I heard about these so-called PC bangs, or PC rooms/internet cafes, long before I set foot in Korea. I used to love playing PC games, see. Perhaps this was to make up for the fact that my parents never let me play video games so when I got my first laptop, I played the heck out of it. ^^ Not the point. Anyway, I also took a Korean popular culture class my last semester in college just for fun. ^^; Anyway, I guess I still love playing them but I have no time… but mainly because I get really obsessive over it. (I suppose I would have time if I could play for merely an hour or two.) Same with dramas – I have to finish it as fast as I can. I don’t know why because it’s not like there’s a life-or-death situation looming over my head if I don’t finish the 16+ episode drama before a certain day (usually the third), but if I don’t finish it, I literally can’t do anything else. Well, I can, but I’ll be rather distracted. Hence, once I got that full time job at the restaurant and now that I’m over here teaching, I haven’t truly played any games, whether they be MMORPG’s or strategy games.
Once upon a time, I was an avid WoW player (Yes. WoW.) and I even dabbled in Starcraft for a while. This was back in 2007, the second semester of my first year in college. Or was it the end of my first semester in college? Either way, it was back then. I only played for a month and a half, after which I stopped because I didn’t want to pay the $15 per month, but it still nagged at me. Also: it consumed my life. My laptop’s video card couldn’t take the graphics of WoW, but that didn’t stop me. My roommate would let me borrow her laptop to play (she had gotten me into it) into the early hours of the morning and then even a mutual friend would let me borrow his on campus to play. If I wasn’t in class, I would head straight back to my dorm to continue. At the end of my 6-week stint, I had 3 characters under my account with the maximum level of around 23 for all three of them. It could have been worse, but it was bad enough.
Along with the stereotype of how Asians are good at studying – I’m beginning to see why and how this came about, living and teaching here – Asians also tend to need visual correction. I, myself, needed the aid of glasses to see perfectly in the third grade. I got my first pair of contacts in the sixth grade because I got tired of my glasses slipping down or needing to take them off or put them on while changing for gym. Approximately 87% of my coworkers that I share a room with need glasses as well, but most opt for the visually-pleasing contacts.
With Halloween coming up, I wanted to dress up but since I’m the school’s first foreign teacher from North America, I’m the first one to bring up what they plan on doing for Halloween. It seems like they never had this happen before as their previous native teachers were from New Zealand and South Africa, respectively. Apparently, Halloween isn’t very big in either of those countries. Either way, I’m American and I like Halloween. The fact that I get some fun out of this doesn’t hurt, either. 😉 However, since this is somewhat of a new concept – though the after school department at my school’s also trying to do a little Halloween celebration – I decided to tone down my dress a little and so I wanted a little something extra to spice up my lack of festive clothing: colored contacts.
Today, I took a trip to the local optometrist to get my first pair of colored contacts. This was what I got (just guess how much I paid for it):
Today, I took my first ever sick day ever since I arrived in Korea. 🙂
This may seem like such a small matter – you’re sick, you take a sick day, period – but not here. I also addressed this previously, as I’ve gone through this dilemma of whether or not I should take advantage of the handful of sick days I’m privileged to because the truth is that people here don’t really have this luxury. I’m sure they might, but so far, the only time I’ve seen a teacher absent is if they’re on official business or they’re on pregnant leave. Teachers here generally don’t have substitute teachers and on top of that, there’s this idea of showing to everyone else what a hard worker you are. Hence, after you see your Coteachers so sick that they don’t put on make up (trust me, this is a big thing) or come to school after they sliced open their thumb and got stitches at the nearby hospital, you begin to feel bad for taking a sick day because you’re sick.
It still baffles my mind but the truth is that my body cannot deal with this. I usually only get sick once a year, but in Korea, it’s as if I get sick once every two to three months. It’s ridiculous but the truth and I don’t think my body can undergo this constant beating against my immune system for much longer without a proper day of rest and low-key activities. As a result, I told myself regardless of how bad I would feel for taking advantage of my sick day (as odd as that sounds), I would take it because I didn’t want it to draw out an additional week or two.
We all hear of those fans who get really crazy. You know – the story of the Stalker Fans who know everything down to the license plate numbers of the cars you ride in, in addition to your own personal car to those who get in line over 24 hours before a concert… though I’ve heard of people camping for a grand opening for Target. So I guess it isn’t all that far-fetched. 😉 Not the point, well, on the thirteenth of October, I experienced this first-hand. Not for the first time as I waited almost 9 hours to get into Inkigayo, but it’s still a first.
I was going to try my hand at getting Super Show 4 tickets online.
I don’t eat meat. I don’t like spicy food. It’s funny how one of my favorite ethnic cuisines included Indian back in the States, though I suppose the fact that Indian food is vegetarian friendly helps as well and as long as I had a cup of water at my side, I was safe. It’s also funny how I chose to live in Korea. Well, I finally visited an Indian restaurant in Daejeon last night while meeting some friends and their friends; they had come down from Chungju.
I was so excited.
This post has taken a long time to be written, but I finally found the time!
For Chuseok, the Korean version of Thanksgiving, my friend and I decided to take a day trip to the fourth largest metropolitan city in Korea, with Daejeon being the fifth largest. If you didn’t know, it’s Gwangju. The city’s to the southwest of the country and when my Co’s first heard of it, they told me it was a horrible idea. Why? Traffic sucks during Chuseok, when families tend to get out of the cities to visit their families and have huge get-togethers, especially if you’re traveling south. In fact, this was what my head Co told me:
Last year, my brother came down from Seoul to visit and he fell asleep on the bus. When he woke up, he was still in Gyeonggi-do*! It took him almost six hours to get to Daejeon**.
* Gyeonggi-do is the province surrounding Seoul
** It normally takes around 2 hours by train to get from Daejeon to Seoul
I’ve always lived my own way. Perhaps that makes me somewhat selfish in a way, but in truth, everyone’s selfish in some capacity, shape, or form. I once read somewhere the people choose their friends through what they believe they can gain from said potential friend. Anyway, this goes into how I pretty much listen to what I want to do. This isn’t completely true, though, as some people have told me I needed to be more opinionated, but I essentially make the big decisions for myself.
As a result, the Korean society in which people care more about their reputation seriously tires and annoys me. However, I can’t ignore the ‘importance’ of reputation because honestly speaking, the notion is prevalent in varying degrees throughout the world, but especially in Asia. Because I’m currently living and working in Asia, I can’t just ignore it, especially when it’s at the root of a number of past misunderstandings between my Coteachers and I. This is a bigger problem when I’m trying to find the ultimate answer to the question of, “Will I stay here another year?”
The other week, I saw these curious stands popping up at intersections in my neighborhood. They were orange and had these plastic covers around the stall itself – usually clear – and there were the hangeul 흑쌀 잉어빵* (heukssal ingeobbang) scrawled across the top. To translate, it’s basically a fish pastry with a sweet bean filling encased in a thin wheat and glutinous rice flour dough. What made this place even more special is that there’s 흑쌀 (or black rice) included in the dough so it comes out slightly golden but with a grey-ish undertone. I broke down one day and got three for 1,000 won. What makes this even better is that they come in this bag:
There’s nothing better than eating fish (to me, it’s eating fish) and knowing that the bag the fish was in (and therefore the fish themselves) were telling me to be happy. But they’re seriously very cute – and good! I actually got them two days in a row because the first time I got them, I forgot to take pictures. But it’s dangerous! The stall is on my route home from school, so I pass it once a day at least, and when I exercise self-control, my nose can smell the delicious scent of it cooking in the metal molds. It’s heavenly. ^^ It’s a good thing that it’s too early to be open when I’m walking to school every morning or I can imagine I’d gain weight fast.
When some of my friends found out that I would be coming to Korea for a year, I had several reactions that may be summarised through the following:
Envy: OMG. I want to go! I’m so jealous~~
Pride + Second-hand Happiness: This is going to be a great opportunity for you. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot!
Sadness: I’ll miss you!!!!! >.< …DON’T GOOOO!!!!!!!!!
Worry: What if you’re there and North Korea decides to bomb South Korea????
Confusion/Incredulity: …wait. What’s in Korea, anyway? Why Korea??
There’s always the calm before the storm and guess what? I’m currently being buffeted around by the aforementioned storm.
I had texted my head Coteacher over the Chuseok weekend telling her I was interested in staying for another year and if there was something I had to do to get it done. She never replied and it was never mentioned in class. I took it to mean she wasn’t 100% certain I should sign on for another year – and I was right. She finally told me her thoughts a week and a half later at the urgings of my other Co – the more opinionated and openly stubborn one.