Monday, April 25, 2011

I didn’t leave Korea … I just adapted.

I’ve been in Ulsan for seven months, and while there are plenty of hilarious observations that I should be making, the scenery and everyday occurrences have started to meld together. I have become complacent with my life in Korea. With a few glitches here and there, I am able to communicate what I need and go where I want. If something doesn’t work out, I shrug my shoulders, accept, and move on. My request for a double latte that came out as a doppio is hardly worth noting.

Sooo … after two months and only one thing that prompted me to write a blog post, I’ve settled on posting a random list of occurrences and observations.

OCCURRENCE ONE: Please, can I have … your boyfriend?

After nearly seven months of writing “Please, can I have ____?” on the board, in an attempt to steer my students away from saying “Give me …” which feels rude in English, I finally taped some laminated cards with the question in all of the classrooms.

In one class, this prompted all the students to start making requests. They started out as normal, but quickly escalated to ridiculous, quick-fire requests.

Joel, “Please, can I have one dollar?”

Peter, “Please, can I have a million dollars?!”

Hellen, “Please, can I have your hair?”

Amy, “Please, can I have your body?”

Hellen, “Please can I have your boyfriend?”

“Please can I have your husband?”

Perhaps it was the look of shock on my face or some other reaction that prompted the escalation, but in the end I was blushing and shut it down.

OBSERVATION ONE: In Korea I have yet to see a spot of untouched, untamed wilderness.

OBSERVATION TWO: When teaching kindergarteners, sometimes children will just want to climb on you and will call you mom.

OCCURRENCE TWO: A social experiment with a hammock.

Here are the facts:

1) A casual Easter picnic.

2) Conveniently far enough away that the hammock did not seem associated with our group.

3) Accidental. Definite happenstance.

4) Hilarious to observe Koreans interact with something that was not theirs and something some had obviously never interacted with before.

5) Interesting to note that the use of a hammock is fairly intuitive.

OBSERVATION THREE: A country the size of Kentucky with more than 10 times as many people.

Overall life in Korea is comfortable, which gives foreigners room and time to complain. What’s the number one thing, aside from squat toilets, the price of vegetables and fruit, and the lack of whole wheat bread, foreigners (especially from the Western United States) like to complain about? The lack of give and take with personal space.

OBSERVATION FOUR: Dogs are not to be left off the list of things that Koreans have made “cuter.”As if they weren’t cute enough on their own, in Ulsan, they wear dresses on Easter and get pruned and manicured like the landscape, only with dye (purple, blue, green, you name it).