The week of the 14th through the 18th was quite typical and what has become my norm. I was skimping a lot in terms of money because I was so low. This included walking a lot of places instead of taking the subway, but I shouldn’t make it sound like a chore, because just walking around here is FASCINATING. I had my first Korean lesson with my co-worker So Young on the 17th, and I think she is going to push me toward learning Korean FAST. I’m teaching her Spanish in exchange, and while I gave her one verb to conjugate for the next class, she gave me 49 words and a dialogue to memorize. Although this was tough, it will be good to have someone push me.
Friday night was a blast. Nick came to stay at my place for the night and we went out with Paul for Mark’s birthday. He was celebrating right in Kangnam, so it was nice to stay in my neighborhood for a night. We went to a rooftop bar and I actually met some other Minnesotans, which was excellent. The next morning I planned to get a cell phone, but instead ended up in Rachel’s room upstairs making French toast and then watching Fargo. Random, but excellent. But it made me miss Minnesota.
Katie and Jen came in from Suwon for the weekend and were crashing at my place on Saturday. We went out for Mexican (but I just had noodles for dinner due to financial concerns haha) and then went to Woodstock Bar for some beer and darts. My life has become darts, badminton, soccer and soon hopefully rugby. I need to get my health insurance card . . . Afterward, we went to Itaewon, the foreigner district, and danced our little hearts out. I wanted to play pool, but The Loft was full of pool sharks, and I’m not that good. Maybe next time.
I woke up early enough the next morning to see the sunrise, which wasn’t that great due to all the high rises and air pollution. I need to get out to a mountain to actually enjoy nature I think. Sunday was, typically, very lazy. Back in the states I would always work on Sundays, but now I don’t really have anything to do. I should pick up a hobby for Sundays, maybe another Korean class. SO MUCH FREE TIME!
Monday was a new week of lessons. One of them was really fun. It started with “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” and then switched to having the students brag about themselves using comparatives (such as ‘I’m prettier than you’). The students really had fun, even though they were kind of mean to each other every once in a while. Monday night I was going to hang out with Sam, but my teachers really wanted me to go to their soccer game. Teacher life here is completely different than the states. They do everything together. There are sports clubs, dinner nights, bar nights. Crazy. I went to the soccer game and they gave me a jersey but I was wearing sneakers. And it was raining. And I haven’t played soccer in four years. It was pretty bad. But I had fun, and am going to go out and by cleats soon so I can actually play.
Tuesday I had what may be my last gathering at my place on a Tuesday night. Next week I start Korean lessons. But this Tuesday, I had people over for breakfast for dinner. It was fun, but people had to leave early to go to Evan’s Open Mic night. Sonali, Rachel, Mark and I (the people in my building) ended up watching Inglourious Basterds which was fantastic, even though it was so gory. Or maybe that is why it was good.
After work on Wednesday the Korean English teachers brought me out for dinner. The principal and vice principal showed up as well, and we actually had a lot of fun with me calling the VP ‘nuna’ which means older sister. Every time someone finished their drink I was expected to run over and fill their glass, since I was the youngest. However, it also meant that I didn’t have to pay, because the oldest person covered the meal. Afterward, we went to noraebang, which is Korean karaoke, and sang for a good two hours before heading home. It was so fun to go out with people in their fifties to karaoke. This country is crazy.
Thursday was pay day. Finally. My whole life has changed. I now literally have too much money. Luckily, I have student loans to pay, otherwise I would live a little too of a decadent lifestyle. The first thing I did was send some money home to pay off part of my credit card bill, bought a new cell phone, and then went out for coffee and cheesecake with So Young for my Korean lesson. My cell phone is awesome. I can watch TV on it, even in the subway. Of course, it is Korean TV, but that makes it even more exciting. I got home late because of all these activities, but Sam came to my place and we went out with Rachel and Sonali for Korean barbecue. Mashisoyo (it is delicious). Afterward, Andie and Mark met up with us and we went out for a celebratory martini at the sky bar up my street. However, it was a gin martini, and I was disappointed. I couldn’t stop playing with my phone. And guess what! I got a pet. Well, he is on my phone, but he is a little cute puppy.
Friday was very exciting because, well, it is Friday. I have a demonstration class I am giving on Tuesday to other Korean English teachers with Wol Su, one of my co-teachers. She has been really nervous about it and we had a practice class on Friday. It went really well, but Wol Su is still really stressed out. The lesson plan was due last Friday, and she still hadn’t handed in a final draft. At the last moment, they had me proof read the document, and there were a lot of mistakes. I feel bad because I kind of stressed out the VP at the last minute. Everything was figured out, however, and so I went to badminton after school. Still working on my form, but I am definitely getting better. I’m going to come back to the States and be a superstar at a sport nobody really plays seriously back home. C’est la vie.
Afterward, it was time for a birthday party for Katy. She was turning 25 (in Korean years) and so we went out to a Mexican place for dinner. The theme of the party was K-Pop so I got all dressed up in bright colors and looked very Korean.
However, I took the subway the wrong way! The party was at Sinchon, which is near Hongik University. But I accidently went to Sincheon, which is near my house. This minimal pair (two words that only have one difference in sound value, like ‘seen’ and ‘sign’) cost me an hour. But it was pretty funny, so I laughed it off. But still, Sinchon and Sincheon on the same line? 신전 and 신존? Someone needs to talk to the urban planner. I did eventually make it to “On the Border” and had some delicious Mexican food. I invited two of my co-workers and one of their friends, and they seemed to have a great time as well. However, unlike us fat Americans they are smart, and bought one fajita dish to split between the three of them. I gorged and felt stuffed and sick afterwards. We danced it off though later, and went to one of the best clubs I have ever been to in my life. Katy and I ended up dancing until about three in the morning.
Saturday was slow to start, but really fun in the afternoon. I was supposed to go to Sinchon again to attend a gathering thrown by my recruiter, Korvia, but, being me, I thought it said Sincheon. Once again, I went to the wrong subway station. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I was so upset with myself that I decided to skip the gathering and instead walk to Seoul forest from Jamsil. Since it was a two hour walk, it definitely simmered me down. At Seoul forest, there was a Korean folk drum dancing competition thing. If you have the time, look it up on youtube. It was amazing, and the last song they invited people to come up and dance with them. Some random woman grabbed my arm, and before I knew it I was on the big screen dancing away. I hope that I am on some random Korean cable channel. Afterward, I went back to Hongik University to meet up with Aislinn where we went back to the club of the night before and danced some more. There are some only girl bars in Hongdae, and Ais tried to get me in, but it didn’t work. I even tried to be Ellen Degeneres. Haha. We eventually just headed back to her place and crashed.
Sunday was the best day of the week. After an awesome Vietnamese meal at a restaurant near my house and the best iced mocha I have ever had, I met up with Ais at the World Cup Stadium and watched a great soccer game. We were rooting for FC Seoul, and they won, so that was awesome. The stadium was GIGANTIC, and watching the fans was almost as fun as watching the game. The players were the best I have ever seen in a live setting, and I don’t know why my ten years of soccer playing didn’t give me skills anywhere near those of these players. Some people just have the stuff. After the game, Ais and I went to her place to just relax and watch some movies. She also explained rugby to me, because I want to join the team here. It is really confusing, but looks like so much fun. I got home late that night, but turned the TV on and there was a program about Antarctica. I had to watch it, even though I had to wake up early the next morning. I have another place I want to visit before I die; it looks so cool (I guess that you can take cool either way in this sentence).
Now I’m at work. There was this weird announcement thing for the first part of the day, and now I’m not sure when I have my classes. Soon, however, I will be teaching my students about Halloween and Christmas, and hopefully I will learn about some Korean holidays myself.