Monday, December 7, 2015

What I Once Used to Dream, I Now Dread... Dance setbacks...

I wish I had more energy to type this yesterday, but I had 6 hours of dance class was not particularly in the mood for talking about the week. All I wanted to do is sleep, because Sunday turned out to be really tough.

But let's go to the beginning. I'm getting ahead of myself.

On Monday, I had to help Young Ah practice some English. Her percussion group was hosting a group of employees from Microsoft, and they asked her to be the English translator and MC, but she was nervous about doing it. So she went through the whole process with me in English, with me giving her translation tips and such. I even got to play some of the instruments!

Learning some traditional percussion stuff

Woop weird pizza. not the tastiest combo

People keep giving me lotion. Good for winter,
I suppose??

I also seem to be collecting umbrellas. I often
get caught in the rain (mountains=unpredictable
weather) and so I keep buying more

It finally got cold enough to snow and stick, for a few hours anyway, on Thursday. The teachers were worried, but I knew better. 

It melted by the evening.

always rice cake inside. why.

should I buy a macaroon pillow???

Cesca had a bad friday

Made better by Gusto Taco

On Saturday, Cesca and I were super dorky and decided to give into our inner Kpop fangirl ways. I had seen tickets for a fan meeting for one of the actors/singers I like on Interpark, but wasn't sure if I wanted to go. After asking Cesca, we decided on a "when in Rome" mentality. It's not stalking if they sell tickets, right?

While struggling to find the venue, we came across
a cute restaurant. Thanks, crappy directions!

The fan meeting was for Lee Joon, who was my favorite member of the group MBLAQ. He decided to leave the group to focus on acting. I've only seen him in a couple things, but he's pretty good. He played a crazy dude in last years semi disappointing Gapdongi, and I enjoyed his performance there. The drama, not so much. 

So basically at fan meets, they talk, sing, play games and give out prizes. I could understand a surprising amount, and we enjoyed ourselves. We even got a hello shout out for "coming the farthest for the fan meet" as in we live the farthest away by default so we always win that category.

씨 in Korean (sounds like she) is like, Mr. or something you attack to a name
to be respectful. When you add it to his name, it sounds like Lee Joon She
so basically made the song "Isn't she lovely" about him. I was dying.

They allowed "photo time" later in the meet, and he came out and took pictures in front of each section of seats, but that of course didn't stop people from annoyingly taking pictures the whole time... How many pictures from afar do you realistically need?? Just enjoy it!!!

After photo time, we thought the fan meet was going to be over, but we were surprised to find out that WE WERE GONNA GET TO SHAKE HIS HAAAAAND. Like, seriously. My fangirl heart is dying, even though all I got to say to him was "hello" and he said "thank you" to me. But still. He was one of my first kpop crushes and he's adorkable and also handsome. 

All day after, Cesca and I just kept turning to each other and saying 'Hey, remember when we met Lee Joon" before dissolving into fits of squeals and giggles.

After that high, it was kind of hard to come down and do real normal people things. I actually had a blind date Saturday, because Young Ah has been pestering me about going. Blind dating here is kind of like 'hey, you're single. This dude I know is single. You should meet up." Being a person who hates small talk, I'm pretty resistant to this type of matching up, especially in Korea, where I often meet guys who can't speak English at all. I think because Cesca is dating, people assume I'm upset that I'm not. I occasionally think about it, but I'm quite happy the way things are now... 

So I went anyway. It was nice to know I could carry on 3 hours of Korean conversation, but I think that it's not really for me. Sigh. Hopefully it will get everyone off my back though...


Sunday rant coming... need to get it out cause I'm still hurt and fuming....

Cesca stayed over my house Saturday and we woke up full of happy memories of Saturday's fan meet and in full anticipation of dance class this week, which turned out to be preemptive of us. That's the reason why I was too tired to post and didn't have much energy for today... What started at 2 oclock as a fun day ended in tears and ruin...

We arrived at 2pm to practice Growl, and help Pau, one of our teammates, learn the dance, since she couldn't come last week. Our normal Kpop class is at 3pm. We were a bit bewildered that our teacher wanted to teach us an old 2pm song for that class, when we asked if we could just use it for Growl again. She refused, and we kinda didn't think anything of it, but when we got to our class, a bunch of the boys from other classes were there. 'Oh, guess this is why we can't do growl,' we thought. 'a bunch of the boys must have wanted to learn this dance.'

So, still in good spirits, we started learning some of this dance:

But... what we discovered was pretty annoying. Apparently, our teacher, knowing the boys needed more practice for the showcase we are doing at the end of the month, decided that this would be a great time to give them the practice time. During our class. We noticed this, because halfway through, we switched songs to learn 2 pm's Heartbeat. Another old song. 

Now sufficiently annoyed, we moaned a bit to our teacher, who said "That's ok... this is just once. They really need practice. We can meet during the week and we will be fine." Um, no, not fine. I tried explaining that we come on Sundays because we can't come during the week. Our schedules are all different, and I have Korean class 3 times this week and we're going to see Les Mis Friday, tickets for which I bought months before I knew about this performance. My frustrations seemed invalidated by the minute amount of attention given. Fine. This won't be a problem, we thought. 

Yeah.... right...

After having fun goofing around in class as we always do, our anniversary showcase rehearsal started. We practiced the all together songs and reviewed them, and then we were informed that we had to perform OUR team stuff for everyone. Right now. Guess who's first? Oh yeah, let's make the foreigners go first. Why not. 

Our teacher, of course, was nowhere to be found. We fumbled through, embarrassingly, because we JUST LEARNED IT LAST WEEK AND HAD OUR PRACTICE TIME TAKEN BY ANOTHER TEAM.

It went as well as could be expected, which was horrible. The other teams weren't amazing but were certainly better than us. Our head teacher was super pissed and scolded us for not being serious or caring about this rehearsal that we weren't told about. So that was cool. We certainly felt stellar after that.

And then she gave us an hour to go over our dances before doing them again. Lacking all energy and willpower, we found our teacher and tried to explain that we felt like shit and were pretty upset about it. Another teacher and our teacher tried to 'explain' that the head teacher was just harsh because there's a high expectation for the waygookin class, who is always so filled with energy. And tough love is common in Korea, where if the teacher likes you more, scolding will be harsher. 

That's cool and all, but I'm not Korean and didn't appreciate it. I don't believe in breaking people down and building them back up. How can we know the expectations if you don't explain to us?? My Korean comprehension is good but deff not at 100%. Of course I miss things. On top of not really being informed, the practice time and help we originally asked for was given away to another team. And then WE were scolded for not being prepared. How fair is that...?

We attempted to practice with our teacher, who tried to keep our spirits up (and who is a little more affectionate and encouraging with us), but it was to no avail. The damage had been done and I lost all interest in ever doing the stupid song again at this point.

We only got through reviewing half of the song before the hour was up, since we spent a good portion of it sullen, angry and trying to get our teacher to understand WHY we were mad, not just because of the criticism, but because of the other factors. 

Everyone performed again, this time, saving us for last for no discernible reason other than to make me feel worse than I already did. We went and did no better than before, and with other teachers from the studio all critiquing us, we were of course discouraged beyond belief to hear what we already knew... we need the most work... we're not together... it's not like Exo. NO shit. Thanks. We already knew that and it was torture to make us do it again when there was no way we could have improved in that little amount of time. 

They tried vaguely to defend us by being like 'oh they just learned this and some of them travel from far to come' but it just felt condescending and rude. As if we don't care that we looked like crap and weren't taking it seriously. Of course we were, but how can we if we aren't given the info or time??
Our teacher, of course, stood helplessly by.  "We just want you to do well and look good!" sounds pretty shitty when obviously we aren't trying to do the opposite... We can only take it seriously if you take us seriously...

 When our grilling was over, we sat down but I couldn't really stop the tears, so when we were supposed to rehearse the final song again, I feigned needing the bathroom and just left for a bit. I tried to calm down, but it only vaguely worked. I returned for the last run through but couldn't muster the enthusiasm to look like I was trying at all. Being embarrassed twice in front of a room full of people may make Koreans work harder, but it makes me shut down and want to crawl into a hole. 

Afterwards, our teacher tried to cheer us up, but I basically lost the will to exist and headed out feeling worse than I've felt for most of my time in Korea. After venting our frustrations in the chat, I was feeling moderately better, but a message from Grace left me reeling at night. The head teacher messaged her and asked her to pass along the message that it's not that she hates us and enjoying ourselves is important, but this is an important performance too so we have to work hard and she hopes we didn't misunderstand her. 

Sorry lady, that ship sailed. It wasn't even an apology and they really didn't seem to get why we were so angry, so after I expressed my discouragement, our teacher messaged back and told me not to worry since it was just our first practice. Feeling infinitely frustrated with this and probably other things, I ended up crying and upset till well past my bedtime. My puffy eyes in the morning didn't go unnoticed by Young Ah, who patiently listened to my story and tried to comfort me. 

I also sent my teacher an essay length response about why we were upset. In Korean, no less. Ahem.

Anyway, it wasn't about the criticism, but the set up. Our lack of info or prep time. Giving out time to someone else without telling us the coming practice would be happening. Expecting us to come during weekdays but not allowing us to come when free. Wanting us to be the cute foreigner trick pony without helping us do so. A host of issues. We don't feel important or in the loop a lot. And this one hurt really badly. Our teacher told us sorry for not telling us about the rehearsal, and not to worry cause it was just the first one. "If we just work hard, we can do it!"

Somehow, I've lost the hope and energy to actually do so... 

I usually love the studio and was excited to go almost every Sunday, but if I never had to set foot in there again I'd be happy right now... At least, that's how I'm feeling less than 24 hours after the incident. 

 It's disappointing that it suddenly turned so sour. A bunch of us were ready to quit yesterday, and while I vaguely still want to do the anniversary show, I have almost no motivation to do so. I'll definitely think twice before joining any more events at the studio. Class and that's it, if even that. I love class and our teacher though, so I will try and stick with that.

Culture shock hasn't hit me hard in a while, but it punched me in the face yesterday. I just want to sleep instead of teaching, making lessons or going to Korean class. My warm bed never hurts my feelings...

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