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 :)


  1. The only thing I can say at this point, is that I am sooo envious!!! I can relate to the t.p. in the trash after living in MIAMI, oh such a waste..lol. Great idea for donations! Make sure you have some beef salad in Thailand for me. It's my favorite!


  2. New blog follower here -- American getting ready to head to Anyang next month! I've only read a little of your blog so far, but have found some very useful information. Keep it coming! :)