Kimbap–Making Changes (or Not) in Korea

Today, I thought that I would try something new. Rather than eat in one of my few tried and true restaurants (ie, their food doesn’t make my allergies decide to rip my body apart from the inside) I decided to stop in a new kimbap place. Kimbap restaurants are generally safe, so long as I am careful about the side dishes. Deciding not to stop at the new locale, I figured I’d order a new dish too. The following conversation has been translated from the Korean.

Me: Hello. I’d like one tuna-kimchi kimbap please.
Cook: One tuna kimbap?
Me: No. One tuna-KIMCHI kimbap please.
Cook: Ah. One tuna kimbap, one kimchi kimbap. Two kimbaps?
Me: No. One tuna AND kimchi kimbap.
Cook: No. It can’t be done!
Me: ~sighs~. Okay. One tuna kimbap please. ~sits down~
Cook: (with other cook) Weird foreigners. Tuna kimchi kimbap. ~shakes head~

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Last Night…at the Norae Bang

For those of you living under a rock (or you know, outside of Korea) norae bang is Korean for ‘singing room.’ It’s like karaoke but instead of singing in a bar in front of a bazillion people you get a private room. (Think of that scene in Lost in Translation.) After having dinner with my co-workers I was pressured into going to the norae bang next door. It’s not that I didn’t want to go…I would have just rather gone home and curled up with a book than subject anyone to my singing before massive amounts of alcohol.

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Korean Socks: The Start of an Addiction

Last year, when I bought a handbag, I got a pair of socks for free with my purchase. At the time, I scoffed at the ridiculous white, pink and gold bunnies and wondered what about me said ‘I like to wear animals on my feet.’  They went to the back of my sock drawer, where they stayed…until I was low on socks one belated laundry day and put them on. It was so utterly ridiculous that I actually enjoyed the experience and put them into my regular laundry rotation.  

Indian Summer BBQ in an Abandoned Park

One of the local expats decided that it would be a great idea to have a barbecue to celebrate the gorgeous end of summer/fall (…yes this is from mid October but I was lazy then!). Theoretically, this was a fabulous idea. He knew of a beautiful park that was seldom used. Everyone was gung-ho and planned out what to bring.  At 2pm on the appointed day I called around to get more specific directions.  No one knew where it was.  There was no helpfully drawn map ala Microsoft Paint on the Facebook event page. It wasn’t remotely near any major landmarks or labeled streets. There wasn’t a name we could give a taxi driver. Finally, I got a hold of a slightly agitated Brit (agitated from all of the very lost people calling him I imagine) who was not the host but appeared to be the only one to have found the park successfully.

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1st Birthday Celebration in Korea

I think that this is officially the longest I’ve ever gone without posting, barring my 3 month hiatus when I wasn’t in Korea. Basically all of my friends are leaving Korea and in 2 weeks I will be alone. It’s so strange to be the one left behind. My nights have been filled with last dinners and outings and the like. Not to mention having a job and being a bit lazy lately outside of work and social engagements. I could go on in this vein for awhile OR I could tell you about the amazing cross cultural experience I had 2 weeks ago. I thought so.

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Sports Day in Korea

Sports day is a huge deal.  My students have been practicing outside everyday before school for a month. Most of it was pretty standard, running races, relays, etc. Some of it was wonderfully Korean though. For instance, the coordinated warm up workout/dance routine thingy. Apparently, my co-teacher got graded on her ability to do this as part of her education degree. These are the first graders…they are slightly less coordinated than the upper grades. Immensely cute though!

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Spaz Attack!

This morning, I managed to leave my house relatively unscathed. That was the end of my good luck.  While walking up the stairs to my classroom I somehow managed to fall up the stairs and land on my face.  Luckily my travel coffee cup lid is amazing and did not spill coffee all over my nice white shirt. Ten minutes later I knocked over my coffee while the lid was open and spilled coffee on a gigantic stack of student papers.

On the plus side none of my students were there to witness my ridiculousness AND no new injuries were sustained….aside from the papers.

Tomorrow is Sports Day at school. I am supposed to wear a track suit or equally sport attire. The closest I have to that are my college sweats…not something I want the parents or students to see me in. I’m not a sporty person. This is quite obvious from my inability to walk without causing injury to myself. I think I shall compromise with a sporty polo shirt, jeans and sneakers.

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The English Club

Yesterday was the second after school English club meeting…for teachers. Here is the most awkward thing about teaching a class for co-workers in Korea–navigating the social hierarchy.  I am the youngest person at my school (except for my lovely co-teacher who is 9 days younger). Korean social rules dictate that certain titles/names be used in addressing each other, particularly with people who are older than you. It’s really where a huge amount of foreigner faux pas are made.

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“Oh, shit!”

Lately there have been a plethora of students saying “oh, shit!” I have no idea where they are getting it from. There must be a video game or popular TV show or perhaps even a kpop song with the infamous “oh, shit.” Usually, me telling the student once (very sternly) that it’s a bad word in English and not to use it again is enough. 

You’d think they were saying ‘aisht’ which is the somewhat equivalent Korean (I think?). Oh, no, these are very clear ‘oh, shit’s and well enunciated. In fact, I would  be tempted to praise their accent if they weren’t cursing. 

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Beppu! (The last of my Japan trip)

This past week has been pretty crazy, preparing materials for Lesson 11, making new boards for my classroom (based on Lesson 11), preparing for the teacher’s English conversation club, and you know, life. Anyways, here are photos from the last city I visited in Japan, Beppu. Beppu started out as a domestic tourist site but has definitely made it internationally. The city is famed for it’s ‘onsen’ or bathing houses that are supplied by the zillion natural hot springs in the area. Not to mention the hot spring pools that you can’t bath in but are fabulous to look at. The onsen were interesting but I’ve got to say, I kind of prefer the more modern, pamper focussed jimjilbangs of Korea. However, I’d never been buried in hot sand before or taken a mud bath and I do love that sort of experience.

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