Monday, April 4, 2011
You Scary White Girl!
1) Getting ready for Easter... painting eggs. Jason got carried away and painted his whole hand :)
2) My new Korean friends at the park
3) Paul and Suri (my after school Kindergarten class- cooking lesson)
4) My babies!!!! Jen, Jenny, Jason and Luigi.. Thursday's field trip to the flower show (nothing to write home about)
What a fun weekend… I was so sad to see it end! I spent the weekend in Deajeon which is a really neat town about 2 hours north west of Gwangju. This boy I've been seeing has some friends in the area so we went for his rugby practice and a night of fun! If you're wondering… it's not a Korean man. No offense to those boys but I'm just not attracted to them.
In America you rarely see kids walking around the city alone.. there's always some type of guardian near by. In Korea, it's a whole different story. Kids of all ages walk though the crowded, chaotic streets by themselves without a care in the world. Now, you certainly wouldn't expect an American child to walk up to a stranger and start asking questions and then proceed to hang out with the stranger. On Saturday.. I was perfectly content.. I had my book, my sketchbook/scrapbook and I was extremely comfortable just vegging out in the grass in the middle of a park watching a big group of very cute foreigners play rugby. On a typical day, you will often have kids that walk past you giggling… speaking any English they know and then running off, again giggling. On this cheery Saturday, there was several little kids that walked past me throughout the day.. all giggling and running off with smiles. There was these two in particular kids that wouldn't stop walking past and giggling… they wanted something more? They finally came right up to me and sat down and in very, very broken English they asked to color. I showed them my sketch book and they both just sat there, wide eyed in amazement.. it was so cute. I dumped out all my pencils, crayons and markers on the ground and opened up a fresh page in my sketchbook for them. They sat with me for at least an hour coloring, trying to speak any English they knew. After five pages of coloring, a couple photos, an exchange of phone numbers and an invite to dinner, (I felt terrible that I had to deny) we parted ways. I'm pretty sure we will never speak again but luckily I'll have these sweet 10 years' drawings in my scrapbook forever.
So, you either get smiles and ohhs and ahhs, or you get the other end of the spectrum… those little Korean children who are just terrified of you. I had quite an interesting shopping experience this week. This is silly but I'm sometimes a little hesitant to go out and about in the broad day light… only because, I'm always getting stares, rude looks, people running past me, pointing.. it's very interesting. I really just want to walk to the gym one day with a mask on; trust me.. the stares (the good ones even) get old really fast. Now of course, I'm always polite and smile but ehhhh, sometimes I just want to be a Korean. Anyway.. going shopping, I walked into two different stores on Thursday and kids that were with their moms took one look at me and their eyes immediately began to glaze over as their smiles turned into frowns. They hid behind their mom's legs like I was going to bite their heads off. DAMN.. do I really look that scary!? haha! My somber mood was uplifted when I went into a store in which the sales lady spoke perfect English… ahh, so refreshing! We chatted for a good 20 minutes and turns out she used to live in Raleigh (my hometown) and her kids went to one of my rival high schools… small, small, small world! So, while I'm being chatty Cathy with this nice Korean lady, the other Korean sales lady is pinching my but, feeling my hips, legs, speaking all kinds of Korean…she is just so taken back by the fact that I'm not the stereo-typical fat American that Koreans know of.
I still manage to make it to the gym at least 4 times a week.. maybe 5.. maybe 6 if I'm lucky and not dead after work. It's becoming a lot easier now that it's not SO icy cold out. Koreans all shower at the gym and they find it very strange that I don't shower before I leave. There are a few women who speak English at my gym and they always ask, "why don't you shower?".. I always give some bullshit excuse but really, I think I'm just a little shy. I think they are really curious what a white girl looks like naked.. without going into great detail, I'll tell ya that there are definitely some differences. I'm thinking I just should shower there and get it over with so they stop asking me. I mean really, who cares. It's not like I have three boobs or anything totally outrageous that would shock someone. I'll get up the courage to do it sooner or later and I'll let you know how it goes. Speaking of the gym, let me give you a little bit of advice: don't ever run on a treadmill while watching an action movie… it's inevitable, you will fall. Every treadmill in my gym has a private TV attached, it's great. One of the only English channels is the action movie channel which I love to watch. It can be a little risky… as if I don't get enough stares being the only white person at my gym. Oh well, such is life!
I almost thought about not mentioning work at all…. let me share with you a little bit of Korean bullshit. They are still trying to get away with not paying for people's health insurance. This is my reasoning behind it all… they don't have a lot of money, I mean hell, they can't even stock the bathrooms with toilet paper and soap (I bring my own for my students and myself… now that's just shameful). Anyway, I think that this is why they make it such a hassle to be sick… so that you won't ever make it to the doctor, thus not ever finding out that your health insurance is not covered. Makes perfect sense, right!? There is so much more I could share with you but we all got in trouble because we are supposed to keep our mouths shut- what happens at TNE stays at TNE. Ya know.. it was too good to be true, I got to live in a great one bedroom for 8 months. In about two weeks, I've got to move out of my single bedroom that I LOVE and into a double with a roommate. Luckily, my roommate will be my coworker Alicia who I love. Oh well… I knew this would happen at some point I'm just glad they gave me a two week warning and not a 24 hour warning like the did with all the guys at one point. Oh yea, I'm not on the shit list.. they just like change every other week! My friends that work at good schools in Korea just keep telling me.."this is your first and worst job… it can never be as bad as it is here!"… that which does not kill you, makes you stronger!
Korean Facts/ Randomness:
-I've noticed that this country does not sell thong underwear… not even boy-short underwear… it's even rare to see bikini bottom style. This is odd to me because they wear short, short shorts. The bras are just as sexy as can be and yet, showing cleavage might as well be a sin… don't you think this should be the other way around (thongs and conservative bras)???
-Not only do Koreans not cover their mouths when they're hacking up a lung but it's perfectly acceptable to chew with your mouth wide open. If you're at a restaurant and you take a minute to listen to the noises surrounding you, you can hear everyone's tongue and lips smacking together…. it's gross
-Elbows on the table is not considered rude, in fact, it's necessary to the Koreans. My students don't understand how we eat our soup without spilling when our elbows are off the table. Well, Damon… we eat a lot slower and we don't shovel the food into our mouths.
-My school costs a million won a month for Kindergarten (one thousand dollars). It's no wonder the parents force their children to go to school even when they are throwing up sick. The parents of TNE run our lives… whatever they say goes. What's it like to work in a private school back home?