I love so many things already about Korea. The food is amazing: samgyeopsal (barbeque), pajeon (Korean pancakes), kalmegi (seagull), all the seafood, dduk (rice cakes), bibimbop, and kimchi. Oh, I could write odes to kimchi, I love it that much! (On a side note, I'm definitely gaining weight, so maybe I should hold back on the rice...)
The people are incredibly gracious, industrious, and funny. I had an old woman stop me and a teacher friend on the street and ask us if we were teachers, then go on to tell us that we needed to "hurry up and learn Korean!" because we were so pretty. The other day, a lady in an elevator saw that I and the same teacher friend were holding muffins, and told us to "eat rice instead - you're in Korea!" The amount of advice and general help I've gotten since I've arrived is astounding. Honestly, if I were in another country, I might not have gotten it.
When I go out in public, I get a lot of attention, ranging from stares to comments, but I have never been accosted. I have never once felt uncomfortable - honestly, I'm tall, pale, female, and very obviously Western, so how else are people here supposed to react? It's when you start taking it personally that the attention starts seeming vindictive, and I refuse to look at it that way. I just meet their eyes and smile, and half of them look away, but the other half smiles back -- and it's that latter half that makes it worth it.
As a teacher, I feel like I get to see a slightly different side of Korean culture. I get to see children before the stress of school and general life start sapping the energy out of them. My kids are (for the most part) adorable, and they work their little heinies off to make me happy. Because I'm teaching at April (Chungdahm), I have to stick to the class structure and syllabi, but school is easy to prepare for, and I have some leeway in how I teach. I'm teaching a music and lyrics class currently, and it's pretty awesome - we sang Yellow Submarine last week. The kids ate it up with a spoon, especially when I added dance moves and we started dancing around the room singing at the top of our lungs. Good times!
I'll be starting a Science Project and Speaking summer intensive course in the next few weeks, which means more hours (and overtime!) BUT less free time. I'm already pretty exhausted, but that could be the remnants of Friday night's partying in Apujeong or just general malaise. It's the rainy season right now, which means rain every day. I'm trying to get used to it, but after living in Texas, where rain apparently is against the law or something, it's a little odd to keep waking up and seeing gray skies. Whatever! I'll adapt. :)
For bookkeeping purposes, I'm going to start a to-do list of places I want to visit and things I want to do:
- Kyungbok-gung and Changduk-gung (palaces!)
- Eat live octopus
- Jongmyo Shrine
- Namsan Tower
- National Museum
- Korean Folk Village
- Lotte World
- Yongsan Electronics Market
- Learn how to cook Korean food
- Hike some mountains!