Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action! Wait...Flames?

Today was out annual Christmas festival signifying the end of term and celebrating the impending holiday.
My students talked me into performing a British Pop song with them on stage complete with pink reindeer ears. You would have thought I was Beyonce at the number of screams and claps I got as I took the stage.
Oh it was magical, we shared the stage with flashing spot lights, a smoke machine, crazy Korean balloon creations, and two flame machines! Yes that's right half way through "Ohhhh my Love!" the flames shot from the canisters and confetti rained down on us. I was afraid of a Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial re-enactment.  I flinched. My students smiled and say " It's Okaaay" in true Korean fashion. While singing... the whole student body is chanting " Tip-pa-ni, Tip-pa-ni! Maybe I should have done a dance...lol. After my students and I exited, students were coming up to me left and right, " You are soo good singer", " Tippani you are fantastic". Talk about an ego booster. And all for a a whack pop song? Gotta love Korean students. They make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So next semester I'm taking over the hip hop club! Awww..(._________________ <-----insert stereotype here!) womp, womp, womp. Minstrelesque thoughts aside I love my students and my school and I'm more than happy to show them my SWEET moves. lol

Confucius: If you cant take the heat... don't play with the flame thrower

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Do you know....?

Dear Korea,

Over the past few weeks I've noticed that my Korean co-workers ask me very strangee questions. For instance, the other day my co-teacher and I were sharing breakfast. Which is very common in among Koreans. ( Sharing something only meant for one person) But I digress, we were "sharing " a breakfast treat  that she brought us from Dunkin Donuts, when I asked her what kind of muffin it was,( yes it was fairly large) and she responded "the sweet corn", " I like it, I responded. " Oh yeah?" she says surprised,followed by " do you know the Dunkin Donuts?" Really? Do I know the Dunkin Donuts? Their slogan is  " American runs on Dunkin"...lol I chuckle, smile and say " Yes... I know the Dunkin Donuts". Another time a fellow teacher hands me five Oreos...suprised to see my favorite cookies here in Korea! "Oh... tah-dah-hee kamsamnida!" I say." Do you like?" she asks " Noh mu Mashisoyo " I respond... once again it is  followed by  " Do you know the Oreo?" I cant help but laugh out loud. Slogan: America's favorite cookie! That's like me saying "Do you know the rice cake?"
I will start compiling a " Do you know...." list to be posted at a later date.


Always,
Tiffany

P.s. .J ust thought I should mention, I also know the Baskin Robbins(not Baskin Lobbins), the Krispy Kreme, the KFC, the McDonalds, the Starbucks and any other AMERICAN franchise here in Korea!

Twelve Days of Christmas-uh!


The first day of Christmas
Korea gave to me
a big bowl of spicy Kimchi.



The second day of Christmas
Korea gave  to me
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi..

The third day of Christmas
Korea gave to me
Three Choco-pies,
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi.

The fourth day of Christmas
Korea gave  to me
Four squat toilets,
Three Choco-pies,
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi.

The fifth day of Christmas
Korea gave to me
Five shirts with Konglish,
Four squat toilets,
Three Choco-pies,
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi.



The sixth day of Christmas
Korea gave to me
Six-uh staring Koreans,
Five shirts with Konglish,
Four squat toilets,
Three Choco-pies,
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi.

The seventh day of Christmas
Korea gave to me
Seven signs in Hangul
Six-uh staring Koreans,
Five shirts with Konglish,
Four squat toilets,
Three Choco-pies,
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi.

The eighth day of Christmas
Korea to me
Eight trips to E-mart,
Seven signs in Hangul
Six-uh staring Koreans,
Five shirts with Konglish,
Four squat toilets,
Three Choco-pies,
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi.

On the ninth day of Christmas
Korea gave to me
Nine bags of service,
Eight trips to E-mart,
Seven signs in Hangul
Six-uh staring Koreans,
Five shirts with Konglish,
Four squat toilets,
Three Choco-pies,
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi.


The tenth day of Christmas
My Korea gave to me
Ten roasted squid cups,
Nine bags of service,
Eight trips to E-mart,
Seven signs in Hangul
Six-uh staring Koreans,
Five shirts with Konglish,
Four squat toilets,
Three Choco-pies,
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi.

The eleventh day of Christmas
Korea gave to me
Eleven cheesy pop groups,
Ten roasted squid cups,
Nine bags of service,
Eight trips to E-mart,
Seven signs in Hangul
Six-uh staring Koreans,
Five shirts with Konglish,
Four squat toilets,
Three Choco-pies,
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi.


The twelfth day of Christmas
Korea gave to me
Twelve strangee rice cakes,
Eleven cheesy pop groups,
Ten roasted squid cups,
Nine bags of service,
Eight trips to E-mart,
Seven signs in Hangul
Six-uh staring Koreans,
Five shirts with Konglish,
Four squat toilets,
Three Choco-pies,
Two gossiping adjuma, and
A big bowl of spicy Kimchi.

Monday, December 21, 2009

What.. What.. Adjuma?


Dear Korea,

Oh how I love thee let me count the ways...for instance your ridiculous Adjuma displays.Last night I witnessed a brawl in Anynag Il Bonga between two Adjuma. One wasn't wearing any shoes. The older of the two grabbed the other women by her arm and pulled a WWE move slamming her to the ground. Who needs to watch Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts when I all I need to do is walk around the corner? Elderly Adjuma : 1  Skanky Adjuma : 0 . Next time I'm takin bets. Speaking of the jazzy  Korean Adjuma this morning on my commute to work one stepped on the bus with skin tight snake skin pants, very Korean heels, way too much make-up, a fur coat that looked more like sick ferrets mated and a silver sparkly shirt that looked like a disco ball. Ummm interesting choice of outfit first of all, and second of all where are you going dressed like that at 7:30 in the morning? Ugh.. my hands were still defrosting, I wasn't quick enough to snap a pic. Why didn't I have my camera readily available? Next time... because you know they'll be one. For countless laughs Korea, you always brighten my day!

Always
Tiffany

Ps. Sorry Grams and I thought you were jazzy...You dont have anything on the Korean Adjuma

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Korea Uncovered...


So remember when I told you that I attract weirdos...apparently this attraction crosses cultural boundaries,because the other day on the train a strangee Korean man taps me on my shoulder, smiles and hands me a piece of candy. I nod say thank you in Korean and turn back to my conversation with Kate. Now my mom always told me never take candy from strangers, and I should have listened. The candy was merely a ploy to open the door for endless questions and conversation. Damn! I've been hosed! Note to self: Never accept candy from seemingly friendly Koreans or make eye contact more than 5 seconds. Otherwise you are in store for unwanted langauge exhangee. So as I turn back to Kate cracking up as this man is eyeballing me. A seat on the train opens up, he offers it to me and I decline. He pats the seat as if I didnt understand the gesture the first time. "aniyo"  I say as he reaches for my hand. ( looks like we're going to have to have a personal space talk!) So after sitting down he hands me his "business card" and repeatedly asks for my phone number in Korean. I pretend I dont understand. ( Is this old korean man really trying to get wit it?) With our destination only two stops away Kateuh and I laugh at the ridiculousness. He then says in his best English " Playboy", then points to himself then to me.."What?...Playboy?" what does that mean. This old man has read one Playboy too many.Oh ...right on time there was our stop. Kateuh and I made a B-line for the door. Really though? I always attract the strangee ones.
Shopping in Myeongdong is always a good time. Kateuh and I hit up the shops, haggling for some wonderful Korean finds. " My Korean shoe game is tight" says Kateuh as she picks up some seriously sparkly black pumps and then another pair of black flat with 3 applicaque  flower complete with rhinestones. "Oh Kateuh you have been in the Korea too long my friend..lol"  I follow by " Yeah it is...tight just like my Korean head game... PAUSE... let me rephrase my Korean hair accessory game" Gotta love Korean head bands and hair accesories., always soo cute, sparkly and so much fun! Speaking of Korean style the other day when veggin out after work,  Kateuh asks me " Do I dress Korean?" She had on a black baby doll mini, tights, ballerina flats, a pink and gold graphic tee, and an electric blue hoodie. Really Kate? You need to ask...but I really cant talk I had on a salmon colored button with flowers on it under a vertically striped blue and white shirt , jeans and chucks and a purple hoodie. And the sad part is no one even looks sideways, if anything we get " Oh Eepoohdawh!" from co-workers...Oh Korea!
Saturday night out with the girls was a blast as usual. Copious amounts of drinking so that I don't ralize my feet are killing me in my almost 3 inch high Guess heels. The girls and I were bagbin babies,why do I always attract the young ones? Where's the 25+ crowd been at lately? Once my little friends get their permission slips signed by their moms, and brush the Similac smell out their mouth, we can hang out. Maybe when I get back from Thailand , they'll be some in my age bracket..
So now we are in the home stretch my much anticipated trip to Thailand is merely days away! I cant believe I'm really going. It's such a surreal feeling when your dreams come true. Snorkeling, going on safari, lounging on the beach, finding my inner Buddhist, rocking out @ the Full Moon party , night canoing, and drinks with a monkey named Steve what better a Christmas gift could I give to myself? The ladies and I fly out Christmas morning. It's soo close yet so far away. So until then I'll be packing my bags and counting down the hours.

Confucious say: swimming in the kiddie pool has its perks in deed, but becareful you might end up with a man-child  to feed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This aint no Mistrel show


Dear Korea,

Today something came up in conversation. I tried to be my usual self and let your ignorant homoginized country point of view comments roll off my shoulders but ... I simply cannot. It's still irking me. As you all know I'm a fun loving individual  and always up for a good time, however...when a fellow teacher who I never speak to asked me if I wanted to be a "special guest " at the winter festival, I asked ...doing what? " you dance" he replied. "Dancing? "I asked. Now he's never sat in on one of my lectures to witness my dancing so where would he draw this conclusion from? Maybe Yo MTv Rap? I looked to Ms. Kim to make sure I got the translation correctly... " he wants to know if I'll dance on stage at the winter festival?" Oh the old " Oh you're black, you can sing and dance right?" She shakes her head in agreeance.
Ok so the I pulled back the curtain and there is the wizard staring me in my face. I've heard stories of Korean racism but had yet to experience it. Tadaaaaaaa....says the sambo in my head. " You sho nuff be dancin!"
Infuriated I pulled a page from Kate's book, with my middle finger in the " hey fuck you postion" tucked neatly away in my sweater pocket. I smile ever so kindly and say " Oh, really? Me dance...no can do"
But the real black woman in me wanted to say " listen here you Korean John Travolta wanna be, if you ever say something soooo ridiculuos to me again I'll show you what I learned working in the hood in South Philly!"
He continues smile and smile pleasantly back as I hope he chokes on his gimbap.
 As I rub my earlobes and " wooosah"  and think happy thoughts , calm my nerves, and say "these things are bound to happen... don't let it get to you" I shake my head T.I.K.
So Korea needless to say I am less than anamored with you today. But I wont hold it against you... you dont know any better. A little jaded but ok, I exhale and let it go.

Always
Tiffany

Ps. Korea today... you are NOT the awesome

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lava los manos por favor

Dear Korea,
We need to talk! I know those are the three words no one wants hear...but seriously! I'd like to take a minute to talk about hygiene. Now I know everyone does things differently when it comes to personal hygiene however, hand washing is a NECESSITY. I don't know about you, but I have a list of times I think are appropriate for this function.
  1. before and after eating
  2. after using the bathroom
  3. after blowing your nose and coughing
  4. before and after ( sometimes while) preparing food (espcially for others)
Ok so now that we've established the appropriate times, let me just pose this question : Why do some (and by saying some it is a gross understatement, but I dont know all Koreans so I will stick with some)Koreans only sparinyly adhere to #1? This is No Bueno. Then people wonder why the Shin Jun Flu is spreading like wild fire. Sorry, if I hurt your feelings sweetheart, but if I dont tell you, who will.
Caution: If you are a germaphobe, trust me Korea is NOT the place for you. Most times I ignore the sometimes unsanitary behavior however when you offer me dak and you've molested it with your unwashed hands, then I smile and decline. And people look at me crazy when I pick up food with my hands. What!?!? I wash my hands frequently, thank you very much. The never of some people.If we are going to continue you must change your ways.

Always,
Tiffany

P.s. Hand sanitizer does not count!

Cabbies, Corporal Punishment, and a box of Chocolates

Sometimes you just have to laugh when ridiculous things happen. For instance, when I got in a cab this weekend and in my best Korean I give the cabbie directions and sat back. Two stop lights away he comes to a fierce stop and screams at me asking if I have money in Korean. Do I have money?  Now usually I would just looked stunned but instead I  responded  in a few choice words that I've learned from my friend Kateuh followed by " Go!" as we come up to my turn off and I'm screaming " O rhun-jok...Caiyo... Yogeo! He misses the turn all together, I scream " Yogeo" once again. Now I've had it... I shove the 3,000 won in his hand, the cabbie frustrated is supposed to have me 800 won back, but in his tizzy he give me back 3,800. See... that's what you get asshole! Maybe next time you'll  not be in such a rush and make fare instead of paying me to ride. I am satisfied with this karmic justice. As I slam the door and laugh I think " Maybe I'll buy a Demisoda with my newly accquired 800 won".
Of course most my Korean experiences, have been quite on the up and up, occasionally I have a road bump or two, but no worries I smile and laugh to myself  T.I.K:)  The weeks seem to fly by, it's midway through December! I blink and it will be Christmas.
Breaking News: As I'm sitting in the teachers' office I see one of my co-workers whack female two students repeatedly on the back of the legs with a plastic rod. Amidst the teenage whimpers and laughter of my colleagues, I lean of to one of my co-teacher and ask why this corporal punishment is being administered...my co-teacher thinks about the translation sucks her teeth and says " because she got the perm". Wait you get beat for a couple of curls? Attempting to hold back my giggles, I ask " why?". My co-teacher then tells me that they broke the dress code by getting perms. Wow...I'm definately rethinking the effectiveness of corporal punishment in public schools.
Well let  me just say this past weekend was full of unexpected surprises.Friday night out at Pyscho for one drink ended in an all night/ morning affair with meeting random people, and great conversation over drinks.As my friend Tina would say " you've talked to 90% of the bar", sooo I'm a social butterfly.. I cant help it. It's in my nature.Adding random people's numbers to my phonebook, I probably wont remember half of them in the morning, but what the hell :)Definitely unexpected but oh so good times.
Saturday night out with the ladies, Kateuh and I were matchy match, and have ceased to be seperate partying entities and I will henceforth refer to us as Kiffany when talking about out dual shannanigans. From strangee Africans in "dresses" with Hennesey bottles, shirtless out of shape Americans walkin it out, and a ridiculous"Savage", the night was an all around blast. Last night me and the girls hit up a Basketball game, and Anyang won! Hwai Ting!  Once before I mentioned that Korea was like a box a chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get. It's so true! But I'm excited about the never ending developments in my life.  As I sit here enjoying a steaming piece of "dak", muching away on my sweet ricecake I'm reminded of how Korean I'm becoming. A little piece of the American me dies each day.I laugh to myself  T.I.K.


Confucius say: Never let a savage in your back door or put too much kimchi love in your cart with your sanity you will surely part

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

That is Korea....



After talking with a friend of mine about the ridiculous things we've experienced in Korea, she asked me to describe my experience thus far in 3 words. I smiled and responded adventure, strangeness, and hillarious.
Each day here brings with it some sort of adventure, I've encountered a lot of culinary strangeness and Koreans are pretty damn hillarious. With almost two months under my belt, I've become more comfortable with my beginning Korean, even started giving cab drivers directions, and I've even begun trying to form short sentences. By month 6 I should be making small talk and singing 2pm and Girl Generation. I've decided to take Korean classes with my friend Kate. I'm sure they're going to be a trip. Speaking of languages, I know sometimes in reading my blogs, people forget I'm actually working here too. Trust me I work hard and I party harder!
I want to take a moment to talk about the strangee( thats right two E's and they are pronounced! lol) Korean ways. For instance Koreans say " Maybe" for declaritive statements.  Case and point " Maybe you should pay 9,000 won for your electric bill next week!" Maybe? So it's optional? I tried explaining the correct use of maybe and how it should only be used in cases of ambiguity,however I'm sure it was lost in translation.
I must say I've adopted some pretty Korean behavior. for instance, I make rice every few days so that I always have steaming  rice ready in my rice cooker, anything sparkly ( " blingy bling" as Korean girls refer to it)   I love,  if you thought I wore too many colors in one outfit before...you should see me now,I've made the words like  nice-uh and strangee part of my everyday vocab,the squat toilets no longer bother me, I prefer E-mart to Walmart, I'm starting to dislike the Chinese... Just kidding, I've taken on the Korean "shhhhh" teeth sucking when thinking about a question asked ( what has the world come to ) and  instead of  yes I answer "Dei", these are just a few amongst my ever evolving Koreaness.
I have yet to begin enjoying gelatinous  Korean treats, warmed gooey tofu goodess,  eating swiftly like I just got home from prison, or  throwing my toilet paper in the trash can at home... some things are just wrong. But I do love Korea, more than I thought I would.
 It sometimes shocks me when friends and I are talking on a Sunday morning eating croissants and coffee from Costco, my life seems so normal, then someone says... " dude,we live in Asia" I pause for a moment and I'm like, yeah we really do, it's pretty f*&^ing awesome! What an experience... in two weeks I leave for Thailand! I cant even contain my excitement! I'll be drinking Mai Tais on the beach, going on safari, night canoing, riding an elephant, snorkeling,and  haggling with toothless Thai merchants. It's going to be a blast. On the way back We'll be stopping off in Hong Kong for some shopping. Whoo hoo! Winter vacation isn't even here yet and Im planning my summer vaction to to Malaysia and Indonesia. My wanderlust is insatiable... I now know I can never go back to an ordinary life in the states. What ever will I do? Teach English overseas forever? Who knows the path life will take me down.... but I'm open to it.  
I know that being a foreigner in such a racially homogenous country, I attract or better yet peak the interests of the country's natives. That being said yesterday as I'm minding my own business on the train platform I notice an older gentleman squinting from a few seats down. Noticing his interest I turn the other way trying to ignore his incoming advances. Dammit, I made eye contact....never make eye contact, it's all down hill from there. In order to combat my fatal mistake, I turn up the volume on my Ipod and take out my book.  Do you think this deterred this little Korean man? NO! He moves closer... and this is when I notice the strong scent of Soju eminating from this man's pours. He smells like he's been marinating in a vat of Soju. Me... still ignoring him he starts tapping me...." hey, you teacher?" I could have gotten drunk by smelling his breath. I  ignore him ..." hey, you teacher? you beauteeeeful" Dammit, I say to myself, I wish I remembered Kate's translation of "fuck off pervert" but all I can remember is the word for f*^k... "shiba". Ugh, my train comes and he once again he touches me this time grabbing my arm. I pull off my headphones,  (Slowly but in a firm voice I say)" Listen....I know you want language exchangee, me....you...Ani-yo". I put my headphones back on and walked to the end of the train car, where my new friend watched me from a far. Please dont think me harsh. Usually I'm in the mood to talk to people but ,it had been a long day and he definitely invaded my personal space, I was so not feeling that.
In other news did I mention how much I love strangee Korean ways? I did! Well let me tell you a few more... at grocery stores and many other shopping centers after buying products you receive sort of gift with purchase, at markets these "gifts with purchase" are usually attached to the product you want to buy. These products are referred to here as "service",. You may recieve a free laundry basket with your purchase of detergent or something extremely random like cookies with your paper towels, at times it maybe 3 for the price of 1. Gotta love Korean "service". Another instance of strangee but wonderful Korean ways...today a few co-workers and myself ordered Chinese noodle bowls for lunch, so the delivery guy comes into the school sans delivery fee , sets up a tableclothe and delivers our noodles bowls pipping hot in real bowls with side dishes. I am then told after lunch just leave the bowls wrapped up in the table cloth by the door and the delivery man will be back to pick them up. All this in a country where I can't even tip the man, thats what I call service. Another strangee but not so fun Korean development I disccovered was that Koreans do not gain another year to their age on their birthdays but in the new yr.  Say what? Yes... so right now I'm 28 years in Korea, but as of January 1, 2010 I will be 29 years old in Korea. Oh no, this is  No Bueno! So before old age sets in I'm going to live it up in Korea! When you become frustrated with Korea or are merely baffled by the ridiculousness, breathe, shrug your shoulders and repeat the acronym T.I.K : That is Korea!


Confucius say: "Strangee" things happen in Korea to foreign teachers here and there, to avoid the native harassment turn up your ipod, take out a book and try not to stare.


Oh so you may have noticed the "donate" button in the top right hand corner labeled "Buy Me Kimchi"... I know people want to send me things but I know sending boxes from the U.S. can be costly, and you cant send money in the mail to Korea,so I figured why not make it easier for you. The button in linked to my Paypal account which is linked to my bank account. I hope this make things less complicated for some people.With your donations I'll be able to stay stocked with, rice cakes, toilet paper and kicmchi :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On the train

Dearest Korea,

Being such a tech savvy country, you have wowed me with the cutest technologically advanced gadgets and machines. From my Hello Kitty T-Money fob to paper clip sized USB sticks. So many efficient little machines I dare to think how I lived without you for so many years. But at what point does tecnology become a hinderance. Some say technology has alienated us as humans and made some of us incapable of true human contact with one another. We've become a society tech whores and junkies.Now you no longer have to be without your tech fix, you can upload, download, email and surf  on the at work, walking to the coffee shop, even on the train. Speaking of the train....Korea your abundance of portable tech gadgets has enabled every Korean young, and old to have a cell phone or portable device on the train.Today I saw a man with wireless head phones watching a soccer game on his phone hands-free which by with a few stratgically placed magnets, his phone was fixed the train door frame as he rode.Oh yes... but it didnt stop there apparently that wasn't good enough, he wanted to make sure the whole train car could watch. After four stops he pulls out an even bigger screen, pulls a couple pieces of double stick adhesive from a roll handing from his back pack( this tells me, he does this quite often) He puts the adhesive on the back of the screen and swaps his phone for the bigger screen. Really...He couldn't just wait until he got home to watch a  drama?
Oh how Korea how I love you...sending you digital kisses.

Always,
Tiffany

Ps. Maybe I need to get some magnets for my phone, so I can watch Korean TV hands free!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving weekend in Korea


This was my very first Thanksgiving away from family and loved ones. I thought I would be lonely and homesick, but those feelings were no where to be found. Apparently in Korea, Thanksgiving = Americans getting EXTREMELY drunk. What happened to giving thanks. I guess celebrated the subjugation of an Indigenous people is played in 09. However I did meet up with some fellow expat teachers at my local watering hole for a potluck dinner. After a long day of work and and tutoring, not to mention being hungover and running on 4 hours or sleep I popped in to my neighborhood Dunkin Donuts and picked up a cake. ( that was not a typo, I did get a cake from DD) In true Korean ( gift with purchase ) style, I received a spectacular snow hat complete with bear muffs. Of course my boo Eliana was the recipient of such a wonderful hat..."she's cute, she can pull it off!"  We had a blast a Psycho, now you know usually I'm not into food prepared by others but I figured " Hey you eat unknown Korean food everyday... how bad can it be?' Turkey and mashed potaotes with chopsticks... and Thanksgiving in Korea wouldn't have been complete without a Soju cocktail. After throwing back a few drinks with the girls, the bar top dancing, dart tournaments, and random conversations with strange boys commenced.Overall, not your average Thanksgiving dinner  but definitely good times.

On Saturday the girls and I made a day of in Myeongdong doing a little shopping. It almost seemed like a normal American weekend minus the yelling Koreans and the faint smell of rice cakes and oyster sauce. That night we got all dolled up in our new duds and hits the streets of Itaewon. First Kate and I started off at Geckos waiting for Eli. Side note:  for some reason, I seem to attract strange white men. I don't know what about me says " Hey Bobby, come talk to me... I want to ski the slopes" . So Kate and I developed a rule " * No Nigerian men.... unless you're seriously hard up , and if a socially akward white man hits on one of us, we have to take a shot". Not two minutes had past after putting our pact into action, did a white man with what seemed like a bad perm came over to me wide eyed and fondeling my hand saying " Can I have some of your drink?" and winked at me. I'm sure this was supposed to be cute and smooth but he just came over creepy. " Is that shot #1 " Kate says. I shake my head in agreement. After make a lap around the bar and avoiding gawking Nigerian men Kate and I come across " Texas"...slurring his words as he talks to me " Yuuuurrr....prreeeetty..What are yoooouuu drinkin?  (Insert hiccup here!)" After a few minutes of conversation Kate holds up 2 fingers behind him, indicating now it's 2 shots. I shake my head and continue to be entertained this akward man. Thankfully,Eli arrived and we make a B line for the door as quickly as possible. Then off to Helios and UN where I'm guessing the unattractive men got in for free because they were out in abundance that night. I would go into further detail about the night's events however I dont want to incriminate myself or others involved.Sjl... However copious amounts of alcohol were had and all I know is I ended up having a " find me in da club" photo shoot with an elderly Korean man ( see my FB page it's hillarious) and a young Korean girl told me that she was " the bisexual" and asked if she could be my " Bust it baby" ... Really though? Ummm she watches way too many Plies videos. So with asian turkeys, drinking with my fellow Americans, Korean photo shoots and a whole lot of ridiculousness with my girls I have to say it was good times! You gotta love the randomness of it all.
This definitely wasn't your mom's Thanksiving...It's Korea baby, anything can happen.


Confucius say:   Thanksgiving  in Korea is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's just the little things...

Dear Korea,


I love you for all the little things. Like the little old ladies who push you on the subway...now would I be wrong if I pushed her back? Not in Korea... the concept of excuse me is so far removed, that I asked my co-teacher one day if I was saying the Korean phrase for excuse me right and she repsonded with " don't worry I never use it, you wont either". Gotta love it. Today I love you most  for your ridiculous television shows...
For instance yesterday I was flipping through the channels and I found the EBS ( Education Broadcasting Station) and I found a show where a plump Austrailian man in a full Chef Boyardee getup was speaking fluent Korean, in which he breaks down cheesy Korean pop songs into a English lesson. Now the the show's called Cooking English or so is the rough translation, however... his set is a faux kitchen and yet he never cooks anything. Thoughout the show mini muscal montages flash on the screen of a Korean pop group. This video can only be explained by mixing a bad  version of LL Cool J's "I need love" with  The Backstreet Boys " Bye, Bye, Bye"
Huh? Yeah that's right....make no mistake about it, it was utterly and totally ridiculous. Sounding like the Koringlish version of N'Sync... singing  lyrics like" giiiirllllll ...you be up on dis , gimme a kiss...Oooooh c'mon we raisin da roof" Oh I should have wrote the rest down so you could get the full affect. Wait.. it's not over! So then it flashes back to "the chef", where he stops kneading his prop dough and holds up a frying pan , and inside is the phrase reads " you be up on dis"  then in his Aussie accent " the chef" explains " up on this" as " being all over me" Really? After which  it swtiches back to the "pop/rap song" , and then magically " the chef " has a basket of plastic bread on the table. I'm curious as to why they even need the faux food. But hey it's Korea... I dont ask questions. Believe me when I say my desrciption does it no justice, I was in tears laughing. If I can find a link to the episode I will most surely post it. For ridiculous shows like this Korea I will continue to love and cherish the EBS.

Always,
Tiff

Ps. just curious as to why Korean pop groups consist of 9-14 members? since when  is 5 not enough?

Monday, November 23, 2009

What are you lookin' at?


So... this is an ongoing problem I'm having at work. Let me start off by saying 95 % of the time I have a quite pleasant work environment. The hours are great, my students are eager to learn and well beahved, the food is pretty decent and my co-workers are quite friendly.  Here in ladies and gentlemen lies the problem. Oh yes, they are friendly but sometimes too friendly. Now I dont mean too friendly in the "touch my ass when no one's looking, by the coffee machine " sense. I mean the "Oh can you please step away from my desk, you're hovering and I can feel your hot breath on the back of my neck or feel your gaze burning a hole in the side of my face" friendly. Now the hover seems to have been adopted by two of my male co-workers. So what started off as a seemeingly friendly" what are you doing ?"has snowballed into let me sit in your lap and play the 20 questions game.When I put on my head phones and say " let me get back to what I was doing"...guess what? thats your cue to get up and leave, not scoot your desk chair closer so you can eyeball me and my laptop." Go somewhere!" I want to shout in my almost silent co-office. But I smile and position my body as a barrier between the two of us and put my palm to my head. Thus without words expressing through my body langauge I want to be left alone. Yet in still he is peristant in asking questions about my favorite celebrity and songs I like. " For the love of God man... piss off " I say in my head.So after some time of him staring at me with his strange Korean gaze... Smiling and in the most polite Korean etiquette I tell him to "go waste time" as the cleark once told me at E-Mart. Not sure what this translation means, but whatevr it was, he got the picture... and swiftly departed. My Korean male co-workers are swift and quiet like samaurai... hold on let me check to make sure they're not reading this over my shoulder... Okay, the coast is clear! I thought about not wearing deoderant for a few days and trying the B.O.strategy but one of them smelled of fermented oyster sauce that had been sitting in the sun for about a week. So that approach is out.
Now I'm clearly going to have to explain to them in the nicest way possible about "personal space" and how much I enjoy it.So with my swivel chair ready to move and a desk partition in the works, I diligently work on red sequined shoulder pads and a hair clips that read " Do Not Disturb".


Confucius say:  beware of the" friendly" co-workers that nuisence in your ear, nip it in the butt soon or you'll be pestered for a year.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sick in Korea,,,,wasnt so bad


I do apologize for the lack of blogs this past week. I was feeling a bit under the weather. Due to the wacky Korean weather and in part to my non stop party binge. The other morning I looked in the mirror and gave myself a much needed but sad reality. " You are not 22 anymore! It takes you a day and a half to recover for each night you party, and lets not even get into breaking night! So genius...you the math" Accepting  the fact that I am no longer a spring chicken and have notedly handed in my "Party Girl" I.D. which conseqently plays Eddie Murphy's " She likes to party all the Time". I feel a tickle in my throat...Uh oh I know what that means...my age has finally caught up with me. I wake up the next morning to  find my throat nearly swollen shut and a wicked fever. I call my co-teacher and she pops round after her second period to drive me to the hospital. Having watched the hospital scene from Lost in Translation recently I'm a little apprehensive about the hospital .When arriving at the "clinic" which from the exterior looks like a dingy parking garage  I think to myself  am I going to the doctor's or are my organs going to be sold on the black market? Once inside the elevator Ms. Kim sensing my apprehension assures me that this is a very good doctor. Once reaching the 5th floor , we make our way down a brightly lit corridor. The cute little Korean nurses bow and welcome me. At the desk Ms. Kim helps me fill out the a little slip of paper. That's it ...no long series of questions...no 30 pages of medical history? after a 5 minute wait I go into to see the doctor, assesses me, asks if I have any medication allergies, then tells me I have bronchitis and he will see me on Saturday for a follow up appt.  Hold on...doctors are open on Saturdays in Korea? He shows me back to the front desk where  I pick up my prescription to take to the pharmacy.The nurse informs me that  my health insurance has kicked in and that the cost for today's visit is 3,500 won which is the equivalent of $2.00 USD." Excuse me?  Hon bon do!" She repeats herself. I pay and Ms Kim laughs. " Korea is good ...right ?" Good is not the word. As we leave I  fold my prescription and put it in my pocket. Ms. Kim says " Oh no... you need it now!" as we reach the first floor we go into the pharmacy I hand them my prescription and within five minutes  my prescription is filled and the pharmacist is explaining the dosage. I look for the bottle when to my surprise the prescription is pre-sorted into little cellophane baggies. "three times a day..this will make you sleepy"  she then says 2,300 won. Are you kidding me? I ask what the medicine is ... and she responds with "you sick...right? you take!" Well Korea you've haven't steered me wrong thus far soooo..."I take". After my pleasant hospital experience Ms. Kim me for Sol-long-tang which is this amazing beef soup with noodles, rice, onions, and who knows what else. Yummm. It's my new favorite. So let's recap for a minute here... Korean doctors are open on the weekends,  I waited less than 10 minutes to be seen, my whole trip, cost me less than 6,000 won! PSA: America you are one of the richest super powers and lil 'ole Korea has got health care down to a science.Something's not quite right with this picture.Just adding to another reason why I'm not coming back stateside anytime soon.
So getting sick in Korea wasn't that bad. My school gave me a few days off to recooperate and I'm feeling good as new. Oh a little side note remember when the trusty pharmacist said this will make me sleepy.. what she didn't say was that her magical "Korean pill cocktail" induces a sleep like coma. I woke up today, feeling so rested not realizing it was 5:08pm not am!

Confucius say: beware of Korean pill cocktails in clear little baggies one might end up sleeping until next week

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rebirth....


So don't get all freaked out by the picture. I am not pregnant. Nor do I plan to be anytime soon. However I did have a curious dream last night it might have been providence, or the curious pill cocktail prescribed by my  most trusty Korean physician. I was here in Korea and waddling around some archaic theatre complete with a chandelier, velvet seats and a balcony. Curls piled top my head, draped in jade jewelry, having contractions in a flowing navy colored Bohemian dress . My mother helped deliver my first child, my son as I continued to push and await the arrival of what I somehow knew to be my daughter. Amidst the pushing I woke up. My legs and torso still sore... Isn't that strange? So I immediately looked up the meaning of this online.
I found that the interpretation of giving birth means a new aspect of yourself is about to be born. It is your responsibility to develop this side of yourself. This is always a positive dream, as to allow a new aspect of yourself to flourish you must let go of whatever kept it suppressed. This dream usually comes after doing some developmental work on yourself.
In reading this....I have come to terms with  my new existence.  While finally settling into my new life  I am a bit nostalgic of my old life. However, memories are like carbon copies of the past. Etched ever so slightly upon the pages of my mind. But in time they fade... like all things.  The November air is cold and reminds me that winter is just around the corner, ad yet another season has come to pass. I know this post is not my usual mix of banter and comedy but it is something that needed to be expressed. This, here, now is my life, and I am contented. It has been an interesting road of obstacles that has brought me here. I do not regret the things that have brought me here. I am a better and stronger person for having made it through the meandering path. So after a month's time.... Korea has become a home I never thought possible.  As I dig my heals into foreign shores, I exhale and welcome my rebirth.


Confucius: the seasons shift and transform as do our hearts, they swell in rapture like the winds of change and await the tides of life


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oh really Korea...

 My Dearest Korea,

Today was a sad day for us both. We lost Fran,back to America. But once again you bring some laughter to my life, when on the train back to Anyang I catch a glimpse of none other the "kimchi merge".
Kimichi merge : the blending of the Korean female's clothing/accessories with that of and her male counterpart.Beware of this phenomena, if unaware, at first sight it can be daunting. Not only did they have matching phone charms well they were to big and furry to call charms, matching shoulder "satchels",  and wearing matching striped shirts but also sporting similiar hair cuts. I almost threw up in my own mouth. I wouldn't be suprrised if they were sporting the oh so popular matching underwear sets I see floating around local department stores.
Oh Korea how you encourage the emasculation of Korean men by producing boxer briefs in rainbow polka dots, satin, and stars to match their girlfriend's lingerie sets. You never cease to amaze or amuse me.



Always,
Tiffany

P.s. Korea don't ever ask me to wear matching cardigans and undies ...I'm just not into that.
P.p.s 1994 called it wants it's trend back!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nights of Itaewon Part II


So the Nights of Itaewon is now officially a sequel. Once again Fran and I put on the shortest dresses  and the tallest boots we could find , and headed out to Itaewon. This time we met up with a few fellow expat teachers. Stacy, Kate and Eliana at Helios.  Looking quite fab with my freshly pressed hair and my knee high suede boots I was definitely feeling myself. At Helios, the patrons ran the gamut from "Say what" Korean girls trying to pull off a bad Little Kim impressions,  American "wankstas" and their hype men, to a few white Americans sprinkled in the mix for diversity and a number of expat teachers. We all had our free drink and peaced out.However, I did linger for a moment to see a Korean guy in a Coogi sweat suit with a blingged out hat pop-lock on the platform...Ridiculous! Bearing the cold we ran across the street to our "favorite" spot UN Club. "Ladies Night" Oh yeah no cover.... as we get down stairs Kate says " I paid!" They group chuckled..." Go get your money" as we head to the bar. Against the backdrop of what seems to be an American club, we find our niche and post up surveying the crowd. In a sea of faces I see  my black people and I smile. This however was short lived when I  noticed the ghetto boops are here in full effect...silver boots, tacky backless shirts and bad weaves, the "Word Up" Korean boys are bobbin on beat with fresh Jordans on , wanna be Bloods sans shirts and  mouths  fronts are swinging bandanas in the air. Ummm Bloods in South Korea? I think not! ( PSA: Dear fake punk fakers... the real thugs called and they want their colors back), Nigerians posing as Americans. " So where are you from"  New Lork City" " Really? New Lork City.... you sure about that?", and it wouldn't be complete with out the token drunk white girls crying in the bathroom. Are you sure I'm in Korea and not in a club in North Philly? Laughing at this unbelievable spectacle, the girls and I order  our second round.Then I get a phone call...It's "Andy" saying he's coming out! " Cool " I say " See you later!" Then off to the dance floor to tear it up.As "Andy" arrives I see he's alone. " I hope he didn't come alone just to see me..."  I say. He says hi to the girls and gets me a drink. While he's at the bar Fran leans over and says " Bringin sand to the beach... is a no no" , I laugh... " I'm so not even going there with him and I thought he was coming with his friends" ... " thought wrong!" she says and laughs. After a few giggles from the girls I let them know.. he is NOT my boo. Back out on the dance floor starting to sweat my press out, when  the DJ spins" This Is How we Do It" yes they did blow the dust off it....Random Nigerian men are trying to infiltrate our group as we swiftly make our way back to the bar. I make a B line to the bathroom, upon coming out of the lou, there is " Andy" lookin all sad with the puppy dog eyes. " What's up?" I ask as if I dont know what he's about to say " I missed you today" .. Ummm yeah I was way off on that one! (What? he misses me? I just met the guy yesterday and we've only ever hung out at the club... ummm I might have a Nigerian stalker  on my hands) Then he tries to dance with me and hold my hands...Okay.. I've had about enough. I say " Andy we need to talk! K!" He looks at me intently" Listen you're nice, but you're trying to boo me up IN THE CLUB, I think you're a nice guy but you should go home" " I will call you later" and( by later I meant the Monday after never). Crisis averted as he's walking out the door  the song " No Wifin in the Club" comes on...how a propo.  I owe Fran twenty dollars FML..So now with my wanna be boyfriend out the way the girls and I go back to the bar freshen our glasses. After which Fran has found a Korean boyfriend MingSu who cripwalks... you know she likes em gangsta doesnt matter the nationality. I look over to see Kate dancin with Long Duck Dong and Eliana and Stacy tearin it up as well and I  made a new friends with some military guys. Oh so American. There was an abundance of cuties at the bar that night , everyone was feelin what the DJ was putting down, and the drinks were strong. Cant be mad at that. In fact the drinks were so strong that after a few more Grey Goose, Orange and Cranberry , Fran started dancin with "soulja boy".. and he literally is a soldier. Later on he came back to dance with her and Fran says "oh wait i didnt recognize you with your shirt on!" As the night wore on into early morning , I remembered less and less how many rounds we had. All I know is my pressed hair was not longer issue because I was dancing as if my life depended on it, Kate was entertaining some random guy, Stacy was gettin with it, Fran was on the stage with soulja boy, and Eliana was unsuccessfully avoiding Nigerians.
We received lollipops from our would be suitors... maybe it's a Korean thing, but is a Chupa Pop a sign of going steady in 2009? I know you're not supposed to take candy from strangers but we made exceptions just this once. Sitting on the stage enjoying out Chupa treats when this Nigerian man who we've all verbally abused throughout the night came back for one more attempt... I put my hand up " No, Stop, dont even go there K!"
As my buzz turned into full on drunkeness and my feet started hurting , the dreaded military curfew was in affect so... what seemed like 70% of the drunken club goers filed out the door. Along with our dance partners. As the girls and I notice only the Nigerians and the belligerent white men are left,we grab our jackets and make a hasty exit. Outside the streets of filled with people, street meat vendors, cabs swerving in at out of traffic and half dressed girls. Oh wait that's us!The night air was electric and we cracking up laughing as we recalled some the nights events. Filled with questions of " was he cute?", " yo, what were you drinking?", " Do you remember his name?", "how long were you up there?" and " why am I so damn drunk?"
Beacause it's Itaweon and that's what happens.


Confucius say: when one hits the streets of Itaewon with the girls in tow be sure to keep the drinks strong, the skirts short, and the cell handy because you're bound to meet a of couple of men chupa pop candy


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nights of Itaewon Part I


This weekend was soo ridiculous I couldnt fit it all into one blog, so be on the look out for Nights of Itewon Part II. Well now that I've had time to let all the events of the past couple of days sink in I thought it was time to put them into some cohesive thought. It's been such a whirlwind, and I've been tagging along for the ride. I've been partying non-stop since Thursday. I haven't done that since my college days. I thought I was too old for breaking night 3 consecutive days. Apparently I've still got it!
For Fran's last weekend in Korea, hungover and sleep deprived,Friday after work I packed my bag and she and I headed for Seoul. We checked into Bebop House hostel. Which by the way I highly reccomend if you need a inexpensive, and fun place to stay while you're in the Seoul metro area. We arrived at this seemingly ordinary white house in Hongdae with a colorful street sign the reads Bebop House. Inside we find a friendly Korean guy to welcome us and asks us to sign in. Taking off my shoes at the door as customory Korean etiquette dicatats. I make my way to the table. I take a seat on the floor pillow and sign in. The common room is quaint and ecclectic, backpackers' memeroies clipped to a clothesline that hangs on the back wall. a bookshelf filled with maps and travel books and a mini computer station. Our host carries our bags upstairs and we meet our two roommates. After a much needed nap Fran and I get dressed and hail a cab to Itaewon. As the cold fall air whips us in our faces as we exit the cab we cant help but think maybe we should have re-evaluated our club outfits. But none the less with hit the pavement in the direction of Club UN,  we were told by a friend was a "down southesque" hip hop club. We make our way inside we hear familar " Shawty wanna thug...." while the bass is bumpin, we make our way downstairs where the smoke is thick and the drinks are flowing.  As we hit the door I'm flooded with brown faces. So much brown I forgot I was even in Korea. It was more transporting myself to ATL. Bandanas, fronts, tall dark brothas, "Shawty" be yelled to a near by girl from a guy in a coogi suit...lol. Not even there 10 minutes and the men swoop in, droppin cheesy pickup lines and of course the all prevelent question here " So where ya from?"  Mostly military men, but there was no shortage of Nigerian men trying to make me their wife within the first five minutes of meeting. I laugh and am flattered by the attention. Fran is craking up at the bar while a guy with fronts is hammered and all in her personal space, and know how much New Yorkers loooove that!
After having out fill of drinks and make the acquaintence of a nice Nigerian man named " Andy" we all know thats not his REAL name, but I'll let him rock with "Andy". We head out to Club Zion for a little Reggae. At Zion "Andy" and I hit the dance floor. As we are dancing the tall African man kisses my forehead. I stop and say " listen you're nice but I'm def not into that..." He smiles, apparently not understanding and says " Oh you're so cute". Once again not trying to be anyone's girlfriend...or romantic interlude. Making my way back to the table with Fran, "Andy" buys us a round of drinks and boy is he a talker. And those of you who know me... For ME to call someone a talker, now thats saying something.Oh and I got an invitation to go to Africa....sounds fun but, I'm thinking he might try to marry me as soon as we get off the plane. So... I have to re-evaluate that offer...dont want to end up like Sally Fields in Not without my Daughter.After my "conversation" with " Andy" where I only understood ever 2nd or 3rd word due to his serious accent, Fran and I decided to call it a night, well a morning because when I looked at my cell it definitely said 6:30am.Heading back to the hostel we, we sat in the common room for a while make friends with a cute Malaysian guy and Ari a fellow traveller. When our eyelids could no longer hold themselves open , Rran and I headed for the room. The fun thing about hostels and shared rooms is it's kind of like a slumber party with strangers. This arrangement can either be really fun or unbearable. In our case out bunkmates wer prettycool.( Yes, I said bunkmate...We both had the top bunks.) Have you ever tried to climb into a bunk bed when you are hammered? It is No Bueno ladies and gentlemen.The next afternoon we roll out of bed looking " Oh so fabulous" and made our way to Family Hair Salon in Itaewon. Nervous about my impending hair appointment Fran assures me by saying "Really ? can some one really mess up and press and curl?" I say " Ummm ... helllo have you seen my hair" we shrugs, cross our fingers and hope for the best. As we enter the shop and climb the steep set of stairs  I spot a Dudley's certificate on the wall.... "Hmmm...Dudley's?", the familiar smell of  a hot  pressing comb and oil sheen calm my nerves. " Is Jung Su really giving that girl micros over there in the corner? " " Is that Motions I smell...?" Sure enough as we take a seat I see Motions hair products in all their glory on the shelf. I'm put a little more at ease, but you can have all the products in the world...doesnt mean you can do hair. As this little Korean woman waves me to come back to the shampoo chair I take off my headband and unleash the beast. After a few minutes of vigorous washing, she puts in a deep conditioner , piles my curls ontop of my head and places a  pink bonnet on my head that looks more like salmon quilted russian hat than something that belongs in a salon. "Deep Condition" she says in Koringlish. I nod and wait for the rinse. In the mean time Fran too decides on to get a wash and blow out. "Perry" the shampoo lady motions me to the stylist chair where there familiar smells of the oven heating up,and  as my stylist grabs a jar of B& B grease, this assures me that she knows what she's doing...and hour later she turns my chair around, and I see staring back at me a glimpse of my former American hair fabulousness. Excited, I hop up from the chair and pay her 35,000 won. Which is roughly $20.00. I put on my diva shadesand  grab my bag, looking fab we grab our coats. Satisfied with our oh so silky Korean hair experiences we hit the streets of Itaewon.

Confucius Say: One should never doubt the skill of Korean hair stylist, when doing black hair, with Dudley's on the wall and the smell of Motions in the air

Apology to Seoul

Dear Korea,

I was too hasty in my first assessment of Seoul. I called it crass, uncultured, too westernized and just not my cup of tea.Well after this weekend, I'm writing you an official apology. Your hip hop clubs, random street meat vendors, adorable all day brunch cafes,cute boys, fantastic " Black" Korean hair salons, and pretty awesome hostels have changed my mind. You can be my side jawn... just don't tell Anyang. So until my next visit, I'm blowing you digital kisses.


Always,
Tiffany

Ps Seoul you're like an ugly boy with a cute personality. I don't want to like you, but I do. In a drunken haze you seem like a great catch.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Because of you

Dear Korea,
I'm reminded oddly enough of a Kelly Clarkson song " Because of You"...
Because of you, I'm always happiest with a "That's Y" or a " KGB" in my hand. You provide me with the conduit to make all my inebriated dreams come true. Take last night for instance. Late night happy hour at Psycho. A seemingly empty bar turned into a night of shennanigans and a day of hangovers for all involved. But without the Korean magic in the air last night, copius amounts of alcohol, chance meetings, knitted sweaters, bar top dancing, throw back hip hop jams and crazy expat teachers... it would have never been possible.

Always,
Tiffany

P.s: knitted moccassins and rouched sateen pants should never be in the same ensemble!

my first love note to Korea...

In an on-again off-again relationship that I have since entered into with Korea , I have found many interesting, amusing and irritating idiosyncrasies about my love. So this is the first of many love notes from me to you Korea.

Dear Korea,

I love that your men carry "man bags"! This oh so "manly" accessory ranges from the leather understated satchel to the most flamboyant blingged out man "purse". I've seen many of your fashion forward country men sport these jazzy bags over the shoulder or merely carried like a purse. I'm not sure what to think of this Korea, but I do know this one thing. Ladies if you have to ask your man can you borrow his bag because it matches you pumps... this is No Bueno. Until next time Korea.... I love you and your kimchi.


Always,
Tiffany


P.s: the Beatles called,  and they want their hair back!


Oh Korea...

Some days I'm so overwhelmed by you and other days I rue the day you were born. Ok it's usually only a few minutes of  expatriate ranting and a few pouts. But everyday you bring something new and interesting to my life. For instance the joys of Premium Gold toothpaste with real flecks of Gold in it or your culinary ability to get me... hater of all things slimy to try octopus jello and squid tentacles. Who knew the sweet joys you would brings to my life. But let me digress and talk about the not so spectacular language barrier. Now don't get me wrong ladies and gentlemen, I fully expected to have some language difficulties. I was under no misconception there. However, I've been told by many Koreans that I pronounce Korean like a Korean this had made me more confident in my language endeavors. Now I don't knhe cab drivers and E-Mart sales people are on some other wavelength, but they do not share the same sentiment. It could very well be that they see my almost 6 ft, African-American self, and think how could anything other than English come out my mouth. They could be in a daze from my big eyes and dazzling good looks. I'm not really sure. Let me give you a prime example of this most magical occurrence.
The other day I was on my way to the Korean Immigration Office to pick up my Alien Registration Card. Having made my way to Seoul before, Fran and I make good time on the train. In order to cut out transferring trains, we decide to cab it from  a station not too far from my intended destination. Earlier that day I wrote down the address in romanized Korean and even practiced the pronunciation. In a furious hurry Fran and I climb what seems like a never ending flight of stairs ( while Fran gets to use her favorite Korean phrase "Bali, bali" which means hurry up).As we reach the street and flag a taxi, both of us panting heavily, we take a moment and compose ourselves. Pulling out the address I read it to the cabbie. " Bo?" he responds. Ugh...Houston we have a problem! I show him the paper and say it again. Then I give in and give him the name of the nearest train station to the Immigration office. As we pull up to the station... I try one last time. Saying the address and showing him the paper. He looks at the paper again and in Koringlsh he says "address?" then repeats the address I told him earlier in Korean. OMG.... that's what I just said!  Now late to pick up my card, I am furious, but I keep my composure as Fran shakes her head. I think I might have to get a shirt in Korean that says " I just said that!"  Another of " I.J.S.T" was just yesterday on our way to the KBL game. We get in yet another cab on our way to the stadium, I tell the cabbie the address and once again " Bo?" I repeat the address! Frustrated by this little man, I call Ms.Kim (yes she is on speed dial) , I hand the phone to the driver, "Odeso?" He says.... " Ney, Ney!" Then repeats the SAME address I told him. Yet another instance of " I just said that! Oh the joys you bring me Korea! So, I willl you posted on the " I just said that" Show, Until  next time!

Confucius say: When attempting to communicate with foreign cabbies, one would do well to purchase a voice recorder or possibly an easy button... "I just said that"....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Surprises...the good,bad and the ugly


Last weekend was full of surprises. First off we went strolling in my favorite department store. LOTTE! Fran discovered a supermarket equipped with a food court on the lower level. Are you kidding me? All Lotte needs is some beds on the top floor and a night club and you would literally never have to leave the building. You have to see it to believe it. I know I'm a little obsessed. lol. After having our fill of Lotte and checking out a cute little sushi place for lunch, we made out way to Anyang station where a Korean children's variety dance group called " Popcorn" was performing. These pint sized performers were gettin with it. Silver blinged out combat boots, hot pink skirts, and MJ gloves. Really ? A group of children ranging from ages 3-8 were puttin in work on the elaborate choreographed dance routine and they sang at the end. Only Korean children.
Later that evening  Fran and I were invited to my co-teacher's house for a traditional Korean dinner. Everything was so delicious ( mashsisoyo). A full spread! Her family is soo cute. Her daughters Su-Hyun and Seng Hyun are my instant new little buddies, not to mention they are talented. What is it with Asian children and being gifted and perfect? After dinner her eldest busts out classical music on the piano while her younger daughter commences to draw me an equestrian masterpiece. Why cant American children be child prodigies? Yet another reason why Asians are going to take over the world. I'm convinced. Then my co-teacher says " You like Nori bong right?" ( Nori bang is Karaoke). " Do I ever" I replied. " Ok ler's go now" she says! SO me Fran and my surrogate Korean family head off to Karaoke. It's okay to bring children to karaoke late on a Saturday night? What do we Americans know about raising children anyways? So off we went. The kids are singing cartoon theme songs, Ms. Kim and her husband are belting out "romantic" Korean melodies, while Fran and I are getting with  tunes Beyonce, Drake, and Maroon 5." Are these popular American songs?" asks Ms. Kim. We assure her they are. The mood doenst pick up until Fran and I sing, Y.M.C.A followed by Hey Jude....typical. You dont know contemporary American tunes  but you know The Village People and the Beatles? We should have known something was up when the cd in the car, played old school Toni Braxton and Total Eclipse of the Heart. Overall is was a great night. Oh and Ms. Kim sent us home with a Korean goodie bag complete with a few cans of " That's Y" lol...gotta love it.

On Sunday Fran and I waited for the ridiculous thunderstorm to pass before heading out to Seoul. We hopped on an express train where when we arrived at our designated seats a old Korean bum was sleeping in my chair. I tapped him, not having the vocab for this sort of situation and showed him my ticket. He acknowledges it, then moves over to Fran's seat! I now show him both tickets. He sucks his teeth and gets up and stands the rest of the way. Ummm...
I paid my $2.50 to ride in comfort... sorry Mr. Bum. ( gotta say Mr. it's Korea!) Upon our arrival in Seoul, Fran and I look at one another in a culture shock..." Are we even in Korea anymore?". Talk about westernized. When I asked for directions in Korean, and young Korean man pulled his phone away from his ear in the clearest English he said " Hold on a minute I'll help you, I just have to take this call" Almost disgusted that this man spoke English...I said ok and waited patiently. Never thought I'd see the day when I wasn't excited to hear someone speak English. The further we walked into Seoul the more we were flooded with western restuarants, signs in English and waves of foreigners. Don't get me wrong, I was excited to meet new foreigners. But their numbers were overwhelming. I've noticed that racism transcends a leap across the pond. I find that most Caucasian foreigners dont even speak or acknowledge you as you pass. I figure we're all American...we're all in the same boat....ummm sike my mind. Let me set these rose colored glasses to the side for another day. But it doesn't stop their folks, even my own people of color are rare to share a friendly word. Now that infuriates me! What is up with that my black people? Really you come to another country and you cant even acknowledge your fellow brothas and and sistas? SMH. Well on a lighter note, as Fran and I are leaving the station we see a Peruvian man and his band decked out in knitted ponchos singing none other than that oldie but goodie...La Bamba. Wait La Bamba...in Korea? Please tell me how you and your band made it here to South Korea of all places and decided that La Bamba was an appropriate song for the Seoul Station quad. As waves of foreigners pass and Korean becomes the least spoken language I hear,it saddens me and I miss Anyang. Fran and I take ourselves on a bit of a walking tour ( we got lost) then found our way in the subways and made the acquaintence of two African- American females who've been teaching in Korea for almost a year. They gave us the ins and outs of Seoul and showed me where to" get my hair did". I was most appreciative to my newly found friends and made plans with them for next weekend. As Fran and I said goodbye to the girls we made our way to the busy streets of Itaewon. Foreigner Central. We  had some fab sushi at Rollin Up and I tried KGB which is Vodka with Lemon in a bottle...def good times.I found some "special surprises" in my Udong soup...Umm yeah definitely not sure what everything was. Very squishy and chewy. I've learned just to go with it and swallow. lol ( get your minds out the gutter!)  Anyways after settling the tab, Fran and I made our way to a near by stoop and decided to play 1/100. Interestingly enough, we came across Fran's future baby's father. This gorgeous man we've talked about at length, was a mere yard away and the " Choke session" commenced. I wont go into detail to spare those involved, but just know this Wednesday she will redeem herself at the KBL game Anyang vs. Seoul. Hwai Ting! After sitting for a bit and being accosted by strange, badly dressed Nigerians, Fran and I made our way back to the train station and promptly on our way back to Anyang. As we stepped off the platform and made our way to the street, " Ahhh home" I said. I never thought I'd be so excited to be somewhere so foreign. Getting used to the " Oh my god" stares and the " Aniyo" every time I ask " Yongol haseyo?" (do you speak English) I relish these moments. Anyang, my little piece of Korea. I love it.


Confucius say: the grass is not always greener on the other side but the eye candy is Seoul is worth the ride