Week 18, 3017

Monday and Tuesday we had Children’s Day celebrations for our classes. Our campus had a Pokémon theme. We played bingo, stack the cups, had the students write cards for their parents, and did paper puzzles like mazes, and word finds. One of our classes on Tuesday gets an extra half hour of class so they got to play jeopardy. They also had “battles” against another class where they got to play games as a class. The kids seemed to really enjoy it. 

Wednesday was Buddha’s Birthday so I didn’t work! Thank you Buddha! It was hot enough for me to turn on the air con. It was 82 degrees  fahrenheit at noon today. I did extensive cleaning, garbage sorting, and laundry. Then I decided to go walk around the mall. 

While waiting for the bus to the mall, I saw a former coworker out of the corner of my eye. We used to hang out and haven’t talked for months. I found it amusing how much effort she was putting in to make sure I didn’t see or talk to her, or whatever the fuck she was trying to do. She sees me and stops dead in her tracks and starts taking selfies by a flowering bush next to the sidewalk, all while having her back to me but I can see her face on the phone screen. She moves into the bus stop area but still has her back to me, a very unnatural way to move. It just made her that more awkwardly obvious. Part of me really wanted to crush her obvious desire for avoidance but the other part of me was like, “nah, if I wanted to talk to you I would have before now.” So I just smirked at her awkwardness, got on the bus, and went about my business.

Thursday was back to work. It was so discombobulating. Because Friday is a holiday as well, there were hardly any students in attendance. My first class of the day only had two students of ten show up. For my next two classes, my co-teacher and I combined our classes and we played rock, scissor, paper to see who would teach first. 😂 It was quite a day. 

Friday was Children’s Day so again no work. I had plans to go to the arboretum with a friend but “something important came up…” while I don’t doubt this is a legit excuse, this is the second time this week it’s happened – it’s annoying. So I stayed home until the late afternoon because it was quite warm out. I took myself to the movies and dinner. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2. It was a good movie. It made me stop thinking about dumb shit for the duration of it so that’s good. 

Saturday we didn’t have Korean class but I met two of my classmates, Claudia and Shabrina, and we went to Dongdaemun Design Plaza for an exhibition on Pixar 30 Years of Animation. It was very awesome. We were there for three and a half hours! Then we took the train to Jamsil and walked around in the Lotte World Mall. It was a great day – I walked 9.1 km and didn’t get home almost 12 hours after leaving in the morning. 

Sunday I went to a multi room near Suwon Station. I played Wii for two hours. I’m hilariously bad at video games so it was a fun time. 

Until next week,

B

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Week 14, 2017

We started phone speaking this week. We have to call every student and ask them leveled conversation and speaking/reading questions for five minutes, after classes have ended. It makes the work week more hectic and rushed and everyone is so glad once it’s all over. I am a bit lucky because I don’t have to call the 36 students in the lowest level because that would just be disastrous. Buuut I do have 56 other students I have to call.

I got my eyebrows touched up last Friday and they’ve calmed down quite a bit since then, thankfully. They were embarrassingly too dark.

Wednesday I bought a ticket to the Hiphopplaya Festival in Seoul. I had been planning on going to this since February when I saw the tickets on a ticketing website but I had forgotten all about it and then I sent a majority of my money home so I wasn’t able to purchase a ticket and still pay bills and, you know, eat food. I was talking to my friend, 보라 , and she said I ~had~ to go. She sent me the money to buy the ticket!!! This was to be my birthday present. Ohmaigawd! Best birthday present in recent memory! So I ordered the ticket. I also asked my dad to take some money out of a savings account for me and put it in my American account so I could stay in Seoul and not have to worry about public transportation after the event.

Thursday I booked two nights at a hostel near Hapjeong Station in Seoul.

Friday my classes and phone speaking whizzed by and I was out the door, on the way to Seoul. I arrived at The Lazy Fox hostel shortly after 10:30 pm. I immediately took a shower because after taking a bus and two different trains, I was a sweaty mess. After, I went to the common room to chill and meet the others staying there. They were, of course, already several shots into soju. A majority of them decided to go out in Hongdae but I knew I had a full day ahead so I stayed behind.

Saturday came and I was nauseously excited. I got all my stuff and set out on my journey. I knew there was a shuttle bus but I couldn’t figure out where it picked people up at and I was too lazy to look into the matter further so I just took a taxi.

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The first set was Hash Swan, 김효은, and Changmo. I’m a bit sad I didn’t get more video of Hash Swan…

Changmo

The second set was Rhythm Power

After these first two sets, I got tired of being shoved and left the festival to get water because I was not about to pay music festival prices for bottled water…on the way back I saw this gem:

That is a little boy who doesn’t give a shit about anything and decided he’d had enough of skateboarding, plopped down on the ramp, and took a rest. I can relate to him.

After I reentered the venue, I claimed a plot in the picnic area and may have fallen asleep at some point. This was a great place to people watch though! I had a view of a man who was intoxicated beyond comprehension that was just feeling the vibes of the music.

I didn’t go back to the standing/shoving area until Jay Park and Loco came back on… by then it was dark and had gotten chilly so I was in need of the collective warmth.​

​ Jay Park, of course, did the ever predictable 몸매 where he takes off his shirt, shakes his ass, and does body rolls; but I’m not complaining – this is my second time seeing it in concert…

I left during the last set and caught the shuttle bus back to the subway and then to the hostel where a majority were planning on going to noraebang. I tagged along. It just added to the fun of my super long day.

The thing about staying at hostels is – you have to deal with other people’s bullshit. I stayed in a room with three sets of bunk beds. One of the girls kept ignoring her alarm so it would go off and automatically go to snooze. By the third time this happened at 4:30 in the morning, I swung down from the top bunk and screamed in her face that she should either get the fuck up or I was going to result to violently turning her alarm off for her. Another girl had the WORST body odor I have smelled in a long time. Also, when she took her shoes off at noraebang her feet were so rank… I semi-enjoy being able to pay $29 USD for two nights of sleeping in a tiny ass cot but that was just too much for me.

My olfactory glands had not yet recovered when, I boarded the train to come back home this morning I was again assaulted with b.o., poo, and feet smell. At first, I thought it was an old lady then I realized the train car was damn near empty further down. There was a homeless man passed out with his shoes off. He looked super dirty and had chunks of ??? idek in his hair. I had to put on my face mask to hide the fact that I was gagging. I did, in fact, throw up in my mouth on one occasion. Luckily, someone complained and the conductor came, woke the dude up, and got him off the train. Ooh did that smell linger though.

I made it home, got brunch, put some laundry in the washing machine, and took a two hour nap.

It doesn’t feel like it’s 13 days until Christmas…

It doesn’t seem like Christmas is as close as it is. There is no snow, I killed a mosquito on Friday, and no one is really talking about it.

The week started off as any week would, there was a Monday… it was tiresome. Tuesday was a test on my patience. I have a class this term with three boys who have very high English comprehension and vocabularies. Two of them thought it would be hilarious to comment about how I have such a big butt, big stomach, and am equative to that of an Elephant. While I don’t deny that I am larger than the majority of Koreans (and even Americans), these boys did not stop commenting about this after I asked them to stop. After class I went to vent to my coworker and the director, as we all share a room. The director said she will talk to them on Thursday about it. And boy did she ever!

Wednesday made up for Tuesday because my cute class of all girls wanted to play “teacher draw…” where they shout out things from the story we read and they laugh at my horrible whiteboard drawings. Well, my bat wasn’t up to par with their expectations so they decided they wanted to try to draw it better. This turned into them drawing me on the board. Super cute.


Thursday came around and the director took the two boys into a private room and scolded them. I have no idea what she said because I had to look after the other student but when the two came back to class they looked so depressed and offered me a very insincere apology. Later that day, I had a class of learners who are lower level English learners and two boys from that class were not very behaved either. I had to write a list on the board of things they were not permitted to do in class (photo below). After warnings, I sent one kid to the desk team twice for disrupting the class. He clearly doesn’t care that it’s somewhat shameful to be sent to the desk to be scolded. Another kid from the same class was sent to the desk once and was on the verge of another trip.


All the native English speakers and a few of the Korean teachers went to trivia on Thursday. It was pretty fun but after round 3/5 for trivia and adding more and more alcohol to the mix, people lose their attention spans or it becomes boring. The bar has this really good ginger beer, Crabby’s, so I imbibed. On the way home, I stopped at McDonald’s and either said the wrong thing ordering or was misunderstood. I got a double quarter pounder – one quarter pound of beef on a burger is perfectly enough for me. When I paid I thought, “dang that seems really expensive…” but clearly didn’t care that much. I didn’t eat it until I walked home five minutes later and my fries were cold to discover why it was so spendy.

Friday night after work I got some jjajangmyeon, a Korean Chinese noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang (a salty black soybean paste when unheated), diced pork and vegetables, and had a Netflix party with my bad self. I also decided at 3:45 am, that it was a good as time as any to start cleaning my apartment; I swept, Swiffered, washed the dishes, and took out my recycling.

Yesterday I went to HomePlus with my coworker Nick. I bought a lot of random things, but I found fajita mix in the foreigner food aisle! I bought a toaster oven, toaster, and groceries. I also found some raspberry sparkletini and bought two because it’s delicious and it reminds me of good times had with friends back home. After taking a taxi home with Nick I realized he took one of my bags of loot home with him. Thankfully he did because I started to look for my phone to message him as the taxi drove away. WHERES MY PHONE?! In the taxi! I swear to you, I have never ran that fast in my life!!! I got him to stop, retrieved my phone off the floor, and thanked him for stopping. That’s enough excitement for one day. 😑


Today I went to Myeongdong, Seoul to buy some gifts for Christmas. After some shopping I saw a hair place that was recommended to me. I went in, said I wanted a hair cut and was on my way to what would work out to be a two hour adventure. This place was far fancier than any other I’d ever been to. They take your bags and coat and put them in a locked locker. After that they give you a robe to put on and escort you to the shampooing room where it’s dim and relaxing. They put a thin tissue over your eyes so you don’t get splashed and cover you with a blanket. Then after the wash, they take you to the stylist’s chair and you get a cape and proceed with the cutting of hair. My intention was to just get a trim but while cutting my hair the stylist said, “why not get a straight perm?” Since I had been thinking about it, I went for it. After the initial cut, I was moved to what looked like a dining room table. There I got my perm chemicals applied by not one but two people and was put under a heater twice for five minutes to bake the chemicals into my hair. Then I was back in the shampoo room, taken back to the chair for blow drying and flat ironing, got some more chemicals put on my head, and had my hair washed for a third time and blown dry a second.

After all that, I did some more shopping and decided to go home. I got lost…again. I successfully got off at the correct subway station to catch my bus but I got on the wrong bus at the bus stop. I got on and things were going okay until I realized this bus was super old and didn’t have the tv that tells you which stop is next and I started to panic. I got off at some random stop when I looked at google maps and realized I was not where I should have been. My friend Sunny was able to help me figure out how to at least get to some place familiar and get home from there.

Now I’m home with my soft straightened hair and get to start it all over again tomorrow.

Weekly Update…

Monday it was pretty cold. I was not expecting a cold snap like that. I wore my down North Face jacket, wool hat, and some gloves. Conversely, Friday felt hot compared to Monday and I was asked several times if I was cold, by students and teachers. It honestly takes quite a bit to make my body feel cold plus I have more insulation than the average person and I generally like feeling cool.


I finally figured out how to pay my bills. There was a nice gentleman at the bank that “showed me” how to use the machine – he did the whole thing with the exception of entering my phone number for me. He didn’t even allow me to enter my bankbook into the machine for an update. I mean, sir, I know how to do that at least.

For the past couple of weeks it seems like I’ve been eating a majority of my meals after work with one of the Korean teachers at school, EunSun or Sunny as she goes by at school. I’ve never met someone whose name is a perfect reflection of their personality like it is with Sunny. She’s very kind and always has a smile on her face. I’m quiet sad though that she has accepted a job else where and will no longer be working with me after this month. Luckily, she lives pretty close to our school so we can still meet up.

Yesterday, I met Elizabeth in Myeongdong again. This time, we went to Namsan Tower. We were supposed to go last month when we stayed in Itaewon but we didn’t really feel like going. Elizabeth is from Florida and from what I gathered hasn’t experienced much of the four season weather that happens in less tropical environments. She seemed in awe of the different colored leaves, something I clearly take for granted.


From the subway station we had to do a mini steep hike to get to the cable car station, our legs were on fire by the time be got there. The wait line was so long someone ordered Domino’s Pizza. We made friends with the little baby that was a head of us in line and it made me wonder if I have inherited my dad’s baby stranger magnet – baby strangers love my dad, they always stare and smile at him. We rode the cable car up Namsan which was a bit of what I imagine being a canned sardine is like. I was more interested in the mountain itself as it’s made out of granite and will probably be reading about the geological formations of Korea sometime in the near future because I’m a nerd. At the top and end of the cable car ride, we had to climb more stairs and we were laughing about how out of shape we are. We purchased a two person combo of two drinks and popcorn for our adventure, plus admission to the observation deck. They had peanut butter squid flavored popcorn – we did not try it. We got an obligatory souvenir photo taken and it was amazing. It wasn’t very clear out so we couldn’t see a whole lot. We walked around for a while and took the cable car back down. I have to say, I liked the ride down more than the ride up. It was dark so you could see all the buildings and their lights and the slope at which we were traveling was a bit terrifying.





We made our way back down to the subway by all the shops and decided to look for a place to eat. Elizabeth’s eagle eyes spotted a Dak Galbi place and I was never so eager to agree to eating something in my life. Dak Galbi is one of my favorite Korean dishes. It’s chicken marinated in a mess of red pepper paste and flakes. It’s not spicy at first but as you keep eating it gets spicier – something I personally love. After we ate we walked around more and came upon a cat cafe. OMG do you know how much I love cats?! We had to pay a 9,000 won admission fee but I will gladly pay around $9 to be surrounded by all different breeds of cats. It made me a bit sad and miss my Emily Mittens, but it was fun.



몰라요 – I don’t know

So I’ve been in Korea for two months now. And, 몰라요. I don’t hate it and I don’t love it. I don’t really know what to feel. Naturally, there aspects of it that I dislike; yet, there are some that I really enjoy.

Mostly, I’m just super lonely. I haven’t been completely alone with out another life form inhabiting the same living quarters with me EVER in my 30 1/2 years of existence be it a pet or human. I’ve always had a pet and this experience has taught me that even though pets, obviously, don’t communicate in English – I appreciate their presence and bond. That being said, not having a pet has done wonders for my allergies and I only ever need tissues for my nose if I eat something hot or spicy. I rarely sneeze these days. Also, the absence of allergen trapping carpet probably helps a lot here too.

Last Saturday, I met Elizabeth in Myeong-dong in Seoul for some shopping. I bought a good haul of patterned socks – the kind I used to wear exclusively in middle school. I never thought I’d wear those socks ever again in my life. I bought some K-pop related merchandise – a CD, some stationery, and random things. She lead the way and we ate at this awesome Italian restaurant. We had made from scratch wood fired pizza and pasta carbonara; it was heavenly.


This past week at school we’ve been prepping for Halloween. Which has been a bit of a challenge finding adult sized costume items that aren’t ridiculously expensive. We were also limited to the theme of Zombie Hospital so that didn’t really help with things we did find. Most of the kids weren’t scared but screamed because it was allowed. Some kids were legitimately frightened. One kid’s little brother was in tears for what seemed like an eternity when he came with his mom to drop off his sibling.


Yesterday we had a work dinner. It was steak. I love steak so much. I was warned, but didn’t take the warning seriously, that I’d have to give an introductory speech at this dinner. What a disaster. I cried when I talked about my cat. It was embarrassing.  Then I was okay but damn, I like really miss my cat mmmkay?

catlady

So after this work dinner where the majority of people were drunk, a party of six of us moved on to drink more at a bar.  We drank more and ate more. Then somehow the vibe wasn’t cool enough there anymore so we went to look for another bar… then it was suggested that we go to my house because it’s the closest. I was like sure? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  So we went to the convenience store to buy snacks and beer. The party at my house didn’t last long but it was interesting


 

 

First Hostel Experience and Itaewon Travels

Friday after work, Sean, Brittany, and I hopped on a bus and headed to Seoul a little after ten and after getting off the bus and taking the subway the remainder of the way, we arrived at our hostel not long after an hour had passed. We dumped off our packs and headed out to explore. Elizabeth, who works on the other side of Suwon, was arriving a bit later and met us out and about.


Expensive cars errywurr, yo.


We went to this bar that had really random taste in music but seemed to be a pretty popular place and the beer was reasonably-ish priced. We met a really attractive Egyptian man who was there on business and he bought us a round of drinks after he realized I was drink-less. (So, being cheap and refusing to buy your own drinks, while not being a huge boozer to begin with, pays off sometimes.) He dropped off our drinks, we said thank you, and he went on to the next group of peeps to mingle with.


That says, “transgender bar,” I don’t know what all that entails but Sean and I were pretty proud to be able to read that.

After that we decided we wanted to actually dance and went to a club down the way. The music was better, but still not really my taste; I clearly didn’t mind because I danced so much I had sweat invading my eyeballs. My back started to hurt and I got tired around 3 am and tried to walk back to the hostel alone without getting lost. (I really should stop being confident about where I’m going, because I have no clue.) I stopped off to get a travel kit at the convenience store and didn’t realize the hostel was right across the street. I did, however, cross the street but just kept walking then realized I didn’t recognize anything and turned around. *face palm*  Then I had to walk up four flights of stairs, ew. I showered; it was awkward because I haven’t used a communal bathroom for like twelve years so it caught me off guard every time I heard the door open, but I was honestly too tired and a little tipsy to care.

We all woke up, my back was still killing me, and went to eat traditional Korean food for lunch. We originally decided on Indian but it was too expensive for everyone’s budget. I was pretty disappointed I couldn’t eat Tandoori Chicken. We went to go to the fish market because Brittany wanted to eat the wiggling cut up octopus; as I’m morally against eating one of my favorite animals and my back was killing me I opted to sit at a cafe, chug water, and take ibuprofen. Sean wasn’t into some aspect of the fish market either and he stayed behind with me and we people watched. We also had a time trying to find a western toilet. Having back pain plus only bringing one pair of pants for this trip, I was not about to fuck with those squat toilets – no thanks.

We went back to the hostel, made friends with some people that were staying there, watched random Korean television, loafed on the couch, and ordered in Koreanized Chinese food. We were supposed to go to Namsan Tower, which I’m sure was beautiful, but Elizabeth, Sean, and I weren’t feeling it. Brittany tried to go by herself but the bus didn’t stop at her bus stop so she just came back. The hostel had a beer pong night set up so I watched and everyone else played. We talked more to the others staying there and it was pretty cool – lots of seasoned travelers.


View from the top.


Later we went back to the first bar we went to the night before with a new hostel friend. The atmosphere was totally different. Better music and more people. There wasn’t really a designated dance space but if you know me, you know I will dance just about anywhere. While dancing I befriended a really REALLY drunk girl from Uzbekistan, so that was cool. She seemed really stoked that I was the first Uzbek person I’ve talked to. Because of the amount of people in the bar and influence of alcohol, I wasn’t really paying attention to what my hands were doing or where they were going – I was twisting my arms about my body when my hand made contact with this dude’s butt. He was like super annoying about it too saying shit like, “If you’re going to touch my butt, at least let me know first,” and I was all like, “dude, no. I don’t want to and didn’t want to. It’s called we both weren’t aware of each other’s proximity to each other, fuck off.” I danced some more and called it a night shortly after. I took a shower and decided I was against eating my random bag of cookies in my bunk so I went out and chilled in the common area with some other people.

Elizabeth went to church and Brittany and I went to Gyeongbok Palace. I had to purchase a new transit (T Money) card because I seemed to have lost my other one. It was raining so it made out commute a bit more interesting. There was a National Geographic DSLR exhibit on our way out of the train station. We got to vote on three photos we liked the best.


While we were en route, Sean messaged saying that he was just going to go back to Suwon. We made it to the palace and there weren’t loads of people there because of the rain, which was a perk. It was super pretty. I would have liked to roam around more but my shoes were soaked and I was still tired from the night before.


On our way back one of the escalators was out of order and I thought I was going to die! Brittany and I already joked that I was too good for stairs before seeing this and I said “oh helllllllllllll noooooooooo,” when I saw that. There must have been over 100 stairs I had to climb with people behind me so I can’t stop or go slow. I never want to see that many stairs ever again.


After all those stairs we decided we wanted to go home too. Two train transfers and a cab ride later, I was home by 3:30 and then it started to downpour. I did the bulk of my laundry immediately so I don’t have to anything tomorrow and can be the loafer I was destined to be.