Thursday, April 8, 2010

Four (and a half?) Month Review

Over a third of the my year in Korea down. I would say that I'm surprised to think it's true, but Thanksgiving feels like a long while ago. Weeks move along much smoother than they did in December. I feel very comfortable at school, both with my role and with the students.

I never thought I was any good at remembering names, but I have every one of over 100 student's names down. Either Korean names aren't the same confusing challenge they used to be, or the students have just given up on trying to correct me and accepted my bizarre way-gook-een (foreigner) pronunciation.

I think lunch at school is exemplary of my day-to-day routine.

We always get lunch delivered at 2:30 from what foreigners call "the kimbap shop." Kimbap shops serve up a variety of Korean dishes including kimbap, the Hangul take on sushi filled with pickled goodies, ham and sometimes crab. Usually its just Mr. Lee, the senior teacher and I that eat. After the meal, other teachers join us for coffee (Mr. Lee always seems busy or uninterested and splits).

It started small, but over time, the coffee conference blew up into a full on dessert buffet of cookies, cakes, pastries, and chocolate. Sometimes fruit makes a cameo. We take turns bringing in the goodies. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but it's hard to resist. Besides, they hardly say anything to me, so I feel like I may as well use my mouth somehow. Through names dropped and my minimal vocabulary, I can sometimes guess what they're talking about, in which case I'll try to chime in but I'm usually met with smiles & nods and ignored.

Long ago, I accepted that these conversations were about exactly the sort of inconsequential gossip you might expect from early middle-aged females (this one's ugly, this one has this much money, etc.), and I should content myself to be ignorantly amused by what seems to be very colorful conversation. For the most part, it has worked just fine. All I do is show up with something sweet occasionally, smile, and they'll probably love me forever. Easy enough.

Peckrill and I have had conversations about how we aren't really living that exciting of lives. Things are new and very different, but we still put in our 40 hours, drink beer on the weekend to unwind, and then do it all over again the next week.

The weather is warming by the day, the days are getting longer, and I'm feeling optimistic. It gives a little boost in morale that goes a long way at school.

So what's it like? Still really hard to say. I have a few post ideas coming up, one that will hopefully feature a video that demonstrates the neon-lit dance pop mega-marathon that is Asian commercial culture. I also have some good anecdotes from school I want to share. After the Peckrill post, we all could use a little brevity for now, eh?

Some quick updates:

A happy 24th birthday to Leeds, England's finest, Handsome James Barr.
For his gift, I painted him this picture that we've gone about describing as "not at all gay."
I recently saw Norway's folk-bossanova-acoustic pop phenomenon "The Kings of Convenience" in Seoul. It was a great show and I captured some video before being yelled at by Korean security.

Cherry blossoms trees have bloomed across Daegu, making for a beautifully Asian spring aesthetic. This is the street just below my apartment:
My mother's worst nightmare and the reality of my laundry situation:

I don't have anywhere to hang things and through-the-floor thermal heating is amazing at drying clothes. Once dry, they are promptly folded and put away. Now mom, I know you're skeptical, but when I clean a big load, I actually can't get from my kitchen to the bathroom without hopping on the bed. It's the kind of inconvenience that can't be ignored for long.

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