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Interesting View

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Today I am here to share with you a few things about a waygook perspective on weird shit in Korea. Excuse my french, but you can’t get much weirder than this place. So if the world does decide to collapse next week the day before my tropical Christmas vacation, what better place to be than Korea.

I know that I often resort back to ‘work weirdness’ when writing this blog, probably because, I am here, at work, ‘deskwarming.’ I always think of about 5-20 things per night after work however that I could write a blog, or even a book about, and just ask why Korea, or my trademark phrase ‘ohhh koreaaaa…’

It took about 4 months to accept the fact that I will never understand Koreans. This culture is beyond me and I think coming to terms with it is the best thing I could do in my two year stay here. Only being 10 months in however, each day, I discover something new; sometimes exciting, sometimes disturbing, but for the most part intriguing.

I love Korea. I love the weirdness. I’ve always called myself weird, so I think I fit in just right…. Okay I lied, I don’t fit it, and never will. I’d have to be about 80 pounds and shorter than 5’5, wear six 6 shoe, and have black hair and black eyes. I’d probably be wearing florescent sneakers with leggings attached to a skirt, some oversized sweater, some trendy jacket and lots of B.B. cream with lots of whitening enhancements.

One realization that I had after going to Japan for 5 days was that, Japan is different. I know I was ignorant and having never been, just assumed that they were quite similar. I was wrong! If you took Seoul and Osaka landscape and subtracted all the people, maybe the buildings look alike. They’re some crazy Asian language blinking and flashing everywhere, store fronts selling majority women’s clothes and accessories and tons of restaurants and bars, everywhere, open all the time.   It was nice to see a change of scenery, different crazy Asian language everywhere and people speaking differently, but most of all the people were different. Koreans all look alike. They do! They all shop at the same stores and wear the same clothes, to a T. There is a few neighborhoods that go ‘off the beaten path’ and dare to be different, and maybe I am unaware, but for the most part, these are university parts of Seoul.

Sinsa, is a main shopping district. For the majority, they are fancy boutiques, Forever 21 mixed in there somehow, and random expensive shoppes everywhere. This is a big target for where Japanese people come to shop. It is all the rage these days, to look like a K-pop star, and for starters, dress like them and change your hairstyle. You’re pretty much there.

Hongdae, a university district and very popular among artists and anyone starting to find themselves, or daring to be different. It’s a nice breath of fresh air to go there and see these people and eclectic vibe or something of the sort.

There are tons of up and coming neighborhoods in Seoul, but these two are that I have experienced to be different and quite refereshing.

Gangdong, is quite a  nook of Seoul. It is the far East side ‘south of the river.’ Most areas  in Seoul are referred to if you are north or south of the river. Not quite sure the meaning of these labels, but I know it means something. Gangnam is south of the river and just a hop skip and a jump or an hour bus ride or a 40 minute subway away. In general, I live about 40 minutes by subway to pretty much everywhere. I cannot complain, but in March I will live even closer to everything!

Gangdong is a typical Seoul outskirt neighborhood. It is very close to Cheonho dong, which is more hustle and bustle than Gangdong. Which I referred to earlier about most people dressing and looking alike, is what I see on a daily basis. I usually have to escape my area most nights of the week, if I stay in more than 2 nights during the week I feel a slight form of cabin fever creeping up on me. It is nice to feel comfortable in my surroundings, but I also like to explore new places.

The past 2 weeks have been unbearably. cold.

Festival season

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Just a small update on recent events here. Really starting to enjoy Korea, Seoul, and life abroad as a whole. After a bit of a rocky start can only go uphill from here right.
Spring beer festival was in napsapyeong to kick off the spring weather of intense rain showers and down pours. But as you can imagine it didn’t stop us beer drinkers seeking free delicious homemade beer. After working at a microbrewery and being spoiled with delicious brews its hard to drink cass and hite on a regular basis. Much free beer was consumed from a variety of places and all in all good end to the day with some pork tacos from a truck.

Cherry blossom festival in yeuido was a bit of a let down since they were exactly bloomed yet, but a good time with good company and a nice park in the city is always a good change.

Lotus lantern festival and parade was incredible. Def can cross that off my bucket list i took a stupid amount of photos and loved everysecond of the two week period the lanterns were displayed at various temples.

World dj festival was held just east of seoul this year in yangpeong. Amazing weekend bit of a storm passed through ripping practically every tent out of the ground and away some that never were to be found( sorry alan and mark 😦 )
But all in all amazing weekend of dancing drinking djs and silent disco oh and being dirty just for another d word but yes we were smelly by day 3.

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This weekend will be attending korean queer culture festival. Not sure what I’m in for, but should be interesting never been to one before but Korea isn’t exactly an accepting place for gay culture so we will see.

Next up in Mid July is the Mud Festival which I have always seen photos of friends that have been to Korea before so I’m pretty excited to experience it first hand. I will be joining a group of people through my Korean language class, CLS (Conversational Learning Seoul) and they seem like a fun group, so should be good.

After that will be the UMF Korea. This is probably what I am most pumped for at this point. Huge DJ names will be performing there, unlike when I went to World DJ festival I didn’t know anyone that would be playing, but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity so I bought a ticket on my birthday and greatly anticipating this 2 day mayhem just a walk away from my house 🙂 Woo really take for granted sometimes being sooo close to everything living right in Seoul, but I will be happy when I can get out one of these weeks and travel.

Next weekend, June 9th, I will be traveling to Yeosu Expo in the South of Korea. Most of the posts (trying to not make it that way though), are from events sponsored by them and given free tickets to go see some shows. Most of them being non-verbal shows or musical type deals, but all been pretty nice especially when it’s free 🙂

Pretty excited for the weekend to get out and get away. Although I wasn’t able to attend the orientation, it seems like we will be put to work photographing and going to different parts of the expo to take some photos and later post about it. Not quite sure what I got my self into, but anyway free trip can’t beat that.

June 6th is Memorial Day here in Korea happens to fall on a Wednesday so looking forward to another short week next week. Just found out last night at dinner with some c0-workers we will be having a Pajama Party at school on a Friday in July, gotta love when school sucks up my weekend hopes of leaving this city. School again on the Last sunday in June for father’s day. Ohhh Korea. It’s a love/hate relationship.

In better news, two weeks and counting until I am reunited with a good friend of mine, Maggie. Maggie is Canadian and we met in Australia when we worked at lovely Hog’s Breath together. She now lives the life (literally) in Singapore and I was able to visit her last year for St. Patty’s Day and now she has a layover in Seoul on her way to home to do a roadtrip of the Us/Canada (nice), and we will spend the saturday night dancing away till early sunday morning when she has to depart again. Really nice to see familiar faces around here. And being reunited with old friends of course.

It’s Friday here, thank goddd. Going hiking for the first time Sunday, so that will be nice. I am going to try and post here more regularly (and make it more interesting for my 2 readers out there, much love). Hope all is well back on the home front,

Love always xoxo

day 6

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“You’re on your own. and you know what you know. and you are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Dr. Seuss.

Im not sure why exactly it’s so hard for me to keep up with a blog, but I figured getting on a normal life schedule (9-6ish) maybe this can find some time too.

Korea. I’m here. Seoul. Surviving and Thriving on culture and the amazingness it has to offer. Each day gets better and better. Friday was my first day of school. I went in to ‘prep’ or watch the other teachers prep and speak Korean. I did a little work, found out I was teaching debate class Monday morning to elementary students. Had my head spinning. I never took debate until high school and now I was about to teach it to elementary students. I have technically had one week of teaching in my entire life before coming to Korea. That was when I went on the FijiDreaming excursion to the villages of Fiji and taught students basics, very basics, and how to brush their teeth/good hygiene. For some reason I always wanted to teach children English since then. Teaching is rewarding, that is the truth.

The weekend was nice. Got over my fear of eating out alone, was a funny experience. They wouldn’t take my order maybe thinking I was waiting for someone, so I took it upon myself to go to the counter and order. That was after I walked in and they said ‘take out?’ I said ‘No’ and held up my pointer finger, as in table for one. It was called the Frypan. The couples on either side of me (cute, right) both got their food. Literally a boat of chicken piled (balanced really) on top of these delicious homemade potato chips. I was like uhh what did I get myself into. Every dish was designed for multiples, and I chose this place… but it was delicious and have been enjoying the left overs (have also been enjoying heating them up in a frying pan, more on that later).

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Saturday morning  I had my medical exam, teeth, chest x-ray and all. I will pick up the results later this week dun dun dun.

Then I went to meet some friends in Itaewon, the foreigner neighborhood. First experience of culture shock to date. About 45 minutes later by subway i was there, back in the good ole’ US of A. I walked outside the station and turned around to find Taco Bell, Quiznos, a bunch of street vendors and all Foreigners. What a shock. I knew it was a lot of stuff like that, but I had to collect my thoughts before hailing a cab. We don’t even have those delicacies in Doylestown.

Went to my friends place up the road a bit, let’s just say it blows my ‘shanty’ out of the water. A washer/dryer combo deal (2 in 1, impressive), two burners, I tv with more than two channels, couches, roommates, multiple rooms, etc. Okay some of that I could live without, but it’s nice there.
Glad I don’t live in that area, but nice to know it exists not too far away.

Went to Insadong, this really cool artsy fartsy outdoor mall type thing. Really made me feel like I was here, in Korea with all the cute shit. Everywhere! Each store was like it’s own designer full of cute stuff. Hopefully I can figure out pictures and post them on here, for now this is a draft…

Did a little exploring, went to a microbrew, sweet stuff. Signed up for a booze cruise on St. Patty’s Day down the Han River. Should be interesting…

Made it home in one piece, and mastered (nearly) the subway system in one day, I was damn proud.

Sunday I went to meet my friend Mike at Coex Mall. We met at JFK airport, the only other non Korean on the plane (minus the Army dude on the phone) so was nice to compare stories thus far, etc. The coex mall is the largest underground shopping area in asia, i believe that is the correct statistic. It has a movie theater (16 screens), a hotel, a Kimchi Museum (yup we went), a grocery store, a million shops, a few department stores, place is massive. Had a good time. Found some stuff I had been looking for (a spatula, a pepper grinder, salt, an outlet converter, etc.)
Came back to my area and went to dinner on this road near my with a bunch of restaurants. Had a funny experience there, tried ordering and the man next to us chimed in ‘do you need help?’ it was pretty funny, but not embarassing at all.

So we ordered noodles. They came cold with half a hard boiled egg on top. and a side plate of cooked pork. Put some mustard sauce in the noodle soup dish and it was quite good. Hadn’t heard the best things about this dish, but I found it pretty enjoyable myself. Then stopped for gelato waffles after. Yum!

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Today was school. Spent the day prepping/had a nice lunch (they ordered take-out for us had some fried pork cutlet w bbq sauce, rice, and some good salad thing). Then i sat through orientation (in Korean) for the other teachers. And then it was time,… the elementary students were arriving for their debate class. Nervous is an understatement, but I laugh now when I think about the built up anticipation I felt in my stomach.
Had a great time. First hour was 4 kids and we just hung out drew pictures. Cute as a button, except Thomas, I was warned about him, I fear for him growing up..
Second class was 3 kids, they were my favorite, Benjamin Estelle and Sunny 🙂 All missing their two front teeth. and friends so they like finished each others sentences hugged a lot and were very close. Loved em. Sunny has a pet hedgehog I found out, still interested in this. We talked about our families and pets, but she is the only one with a pet.

 

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Anyway, school tomorrow. All the students come with their parents and I have to introduce myself or something to everyone, again makes me nervous but im sure it’ll go fineeee. Hope I can get pictures on here to make it all better. And wait till you see my shanty. My washing machine in the doorway the shower in the sink without a door. The “stove” the “fridge” oh and my massive tv. yup.

Goodnight from seoul. Much love xx