Due to technical difficulties and a weirdly timed weekend, a call to my parents didn’t happen this weekend. So, as a very small way to make up for it (though my parents are very gracious), I have decided to write my third blog post.
This comes at a good time, since I have been in Korea a little over 3 months. Plenty of time for a lot of things to happen in one’s life, happily I report mostly good things.
I feel like I have been here forever. The fact that I live in Korea is beginning to feel normal, natural. I love it. There has been quit a bit of change in my schedule lately, and if you know me you know that there are few things I love more when it comes to daily life. Now my life includes teaching adults, and Skype teaching.
Teaching adults is my favorite part of my job so far. They are weary at first, to be taught by someone so young in comparison, but friendly and willing to laugh at my bad jokes.
Skype teaching is another new part of my professional life. It can feel very weird sometimes, going from teaching a room full of kids to sitting down in a quiet room with a computer and teaching a class through Skype that is approximately 8 km away. I also was able to visit the schools I teach through Skype, I saw their foreign English teacher and it was a bizarre moment. She seemed to give me a look that said, “What are you doing here, on my turf?” There I was in a suit in weather that was way too hot, in a very rural school, while she was in a t-shirt. I looked ridiculous.
In other fun news, if nothing changes (which is always possible), I will be moving into an apartment in late September. I can’t wait to have more experiences with the city and culture of Korea. However, I will miss the boars. Yes, there are wild boars out here where I live, in the middle of nowhere. They making deathly evil wailing screaming banshee ring wraith hollers out in the mountains beyond the school. I love it.
I miss so many people from home, but my time in Korea is currently great.
This will be a short post about some ways that I have made myself look or feel stupid while living in Korea so far.
1. I was walking in a park-like place near a train station. Everything was fine until a brown, circular object hit the ground about 6 feet in front of me to my left. Instead of reacting like a completely normal person, I jumped, stepped back, clenched my fists, and covered my face and chest with my arms in a flailing “X” formation. I held that position until I realized that it was just a bunch of old men kicking around some kind of ball. I re-organized my cool composure and continued walking, until I tripped on a ledge and almost fell flat on my face.
2. I tried to buy some cool clothes for my brother, only to realize that amongst a growing number of strange looks, I was shopping at a women’s store. Let’s just say sometimes it can be difficult to tell when it comes to workout clothes.
3. I look and feel stupid whenever I get into a cab, only to get out and go to the next one because the driver refuses to drive “Waygookin” (foreigners). This is because of the language barrier. Right?
4. I caused a grocery shopping line traffic jam at Homeplus when, for reasons beyond me, the cashier wouldn’t let me buy the brand of coffee I had chosen. She walked me ALL THE WAY back to the aisle to pick another one. I did, and we resumed.
5. I tried to say “Hello” in Korean to the lady at the concession stand in the movie theater. The man to my right burst into laughter. Blatantly.
6. I almost accidentally boarded a train to Seoul because I wasn’t sure about the time. The train I needed was only a 20 minute commute.
7. Another time at the movie theater, I got up to use the restroom in the first quarter of the movie. I walked all the way down and then in front of the audience to get to the door; which was either locked, or I couldn’t figure out how to open it in the dark. I awkwardly stood there in front of everyone trying to open the door for about one minute. Unsuccessful, I walked all the way back in front of the audience, up to my seat where I sunk down low.
I laughed as I wrote this, I hope you find some amusing. I am loving my time in Korea, and for every awkward moment there are a dozen moments completely on point.
Until next time.
I’ve got a bone to pick with the K-POP group B1A4. Yes, you.
Here are some fightin’ words.
STOP BEING SO POPULAR IN KOREA.
Why? Because if you can write on a structure with a pencil or a pen (basically everything, but focusing on desks in this message), students will try to write B1A4 on it.
Asking for a friend….who is an English teacher in South Korea.
Here is a song from B1A4.
I only watched it half way, so if you actually watched it all the way and things get mad cray, apologies all day and night.
I feel better.
So I’ve been living in South Korea for almost two weeks now. I have done a complete 180 professionally, going from being a paper pusher in D.C. to standing on my feet for most of the day screaming things like, “Anneyo! Ajima!” (NO! STOP THAT!) and trying to teach students to say MAGMA, not MAGAMA.
Apologies for the late blog post. Teaching is one of the most exhausting but interesting things I have ever done.
This is a job. And it is all day, every day. It is awesome, I feel like I’ve been engaged in some kind of athletic event by dinner time. It’s like working out, it’s a good kind of sore, you sleep great and food taste better because you actually worked for that meal.
The first week was mainly training and observing classes. By Thursday and Friday, the other new teacher and I had a chance to try our luck. I can’t complain. Not hating on American kids, but the worst day in regards to behavior for a South Korean student is nothing compared to an American student. Just a face that is slightly more pouty.
The truth is I love this job. I spend most of my day TALKING to people, learning, and teaching. It’s incredible and even in just a couple of weeks, rewarding.
On Wednesday a group of other teachers took us out into a smaller city, where we saw the glory of HOMEPLUS. Imagine, a Korean Wal-Mart, WITH EVERYTHING. If I have my information correct there is even a dentist office.
Saturday I went farther into the big city to explore. My colleagues and I ate lunch and then went to the most amazing place ever.
The Dog and Cat Cafe. Let me explain.
You go inside. You buy coffee.
Then you go play with cats. No joke, there is a whole room filled with coffee tables and approximately 12 to 16 cats. Big cats, little cats, fluffy cats, scared cats, cats that love you, and cats that have might of been pet a little too much and too hard in their lifetime.
When you are done with that room, you take your coffee and go upstairs to the dog room. It is a room FILLED WITH DOGS. The descriptors for the cats is very similar for the dogs. One pug kept barking only at us, i.e. the foreigners.
I explored some more and went to the movie theater, twice. In Korean theaters, you choose your seat on a screen and then you have to sit there. Very efficient. I saw Broken City, but the next day I saw a Korean movie with no subtitles and it was fun to pick out the very few words I knew.
Something fascinating to me is the small amount of Korean that I have picked up in such a short amount of time. Ok, not very much and mind you, they are small, simple words and phrases. Truthfully, no matter how amazing you are at talking slowly and hand gestures, sometimes you are only understood by speaking the Korean equivalent. I once minored in a language, I completely understand. But if your class is crazy you better hope you know the Korean equivalent.
An interesting thing about living here, culture shock wise, is how I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t read Korean (yet). My brain has basically turned off that inner signal that says, “What does that say? I should read this.”
Instead, for instance if I am shopping in the grocery store, my inner brain signal is more like, “BLAH BLAH BLAH KOREAN BLAH BLAH BLAH OH a picture of food that looks tasty, I think I’ll get that BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH”.
So that’s how I shop here. Not difficult once you get the hang of it.
Ok, more stories later. For now I’m signing off.
Just a quick update. Currently sitting in the Seoul-Incheon airport, ready and willing for my last flight to Daegu.
Just in case you were wondering, Korean Air is a shiny heaven of comfort. I once flew on an Emirates flight and thought I was spoiled then, but let me tell you of a magical, wonderful airline, KOREAN AIR. It made a 14 and 1/2 hour flight pretty decent.
I’m surrounded by Koreans and expats and I couldn’t be happier. I won’t lie, it didn’t truly hit me that I was moving to Korea until about halfway on the flight. I looked around and realized that I didn’t understand the language that was being spoken, the signs were in Korean (also English for folks like me), that this was real life and not some scene out of a K-Drama, and it just slowly dawned on me that I am actually moving to Korea. It was an exciting moment.
I can’t really see too much of Seoul from the airport, but I do see this large, silver glass turtle shell shaped structure that I’m guessing is a part of this airport.
Miss all of you already, but so excited for this adventure.