3.27.2011

The good.

Okay. So enough with the negativity. Life is actually quite sweet at the moment. It's almost, almost finally spring in the ROK. Cherry blossoms and coatless days are just around the corner. I've got beautiful students, beautiful friends and a beautiful beau. Although it is a struggle (one that I massive hate enduring), my Korean is coming along nicely. And yes, my workload has increased exponentially, but I had already expected that. My paycheck will also increase (although definitely not exponentially -- still a PS teacher, after all).

Almost spring, and the free market in Hongdae has re-opened. So when It's Dajeon Darling and I were contemplating where to meet up yesterday afternoon, that was kind of an obvious winner. We both spent more money than we intended to, but resisted a lot more than we bought, luckily. That did not include resisting little coin purses shaped like toast, however. Although those are both intended to be gifts. We sat at the back of the park watching the bands play for a while, before it just got too cold. Everyone really wants it to be spring already, but we're not quite there yet.

Afterwards, we walked over to the Veggie Holic vegan bakery on the other side of the station where we each bought an unjustifiable amount of baked goods and sat in with coffee/tea to wait for the time to roll around when we would head to Myeongdong to meet Grace and Hot Yellow Fellows for dinner. The woman working at the bakery was nine kinds of friendly and helpful, pointing out for IDD which products used milk and which didn't. She also gave us red bean buns service, stamped our card way more times than I think we deserved, and got unduly excited when I spoke Korean. She was lovely. And so were the products, if a bit pricey. Do be prepared to read Korean if you go in, however. Although most of the names of things are technically English, there is very little English signage. Although you could probably just ask if you really get into a bind, and it's not that hard to identify what baked goods are, in most cases I suppose.

Then it was off to dinner, while IDD taught me a thing or two about the Seoul subway system. I'm an Incheon girl -- I take express buses and avoid the subway at all costs. Apparently a lot of changes have happened since I worked out how to do that. And will somebody please confirm that Hongdae exit 9 really did used to be exit 5? Because she now thinks I'm not only an idiot, but also a liar and/or delusional.

Dinner with all the girls, which hasn't happened for far too long, but will hopefully also happen again next Saturday. Lots of talk throughout the day about the trials and tribulations of not being a "FOB" foreigner, and how people can't seem to adjust to that on either side. This included IDD sharing about how sometimes her Korean staff will still walk into the office to find her eating doenjang jjigae or the like and exclaim, "That's Korean food!" as though she has not been informed that what in front of her is not a hamburger, and she needs to spit it out immediately. Or watching her eat her homecooked meals and asking things like, "Where did you get that?" about the ingredients, such as potatoes. For me, it's being told that I can do my job with the most shocked accompanying looks, or asking how I'm able to get to the study room I've been volunteering at for going on two years now.

Also included things like hearing from new arrivals how "weird" Korea is, how kimchi "smells funny", any number of comments about Korean culture, and then running smack into the middle of an orientation group who pronounced it "It-a-wan". Which isn't to say that we were bitching -- we were laughing, relating and even in some cases remembering. In a situation where it's hard to find people who can exactly relate to some of the things you go through on a daily basis, it's nice to have found a group who can.

Dinner with a lot more laughing, moaning about workloads, the tiniest amount of gossiping and possibly the worst waiter of all time. Which was also funny.

It was a good day. And now I've got my head on straight about these damn afterschool classes, and I'm ready to go in tomorrow and make the fucking best of it. If I really work my ass off this month, then I'll still be able to attend Korean hagwon like I planned. If I stay until 7 or 8 every day for the next month, I won't need to stay until 6 until the end of the semester. If you don't have the balls to correct a situation, then you have to accept the situation, and when you accept the situation, then you do what you gotta do. Right? I'm an adult. I make my own choices, and I live with the consequences.

But for now it's time to get my shit together to head out to Sinchon to meet the S.O. for a last-minute lunch. Then possibly off to Myeongdong to pre-spend my new afterschool class cash on clothes that will suit the warm weather that is definitely, definitely coming this week. Right? ....Right?

5 comments:

Sara-Jayne said...

The exits have changed at hongdae station! You're not crazy ㅋㅋㅋㅋ

I'm no Picasso said...

Thank you!

Jason said...

Now that's what I call assessing and making the best of a changing situation...

Now if you could please tell me what an FOB foreigner is... I'm afraid I'm behind on the jargon.

Much appreciated,

.38 Special

Maddy said...

Fresh off the Boat of course!

Marilyn said...

Ha, I was just thinking about the trials of not being a FOB foreigner myself this weekend. Missionaries tried to chat me up at the Express Bus Terminal by asking, "What's the purpose of your visit?" For a moment I thought, "Can they tell I'm going to Gwangju??" before realizing that of course they meant to Korea, where I have lived for three years. I want a hat, or badge, or something, that says, "관광객은 아니에요." =)