Monday, January 31, 2011

Ruminations unfit for Twitter

In the U.S., poor people eat SPAM because they can't afford anything else. In Korea, it's a delicacy of some sort for which I have to fake gratitude toward my boss until I can smuggle the gift set into one of the Korean teacher's cars because I'm allergic to that shit and wouldn't even eat it if I could. Yuck.

Creepy subway dude

The weirdest thing happened to me on the subway Friday night. Yeah, I know everybody has one such story. But this is genuinely freaky, even for Korea.

Anyway, I got on in Ansan and and promptly fell asleep for the hour ride into Seoul. A few stops later, a Korean guy got on the mostly empty train, sat right next to me, and asked, "Hello? How are you?" I didn't respond from my obvious sleeping state because I was obviously sleeping. He then asked, "What is the problem?" Um, I'm obviously asleep. He waited a few moments, then leaned in close to my ear and said in a nasty tone, "What you are doing is the problem," and he got up and left. 진짜? Seriously? What. the. eff. I had not responded even once throughout.

Sorry, Korea.

I blatantly ignored an outrageously loud domestic dispute next door last night. It really sounded like bodies were being thrown across the apartment. If the cops spoke English, it would be another story entirely, but the last time I tried to call the police when it sounded like a woman was being tortured in the street, I got put on hold and disconnected over and over while they tried to transfer me to an English-speaking department for a half hour before I gave up. Sorry Korea. I feel as if I should feel inconsolable guilt about this, but after running it through my mind and determining my personal risk assessment, my conscience is sound this morning.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A teacher in China, Amanda Miers sums up exactly how I'm feeling about going home in about 2 or 3 months (emphasis mine):

Thanks to modern technology, maintaining relationships with the people I love from the places I’ve left behind hasn’t been difficult. I have become accustomed to communicating cross-continentally, waking up at dawn for video-chats in my pajamas, or staying up extra late to locate my friends online. I miss everyone and I think of them constantly; I wish we could meet for a cup of coffee or cook dinner together in our tiny kitchens like we used to. Still, it’s hard to smother the irritation I feel when people say, “Hurry up and come home!” I want to snap back at them, “Where exactly is home?” Is home simply the country whose passport I hold? Is home the place where I’ve spent the most years of my life? And is it possible that “home” can refer for more than one place?

Read her full article here.

This is part of why I have my heart set on teaching in Germany this summer. I'll need to pick up a TEFL certification, but luckily it's affordable and I can do it online. I'm really excited because- GERMANY!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Keeping things in perspective

I am thankful Korea is a safe place to ride the last subway into the city at 1AM to retrieve the only key to my apartment, that I can read Korean and stopped crying long enough to get to the correct platform when they'd been spontaneously changed around after midnight, that I can afford to take a taxi halfway because that's only as far as the last train would take me, that I could get into my friend's apartment and crash somewhere warm for 4 hours until the subway opened again and I had to go to work (unlike all the people I saw sleeping on the street), and that I am young and healthy and my body will survive this 10-hour work day followed immediately by a trek to Hongdae to perform at midnight.

I am not thankful that my hot water cut out 5 minutes into my shower this morning so I had to use wet wipes to remove the soap from my body, and there is still conditioner in my hair, where it will remain until Saturday morning.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


-Joined a dance troupe
-First performance Friday night at Club Oi in Hongdae
-Ski trip this weekend
-Looking into moving to Germany this summer to teach English
-Learning German
-Out of Korea at the end beginning of April!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Busan Shark Diving

It's 110,000 won per person if not scuba certified. Info and booking here:

I went with my friend, Kaitlin, and we took the slow train (Korail) from Seoul Station (27,000 won each) on Saturday and hung out in Busan at the Rock and Roll Pub (Full of foreigners, I recommend it.) just across from the aquarium, which is directly on the beach, a few blocks (walking distance) straight out from exit 3 of Haeundae subway station. Busan only has 3 subway lines to navigate (yay!), but your T-money card won't work there.

There are lots of really nice beach-front hotels and a few hostels you can find online. We chose Korea's sleaziest love motel for 40,000 for two of us for one night. It had a circle bed surrounded by mirrors; we nearly busted a gut laughing so hard when we walked in. Love motels are the Korean equivalent of American roach motels, though I've not seen any roaches in them yet, and instead of being shady places to stay, they're clean, cheap, and safe, although often falling apart.

The dive was not what I expected. I felt the scuba training was rushed, and I was so focused on not dorwning every scuba detail that I couldn't really appreciate the sharks. I'm happy with the video I shot, though, so at least I'll have some good memories. It's shaky because it's so cold down there. We were exhausted after the dive, so I would definitely recommend booking a KTX ticket (55,000 won) home a few days in advance and spending some time relaxing in a sauna before the train.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Teachah gym time

Though most days I embrace my cultural quirks, assume the locals expect wacky antics from white girls, and even feel I'd be letting them down if I didn't do something weird, I can't help feeling like a freak of nature when I go to the gym.

I don't mind being the only foreigner, but the only runner—really? I always thought that was what treadmills are for, but these Korean ones seem woefully unequipped to handle the impact of running, as evidenced by their noisy incessant tortured-animal-like squeaking for every footfall, making me painfully aware that I am by far the loudest and most obnoxious thing in the gym, more so even than the chick who can't be bothered to use the earphones provided for the TV she's watching. (That was a stupid-long sentence.)

Add to that my being the only sweaty being in the gym, and sweating buckets at that just 5 minutes into at least a half-hour run because Koreans don't sweat and like their climate control a bit on the warm side, and it's hard not to feel self-conscious. (I really gotta work on my sentence control.)

Yesterday I was really mad because my water bottle kept falling off its precarious position on the handle of the machine. You know, I'd never even seen a treadmill without a water bottle holder before I arrived in the oh so tech-savvy Korea. Cretans. Today the other 5 walkers cleared out less than 3 minutes after I jumped on. Meh. I really should be getting myself up early in the morning to go anyway. No point here, just wanted to whine a bit.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Holiday in the UK

King's College in Cambridge

The London Eye

Big rocks