’t skip a question and didn’t leave it blank. The list goes on. This habit acts like a double edged sword. It’s good that I check often, but most of the time, it just wastes my time and it’s not even necessary most of the time, yet I do it. I feel like this might get in the way of the career I might perform in my life, taking too much time and not finishing tasks on time. If this does happen to interfere with what I have in mind for my goal, it could be a problem and I might not be suitable for a job such as a dentist. Even with the habit and the overwhelming goal I have to achieve, I think I would want to become a dentist. But, that’s not certain yet. It’s just the best choice I have in mind at the moment, since I cannot even name another career to do. It’s what my parents really want me to become, so I am willing to at least go for it. It’s going to be a bumpy ride though, getting good GPA, getting a high SAT score, get accepted to UVA, and lots of years. Yet, if I overcome these obstacles, it will be worth it very much, guaranteeing a good income and life in the future. | My Career in the Future

14: Dear Grandma and Grandpa, Hey grandpa and grandma! It’s me John, your grandson. I have not talked to you guys in a while, sorry about that. I have been busy with school work lately, just recently became a 10th grader. And from what I see, 10th grade is a lot harder than 9th grade. It makes 9th grade look like a joke now. Though, even with the difficulties, I am trying to get good grades and try to keep up the GPA I have. History, Spanish, and English have been the classes I have been struggling with lately. They always have been the weakest out of all the classes, but this time it’s harder than usual. I am in AP history now, and the difference between a normal class and an AP class seems huge. Now every week, I have to do this Proof of Reading, also called PORs. These take a lot of time and gets in the way of things I have to do, such as start doing community service and do other activities. I’ve been getting used to these PORs, and now I do them by heart and try to make time for it so I don’t fall behind. Spanish is also a class I have a hard time with. To begin with, Spanish was a hard class for me. It required me to study constantly to try to keep up with the grades. This year, I have Mrs. Carter, and she’s a pretty hard teacher. She’s very strict with her rules and does not allow it to bend. It’s very difficult to keep up with her class, since it’s another language. Yet, she’s a very good teacher. She explains the information and teaches very well. If we have trouble understanding something, she reviews it over again so we can get the information we need. This is my 4th year of Spanish, and this is going to be my last year, so I wish that I can end this subject well this year. English, the last out of the three, is another subject I seem to have trouble with. I’ve never been good at English, just always along the lines but never excelling. I do enjoy my teacher though in English class this year. She’s very interesting, very different from the past English teachers I had in the past. Though, the way we write our essays and pieces are totally new to me now, since I’ve been learned to go along the typical five paragraph essay type of thing. Though, the way she teaches how for us to write, makes much more sense, and it’s a lot more interesting and entertaining than the typical way. I’ve never been good at writing stuff, so I hope I can improve on writing, especially since I need to understand it better for the SATs. The rest of the school year isn’t as bad though. Math and Science is a breeze for me as usual. I hope you guys are having a good time in Korea. I’ll write to you later and please write back! Love, John Hwang

16: “Let’s record that promise you made on a tape, just so you don’t forget in the future,” said my dad. People usually have expectations to the ones they care, expecting good behavior and dedicated work, stuff like that. Many parents have high expectations for their child to get good grades and study hard to get into a good college. This expectation sort of acts like a double edged sword. It can help you some way, but it can also hurt you. When someone anticipates something good from you, you tend to either try your best to satisfy them or get overwhelmed by it and crash down. For me, this has been going both ways. I can see why they want to see good grades and good performance in school because they want a successful future for me. But, it can be very stressful if they have very high expectations that you think you might not reach up that high. As I mentioned above, parents have one of the highest expectations, and this is true for me as well. They want me to constantly get good grades and do well in school. Don’t get me wrong though, they don’t punish me just because I might not get good grades all the time. They are rather forgiving, but the look on their face looks like disappointment to me when I do. This makes me feel like as if I did not meet up with their expectations and could not fulfill their wishes. They are not doing anything wrong though, it’s my psychological thinking that brings me down rather. I keep thinking about how I should be the one to make them proud, but if I do the total opposite of that, it is not beneficial. They also want me to get into UVA, which is a difficult college to get accepted to. This can be very overwhelming. I want to go into UVA, just by my interests too, but the standards for that school seem to be very high. I am worried that I might not be able to be accepted into a college like that and then disappoint my parents. I don’t like it when I disappoint my parents, because the whole reason they came to America was to allow my brother and I to have great education and go into great colleges to have a successful life. They are having a hard time in America, since they cannot speak English as fluently as they wish to be. For their sacrifice, I want to at least fulfill the wishes they want and make them proud. The best college in South Korea is equal to an average college in America, so this is a very good opportunity my parents allowed my brother and me to receive. It sometimes acts like the fuel to keep me going on the goal I am trying to achieve, but it sometimes can burn out. Making my parents proud is one of the biggest goals I want to achieve in my life. It’s something deep inside me, always constantly in my mind to keep my choices in the best of my parents interest, and to keep a positive attitude for my future for them. The anticipations I deal with are what keep me running to strive for my goals, but sometimes these expectations can backfire, as someone may expect something great from you but you don’t fulfill it, your image and reputation towards that person is broken a bit. It could help me keep on going, but if too many people expect much out of you, you start to feel overwhelmed. My parents want me to become a dentist, but to become a dentist is very difficult to achieve and have to spend many years in college to accomplish something that high. These expectations are what shape my ambition. I wonder if I did not have the influence of these expectations, how my life and goal would have been like, but we’ll never know and only time will tell if it has led me right. | Expectations

18: Recipe: Good Grades | Ingredients: Dash of knowledge A pound of dedication A pound of motivation An ounce of perseverance A Gallon of Goals A pint of Organization Instructions: 1.Pour the goals and organization into a bowl and mix them together. 2.After mixing, slice the dedication and motivation into little pieces and pour them into the bowl with the goal and organization. Mix them gently. 3.After mixing, bake the food for 45 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 4.After baking, sprinkle the perseverance over the food. Wait 5 minutes. 5.After waiting, sprinkle the dash of knowledge over the food, and your dish is finished.

20: What would my life be like without having my parents? Having no one to help me out when I am in need of help? No one I could rely on? My parents have impacted my life a great deal. They have taken many sacrifices that was not necessary, but did it anyways because for the sake of me and my brother. I don’t know how my life would be like if my parents did not make these decisions. Back in Korea, my dad was a president of two successful companies. He made a lot of money back then and continued to do so for a while. He could have continued to make more money from these companies but one day he made a decision that changed our lives forever. “We are going to move to America and study there” said my dad. It was not necessary for my dad to decide for us to move to America, but he did it because he did not like the way the education system worked in Korea. In Korea, there is a lot more work you would have to do, such as going to an afterschool program thing which was basically another school after your normal school you attend to. He also wanted us to have a chance to live and work in America and go into the colleges that are here. The best colleges in Korea would be an average college in America. I was little, so I did not know if this was a big deal or not. I was pretty much blind on where I was going, what I was going to do, etc. I was very little when this happened, around five or six. But, as I grew, I knew how much of a sacrifice they made for me and my brother. He could had stayed in Korea and earn a lot of money, but he thought all the money was unnecessary and wanted to invest it into us so we can get into a better future. As of right now, my mom and my dad has difficulties living in America. They do not know a lot of English, and have a hard time doing daily stuff that requires communication. Because of this, I always offer to help my parents as much as possible to satisfy them. It was not just this that makes my parents my heroes. They were always someone I could rely on. They always helped me out whenever they can for me, and cheer me up when I am in the most upset mood. Even if I sometimes do stupid things that makes my parents mad, in the end, they still love me and correct the things that I do wrong in life. My parents are the people I treasure the most in this world. They have given my brother and I many things, and I want to pay them back by trying to get good grades and help them as much as possible when they are in need of help. They are the heroes in my life and my motivation to be successful to make them proud. | My Parents

22: Many people in the world have siblings. Usually when they do, siblings tend to argue and fight often. But, when my brother and I were young, we almost never fought. We always played games together and helped each other out when we needed it. He was one of the closest people in my life when we were young. But as time went on, we started to drift apart in our relationship, as he started to grow up. When we were young, we were like best friends. We always hung out together and always helped me out when I was dealing with a problem. He was someone who I could always rely on and was someone I could have a good time with. My brother looked out for me when I was young, and took good care of me when my mom and my dad were not available at the time. Such as, he always thought of me before himself. If there was say, one bar of ice cream left, he would give it to me rather than eat it for himself. He was one of the closest people I had in my life. As time went on though, we started to grow out of each other. He has his own interests and I had my own. It was around when he was in middle school. He started to start hanging out with his own friends rather than me, which I understand because he wants to be with his friends. I also hung out with my own friends as he did, but sometimes I wish I was friendly with my brother again. Most of the time, we do not talk to each other. We just say hi and say small things such as how we are doing and then that is it for the day. As time went on, we started to talk less and less. I sometimes feel if I try to hang out or talk to him, I feel like I am bothering him and don’t want me to be there. But, in reality, he does not really feel that way. My brother is a shy person and he is not the type to open up easily to people. I wish we were close to each other as we were back in the day, but I’m sure we’ll start to open up as we grow up to help each other out in life. Even though my brother does not talk to me as much anymore, he still cares and loves me. I also feel the same way, since I am also a shy type of person. My mom has said that he talks about how I am doing and what kind of things have been going on in my life. He still tries to keep me in a line and help me out when I need it. He gives me advice, cheers me up when I am down, I don’t know what I would do without my brother. He is someone that has impacted my life greatly and I do not know where I would be without my brother guiding and helping me do the right things. Even if we might not talk and hang out as we used to when we are young, I know that he is in my heart and I will love him for as long as I live in my life. | My Brother

24: Friendship is probably something I can’t imagine living without. It may be one of the best things in life. What would life be like if I were by myself all the time? Having friends is probably one of the biggest sources of happiness for most people. It is someone I can rely on and to share similar interests to have a good time with them. Having no one to share my feelings or to not tell interesting stories to anyone is like living without any clothes to keep me warm. When meeting a new friend for me, it is like opening a book. I get the basic idea of the person, like reading the title. “Oh this person has his iPod on all the time, so he probably enjoys music a lot.” It may not always be the case though. Many great stories or books in the world have deeper meaning in titles, so many times I cannot just assume someone to be exactly like the title. I get the basic idea of them and then go into detail on how the person is like by trying to converse with them. And then in the end, I would know what kind of personality this person has. It may be totally different then what I assumed from the beginning. When I was in 8th grade, I assumed that year would suck because I had none of my previous friends in most of the classes. One of the major ones was P.E. I really did not have any friends in that class. But one day, I met two people, Jin Kim and James Park. When I first saw them, I did not know how they were like. Right off the bat, I just assumed they did not like me, and I just tried to stay away from them. I don’t know why, but it felt as if they were avoiding me in that year. I may be wrong though, since I was not certain of this. I would just be friendly with them, just say hi and all the typical normal things people do and just did my own thing. I kept that thought in my head, that they just thought I was some weirdo. Probably some of the stuff I have said in that class were kind of silly, so I did not give a great image right away. But we stumbled upon each other on a topic we both enjoyed, and I noticed that we have very similar interests. “Hey you play the game Starcraft? I play that game all the time!” said James. It was something that I did not expect them to be like. I sometimes wonder that what if I never stumbled upon them during that year? What if I just kept to myself the whole time? If I had not, my life would not be the way it is right now. Currently right now, because of that day, those two are one of the closest friends I have in my life. They are someone I deeply trust and I feel like I always have someone to be there for me when I am in troubled times. Friendships are hard to predict; I did not know who will be my closest friend or my worst enemy. Assumptions are never good from what I learned, and just be who I am. Friends are what keep me going and a motivation that makes me go on forward. Just like a book, huh, I wonder how many titles I have skimmed over. | Friendship

26: Recipe: Relationship | Ingredients: Gallon of respect Pint of caring Ounce of kindness Dash of love Instructions: 1. Pour the respect and caring into a blender and mix them. 2. After, put some ice and chopped up kindness and gently mix it with the respect and caring. 3. Wait 5 minutes, and then top it off with a dash of love.

28: “I won’t be your friend anymore!” yelled my “friend”. When I was little, I pretty much did what anyone told me to do. Back in the past, I did not have the guts to say no to people. I felt bad towards people if I said no to them if they are asking for help or a favor. But, because of the fact I was a pushover, it has caused me a lot of trouble in my life during my childhood. Some of the kids I have met when I was young took advantage of the fact that I was a pushover. They would make me do things that I would feel uncomfortable doing. Around when I was in third grade, I moved into a brand new neighborhood that was being constructed. This was pretty cool since the house we moved to was much bigger than the one before. All in all it was good, but then I met a person named Bobby, someone who also recently moved in. He seemed like a pretty nice guy, so I went to meet him to befriend him. But, this was a mistake that I regret making. After being his friend for a while, things started to change. He made me do stupid things. For example, when he played football, he wanted me to purposely throw an interception at him to make himself look better if I was on the other team. Funny thing is, if he didn’t catch it, he blamed it on me, not himself. Yet I did it anyways, even though I thought it was outrageous. Another thing he always did was he got jealous of me very quick if I accomplished something that he couldn’t. He would try to sabotage the things I accomplish when he can’t. An example of this would be him erasing a file that I worked hard on in Pokemon, a game that I played when I was little. Bobby made excuses that did not make sense at all as reasons to delete my file. I was furious, but I did not do anything about it. After that event, I started to cry because of the time I took to complete the game and I did not do anything to stop it when I could had stood up for myself. These two were not the only things he has done to me when I was little. There are too many to list or even think of as of right now. Most of them are related to cheating, stealing, and lying. Being a pushover has caused me a lot of problems that should have not been there in the first place. I wish sometimes that I was not a pushover, and I should have stood up for myself when someone tried to make me do something. Just because of this, it has caused me a lot of trouble and made me do stupid things that I should have not done. From this, I have learned that I should just be who I am and do what I want to do, instead of being bossed around my other people just to not disappointed them. | Being a Pushover

29: When meeting people, first impressions are one of the most important things in a relationship. Depending on the image they get when first meeting a person, it can affect how the person views that person from there on. Getting a bad first impression in front of a person is never good, and at times prevented me from becoming a friend with certain people. But, just because my first time didn’t go well, did not mean that becoming friends with that person was a lost cause. With effort, I managed to still rebuild a friendship with a bad start. When I got a first impression of someone, I expected that person to be like that in the future since I did not know much about the guy. If I first saw a person making jokes and having a good time, I assumed the person would be a funny person. I would keep that image in my head from there on. Setting a good first impression is a critical thing to do to be in a good friendship. I have had times when I had good first impressions and bad first impressions. I usually like to joke around with people that I meet. I try to keep it friendly and simple. But, usually I am too shy to even go up to the person directly. It usually comes by when I run into the person by accident or by some assignment. This year, in most of my classes, I thought I would not have any friends in them. For several weeks, I usually hung out with my normal friends, which was not many since most of them were not in my classes, and did not open up to other people. After a while, I have noticed some people in my classes that were not too bad to become friends with. So, I attempted to become friends with them and tried to keep a good image. This way, I made many friends this year and then started to build on that friendship. But, there were times when I had people who did not like me right off the bat because of how my first impression went. When I was young, speaking to people was very hard, and usually I made a fool of myself. Their first impression on me was a kid who could not speak English properly, which looked awkward to them. Because of this some people did not like me and did not talk to me. I was always bad at giving a good first impression when I was little. But, when I did not have a good start, there was always a way to fix the problem to make the relationship healthy again. Everyone in the world would make mistakes, and I don’t always show the best side of me to everyone from the first time they meet me. But, I found out through my years, which even if you have a bad image or impression on a certain person, I can always build that relationship back up to the way it is suppose to be. | First Impressions

30: Bugs. I never liked them, nor will I am in the future. But, not all kinds of bugs scare me. I usually can deal with them pretty fine, it’s just the few I hate, big spiders being one of those. But I HATE the ones that have hundreds of legs like a centipede, for they are just completely gross looking and gives me chills down my spine. Unfortunately, I have been having encounters with these nasty little buggers. I just recently moved into the basement. My brother had left for college, and I took his room since my cousins were going to live in my previous room. I was pretty excited about this, for the basement is huge and I get it to all by myself. Everything was good and all that, but the only thing that was horrible was the bugs. I have no idea how many mosquitoes I caught, but I think I killed about five. Some of these mosquitoes I smashed had my blood in them, for they drank it previously. These insects kept biting me, so I had to keep myself aware and anything that flew I saw I instantly went into “Kill that Bug” mode. One tried to bite me when I just woke up and went to brush my teeth, but I saw it right by my eye and I woke up instantly to crush it with my hands. After that, the mosquitoes started to decline, and I was happy about that. Mosquitoes never grossed me out though, but the next bug I will mention will be. After a while at night, I was doing my homework. I was on my desk, doing my work, but suddenly, something catches my eyes. In the beginning, I thought this was just some piece of hair that was getting in the way of my eyes, but it sure was not. A giant bug, big as the size of my thumb, was on my wall. The bug startled me, and it was not a pleasant sight. It had a ton of legs and was super hairy. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, these are the bugs I HATE. When I saw the bug move, its leg flowed like a wave. Just the sight of that gave me an icky feeling, but as I was thinking about that, it crawled right behind my desk. I did not get off my chair, so I just rolled around on it. Yes, I know, I was being a coward, but come on, it’s one of the grossest bugs out there, well in my opinion it is. After a while of searching, I could not find it, so I gave up and continued on my work while being aware of it. It popped out again and soon as it popped out, I grabbed a binder and smashed it against the wall. Right then and there, my mind was going, “Did I kill it? Did I miss?” I pulled back my binder and oh boy I killed it. It was twitching and squirming around on the wall and on my binder, and I could not stand it. I told my mom to wipe it off for me. I became aware these kinds of bugs were here, and later I encountered three more of those, including in the shower. I murdered these bugs left and right, as I killed them on sight. After a while, I noticed the number of these bugs started to deplete. This was good for me, since I never had to see these bugs again. They came again time to time, but mostly they escaped or were killed. Now, I barely see these bugs. I hope I never have to deal with a massive number of them, or it would cause a lot of trouble for me as I live down in the basement. | Bugs!

32: Acrostic Poem: Florida | FLORIDA | amily Bonding | ots of Fun | ur Cousins with us | iding Rides | nteractive | dventure | oing Games

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