Saturday, August 31, 2013


So it's been a bit of whirlwind of meeting students and incredulous looks. The most common questions I got were my age and was I married! I also got some blood type questions thrown in (it's a personality indicator here) and questions about my appearance, like why my face is so small or my nose so tall!

Nothing makes you feel more like a celebrity than walking through a building and having people shout your name and run up to you just to say hi. But it's also quite isolating and you are consciously aware that you stick out like a sore thumb. Elementary students will adore you and you will get looks of wonderment from them. But the Ajummas (old ladies) on the street will stare you down, sometimes a bit menacingly, and it does feel awkward. It's also awkward when you're waiting at a bus stop and people start taking pictures of you while you're just standing there. Yeah, that happened. 

I was excited this weekend because I went out and ordered something for myself. Granted, it was at Taco Bell. And granted, really all I did was hold up three fingers and say what I think is 3 in korean and pointed to the ground to mean for here. But hey I got my food. But even Taco Bell is a plethora of new experiences. I couldn't figure out how to get into the building, first of all, so I had to wait until someone else went in while I fake texted on the side. Turns out it was an automatic door. Then I couldn't figure out what to do with my garbage, because the garbage can had three separate doors with different words on them, none of which I can interpret. SO again, I waited awkwardly till someone else did it to copy them. It sounds silly, but when you're alone and surrounded by people and words you can't understand, you become quite the observer. 

Another thing I have learned is that you should not come to Korea unless you are prepared to ride a bus with you and 200 of your closest friends jammed in like sardines, because that happens annoyingly often. It is something I will just have to learn to live with. 

So far it's been a pretty great experience. My students gasp in excitement when I can say things like "twin" or "father" in Korean (sorry dad, they thought you were my grandpa and that ted was my uncle...) They applaud furiously when I can say a simple sentence. My co teachers are patient with me and my helplessness when trying to order things online that only have Korean descriptions, despite being and English site. I even got to go to a teachers dinner with all of the teachers, and the principal poured me soju! Major breakthrough guys. 

Here are some pictures of my adventures in the first week of school

It's not weird to discuss bodily functions in Korea.
And so, these statues are pretty normal to them. 

This world cup stadium has been
transformed into a mall! Great use of space

Gotta change my shoes at work!

I went without hot water for 3 days until
I figured out this panel turned it on

one of the Korean subject teachers left
this note for me. Isn't that sweet?

Korean kindness is a big thing guys. Lots of them will go inconveniently out of their way to help you out if you really need it. Like my coteacher did some hardcore negotiating to get my immigration papers through when the office screwed up. She complained vehemently to someone on the Chinese immigration side and got her to push my papers through! Can't wait till my alien regisrtation is all set so I can get a bank account, internet and an actual phone contract!


Caved and got Taco Bell


Plus side, I live about 10 minutes away from Hongdae, a bustling hangout spot. Complete with Taco Bell and H&M, so my american basics are set

My $5 macchiato I bought so I could
use the wifi

I was adventurous yesterday and went and saw Les Mis in Korean. It was AWESOME. I'll probably rant post about it later because I like to geek out about theater, and this was my first foreign language production of a broadway show (I've seen operas in other languages, but they're subtitled and expected to be in another language, this was all Korean, no English!)

I even got a free poster!

Then Sarah and I hung out and went out to a Korean restaurant where we discussed how Koreans don't usually converse much at dinner (while we were yapping away). I'm mooching off of her wifi right now, but it's also nice to hang out with a friend and decompress about the week, since living on my own is a bit odd and sometimes lonely. I do know there are americans in and near my building, mostly because I heard classic ballads like "My Heart Will Go On" blaring friday night. I think we are all gonna get together for dinner to get to know each other better. It will be nice to have more people I can get advice and tips from!

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