1. I LOVE KIMCHI
Granted, some days I like it more than others, but I have grown attached to this fermented cabbage dish. It can be a little intense, but given the taste and yumminess, there’s not really much surprise as to why this is Korea’s (unofficial?) dish. I haven’t been here a month yet, but I already know that when I am back in the USA I will miss Kimchi, possibly more than any other food here.
2. Speaking of Food,…..Chopsticks
Let’s just face it. Back home in the United States, I rarely, if ever, used chopsticks. It just wasn’t something I did. I tried a few times here and there, but I quickly gave up in embarassment. Here, it’s not an option. At any meal involving chopsticks, I will give the chopsticks a thorough effort before accepting the fork that is often suggested (or handed to me, in the case of tonight). It’s hard, but being in a culture where chopsticks are more commonly used than forks, it’s a good place to learn.
3. Not knowing the Language is supremely frustrating.
Yeah, there’s not much I could do about this one. I thought for so long that I was going to get into the Jet program, and now the little Japanese I learned won’t be useful unless I get to go to Japan (which there’s a pretty good chance of that 🙂 I have found a place nearby where I can learn lessons, but they won’t start up again until October. I bought a book yesterday, but I haven’t even cracked it open yet…gotta get on to that.
4. Speaking of international travel…
As far as I can tell, there is not “RyanAir” of Europe, like a cheap and economical airline that bugs you to buy their products but gives you cheaper than cheap tickets. For me to go anywhere will cost several hundred dollars. To be honest, I’m very disappointed by that. It looks like I won’t be able to afford to go to as many places as I thought I would. Not to mention, Russia and China both require Visas for people to come in (and China charges $200 just for an American visa when all other countries are $45….anyone know why that is?). My goal is to travel to China before I go home to the United States, but it may have to be during the winter or summer breaks, where I will have more time to apply for a visa, and maybe I can keep checking for cheap airfares.
5. As an obvious foreigner….I get stared at, a lot.
It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, and it is easy to ignore, but it’s the weirdest feeling to be the only person who looks the way I do in a sea of people. It’s the strangest kind of anonymity I have ever experienced. I’m glad that I have experienced it, but it’s still weird to hear this foreign tongue all around me, and to be told I am “beautiful” because it’s one of the few words that everyone knows haha. I have had a guy on the street say “Hello!” because he knew that word in English. One of the funniest times was when this Subway security guy said “Hello! Goodbye!” as he walked off after showing me the correct subway stop.
6. I already miss food from back home
The food here isn’t bad, but it certainly is different. I have never eaten this much rice in my life. I have decided that I will stick with it as much as I can, but that doesn’t mean I won’t pass up a good pizza or some well-cooked chicken when I come across it. What I do miss though (and I don’t see this improving a lot) is the candy and gum from the US (and Sweden…I never realized how good I had it, candy-wise, when I was there until now. I guess I assumed all countries had good candy!) The gum in Korea that I have had so far is OK, but not as good as back home.
7. I have only written three postcards
Yeah, sorry. I have been busy (bad excuse) and on the weekends I have been exploring my surroundings. I’ll be doing a bunch of things at once and then realize that Hey, I could be writing some people postcards! …But then I forget. Today I actually went to the post office and got some stamps though. I wish I had bought $30 worth though, because it was a lot of trouble. But that is a bad excuse. When I need more, I will go get more….but it’s so funny to need to find a translator to go to the post office 😛
8. This job…
Will be interesting. I don’t want to say anything too personal in case this gets read by a lot of people, but it’s certainly different than I thought it would be but also as I expected. I was sad when I was told by my co-teacher “You’re here to speak English to the Vice Principal, don’t worrying about trying to speak a lot of Korean…the teachers want to practice their English with you and the Vice Principal is taking English.” . . . yeah… I can’t read the language or even communicate on street without learning something of Korean. 😛 I’m sad that there are 30 kids minimum in every classroom, and I’m also sad that the kids have to go by such an uninteresting textbook, which we follow to a T, pretty much. My co-teachers are OK.
9. The Weather…
I’m nervous about the winter. From what I can see, it will be intense. How intense, I don’t know, but I came across a blog post about how to stay warm in intense korean winters. It seems I will probably want to sleep on the floor when the winter comes? I really will have to learn how to use my Ondol (floor heater). I had a teacher kind of explain it to me one day…she’s not a co-teacher so I would be asking a favor to have her come back, but I might do that so I don’t have this huge high bill in the winter. Basically an ondol is like an underfloor heating system that Koreans have been using forever. Hey, if it come down to it, I might splurge on some good blankets this winter. I’m also nervous because supposedly it lasts from like November to March…that’s a long winter compared to TN!
10. I really want to do one of those cheesy Korean booth pictures
It will only be a matter of time before I do one, but I am sad that I still haven’t done it. Somewhere in the process your eyes are made to look really big, and your face is made to look more pale…add a bunch of splashy colors and maybe some Korean letters…and presto! You have this Cheesy Korean photo-booth picture!
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!