This weekend has been a big waste of time, and there were a lot of things I needed to take care of. I feel like Mike and I have just been surviving lately, which is fine for the first two months here, but could get old really fast. I don't want to live like that anymore -- I've been doing it for absolutely ages, in different situations. So, some prioritizing needs to take place.
I stayed late at work on Friday and cleaned out the desk and cabinets in my classroom, which are still full of junk from a former native teacher from 2006. It's a start, anyway. The bill paying process here is really different from back home -- or at least, the way I did it back home. You pay directly out of your bank account, which means you have to go to the bank every time you have to pay bills, instead of just mailing a check. You can set it up to where it comes directly out of your bank account, but I'm going to need someone who speaks Korean to go with me to do that. I'm going to pay them out directly this weekend, and ask Coteacher if she'll go with me sometime this month (whenever it's convenient for her) to help me set that up. I really hate having to ask for help with every little thing....
The number one thing on my mind at the moment is getting a phone. That's something I've heard you can do on your own in English, but that you can run into some trouble, given the bad reputation of foreigners here. I would prefer to take someone with me who spoke Korean. Since Mr. Wan is always harassing me about getting one, I think I may ask him to stop into a shop and help me when we're in Hongdae next weekend. Then the weekends won't feel so cut off from the rest of the world.
The biggest basic problem at the moment is food. The rice cooker has helped a lot on the practical side, but I've been ill this weekend again every time I try to eat anything. I know it's just anxiety and I've got to get over it, but when you feel like tossing your cookies every time there's a plate in front of you, it can be pretty hard to force yourself to eat. And then the not eating only makes me feel sicker. So, the only thing I know to do is sort out other areas of distress here and hope the anxiety gets better.
I'm glad vacation is coming soon. Taking mine the last week of January and first week of February, and because of the national holidays at the end of January, I will only use 8 of 14 allotted days, but get 16 straight days off from work. Mike is taking his the week before mine. Don't know what we will do without each other, but I think the time away will be good for us both. Away from SK, that is -- not each other. Not because things here are bad, but just because the three/four month mark is supposed to be the hardest. Supposedly the average native English teacher only sticks it our for four months, because of the infamous onset of culture shock in the third and fourth month. It's all hearsay, anyway, but as time goes by, you slowly learn to pay a little more attention to your expat elders when they speak, even if it sounds ridiculous.
The working week is still good. Of course, the dread of Mondays is a worldwide phenomenon, but once that first class of the week goes off without a hitch, it's all downhill from there. Mr. Wan was asking about how I feel about the students, and telling me next year I should change to a school in Seoul, because the students are better educated and better behaved. I told him that, honestly, the students are what get me through the week, that I like them very much -- that I think I would be enormously less happy if I were here doing any other job.
In other news, this is absolute bullshit. Don't worry -- this blog isn't about to take a turn in that direction. But I think it's an interesting situation we're all in here -- Koreans and expats alike. A little unique to most foreign worker/citizen relationships, at least with the native English teachers.
Anyway, this is my favorite quote:
Many times he has asked schools to fire foreign teachers who make a hobby out of having sex at knifepoint, tracked down foreign lecturers who bring venereal disease, and warned security guards and hagwon authorities about kidnappers.
Also notice that, although "the Anti-English Spectrum Cafe ... works for the deportation of English teachers who ... have sex with Korean women," there's no call for the deportation of English teachers who have sex with Korean men?
Don't know that I even want to go near that one yet. Maybe I could write a book about it in another year or two. Suffice it to say that the legend of the Western woman's aversion to Asian men seems to be alive and well, both among foreigners and Korean citizens, and both in urban mythology/word-of-mouth chatter and (sadly enough) in practice. But. Again, that's only one of the many issues this important omission from the article touches upon.