Coffee break

17 05 2010

I will never tire of people-watching on the porch of a coffee shop.  Short list of Korean commonalities that make me giggle:

1.  Very drunk business men stumbling down the sidewalk hand in hand bantering passionately about God-knows-what.

2.  So many young couples walking around in matching outfits you would think it’s Sadie Hawkins.

3.  High, high heels with short, short shorts.

4.  Men and women alike constantly pulling out mini vanity mirrors to ensure they still look flawless.

5. The eruption of umbrellas at the slightest indication of rain.

All these things I used to find insanely bizarre are starting to become quite endearing.  Although it angers and frustrates me when overhearing “way-gook” (which is a less than congenial term for ‘foreigner’) among some locals when entering a store or restaurant, there are those who will make a point to come up to say “Hi” in the street, or go out of their way (sometimes very far out of their way) to try to help you out.  These simple gestures of kindness, consideration, and curiosity more than make up for those of the ‘we hate foreigners’ persuasion.

I am waking up early tomorrow to trek to the PNU area for my first Korean class; excited to finally start learning other words besides “ne” (yes), “anniyo” (no), “kamsahmnida” (thank you), “yeogi” (here, taxi), and “muliao!” (I don’t know!).  Also trying to learn “Kai, Bai, Bo”, which is the Korean version of Rock, Paper, Scissors with slightly different rules.  (Honestly, “trying to learn” and “Kai, Bai, Bo” are two phrases that should really never be used in the same sentence, but it seems the only opportunities to learn are posed in the middle of the night after a few too many rounds of soju…)  Once I learn this my kids might think I’m cool.  Although I did win my boys over today during our “What did you do over the weekend” conversation at the beginning of class.  They always answer with “play computer games”, but this time I got a bit more detail – “play GTA.”

Me: “Grand Theft Auto?”  Boys: “Brittany Teacher! You know Grand Theft Auto?!?”

I won some major brownie points with that one…

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I am so predictable.

9 05 2010

Music has always had a power to provide a sense of solace in me when nothing else can – a discovery I made when I was much younger and have been nurturing ever since.  Last night I was introduced to Monk: a small, divey venue in the PNU district and immediately fell in love!  Something tells me I’ll be spending a lot of time in this smokey, underground Brittany-haven.  The only noticable difference between this show and the ones I frequent back home (aside from the obvious that the band members are all Korean instead of tall, skinny white guys) is the lacking presence of sleeve tattoos.  Side note: the only tattoos you will find in Korea are those accidentially slipping out from under a foreigner’s t-shirt sleeve; Koreans just don’t do it.  Other than differences of the skin it was bizarre how everything else felt exactly the same and I could have walked outside after the show to just another street in downtown, USA.  What I find more bizarre though, is the fact that I really find something like this bizarre.  It’s funny how we humans have such difficulty imagining a life outside our own; it’s almost like nothing else really exists outside of our own spheres of existence.  We know it does, of course, but I keep catching myself in suprise at people liking/doing the same things that we do 8,000 miles away.  I find it interesting that as distance grows, empathy seems to dissolve.  I don’t mean to make assumptions about the population as a whole because some people don’t feel this at all, I’m sure, but it is obvious to me that this is a real human condition. 

And there you have my existential babble for the day.

Well I am off to Nompo-dong to chase away the Sunday blues and hopefully watch my friend eat live octopus.