I recently exchanged some Korean Won for Russian Rubles in preparation for my exciting big trip to Russia and as a result, I had some interesting (at least to me) musings about money.
I know that both the Korean won and the Russian ruble are real money, I have both of them in my hot little hands right now, but in some ways they don’t seem to be real. The same way that they Hungarian forient didn’t seem like anything more than monopoly money to me a couple of years ago. It’s not a knock on Hungary at all, goodness no, Hungary is still my favorite city that I have ever travelled to in my life by a long shot.
Obviously, the American dollar is the realest currency to me, being that that’s the currency that I have used most of my life and will use most of the rest of my life most likely. The British pound has always been real, partly because since I’ve been alive it’s been worth more than the US dollar. And now the Euro is also “real” because it’s equal to or stronger than the dollar depending on the economic situation in both parts of the world.
Korean won is real and it’s “play money” to me. It’s real because I’m Korean born and that has always been one of my top 2 self identifiers and that’s what my parents used when they were alive. But it seems fake to me because in Korea, I’m a multimillionaire in Korean won every paycheck. That’s way too many zeros for me to take seriously.
When I changed some money (almost $800 USD) yesterday, I received back 18,700 rubles, which is again a lot of zeros to take in. I actually had a miscommunication with my friend that I’ll be staying with while I’m in Moscow about how much money I actually changed over…it was the zeros again…I asked her if 1,8700 was enough for 7 days, which definitely wasn’t since Moscow is now the 3rd most expensive city behind Hong Kong and Tokyo, but in my mind 1,870 was way more than enough to be carrying around from one country to another. (Yes, that was a long run-on sentence but this is a blog, my blog…hush)
Part of the thing is that with a US dollar, euro, pound, you can buy something…a drink, a snack, etc. A $1,000 buys you a whole lot of books, I have experience with that, but 1,000 is a very small snack or drink and 1,000 rubles is about two meals in Moscow.