Zen.

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After feeling slightly, lovingly chastised from my Nana last week as she told me how she checks for my blog every Sunday and I hadn’t posted, I’m back with a post about finding some tai chi or whatever, early on the posting schedule because I gots stuff to do tomorrow!

Myself and Marty, a newer teacher from BC, Canada, and I decided we were going to go and see Thor 2 last night. It would have been the second time for me and the first for him, but hey. Why pass up an opportunity to see Chris Hemsworth’s muscles and Tom Hiddleston’s pained looks?

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So off we went, and met up with Roy-Gene at HomePlus (Korean Walmart) after we discovered that Thor 2 didn’t play until 8:30, was 2 hours long and our shuttle left at 9:40 and neither of us wanted to pay $20 for a cab because we’d miss the shuttle just to see said muscles and faces. So we decided to go shop for irrelevant things (and yes, I can hear some of you saying, “but you’re a person with iThings! Why didn’t you just download an app or consult with the great and powerful Cupertino and know what time the movie played before you got there?! Well, little sassmouths, I tried and the CGV app is all in Hangul [Korean] and there is no option to switch it to English. Also my link with the mothership terminated on my last day. I can no longer predict iPhone releases or what size iPad is the best fit for you either, so there).

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After Marty and I had each bough a frivolous, excellent hat (mine makes me look like Amelia Earhart, I’ll selfie it soon) and rung out, the three of us decided to head back to the Donga/Daiso/Chilgok IC4 “aka our pickup by the shuttle” area. Having an inordinate amount of time and being relatively fit (read: have 2 legs, will walk), we all decided to walk along the river back rather than take a $3, 3 minute cab. You know, I would have been fine with the cab but heck, why not walk.

IMMEDIATELY these two take off at bat-out-of-hell-speed. I had just bought a donut and was totally fine with hanging back and eating it alone slowly, lovingly as the brisk November wind whipped through my greasy hair and the river babbled away on my left and older Koreans walked by me swinging their arms dangerously.

This past 2 weeks we’ve had some staffers from the University of Colorado: Colorado Springs (UCCS is the partner school with Yeungjin College for DGEV) visit, which they usually do about every 5-6 months. This time they brought a therapist, Dr. Field, with them to talk about resiliency in education for students and educators, which was a great topic and opened my eyes more to what motivates students and also how we can not all go crazy being here. I kid, I kid. Kind of.

I put off wanting to talk with her one-on-one for a week and then had a slight panic attack on Tuesday that she was leaving Thursday morning and I wouldn’t get to run my current dilemmas past someone who is a professional and might actually talk me out of my tree (which is a tall, knotty, difficult oak). She graciously agreed to meet with me and hear me out about life.

Guys. Therapy is such a weird word. Such a loaded word. Really all it is is just talking. Talking to someone who can help you untangle the rats nest you’ve made of your thoughts and memories and hopes and dreams and fears. I’ve gone in a couple times to talk with someone in Arkansas and it was truly one of the best decisions of my life. It was put best to me as “if there’s something up with your foot, you would see a doctor. No question, right? So if you’re worried or there’s something you need to talk out why wouldn’t you see a doctor?”

There is something wonderfully, gloriously freeing about telling a stranger who has no reason to root for you, no obligation to be in your corner all your life and having them look in your eyes and say “that’s a lot. You are allowed to feel overwhelmed. Your feelings are valid.” It’s like opening the doors at the end of Legally Blonde and walking into the whiteout.

It doesn’t solve everything (or sometimes anything) other than your own anxiety about being anxious about your feels. I want to just dump all the pieces of my life and push them across the table and then look up, hopefully, and say, “how do I put it together? What should I do?” But a therapist is neither a genie nor a toothless gypsy soothsayer. Unfortunately. That would be kind of awesome. But really, I don’t know how legit advice would be from someone who lives in a lamp or who is lacking in good oral hygiene.

Regardless, it was the 110% right decision. She even said “I think you’ve already decided what you want to do. Trust yourself.” I’m almost 6 months here, guys. 6 months of looking back to missing all of you in Arkansas and Washington and Oklahoma and 6 months of looking forward nervously trying to figure out “what am I gonna do?” And I’ve realized that with so much past and future that I’m missing the present.

Yeah. That was kind of cheesy. You may slap me 1 time the next opportunity you have. 1 freebie. But truly. I’m trying to think of things I’ve done here in 6 months and there’s so much more I wanted do want to do. And now it’s about to get cold as Jötunheimr up in this place and the opportunities for traveling and hiking are getting slimmer.

As I walked behind Roy-Gene and Marty, I realized that I didn’t need to speed up. If they wanted to walk fast, go for it. I’m walking along a river in Korea. IN KOREA. There’s maybe 3 of you reading this blog who will ever be able to do that. And here I am worrying about job opportunities when I get back in June, 6-7 months away. There’s a mammoth, gently-curving monorail being built along the river that makes all of the neon behind it look like the world Blade Runner was supposed to be. My donut was nothing like the Lynden Dutch Bakery nor Shipley’s (long may they prosper), but it was a donut. I’m healthy. I have legs that work. A threadbare NorthFace. Jeans without holes in the thighs (for now). Sturdy fake Converse that carry me. A comfortable bank account where I can buy faux-Amelia Earhart fur hats and peanut M&Ms and a random pomegranate. An iPhone that I can take pictures and capture my sights.

How unbelievably stupid and selfish to not breathe deep the crisp November smells of crackly, decomposing leaves; bow and whisper “anyong hashimnikka” to the Koreans getting their brisk walks on at 8:26pm; and just rest in the moment. This moment. This moment to remember and treasure and just be in. I don’t need to look forward nor back and miss out on being here. Just walk and tear off pieces of donut and breathe and take another step and be in Korea in this time and place and hop on stones across the river and swing my plastic bag and just smile. I’m happy. My heart is pulled in a lot of directions but it’s resting here. And here is blessedly, beautifully happy.

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40 Days and 40 Nights.

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This is why I don’t do journals. I skip a day, or a week or a month and now I’m all THERE’S TOO MUCH TO SAY WE MIGHT AS WELL CURL UP IN A BALL AND JUST EAT CHEEZITS AND WATCH DR. WHO, Y’ALL. I realized today on my countdown that there’s only 40 days and 40 nights (still not over you, Josh Hartnett) until I land in Seattle for Christmas. Apple pies, Diet Coke and family times!

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Ok. So its been almost a month since you heard these thought-to-word patterns (hold on I just remembered I have to message someone congrats on Facebook) and I’m back. 

This is what’s gone down:

  • Zombie play is complete! While it was a great ol’ time, I am exhausted and was ever so glad to rest up this weekend. I also fulfilled a lifelong dream of losing part of my voice as well as hanging out with some super-cool people. Next week is the 24-hour play festival and though I’m terrified as heck, I think I might try to write something. 
  • I got a phone. Well, to be honest, I took my unlocked iPhone 4 with me, but finally got a SIM and some service to call the friends I’ve made (you and I both know I made them all up, honestly). 
  • Celebrated 5 months in Korea on Friday–Steven and I both wore jean jackets to commemorate the fact that I viciously tweeted the following on the first day I met him: Image
  • Saw Thor 2 and fell madly in love with Tom Hiddleston all over again. Have barely restrained self from googling “tom hiddleston girlfriend” for now. FOR NOW, I SAY. Image
  • Dressed up all last week–thank you DGEV!–as zombie, Spider-Man, Ursula from The Little Mermaid (which confused the Koreans a LOT) and a vulcan from Star Trek (which REALLY confused them as they though my vulcan ears were “hobbits.”) Image
  • Visited an American military base, Camp Carroll, in Waegwan, about 20 minutes away. Is it possible to get anxiety attacks there? I was the only foreigner with 10 Korean adults on a field trip–and we’re all eating amongst a sea of American camo at Pizza Hut, Subway and Popeye’s Chicken. It’s really weird to see no Hangul (Korean) writing and to only hear so. much. English in one place. I felt like I wanted to say hello to the military people but didn’t because A) what would I say? and B) I don’t want them to think like 10 Koreans kidnapped me and are keeping me for themselves or something. 
  • I have had the most wonderful, sassy adult students this month and it gives me hope. The Ulsan City Officials group of 7 that were so high that we could have moralistic conversations in fluent English, the Daegu City Officials that all hugged me and tried to set me up with their sons–they’re so lovely and I miss them already. Image
  • Drank booze out of a ziploc bag at Bunny’s–it was magical and I can’t wait to do it again. 
  • Missed Apple peeps immensely as new iPad launched, Mavericks released and WHAT IS THIS iPHOTO AND iMOVIE UPDATE YOU GUYS?! 
  • Watched the amazing, breathtaking Colorful Daegu Festival 2013 parade and even made a video about it here! (sorry, no can embed) https://vimeo.com/78453759
  • Took a shameful amount of selfies that I can only 64% attribute to my Halloween costumes… Image

And now I’m heading off to bed to sleep and prepare for the next week of whatever. Maybe I’ll even shave my legs if I’m feeling adventurous, you know, for TOM’s sake (yes, I already googled it I have no self-restraint). See you in a week!

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In which I actually get to be a professional Zombie.

GUYS! I MADE NEW FRIENDS! I’m so excited! Not that my co-workers aren’t great, but it’s good to make connections outside of work (which I was turrrrrible at doing in Arkansas [although there were a few of you]) but they were all friends of work people. And if work people were busy, I was pretty much just chilling with my best best frannnn: Netflix.Image

So a couple months ago the Daegu Compass, a magazine for foreigners in Daegu, posted that there was a theater troupe about to put on a production of “The Princess Bride.” I put the date in my calendar, creeped all their Facebook/website posts, and thought how cool it would be to be a part of it, and promptly put it out of my mind. 

Two weeks ago, DB and I attended said production of “The Princess Bride.” The story was word-for-word the cherished favorite it is everywhere, and I again revisited the stalkery of FB/website of The Daegu Theatre Troupe. I asked a few co-workers what they thought. I remembered being TERRIFIED by the DTF (Drama, Television, Film) majors in school. Then I saw that they were going to put on a production of “Night of the Living Dead” and that auditions were September 7th. I put it in my calendar and fretted about it for 2 weeks. 

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But now that DB has moved off campus and Roy-Gene is probably going to go and do the same, I’m stuck either getting to know new co-workers (bahahahahahaha except for like the 6 of you I already like) or branching out. So yesterday I went out, got brunch with Leslie and Colleen, then headed to the YMCA to be brave. I got a coffee for the nerves, and frankly, as a hand prop. You know when you can’t figure out what to do with your hands and you need to look productive? COFFEE CUP. Doesn’t matter that it was empty by the time I walked in and I couldn’t find a trash can for 4 hours, I *looked* like I was a coffee-drinking, put-together person in bright orange shoes. 

Theater/theatre, drama, acting people kind of scare me. Sometimes, they can be jerks. They have such a small club and they all like, crew together and it’s sometimes hard to break in. Sometimes they are amazing and welcoming and take you under their beautiful, lavender, feathered wings. I already had a back-up of “If they’re crazy, you can leave. You don’t have to stay. We’ll buy a fish and that can be our friend.” I resigned myself to “this may not go well and it’s ok we can survive.”

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I have never been so happy to be wrong. We meet on the 4th floor of the YMCA building and I sit down next to this girl playing a game on her iPhone. Apple products make me feel SAFE, don’t judge me! I FEEL YOUR JUDGEMENT. I sat like right next to her. I didn’t know if this was going to be ok because there were a lot of empty seats. It’s kind of like taking the stall next to the already occupied stall when there’s like 20 stalls in a bathroom. Luckily Jill was awesome and my trust of someone else with an iPhone proved correct as she was also a n00b there and had just moved to Daegu from Seoul about a week and a half earlier. The theater people started to arrive and the in-jokes and clear demonstration of love between them began with the gift-giving of food. And not like, cookies. Tupperwares full of of pasta and peppers began to float around and I recognized many of the actors from the recent production of “The Princess Bride.” 

The 2pm meeting of “here’s us, here’s what we do, here’s what’s new” was great and surprisingly really open to us newcomers considering what a tight-knit group this clearly was. At 3pm scripts and sign-up sheets were passed out and Jill and I started running lines together. We actually ended up auditioning together and switching roles to read with Gareth, an awesome New Zealander who says “girl” with venom and better than anyone I’ve ever heard. Jill and I ended up leaving about 5:30 after exchanging info with some people and decided to grab a burger and beer (and a double gin and tonic and a Georgia Peach Iced Tea) at Traveler’s and just hang out and talk for 3 more hours and be friends. 

Needless to say: everyone was great and made us feel like we were welcome and part of a team and invited us out and to be friends. I made several new contacts and I got cast as a zombie. LIFELONG DREAM ACHIEVED. There’s going to be so much makeup and groaning and eating of brains and just plain FUN, GUISE! I’m so glad I did this.

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IT MAKES ME WANT TO DO A DANCE! A BEAUTIFUL DANCE LIKE TH–but no. I’ll contain myself. 

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In da club.

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Last night I went out to a club, only my second ever and the first time in 4 years–my first was my now-sister-in-law’s bachelorette party at a club in Vancouver, B.C. This time, however, I didn’t make a phone call to the Dean of Men (my boss at ORU at the time) from the bathroom saying “I hope it’s ok, but I’m going to have a drink since it’s summer and, well, someone bought me one!” Had there not likely been long distance charges, maybe I would have…

I worked some OT yesterday, and after my 6th day in a row, I was ready to curl up in a ball and relax the rest of the night, maybe prep a little for this upcoming week. Of course I’d just started my period, and all I wanted to do was get in sweats and do this:

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But that wasn’t gonna happen because that would be boring and this post wouldn’t be entitled “In da club.” Annie came in around 4 and convinced me that nothing would be better than going out with people, getting dressed up and dancing. Cue the montage! I had no idea what to wear, it was still 85 degrees out, and what the heck does one wear to a club?! I Project Runway’d my American Apparel circle scarf into a top with some black leggings and flat sandals, threw on some false lashes and headed out.

After grabbing some food downtown, we (Annie, Carrie, Melissa and I) met up with Carrie’s Korean friend Gabriel. And then we proceeded to eat and drink more. Koreans are known for Soju, their drink of choice. According to Roy-Gene, it tastes like soapy alcohol water, and I kind of agree. At 18% alcohol, it’s not like the booze back in ‘Merica. Anyways, the Koreans like to do lots and lots of shots of this, coupled with cheap beer in small glasses. We played some drinking games and went out to DANCE DANCE DANCE.

Sidebar: I know my mom (and some other people) really aren’t fans of hearing about drinking and clubs and dancing and things. That’s okay! I don’t mind! Here’s your warning that a lot more of that is about to happen and a disclaimer: We were in a big group with English and Korean speakers, no one drove (thank you big cities and taxis!) and no one got drunk–aka this story ends well. Sorry for the spoilers, everyone else. No deaths. Also, I’m 97% sure that my mom had a fake ID at some time in her life…so… now that I’ve revealed that I probably won’t get any care packages.

We go to the first club–nope, too expensive. We hit a second club, and a 30-minute debate in 2 languages ensues about money and covers and who cares? it got resolved eventually and we went in. We descended 3 flights of stairs into the lighting scheme from Jay-Z & Kanye’s video for “N—s in Paris” (sans panther/tiger/leopard/liger), where there was a central catwalk splitting the middle of the dance floor, and it had 4-5 metal poles going ceiling to floor. There was an equal amount of people on the floor to the catwalk, all of them Koreans, and a healthy mix of guys and girls. After purse planting at a table, we all jumped up on the catwalk and had us some fun.

Let’s talk about Koreans dancing. They have no rhythm and I love it because I have no rhythm. It’s all from the waist up, a shoulders-bouncing, head-banging thing with no hips or feet. Interestingly, there’s very little touching. Almost none. It wasn’t until…well. You’ll see. Here’s an example of Korean dancing:

ImageWe danced to Macklemore, Annie Lennox (Sweet Dreams, timeless), Daft Punk and I’ll say, the DJ did a great job. Seamless transitions. We danced and hopped and swung around the poles and tried really hard not to fall off the 2 foot catwalk. Photographers kept coming over to take pictures of the 4 foreign girls laughing and having fun in the club, great PR–I’m positive I’ll look like an idiot in those–but I really was having a blast. Around 1:30, Carrie and I decided to step down from our pedestal and take a breather by dancing on the floor.

Creepers, enter stage left. The old guy who had been standing and smiling at us all night (not dancing, by the way, just standing and smiling) moseyed over, as did a guy with an honest-to-God green glowstick who decided that he was the raptor and Carrie was a–what do raptors eat? Geese? extras from Jurassic Park?–rabbit. Carrie was a rabbit. I DON’T KNOW I’M NOT A PALEONTOLOGIST. I laughed and high-fived Carrie for attracting such a stud, and then a guy in a white button up arrives, puts his arm up to signal to the bros and decides that this white girl (me) is going to be gifted with getting all of his business. Read: ALL. HIS. BUSINESS. There are no secrets when it comes to Korean boys and their skinny jeans. What a gentleman this guy was: just walks up and grinds himself on me, not even a hello. At least dogs who hump your leg lick your hand first. You want to just walk up and molest me? You think because I’m dancing with my friends that I want that? You want a power play? I will emasculate you with no words, sir. I didn’t need to speak Korean to pull “the bro” down a few rungs. I actually look up at his friends, who are hooting and hollering and shoving each other at his success, roll my eyes and yawn, yes, yawn up at the wolf pack as this guy is grinding up on me. I had hearing loss from the bass and yet I could clearly hear the audible “oooooooooo!” of the bros sensing my diss. It was tangible. That dude is never, never going to live that down.  It’s 2am and the foreign girl is done with you and your stupidity. Good luck finding someone with your attitude, asshole.

Gabriel got us a taxi home and we were safe and sound and in bed by 2:35, smelling of cigarettes and peeling off my eyelashes. I gotta say, I think it’ll take another 4 years before I feel like clubbing again. I had a blast dancing with friends, and I appreciate that it took 2 hours before I got half-groped (which would have taken 20 seconds in the states), but I think I’m ok to stay in bars or my bed, thanks.

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It’s now September 1st here in Korea, which means that I’m now 3 months into my contract here at DGEV, aka a quarter complete. It has flown and it has crawled. I’m having a lot of fun playing volleyball and teaching adult students, dancing with friends; and some nights I miss people so much that I just think “fall asleep, fall asleep” as the only escape from sadness.

In everything I’ve done, I’ve surprised myself that I can not only survive, but thrive. I can get a good job. I can move across state lines. I can do an apartment. I can’t really do a dog alone in said apartment, but I can find the dog a better home with amazing people. I can pay all of my bills: phone, car, insurance, student loan, etc. by myself. I can live in a foreign country. I can create lesson plans. I can say words in at least 8 languages, and tell a taxi driver how to take me home in Korean. I can occasionally cook things that won’t poison myself or others. I can do this. I am doing this.

Sometimes when I’m struggling, I strangely enough like to write words on myself. I know, it’s odd duck, but hey. You’ve read this far. You should not be surprised. Last night I came across an Arabic proverb: .الجيات أحسن من الرايحات: “What is coming is better than what has gone.” Immediately I grabbed a sharpie and wrote it in Arabic on my left forearm–I wanted to see those words, to remind myself that great things and people and times are coming. I won’t always be lonely. Tomorrow is a new day, June 1 will come again, and I’ll hug the people I miss most. I’ve always told myself that someday I’d find something worth tattooing, and last night I decided to go ahead and just OH MY GOSH, MOM, PLEASE BREATHE. BREATHE. IN, OUT, IN OUT. I DIDN’T DO IT, I SWEAR. I had you going, though, right? RIGHT?! Don’t lie. I’ll ask Dad.

As an apology, here’s a look at how I attracted Sir Grinds-a-Lot in the club. Obviously I could teach a class–applications will be available for interested parties TBA. Image

Until the next time, my babies.

The Wheels on the Bus, They Go.

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There hasn’t been a lot going on since the last post 2 weeks ago; the wheels are indeed going round and round (round and round). Last weekend I spent Saturday and Sunday on a solo walkabout at Seomun Market, reveling in the fact that I’m living in Korea, a completely foreign country. Riding the subway in a car with 70 people, and I’m the only foreigner. Walking among fish heads and baby clothes in the market, not one word of English to be heard. And reminding myself, “there’s nowhere I need to be. I’m here, in this moment. I’m doing the thing.” 

Which, even to my own ears, sounds ridiculously cheesy. But it’s been very empowering to know that I’m able to get downtown, to the subway, add money to my transit card, get to the stop, walk a couple miles around with people who I’ll never see again, speaking a language that I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of, and get back to the village, alive and in one piece. After living in Korea, I kind of think I can do anything. 

Right now I don’t have any big plans on the horizon; then again, I didn’t plan Seoul or Busan more than 4 days out anyways. Hopefully the weather will stop acting like Hades soon and I’ll be able to visit some parks and mountains without sweating fresh to death.

This week I conquered the first out of 13 weeks of P90X and you know what? I’m really proud. I never sat down. I never stopped. And now I’m looking at Monday and a whole new week with a bit of a groan (and tight calves), if I can do 1 week, I can do 13 weeks.

Apologies that this isn’t more exciting–sometimes life isn’t the big festival 5k, it’s the day-to-day grind and sweat–and it’s about pushing play every day and probably buying more sports bras to go along with it. 

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You Say Potato, We Say Kimbap.

We don’t really. Kimbap has nothing to do with potatoes. But here’s a list of things I’ve noticed thus far that are different from how we do in the U.S.A. I’m sure it’s only part 1 of many.

  • Showering: now that we’re in our new dorms, this is hard to explain, but I’ll draw you a picture on this Post-It that is roughly the size of our old (and some current) bathrooms. Basically, think of a half-bath (aka a toilet and sink) and then add a shower. It’s 3.5×3.5 feet. Water gets everywhere and on everything and it’s like…you know when you pressure wash your driveway? That’s pretty much the shower. And when you’re done, it all just runs down everything like a tropical rainforest and even by 8pm that night, you still step in a puddle. It’s like a romcom shower–it’s everywhere and you’re just trying to strangle the showerhead like Steve Irwin (RIP) wrassled a gator and shampoo is in your eyes and its great.
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  • Calling the waiter to your table: in many restaurants, there’s a round button on the side of the table that you push to call the waiter. They smile, take your order, and then you don’t see them unless you call them again or your food is ready. This is great for that moment when you have your mouth full and OH WAIT NO ONE COMES BY TO BOTHER YOU ABOUT HOW GOOD THE FOOD IS, MHMM, RIGHT?!
  • Bowing: clearly a cultural thing–you bow to anyone of higher station than you–a boss, a government offical, always older people to honor that they got so old, I suppose. When in doubt…bow. And the more important the person, the deeper the bow.
  • Driving on the sidewalk: cars will straight up drive up them, park on them, honk at you on them. It’s kind of weird. Because there’s big cities everywhere, there’s parking garages…but they don’t use them, always. 
  • Super dark car tint: like chocolate, it can be as dark as you want. Who knows how many celebrities I’ve missed?!
  • International copywriting is a joke: seriously, I’ve seen so many logos with just colors or letters changed. Its funny until I’m eating something that has no resemblance to KFC.
  • You choose your seat in a movie theater: BEST BEST BEST. You get to see what’s available, you don’t have to ask “hey can you scoot down, there’s a bajillion of us in our group and we want to sit together.” Plus, you know already if you’re going to get the coveted front row bar to put your feet up on. 
  • Beer at movie theater: yeah, yeah, I know this isn’t unheard of overseas, but it’s like, every theater here. You can get whole meals.
  • LOVE COUCH: you can get a 2-seat “love couch” that is exactly what it implies. Two people can platonically sit next to each other without an armrest in between and have privacy dividers separating it from other love couches. Perfectly cool here.
  • Holding hands/touchy feely: which is strange, considering how conservative and image-conscious this country is, but two people of the same gender are totally fine to hold hands up to puberty. This continues to be socially acceptable for women forever, however by the mid-upper teen years, not so ok for guys. 
  • bringing your own food to baseball games is a-okay: big families, rejoice! Not only is it ok, everyone else is doing it too.
  • Cheese stuffed crust pizza: this brought to me by a co-worker who was super excited about the ooey-gooey goodness of stuffed crust pizza, only to discover that like a Russian nesting doll, there was a filling of the filling and that was sweet potato and that was not ok.
  • Deoderant: Koreans sweat. HOWEVER, somehow Koreans don’t smell. Well, they don’t smell like B.O. So I guess the deoderant market is aimed squarely at foreigners–a single “cheap” stick can be $7-8. And that’s the cheapest you’ll find; if you want a Lady Speed Stick or Old Spice, look to spend $10 at the cheapest, $15 gouging.
  • Korean elevator buttons: if someone has been an asshat and pushed all of the buttons, or…benefit of the doubt, someone “accidentally” hit a wrong one, just click it again to deselect. Probably learned after too many late nights in the skyscrapers of Seoul, it’s a great invention. Don’t want to see floors 13-35 on the way to 36? Boop. Undone.
  • Ice cream: the most popular ice cream here is something called “Shooting Star,” and I see it everywhere from the school here to Baskin Robbins and others. It’s as if bubblegum and vanilla ice cream had pop rocks swirled in. It’s exciting and startling and made me jump about 2 feet the first time.
  • X hands: just how it sounds! When saying “no,” or a very emphatic “no,” cross your two arms in an “X” to make sure they know that you mean NO! Sometimes done on a small scale with two fingers comprising the “x.” Sometimes I’ve found that I do it when talking to English speakers too–one of those things you’ll probably see me do even after I return stateside. 
  • Magnetic escalators for carts: I first saw this at Home Plus (aka Korean Walmart), which has 3 floors. When you need to go upstairs, none of this elevator business with a cart; you get on an escalator that is a moving walkway (no stairs, just a long angled treadmill), and when you push your cart on it, the wheels magnetize to the strip, allowing you to let go/not lean your whole body weight to keep it from crushing your toes/innocent bystanders. This is awesome and I don’t know why I haven’t seen it in the states. Of course, multiple floors in a grocery store is rare.
  • show pony: One great thing about America is the differences; rarely are people of other ethnicities and backgrounds stared at. Unless you’re being weird, and then you’re asking for it. Not so in Korea due to the mostly homogenous culture. Big cities like Seoul, Daegu and Busan have populations very used to waygooks (foreigners), and are usually pretty chill. However, it still happens that we get stared at a lot, especially African American co-workers. Kids, adults, doesn’t matter. One of my co-workers has a lot of freckles, and Koreans are strangely weird about her being “dirty” rather than freckled until she tells them.
  • Nobody touches the old people’s seats: There are designated seats on the subways that are for pregnant, injured, sick and old people. And I’ve seen 20 people stand and hold the rails rather than sit there, even when they’re all open. 
  • Everyone wears tennis shoes: doesn’t matter if you’re in a summer dress, jeans, shorts, or a feminine skirt, you’ll see tennies. Of course, you’ll still see heels (and their toes hang off!), but I’m surprised by how many Korean women will wear bright Nikes, Puma, Adidas, or Asics with what we would think is a contrasting color, feminine outfit. It’s totally smart and way, way more comfortable. 
  • Ajumas: if you read my previous post, you’re aware that an ajuma is the Korean word for older, grandmotherly aged woman. Ajumas are a little like a time bomb: sometimes they’re totally awesome and innocent and one gave me a piece of candy on a bus. Other times…they believe they are God’s gift to you and as such, have his permission to eternally jab your boobs with elbows, push past you in lines, hit you with their purses, and gesture and jabber at you until you go away or give them money. Times like these, I wish I spoke Korean…although I’m sure somehow I’d get struck down with lightning.

Like I said, I’m sure this is just part 1 of many. To another week we go–unfortunately, it’s gonna be in the 100s! OH NOES!

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Survival of the Fitter.

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Not too much to report from this week, it was pretty quiet and I like it like that (now you know how I feeeeeel. Can you handle my love? Are you for reeeeal?) However, this next week is going to be by far my toughest yet.

Monday: Teach all day.

Tuesday: Teach ADULTS all day.

Wednesday: rinse & repeat Tuesday

Thursday: same, but add a Night Activity 6:15-7:40.

Friday: teach a 1-day middle school field trip–usually we only teach 3 periods on Fridays, and end with lunch and a quick “wave tunnel” as students leave by 1:30. INSTEAD a few of us “lucky” ones get to teach a 4, 5 and 6th period and then a wave tunnel. So I get to work until 4 on Friday.

Friday, part 2

: move to new dorms, hopefully (if furniture has showed). So, I’ll work Thursday and Thursnight, Friday, and have to be done moving all of the things by Friday night. Not that I have a ton, but it doesn’t feel like much time to pack or move things across campus and up a hill.

Saturday: OH JOY, I DONE SIGNED UP FOR OVERTIME. Seriously, this paycheck better be a fatty. So I’ll teach 5 periods today as well.

Saturday at 5pm: pass out on new floor and sleep 24 hours. Pray that wifi is set up there.

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So that’s the word on the street. I’m currently working on a “these things are SUPER DIFFERENT, Y’ALL, post which will explore showering and movie theater etiquette.

PS: Beard, you know the Spice Girls reference was just for you.

PPS: I have ONE Diet Coke left. And I think we all know that I’m drinking it this week.

PPPS: I ran 3k yesterday! Without stopping or slowing down! Fitness, you are getting owned. And then I weighed in for the first time since last Sunday and gained a pound. Dang it.

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