Monday, January 17, 2011

Now It Makes Sense…Kind Of (2 December)

I Shall Not Torture Myself

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been in Korea for two months.  The last month seems to have been a combination of a social whirl of meeting new foreigners and finding my feet at school.  This week has probably been my most exhausting but, I’m proud to say that I have somehow managed to stay a-top of everything although I’m really tired.  Since the students are now finished with their assessments, we were told to give them self-study time to prepare for next week’s final exams.  Mr Jeong has told me not to torture myself during these lessons by standing – I should sit and do things that I enjoy while the students study.  My approach is that if I’m allowed to do the things that I enjoy during these lessons, the students should be allowed to follow suit.  They seem to think that I’m joking when I tell them that they can use today’s lessons for self-study or “catch-up-on-sleep” time. 

A Long Chat

I’m exhausted so I’m almost tempted to excuse myself from tonight’s game night with my Kiwi-mom, another South African and an American I’ve only met twice but we’re meeting in a coffee shop so I force my feet to hunt down a taxi and head across town.  I don’t actually know what to tell the taxi driver in order to get to the Angel-in-us coffee shop but I remember it’s a short walk from the cinema so I use this as a landmark.  I’m slightly put out to arrive at the coffee shop – late as usual – and discover that I’m the only foreigner there.  I’m in the middle of an upsetting game of ‘find-the-foreigner’ when my Kiwi-mom arrives followed shortly thereafter by the American.  I still have mixed feelings about the other South African and the American but they’re both close to my age so I’m willing to give them a shot. My biggest concern is that they’re already friends so I’m the odd one out….

Game night is a weekly girls’ night: The guys play screen golf, and we get together and play a cool board game called “10 days in Europe”. It’s an interesting game that really tests mental skill – but sometimes we cheat and just gossip instead.  It’s all a ruse….  Although we’d intended playing the game tonight, we somehow end up chatting the night away.  The other South African and the American help me to understand some of the stranger quirks that my Korean colleagues seem to have and tell me about Korean culture and beliefs that help me to better understand why they’re so reluctant to be friends with me.


The American shares a funny story too: Her name is Maggie but since there is no ‘a’ (short and sharp like the phonetic alphabet) sound in Korean, she is called ‘Meggie’ which means Catfish in Korean. Consequently, all of her students laugh each time she introduces herself as “Catfish teacher”. 

Catfish and I need to do bank transfers for the Christmas trip we’re taking to Jeju Island with Adventure Korea.  Spotting a bank across the road, we head over to finalise everything and the subject of clothes shopping in Seoul pops up once again.  Before I have time to think, Catfish has offered to accompany me to Seoul, specifically Myeong-dong, where the other South African told me a friend of hers managed to find some “Largeee-sizeeee” clothes.  I don’t know Catfish very well but we’d better have lots in common because that’s 5 hours of travelling on the bus alone and an otherwise very long day together…

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