School has been going really well, I really love where I work, the kids are amazing for the most part, and I absolutely love the ladies I work with. The ladies in my office are all really young, and three of them are not married, so we hang out a lot. It's great! It's nice to have some Korean friends as well as foreigner friends (also, calling oneself, and anyone not Korean, a foreigner all of the time feels really weird, but you kind of get used to it, I guess). They speak English really well, and they're helping me learn Korean things here and there. I've taken to playing Badminton with some of them on Sundays, and I've made other Korean friends through them. I love it!
A while ago, on a Wednesday, a bunch of the ladies and I went out for dinner (we ate what I'm pretty sure was monk fish, which, if you google it, is possibly the ugliest fish you will ever see, but it was actually delicious), and then we went to Ti Amo, a coffee shop, and drank coffee for two hours and sat and talked and gossiped. You get used to a majority of the conversation around you being in Korean, and you can almost figure out what they're talking about from the random body language and expressions that they use, sometimes they even translate the conversation for me. Either way, I think the girls decided that they're going to try and set me up with a nice Korean man... which leads to the following Sunday at badminton when I was introduced to a nice Korean man, and told about one million times that he was single. I won't deny that he's cute and really nice. We were supposed to go out for dinner and a movie, but had to take a rain cheque because the private academy he's a Korean teacher at made him work late.
Shortly after, some of the girls and I went to one of their apartments and had pizza for dinner, and I was asked if I had been keeping in contact with said Korean man (he had asked me for my phone number Sunday night), and when I said that we had been texting and that we were supposed to go to a movie, they informed me that every night after he finishes school, he goes home and studies English so that he can talk to me better. Adorable? I think so.
A few weekends ago, Robyn and I went to Gwangju, a city about two hours north of here by bus. It was pretty damn awesome, we got a lot of shopping done. I bought some new shoes, because I clearly have a problem and need to go into shoe rehab, and a really cool vintagey purse, and we went to the craziest coffee shop! It was called Coffee Story, and the walls were wallpapered with velvet, and all of the tables had really lush velvet couches around them, and each table was made private by the fact that they were surrounded by curtains!
It was insane. Also, our waiter was wearing heels. Waiter. Not waitress. We got fresh Kiwi juice, and Robyn ordered what she thought was one or two scoops of ice cream, but we found out it was three scoops of ice cream, two pepero, two dollops of whipped cream with sprinkles, vanilla ice cream wafer cookies, two saltines (what the hell??), corn flakes, and underneath it all was fruit cup.
Random. Oh, we also learned that in Korea, you cannot just assume something will be the same as it is in Canada. Case in point: Hawaiian pizza. We got really excited when we saw Hawaiian pizza on the menu at the Italian restaurant, but when it arrived, it was not what we expected.
Nope, instead of ham and pineapple, it was pineapple, strawberry, orange, and fruit cup. Disappointment. We did, however, get manicures! The shop was really confusing at first, there was a lot of commotion, and we weren't sure what was going on, but then things got underway, and the girls that worked there were so nice! The manicures took two hours, and cost 15 000 won, which is like $12 Canadian. They tried talking to us in English and it was a lot of fun. There is definitely a huge difference in vibe between Gwangju and Yeosu.
Oh, and the norae boys incident... a bunch of us were hanging out at Annie's house, drinking wine, when we decided we should got to norae bang. We got about halfway there before we found a soju tent (AKA a temporary looking shack made out of a metal frame and some tarps that Koreans like to drink in. There's lights and everything inside, even a little kitchen for food preparation).
I had never been in a soju tent, so we decided it would be a grand idea, and our entrance promptly scared away the rest of the Koreans. We ordered a bottle of soju, and, since a bottle of soju is only about $1.50 Canadian, we decided that we should probably order food too. Fish was on the menu. So, we picked out a sea cucumber.
The lady that was working in the soju tent promptly sliced up the sea cucumber and served it to us raw. I swear it was still moving. So, you have these wriggly, slimy chunks that you need to pick up with metal chopsticks and then dip them into this sauce that tasted like spicy spaghettios. It wasn't bad tasting... it didn't taste like much at all, it just tasted like salt. It was really leathery, though, kind of hard to chew through. Anyways, eventually we went to the norae bang, where Annie and I were approached by a group of boys who wanted us to go to their norae room. They kept asking us to do a sexy dance, so, knowing the sexiest thing possible, we sand Wannabe by the Spice Girls for them. Oh how cruel we are. Anyways, they ran out of time afterwards, and we invited them back to our norae room. We finished up our time, and then tried to get them to take us to another bar. Oh! And when we asked them how old they were, they told us they were 24 (Korean years). We were doubtful, especially since one of them tried to tell us his name was Rain (like the Korean pop star, next time pick something more believable) and that he was visiting from Japan on business. (I call bullshit). Anyways, the attempts to get them to take us to another bar fell flat and they later disappeared... and so did we.
I was waiting to cross the street by my school about five days later, when someone stopped and stood behind me. I turned and looked, and they sort of half smiled and looked like they were going to say something. A few seconds later, the boy behind me (-boy- he was wearing a high school uniform) tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned around to see why, he asked me if I remembered him. He was one of the norae boys! 24 my ass. Unfortunately, that light takes a painfully long time to change. And it definitely took its sweet ass time that day, too.
There was also the bronchitis incident. I knew I had bronchitis. I've had bronchitis a million times before. I am capable of detecting the symptoms shortly after they begin. The only thing I needed was a prescription so that I could get over the stupid thing. I went to lay down to go to sleep on Tuesday, I felt the watery lungness, knew I had bronchitis, couldn't go to the doctor Wednesday because it was Children's Day and a national holiday, so on Thursday, when I got to school my co-teacher told me she was taking me to the doctor. Actually, I apparently looked so ill that the children were becoming alarmed, so my co-teacher switched some classes around so that she could take me to the doctor. The doctor I was taken to was an idiot. Grade A idiot. I told him that I was prone to getting bronchitis and that I had the exact symptoms, he took one look at me and asked me if I was stressed. Then he tried to tell me that I wasn't sick, that I was homesick. And then when I refused to take that for an answer, he listened to my chest and told me that it was my stomach causing lung problems. Seriously? My stomach? Really? What a moron. Of course, I don't have medical training, so when I argued with him for five minutes, I automatically lost in the eyes of my teacher, and I was told not to argue with him, paid the stupid doctor fee, and then had to buy the useless prescription. I explained to my co-teacher on the way back what bronchitis was and told her that I had to go to a doctor that knew what the hell he was talking about so that I wouldn't get pneumonia and die. She took me to the hospital after school. I literally had to just tell the doctor there that my lungs felt liquidy and that I was prone to bronchitis before he told me that I had chronic bronchitis, ordered a chest x-ray, examined the x-ray, and then gave me a prescription. When we told him what the other doctor had said he almost shit himself laughing. At least SOMEONE knew what they were talking about. Oi.
Of course, I got bronchitis right before the big Wando Beach camping trip. And, to rub it in my face even more, my camping stuff all came in by that Friday. I was not going to let a lung illness ruin my fun (I am clearly a good decision maker). So, despite my better judgement, I decided I would bus to Wando that Friday with Anthony... and go camping. Could I have stayed in a hotel on the beach? Yes. But, am I stubborn and cheap? Absolutely. Anyways, I was glad I went, because, despite being one of the only sober people there for a majority of the time, I had an amazing time. Wando Beach is beautiful (and, it's not called Wando Beach, it's called Myeongsashimni Beach, it's just a lot easier to spell Wando).
I had a fantabulous time and I met a lot of really cool new people. It was just a little chilly at night. But, I took my meds and I'm all fine and well now.
Last Sunday I played badminton with my Korean friends. I love hanging out with them so much, they're so kind and so much fun. After badminton we all decided that we wanted to go to the beach. So, we went to Lotte Mart and bought a bunch of stuff to make samgyupsal (basically grilled meat) on the beach. We bought huge shrimp that were sooo yummy, and sausages and thick pork belly. Oh man, food cooked over the fire is uber delicious. And, the night before, I had gone out drinking with two of the guys from the group. They're so funny and so nice. It was a really good time. I have a lot of fun hanging out with everyone, they're really laid back and so welcoming. I didn't really expect to accepted like that by the people I work with when I moved here.
I may have broken a little boy's heart, as well. I was leaving the cafeteria after lunch one day, when
I heard "Tara, Tara teacher" from the stairwell. I walked back and looked up, and there was one of my grade 4 boys standing on the landing. I waved at him and said hello, and he motioned for me to come up the stairs to him. So, I did. When I got up there, he got all serious, looked me straight in the eye and said: "Tara teacher be my girlfriend?" It was the sweetest thing in the ENTIRE world. Oh my goodness. My heart melted. Of course, I had to explain to him that I was way too old for him, and that we should just be friends. And I swear I saw his little heart break. It was so sad!
I will try and keep more up to date with my blog, and hopefully not neglect it for a whole month at a time, like I've been doing (eeps). Anywhoodles, I must get back to lesson planning!