As we approach the three week mark of our time in Korea, I can’t help but notice that I have already made some changes in my life.
1) I don’t have a cellphone. Well not a working one anyways. I am still waiting for my alien registration card so that I can get a plan. Although I have heard it is WAY cheaper to get a pre-paid plan ($15 for two months vs. $70-100 for 1 month) but then I won’t be able to use 3g. And really, what is the point of buying an expensive iphone if you can’t use internet except when there is wifi. Decisions, decisions.
2) I wear slippers all the time. I used to not really wear slippers or socks in the house, but I have recently adopted this Korean cultural habit like a boss. I wear my cat slippers in the house, I wear bath slippers in the bathroom, and I would wear slippers at work if I didn’t have to run everywhere all the time.
3) I expect to eat rice at every meal. David and I went to a Korean BBQ a week or so ago and did not realize we had to order rice separately. We had finished our food and were still hungry which was confusing because usually you feel pretty satisfied by the meal. Then we realized, WE HAD NO RICE!!!! I now understand why my dad eats rice everyday. I have only been here for two and a half weeks and expect it at every meal, so going your whole life eating it, must be very hard habit to break. Also, David thinks that if people just ate more rice in the U.S. it would solve a lot of the hunger issues there which is probably true.
4) On another food note, I never know what I am eating. At work, depending on what shift we are working, we sometimes get 3 meals a day (for free) of work food. There is always at least 4-5 different dishes not including Kimchi. One time I thought to myself, “How do Koreans know all the names for the different foods we are eating?” Then I remembered that they have lived here their whole life so of course they know all the names! Usually the food is pretty good and I just eat it no matter what it is. But sometimes it is horrible. The other day we had “fish”. The scales and the bones were still majorly intact (there were more bones than I even knew could exist in a fish). Breakfast is interesting because it is pretty much the same as every other meal. Rice, Kimchi, spicy side dishes… the only difference is there are usually eggs of some sort. The past two breakfasts we have eaten, what I believe are quail eggs. David LOVES them, I think they are weird and gross.
On another note, the other day we had sundae, a specialty of the town we live in. Je Jin, our friend/ Korean assistant at work, told us we were eating “dak” which is a type of noodle. However, David and I were both horrified because we thought she said, “dog”. Imagine how I felt when we came home and David looked up sundae on the internet and found out it was made of pig intestines and probably other things… I think it is better to just not know.
5) I talk very slowly and in short sentences. I…just… want… everyone… to… understand… me… Examples: Bathroom? Lunch time! Let’s go! Huh? Take scissors, cut. Color this. What?!
6) I drink coffee from a can or a dixie cup. Coffee is hella expensive here. I have had exactly one cup of regular coffee from a coffee shop (more on that later) and it cost me 6,000 won or around $5.50. So now I go to convenience stores and get a delicious can of “latte or mocha” for a mere 1,000 won. At work we also have these powdered french vanilla “coffee” that I drink from dixie cups. David sticks to tea.
7) I ride the bus almost everyday. When I lived in Eugene, I hated riding the bus. For some reason I really enjoy it here. To get to work, David and I take two busses. First, the 400 to Byeong-Cheon, then, we transfer to the 500 to our work. We usually leave around 8:10 in the morning and get to work by 8:45 or earlier. The total time on the bus is probably only around 10 minutes though. I also discovered that if you scan your bus card again before you get off, you don’t have to pay for the second bus ride! So to get to work it only cost us 1,350 won each vs the 6,000 won it cost to take a “call van”.
8) I feel confused every single day of my life. No matter how often I tell the children I don’t speak Korean, they don’t believe me. They come up to me and speak whole paragraphs in Korean, to which I just give a confused shrug or say, “English only.” I still don’t know our home address but luckily we live right across the street from Korea Tech University, so if we are lost we can always just tell a cab to take us there. In the office, I feel like I NEVER know what is ACTUALLY happening. It is like there our two realities. David’s and my reality and the Korean reality. We hear our boss speaking angrily in Korean, have no idea if he is mad or just speaking loudly let alone what he could potentially be mad about. Go to a restaurant, order food, hope you didn’t order live octopus. Even when Koreans can speak English to us, a lot of the time (especially with children) I can’t tell the difference because their accent is so thick. This is why I desperately need to learn Korean. I have no time right now though!
9) I enjoy my job! Obviously there are stressful times or things I don’t like but for the most part, I enjoy my job, love even. It’s is like my favorite things about camp only for shorter periods (which in my opinion is pretty great). Hate the kids? They are leaving the next day! Awesome kids? You just had the best day of your life! Then there is the planning part which I enjoy almost as much as the camp days. Plus, free meals, sledding, amusement park, and water park! Pretty good gig if you ask me!