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Arts & Life

International Students Harbor Superstition

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Superstitions are handed down from generation to generation.  Despite how downright silly some of them sound, people of all ages still believe in the power they hold. In this Dakota Digest, throw some salt over your shoulder and take a look at some common superstitions around the world you hear from international students from Japan and Korea.
 
Maybe you’ve spent some time searching for a four-leaf-clover, or cringed as a black cat crossed your path.  Maybe you’ve avoided stepping on a crack so that you would not break your mother’s back.  Maybe you’ve been known to toss a champagne glass or two into the fireplace.  Well you’re not alone.  People from all over the world have superstitions that are still widely recognized today. 
 
“My name is Hara Goo. I’m from South Korea and I study biology at Black Hills State University,” says Goo.

Hara says in South Korea there’s a superstition that tells what not to do before taking a test.

“Before the exam, or the day, like if you wash your hair, your knowledge, or the memorization will go away.  So they say like, I’m not going to wash my hair for three days, or something,” says Goo.

Hara says there are many other superstitions in South Korea.  One of them says dreaming about a particular barnyard animal can impact your finances.

“If you dream about a pig, you know oink-oink the pig, umm you say like,  Oh I need to guy buy lottery because it’s a good luck and it’s mostly for the money way,” says Goo.

Another South Korean superstition tells about dreams and how they can indicate bad or good luck.

“My name is Ki Hong Kiem, and I’m from South Korea.  I came here to study the English,” says Kiem. “One is that dream: that falling from somewhere high spot or cliff – it makes me taller."

Pig or no pig, cliff or no cliff, according to one Japanese superstition, what you dream about won’t even matter, if your bed is facing the wrong direction.

“My name is Kie Tatsukawa and I’m from Hiroshima of Japan.  I’m studying in Academic English Preparation Program, but after one semester I want to study hospitality management,” says Tatsukawa. “In Japan you will die young if you sleep with your head toward the North because it is unlucky to sleep with the head towards the North, because this is how dead bodies are layed out on the funeral.”

So break out the compass and make sure all the beds at home aren’t lined up like funeral plots. Also, pay close attention to what you hear in the morning.  Just ask Younji No. She is also from South Korea.  She says while some birds are symbols of good luck, there are some others that can bring bad luck.

“The magpie is considered a bird of good luck in Korea.  While others, by contrast, crows have been known to bring bad luck.  So when we wake up mornings we listen about the crows. The crows singing or something is not good for the day,” says No.

So, cross your fingers, and your toes, that it’s a magpie singing outside your window, and not a crow.

Like mythology, superstitions try to make sense of the world we live in, and they apply to all facets of life. 
In fact, a superstition from Japan says that predicting the sex of a baby is possible.  It merely depends on who calls the shots in the household.  Yuya Ishii is from Japan.

“If a wife wears the pants in your household you will have a baby girl, and if husband wears the pants in your household you’ll have a baby boy,” says Ishii.

With any luck, that baby will have big ears, and big lobes to go with it.

“My name is Naocomla and I’m from Japan.  Now I’m studying English, after that I study psychology,” says Kawamura.

"If your earlobes are big, you’ll be rich,” says Kawamura.

A superstition here in America suggests that a pot of gold is waiting at the end of the rainbow - so go get it.  Just don’t walk under a ladder to get there.  And maybe, just maybe, that four-leaf clover is out there somewhere.  So hang that horseshoe over the door, rub your lucky rabbit’s foot, and make a wish on a falling star that you don’t undo all that good luck, and find yourself with seven years of bad luck, by breaking a mirror.