Saturday, November 3, 2012

Living in Korea Part 2

A few months ago, I wrote a blog, linking to this wonderful website: Also mentioned in blog immediately before this one.

Here's the blog I wrote in case you missed it.

It is such a genius blog, that I thought I'd do an update with most recent posts.

1. Winter in Korea. I'm sure I wrote about it a lot, but winter is COLD! Last year in early November, it was a very reasonable, non-freezing temperature. This year, it is already drastically colder than it was in early November, which is forcing me to remember feeling like this:

The hallways and bathrooms at my school are not heated. Only the classrooms, so then we die a little bit in the hallways. Or have to put on jackets to get to the breakroom and bathroom.

I am bracing myself for the extreme cold to come, that is predicted to be worse than last year. Yikes. Good thing I have all those long-johns.

2. Even after studying Korean, this is still how I feel when people speak to me.

It's really annoying.

Actually, my comprehension has gotten a lot better recently. While hiking, I understood completely when a woman said, "I think that's the trail we went on in the past." And then, her husband responded, "I think so, but I can't remember."

However, some people are not able to simplify their speaking to my level. I think as an English teacher, I'm used to speaking to foreigners in a way that's easier for them to understand. In Japan, we talked to a woman who knew almost immediately (after thinking Ben and I were British) that we were English teachers because we spoke to her carefully and clearly. But, some people are not used to speaking in Korean to non-native speakers and I think they don't know what to do.

As an example, I went to order some kimbap to go, since I was going hiking with Ben and we wanted something to eat at the top of the mountain. The woman asked me if I wanted it to go, but she did not know the word that I know as "to go." or the one I use every time I order something to go. When I asked for clarification, rather than rephrasing her sentence, she got annoyed and just yelled it at me louder and faster than she said it the first time. I did not understand until she used her hands and motioned to the door. It was extremely unhelpful.

Also, when I speak in Korean, this is how must people react:

3. Once again, taking the bus in Korea is extremely dangerous. They have the right of way and drive around like crazy people. I am still shocked I haven't been in an accident yet.

I have fallen a couple times on the bus. A couple months ago, Ben and I were on the bus and the bus driver had to stop so quickly the entire bus of people standing flew forward and slammed into each other. Luckily, I didn't break my neck. Or dislocate my shoulder like an acquaintance I know did when she didn't let go of the handles fast enough.

4. Fan Death. Most Koreans believe that if you leave a fan on in your room too long, with your windows closed, that you will die. From what I've read, they believe that you get hypothermia, or if that's not the case, it sucks all the oxygen out of the room.

Here's a news report: I believe it's in Korean and my Google Chrome browser automatically translates it.

And the ever reliable wikipedia explaining it:

Recently, I told some of my very high level (most lived abroad) students that only people in Korea believe in fan death and they were absolutely shocked that it wasn't true. They kept saying, "But it's on the news!" One of them said, "Oh my goodness this changes everything!" But once I said they probably died of pre-existing conditions, they realized that was probably true.

One of my friend's students was going to test the theory on her dog.

5. This is how I felt when one of my students, after another said, "You have a boyfriend I know it!" yelled "Where is your evidence!?!!!"

Well, it's happened other times as well. One of my students said the other day, "What a shock!" which I say as a joke, usually to students who did their homework and never do it otherwise.

6. Getting sick in Korea. I have lost my voice more times in the last 18 months than I have in the last 10 years. I think that might be due to the fact that I work with snotty children who sneeze all over their papers. Or, like happened last week, on the pencils that I lent them. Then, when I've lost my voice, they tell me they prefer my husky voice. Even though I get sick a lot, and spent most of the month of October on my deathbed from possible pneumonia, we can't call in sick unless you are in the hospital or have a doctors note saying we can't go. So you must do this.

Also, I took about 50 pills in 3 days for whatever I had and had absolutely no idea what they were. But I took them anyway and got better. Just like this:

7. I am pretty sure I have done this exact motion and said this exact sentence.

Students are a bit more physical in Korea. The boys poke, tickle and punch each other a lot, so there are a lot of time. Well, not anymore. I've gotten my student management down pat. At least for Korean students.

Also, I've had a couple awkward, silent middle school classes, where I've felt exactly like this:

Then, those awkward, silent classes turned into loud, swearing classes and this is how I felt:

This sentence has probably come out of my mouth as well:

8. They have these trucks that drive around, yelling into a megaphone trying to get you to buy things, such as fruit, vegetables, computers, notebooks, pens, paper, nuts, you name it. They tend to drive by around 8 AM yelling at you to come outside. This is how I feel when that happens:

9. Food. Luckily I'm very adventurous in eating, but every once in a while, this is how I feel trying a new food.

10. I still have no idea what I will do when I return home from Korea.

11. Showering. I don't have a separate shower. My shower head is directly above my sink and gets the entire bathroom wet when I shower.

This is 100% my reaction when I saw my shower. Now, I'm used to it. But the first time I saw it, I was horrified and thought, "I will never survive Korea!"

Also, as previously mentioned in my blog, towels dry like shark skin. When I went home in December, I took a shower and thought, "This towel feels strange." I realized later it felt strange because it was soft.

12. Exacto-Knives. The first time I saw a student with one (she was sharpening her pencil with it) this is how I reacted.

I asked another student recently why they ALL have knives in their pencil cases, and she said they are required for their art classes and they get in trouble if they DON'T bring knives with them to school. I'm pretty sure children would be arrested and/or expelled in America if they whipped those out of their bags.

13. As I've complained about before, summer is extremely hot. Opposite of the approaching winter.

Also, August is miserable. 110 degrees with 100% humidity. And it's monsoon season. So, this is how it feels.

14. Luckily in Seoul, the typhoon was non-existent. But this is pretty funny anyway.

15. At training, squatting toilets were the only toilets available in the building. I walked 2 blocks to the nearest cafe, so I wouldn't have to use them. I've used one once. It was awkward and I never plan on using them again.

16. Last one for now, though there are definitely more genius posts I could write about.

Korea is ridiculously safe. I'm pretty sure nothing happens here. So, I just walk around not worried about being robbed, which I should probably stop doing. I spend a lot of time walking through dark alleys on my way home. Since, my walk home is a dark alley.

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