“No, Seriously…Now What?”

If that isn’t the question of the hour, I don’t know what it is! “Now what?” INDEED! Since my last post, I finished up my teaching contract in Korea, went to Bali, came back to Korea, and now I’m back home in Chicago! I’m currently sitting in my niece’s neon pink room, pulling hard, plastic Smurfs toys out from under me, and applying for jobs- big stuff.

Full disclosure: coming home wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. And neither was going to Bali, now that I think about it. Don’t get me wrong- Bali was a dream vacation and I am SO glad I decided to go, but after two weeks of taking in all the beauty and being able to spend without worrying about money because of how cheap everything is- something told me to get home. For some reason, I couldn’t sit there anymore not knowing what I was going to do next in my life. I wasn’t anxious or scared or anything like that. I was just excited to do something new. I’m DONE teaching English (although I do have a backup job in Korea all lined up JUST IN CASE) but I have no idea what’s next…

But, now that I’m home, Im also dealing with something that’s never been an issue for me- anxietyyyyyy. We all get normal bouts of anxiety, but this isn’t normal for me. I first noticed it on the plane over from Korea. My flight had an issue (coincidentally, it was United -___-) and then it was delayed and basically it was just taking forever to get home! Combine that with this weird bug/parasite that I picked up while in Bali that’s left me having to go or feeling like I have to go to the bathroom every 6 seconds AND also going through THAT time of the month and let’s just say the first few days have not been a great success. I’m living with my sister and her boo, while also making sure I put in time with my mom and family AND I’m unemployed and thinking of all of that stuff altogether can just be too much all at once! Never in my life have I not even had an inkling what the next step would be and this is the first time in YEARS that I haven’t had at least 2-3 jobs. That might be one of the harder things to deal with..Let’s be real- I am NO master saver and thoroughly enjoy LIVING life and that usually ends up with me not being careful with my money.

But, I don’t regret all the things I did in Korea. I do regret not preparing more for my return home BUT this just be that last step I need to push me to go to New York or to take some crappy job that makes me work even harder to accomplish my goals… all I know is I’m already reminded how much I HATE the resume/cover letter aspect of applying for jobs  -______-

Not exactly a funny post today, just an update! I know a few other people who have returned home have reached out to me about finding it weird/difficult being there so hopefully this helps them or someone in the future! PS- send those New York job openings/apartment vacancies MY WAY!

“The Best is Yet to Come…I Think”

Currently sitting in my office. My co-workers are going to town cleaning the office. I’m sitting at my desk, using my peripheral vision to the max, willing them to sit the eff down and just join me in celebrating the fact that we don’t have classes today! This is maybe the 4 millionth time that they have just started randomly cleaning the office and sweeping all around me, while I just sit here, pretending my computer and I are one and as long as my monitor is turned on, I am NOT in the room…

Anyways, I am less than 3 weeks away from finishing my EPIK contract here in Korea- AGH! I still thoroughly remember coming to the three-month mark and planning my escape  -___-  Now that I’m almost to the end, I’m actually considering staying in Korea for a little while longer. The adjustment period in Korea took way longer than I expected (6-7 months!) but now I’m comfortable here and can navigate my way around-for the most part!

Observation: Why is it that when you are coming to the end of your time in a certain place, the coolest people start coming out of the woodwork?! It was the same thing in high school and college. The last days are when you meet the coolest people who have been there the whole time and your paths just never crossed. That’s what’s happening here in Korea. My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad co-teachers are, for the most part, GONE and now these cool ones that don’t suck up all the air around us are here and I’m out -____-

…But that’s life. So what am I going to do next? Here is where I’m at:

  1. Signing a contract at a private academy (hagwon) or some other type of teaching job here in Korea and saving up some more
  2. Heading over to Europe until the money runs out and just figuring it out after
  3. Going home to the best city in existence (I really shouldn’t clarify which city, but we all know it’s Chicago!)
  4. Finally making the move to New York-which is what I am leaning towards

After I got back from vacation and had my first real class, I was CONVINCED that there was no way I could stay another year and lesson plan and teach! But then I remembered that it’s because I am teaching with co-teachers, whereas if I was teaching in a private academy, there’s no one breathing down your neck and no co-teachers and in most cases, you don’t have to lesson plan. Praise him! But if I did get a new job, I don’t think I would stay for a whole year. Knowing that, I could definitely get through more time here.

Anyways, I know it’s completely last minute and I should’ve booked my tickets months ago, but my life has never worked that way! Everything is always last minute and somehow it always works out.

So many people are telling me to stay here and not worry about coming home, nothing’s changed, etc. BUT I always try to be mindful of not staying in the same place for too long! Believe me, you can live SO comfortably in Korea, once you get established here. They pay well, the work isn’t hard, and it’s actually pretty Westernized, compared to most Asian countries. When I started my job search a whole TWO weeks ago, I actually had places contact ME for work!  Dafuq?! In America, no one is getting contacted for jobs unless they are known in their field and even then, it’s rare! But something that always bothers me is when I get a change of scene and I get that feeling of, “WTF am I doing at my job? I’m wasting away!” Those moments always get me so motivated to work towards my goals. So I definitely am weary of staying here too long, only to take a trip back home and get hit with real life and pulled out of my Korea daze! Shooooot, just after typing that my hands are itching to head over to Google and  find flights to Italy and just say eff it!

I keep asking myself what I would do if the money wasn’t an issue. Aside from taking advantage of cheap cosmetic services here (laser hair removal, facials, LASIK) and wanting to save more money, I don’t know that I would stay in Korea! But then again, as romantic as it sounds, I don’t want to head over to Italy, live off of my savings, and wind up in the same position I was before I came to Korea- looking for a job in my field while working at a job that didn’t do much for me except pay the bills.

This is quite possibly the first time I have complete freedom and some money to do whatever I want! There are no classes I need or want to take (except for maybe a pasta making class taught by Vincenzo, whose family owns the pizzeria I live above, where I spend my days writing and getting paid trillions of dollars…) I already graduated from college, I don’t have kids or a house or even a single “a” to worry about! It’s actually kind of scary in a way because I don’t want to waste time…but I also do want to waste time…

Anyways, I didn’t write this so a bunch of people who do have the things I mentioned above can tell me what they would do if they were me. I don’t want to hear about being young and taking advantage of my situation because I’M the one who LITERALLY just told YOU I was in this situation! Let’s not be redundant! I just wanted to update people on what’s what. OH, if anyone has a villa in Italy that they’re not currently using, then send them my way! Other than that, thanks for still reading this and I hope to hear from you soo… Obviously, I’m still in professional email writing mode…Kay, bye.

“Where are all the Adults?”

Lorrrrrdtttt, it’s been awhile since my last post! It’s officially winter vacation in Korea, which means that desk-warming is in full affect. Desk-warming, for those of you who don’t know, is when teachers still have to come to work from 8:30-4:30 and stay at their desks. There are no classes to teach, no lessons to plan, and literally nothing to do. Therefore, you sit and warm your desk. Love the name, hate the action  -___-  Legend has it that desk-warming is the result of teachers in the past being given unfair vacations. For example, some teachers would get the full two months off instead of the two weeks we get in our contract. Once word got out that some people were off scuba diving in Thailand while others were stuck sitting in their offices, the office of education made a blanket rule that everyone had to be at work UNLESS they were on their specific 2-week vacation -__-.

Anyways, since my last post, here are some highlights:

  1. My bestie Julia and I got to spend some quality time together at the airport just after Thanksgiving. It felt ridiculously great to see someone from home. She also brought me some American goods (Flamin’ Hots, Milk Duds, other chips) and I am eternally grateful. Bud, if you’re reading this, it’s too late… JK! I miss you and I can’t wait to see you soon!
  2. The holidays -Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s- came and went. I hung out with my co-teachers on Thanksgiving, my Hawaiin friend and soup buddy on Christmas, and myself on New Year’s. The holidays weren’t bad because no one here really cared about them! I, however, felt a SINCERE longing for holiday food! That’s probably what I missed the most….hey, I talk to just about everyone in my family every day. I miss them, but food… that’s a love of a different kind… *le sigh*
  3. I’m not sure if it’s because my time here is rapidly coming to an end, but I’ve really come to like living in Korea. Read that closely: LIVING in Korea, not working here… My apartment is in the ideal neighborhood, I’m close to transportation and huge grocery stores, and I’ve gotten to know some of the locals- basically what you expect and want when you move to a foreign country, but it took me a long time to really appreciate my setup!

I know that aside from maybe three people, no one gives a fawk about the things I just filled you in on. The point of this blog is and always has been to give true accounts of what working here is like, and OF COURSE, after two months, I could fill a book with stories about the day to day struggle with my co-teachers, co-workers, and the public education system in general. As you all know, the last co-teacher I mentioned was Agent Kay. She has definitely become my leeeeeast favorite person to work with, let alone SEE. The very thought of her….ugh. A few weeks back, we had a really terrible incident in class and I’m mentioning it here because it’s something that I know other teachers will face or have already faced.

To start, before I even began teaching with Kay, hell, before we even finished our first semester of school, she already began to fill me in on what the rest of the year would be like with her -__-. For months, I had been hearing rumors of one particular 5th grade student who is special needs and was prone to lashing out in class and throwing tantrums. I had heard from at least three teachers that just before the last school year ended, he had a fit and actually picked up a computer monitor and slammed it to the ground. I always asked them the same things, “What did you do?” “Why isn’t he in a special class where he can get the attention he needs?” “Do you have any training in special education?” The teachers always responded with answers like, “I just waited for him to stop and tried to calm him down.” “We don’t have classes like those.” “I don’t have training.” To add the cherry on top of a shit sundae, after the awkward silence that usually followed their ridiculous answers, the teachers always said, “But he is so cute, so we don’t really do anything.” Basically, they were trying to make me and themselves feel better by saying that he’s really cute and it’s really cute to watch him go nuts! -___- .

After a semester of regular classes with the kid in question (not that cute, btw…) the day came where he finally snapped. After the kids finished taking their English final, Kay passed their tests back and was starting to go over them. This kid got a ‘B’. As soon as he saw his paper, he started crying silent tears. Kay just kept on reading the answers. Then, he slammed the paper down and everyone got scared and looked at him. When he saw them staring, he started letting out SOBS. I have never heard someone cry like this. It was as if he had just found out that Amy Schumer had won an Oscar… or that his mom had been murdered. They were deep, heartbreaking sobs. I immediately looked at Kay, who gave me intense side eye and kept on going! He starts shaking the desk and she starts reading LOUDER. Now, I’m standing at the front of the room TWO inches away from his desk! ALL of the kids are staring at me, including the one who is crying and shaking his desk. Kay turns into a fawking robot and refuses to even blink or move at all. She’s been petrified and I almost wish Lord Voldemort was there to hit her with the good ol’ Avada Kedavra… Finally, he shoves his chair back and JUMPS up. I jumped, which scared the kids, and he walks up to Kay and starts screaming and yelling at her. She stops and asks him what his deal is and he tells her that he’s scared to tell his mom that he got such a low grade. She just tells him to sit down and hands him tissues. For FORTY minutes he continues these gut-wrenching sobs and Kay just talks louder over him.

She then decides to play a game with the kids as if nothing is happening, which only makes him super upset. The kids are cheering and clapping and being really loud, which- and I’m no expert- didn’t seem to be helping him. If anything, it made him more upset to have all of this noise and commotion. Anyways, the kids ended up consoling him the most, which was really nice and sad at the same time. While Kay was being an ice queen, our other students were really comforting him and telling him it would be okay and even showing him how bad they did on their exams. I couldn’t really do much to help him out because I don’t speak Korean and I didn’t want to touch him in case that made him more upset. It was THEEE longest class of my life and after it was over, Kay finally comes up to me and says, “Sobe… last year, he threw a computer monitor… I think today was okay! He is so cute. Maybe if he was not cute, there would be more problems. Today was a great class!”

Now I know this isn’t Kay’s fault. What’s she supposed to do? She can’t start a whole special education program in Korea in the 5 minutes it takes for a student to go from 0 to tantrum BUT if none of the teachers EVER say ANYTHING here, what’s gonna change? It’s not gonna be cute when he does something one day to hurt his classmates, himself, or his teacher!

I don’t actually hate anyone- who has the time?- but let me tell you….when it comes to Kay… I just know that if I saw a fire out in the hallway before she did, I would quietly excuse myself from the room…and then I would barricade her inside  -___-

Anyways, thanks for taking the time to read this post. It’s not exactly a funny one, but it’s definitely an experience I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. As always, if you’re reading this and thinking “Hey! You’re being a jerk! Kay panicked and did the best she could!” then I invite you to calmly exit this page, head on over to Fox “news” and enjoy yourself. That’s where people like you are the most comfortable! Enjoy!

“Shia LeBeouf Was Right”

Month 7 in Korea- still cold, still getting side eye from my co-workers. As I spend time with more of my fellow English teachers and get to talking, it seems that only a very small group of people have chosen to sign on to stay in Korea for another year. From that small group, only 3 are staying in their current jobs, and the rest are looking into teaching at a university or private tutoring. With that being said, I wanted to talk a little more about following your GUTS and doing what you FEEL is best- always. I distinctly remember a time, about 3 months into moving to Korea, when I stumbled upon a group of other teachers one night. I was just leaving the movies and they were heading to a bar to hang out- totally not my scene. I decided to go, after a little coaxing and we started talking about how work was going and I said, “One of my schools is decent and the other is an actual hell.” They were shocked and started telling me about their plans to stay and how much they were enjoying themselves and my eyes widened. I didn’t understand how we could be having two COMPLETELY different experiences. But then again, as I mentioned in my first post, I tend to pick up the vibe of a situation RIGHT away! Sure enough, fast forward to four months later, and those same people are telling me that they’re DEFINITELY not staying. FINALLY they’ve reached the point that I was at all along.

I’m not happy that they ended up being disappointed, but I am happy that I’m not nuts  -_-. It’s like when you meet someone that your friends say is “cool” and you’re like…are you kidding me? This is the snakiest person I’ve ever met! And then sure enough, that same person ends up being an evil troll and you’re just left giving your friends the white people face:

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Anyways, I always do what I want to do. I am a firm believer that as long as whatever you want to do doesn’t hurt someone else or stop them from living their life, then that’s it. This means that I don’t always end up taking the conventional route or doing what my parents or family think is “best” BUT it’s always worked out for me. I think I have a pretty good gut instinct about most things and even if they don’t work out perfectly, they always end up leading me to where I’m supposed to get to. You just gotta do what you want to do. The people who don’t do that are usually the ones saying things like, “I would love to travel but I have a kid and REAL responsibilities, etc” and they always say it in a condescending tone, which makes you feel bad and good at the same time. Bad because you know they’re bitter and good because you KNOW they’re bitter and that’s why they’re saying that passive aggressive shit to you!  Side note: these are also the people that invite you to Scentsy parties or some sort of stay-at-home mom-help-me-I’m-bored-and-definitely-sexually-frustrated business scheme they’ve gotten themselves into… Plus, in this life. there’s no reason to not do exactly what you want to do. Seriously. Why wouldn’t you? I meet so many people that are so funny and so talented and they always say things like, “Oh I would love to write” or “I would love to take a comedy class” and so many other things and they just don’t do it. They just don’t and it makes no sense. One of my least favorite things is when people talk about money stopping them. Like biitch, you’re gonna be broke at home, so you might as well be broke and travelling. Even if you are PO’ you can travel somewhere. One thing I really can’t stand is when people give me advice. That sounds kinda rude, I guess, but it makes no sense to me. People who give you advice either A) never follow it or B) only tell you what they THINK they would do- no real experience to back it up (usually). The real pros just let you figure  things out on your own. They know that everyone’s different and we’re all on different paths, soooo how can they really give you advice?

Make it work. I can’t remember a time since I started working when I’ve had less than 2-3 jobs. When I was 17, I worked at a movie theater AND my parent’s business on the weekends. When I was in college, I worked for a catering company, a paid internship, AND the front desk of the dorms. When I graduated college, I worked as an office assistant for two different companies AND as a server. Even now, I’m teaching AND I work remotely for the Boys & Girls Clubs! AND  still manage to do all of these things! I love the quote that says, “Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” YES. I like to be pretty private about my life and if I didn’t tell people about my job in Korea or the fact that I support myself with different jobs (and sometimes a little help from my older sister- SHOUT OUT to Hanadi- you the real MVP of the Said family!), you would have no idea of the struggle, right? I could be like one of these fake Instagram people and ONLY post pictures of beautiful scenery and the good times. But I don’t because that’s not real. That’s the thing though. YOU would have no idea UNLESS I told you. AND SO MANY PEOPLE DON’T AND WON’T TELL YOU!

Anyways, long boring rant over. Just do you and remember, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else, that’s it. End of story. Don’t be a bum in life. Take your own amazing Instagram pics. Be open-minded, meet new people, and ADD things to your bucket list that you never even knew existed. BUT remember, the only way you’ll know about those things is IF you travel or take a new class or do ANYTHING that you wouldn’t usually do. The people I’ve met JUST because of traveling are amazing and they never fail to change my perspective of the world. They open my eyes to new ways of life and to different things I wanna see and do. They inspire me to never stop learning and looking for things I don’t even know I don’t even know! This isn’t a post to make you feel guilty about not traveling BUT it is a post to make you feel guilty about not living the life you think about all the time.

Korea is still Korea. It’s super beautiful right now and I think for once, I definitely understand what all the fuss about fall is. I’m not exactly surrounded by trees and nature in Chicago, so I’m actually noticing the beautiful color changes and really appreciating the weather! That’s about it though. My co-teacher- Agent Kay- got into a small argument with me this week because I wouldn’t give her a definitive decision on one of two boring activities she had planned for our class- scratch that- HER class. I literally said, “I really don’t care. They’re both the same to me…” And I told her to just choose whatever makes her heart happy and I would see her tomorrow  -___- . I finally confessed to my other co-teacher “Winnie” that Kay is so boring and I dread her class and she said, “I knew you would feel that way. We all think she’s too dry.”  I was going to laugh BUT then I remembered that I actually live that life every Friday so I stopped myself.

Thanks for reading this looooong rant and if you are in fact one of the people hosting a Scentsy party this week or still selling wraps (please stahp) or you work from home and “you’ve already beat the rush and finished Christmas shopping thanks to (insert BS here)” then good for you. I’m wrong, you’re right. Have a Mountain Dew to celebrate. I believe that is the drink of choice for people of your caliber. Also, please stop reading this blog and get back to WORK!

I still can’t let this go…Image result for just do it shia

To Sign or Not to Sign- Not Even A Question

Is there anything worse than being cold and just having to be cold? Just having to sit there, freezing, with no way to warm yourself, besides wearing the layers you already have on? Sure there is. Lots of things are worse BUT right now, I’m going with being cold. Technically, it’s Tuesday morning in Korea already and the anticipation of the election “tomorrow” is high! When it comes to the Emmys, the Golden Globes, the Oscars, and waiting for new episodes of your favorite podcasts and shows, the 14-hour time difference between home and Korea is SUCH a buzzkill!

Late last week, a bunch of teachers (including myself) were offered renewal contracts for next year. The time had come to decide if we were willing to do another year in this passive-aggressive bubble of superficiality… Everyone in my circle of friends, including myself (I’m my own best friend for obvious reasons) has turned down the offer. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider it. Almost 9 months in, things are definitely easier than when I first came here and if someone put a gun to my head, I could do another year. Everyone claims the second year of teaching is way easier- you can re-use your lesson plans since we start teaching from the beginning of the book, you know your co-teachers, you know where to get your comfort foods, and there are far less “Korean surprises.” Plus, I think I speak for almost everyone here when I say that as far as saving money goes, I could DEFINITELY use another year! The thought of signing on and then quitting after 6 months also occurred to me. But, as per usual, once you think things might look up here, one of your co-workers is there to smack the stupidity right out of your pretty little head. I kid you not, I had just finished eating my lunch (soup that I make in the office) and I was staring at my contract. My co-workers returned from lunch and went to make coffee. I ran to the bathroom and when I got back, one of them was SCRUBBING the sink as if the cops were about to bust her for murdering someone and cleaning the weapon inside of it. After she let out an exasperated sigh, she says, “Um Sobe? How about next time you do one more check after making soup and then you can be finished?” NOW what she’s referring to is a rogue DROP of soup IN the sink . “Come on, Sabrina! No one would make such a big deal about A drop of soup! Surely you were splashing broth all over the place like a madman!” is what you may be thinking. BUT I KNOW it was a drop of soup because I distinctly remember looking at it, hot bowl of soup in my hand, and thinking, “One drop? As soon as someone turns the faucet on to fill the coffee pot, it’ll be gone!” So I left it… ONE DROP!

If the soup incident wasn’t enough, as I mentioned in the beginning of my post, our schools are FREEZING! “But Sabrina! It’s only autumn AND you’re from Chicago!” Biiiiitch, let me tell you! The fact that it’s autumn means NOTHING because our schools are concrete buildings, so the cold is trapped with us. It’s colder in here than it is outside! AND being from Chicago means that when I’m faced with with negative temperatures and snow up to here (insert whatever you consider to be a lot of snow) I, like everyone else, just have to keep it moving! It’s not like my body takes on a protective layer of tough, bison skin EVERY winter and is now a fortress of warmth  -___-. COLD is COLD! I remember it being cold when I first came to Korea in March, but I figured that sense it was Spring and moving into Summer, I could understand why there was an absence of heat, but it’s not Spring-Summer anymore  -___-. The kids are wearing their winter coats, scarves, and using hand warmers in school! When I ask them how they’re doing, they say, “Teacher, cold!” I asked my co-workers about this at my “good school” and they said the woman who is in charge of the school’s finances has a very good reason for turning the heat off. Apparently, in her son’s school (he’s 4) they don’t use the heat…that’s her reason -__-. She says that if they don’t need it, then we certainly don’t need it! Reminder: this is also the school where we haven’t had ANY toilet paper since I’ve been here!

Also, as I have mentioned, Korea is very superficial and into looks and beauty. With that being said, so many procedures that would be way too expensive back home to even CONSIDER are ridiculously cheap here. Laser hair removal, botox for your armpits (where my fellow sweaty girls at!) lip injections, LASIK eye surgery, facials, acne scar removal, perms- the works! It’s cheap and UNLIKE back home, cheap here doesn’t mean sketchy AF. It just means that those kinds of things are SO basic they don’t even consider them these luxury procedures, so they’re not insanely overpriced. Now, I’m all about feeling good in your own skin,etc. but that Western mindset, in my opinion, has a lot to do with the fact that these kinds of procedures are frowned upon back home AND they’re way too expensive, so anyone’s normal reaction would be, “Don’t waste the money! You look fine!” But you’re not really “wasting the money” here. So staying an extra year or 6 months and doing so many of the things that just aren’t as readily available back home? DEFINITELY crossed my mind…

But then I remember all of the days when it feels really bad to be out here and I know that if I stayed, I would be kicking myself for not getting out when I had the chance. Korea is really great in some ways, but in the ways that it’s not, it’s REALLY NOT. I’m not 1000% sure what’s next, but I know it’s going to be exciting and a nice change from my routine here. Also, our program gave us a non-disclosure agreement to sign as the ultimate slap in the face! I’m signing mine, “Peter Pickles.” They can “get stuffed” as my South African friends say.

As always, if you read it this far, then kudos to you. Someone sent me a link to a YouTube video yesterday and it was more than 15 seconds and I cringed a bit, so props to you for your attention span. If you’re reading this and thinking, “I’m definitely going to sign! Korea is better than home!” then I know that you are definitely one of those weirdos from back home that I meet here and it immediately makes sense WHY you’re in Korea…

The Robots are Running the Joint

You know how every once in awhile, there’s a news story with a video of a polar bear or a panda going nuts because the zoo decided to give it a cake made out of fish or bamboo for its birthday? You watch that video and there’s a bunch of people watching and they think it’s hilarious, meanwhile the animal’s just freaking out and excited. WELL the people watching those bears are Koreans and the bear diving into the cake is me! I swear, after living in Korea, I no longer have any yearning whatsoever to be famous. NONE! I’m not sure if it’s the change in weather and no one’s focusing on the heat anymore BUT I have been noticing INTENSE stares from people all week! Stares are normal here, but these are on another level! It’s like they’re trying to count the hairs on my head or they know I’m secretly sleeping with their husband… Walking into a room, grocery shopping, stepping onto the subway- this is all you see:

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AND I kid you NOT, at least 8 people are just…

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It’s intense. Staring right back does absolutely nothing. There’s no shame in a Korean’s stare game  -____-.

Anyways, it’s been a while since I’ve posted because I’ve been under the weather and going to appointments and struggling with my new work schedule and I finally have access to HULU, HBO GO, and American Netflix, so there’s been lots of work to be done! I wanted to dedicate today’s post to one of my new co-teachers. I mentioned in my last post that one of new co’s is super boring and pregnant and a nightmare. For the purpose of this blog, I have decided to give her the nickname of Agent Kay, not to be confused with the perv-y Mr. Kay from my earlier days in Korea.

Agent Kay… I don’t know where to start. I guess I’ll tell you that I call her Agent Kay because I believe she’s an AI that somehow escaped from the lab and is posing as a teacher. The problem is, she wasn’t given too many human characteristics and she DEFINITELY wasn’t given the right traits to work with children! Kay was originally programmed to be a cool piece of furniture that could maybe spew out some cool facts about nature if you press her fake nose or something. But now that I’m stuck with her, I’ll try and explain why she is so, so awful.

To start, Kay calls me to her office every Thursday so we can plan for the next day. But, no matter what I propose for the lesson, she has a reason she doesn’t want to do it. Basically, she already has all of her lessons planned out and she only asks me as a formality. I could say an activity that she actually has planned and she would still say no and then just tell me the same thing. Another weird thing about our meetings is that she always freaks out before lunch or after lunch to remind me about our meeting. I usually get back to my desk only to find an email, an instant message, a text, and a pigeon bashing its head against a window, waiting for me to let inside so it can give me a scrap of paper that says, “Meet my in my office. It’s upstairs. Do you remember?” I’m not kidding- she sent me that same message like two weeks ago… Anyways, our meetings are always a pain in the ass and so unnecessary.

Another reason that teaching with her is unbearable is because she’s boring. She is dry toast. No flavor, no surprises, nothing. If I even mention a fun activity, she does this weird Korean wince and it’s as if I told her that washing your hands after going to the bathroom is something you should do EVERY TIME. Instead, she plans 4-5 activities to fill our 40 minute classes. Now this may seem like a good idea- switching activities every once in awhile HAS to kill time, right? WRONG. It’s awful because you know EXACTLY how much longer class is going to be because you know what’s coming next. I have class with her for 5 hours straight, pretty much. I dread this time with her so much that I actually thought I gave myself a stomach ulcer!

Teaching with her is awful  because she is very competitive. She races me to pass out papers  -____-. One day, it was so bad and I was so pissed, that I actually slowed down and handed the papers out one by one so she HAD to wait for me to finish before she could start the lesson. And she almost died laughing because I handed out ONE extra paper. When the student came up to give us the extra copy, she was practically falling out of her chair. Both of the times she let me plan an activity, the students LOVED it and she tried to commandeer it! She really tried to make it seem like she was a fun person and was wilding out in class, yelling out very dry “woo-hoos!” and putting her arms up in fake cheers. So weird.

Finally, she stares at me CONSTANTLY. Sometimes she does this because she wants me to do something- say “bye” to the students or get something in place for the next activity. Once I noticed the constant staring, I started doing weird things. I would just randomly stare out the window, or I would suddenly look at something on the ceiling just to see her yank her head up fast as hell for no reason…the little things….

Agent Kay has quickly become the worst part of my job. She’s even worse than Lord Voldemort if you can believe it! At least with Lord Voldemort, we all know she’s evil, but Kay has yet to confess to being a robot. Super rude of her…. I’m just waiting for winter vacation like…

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Last week made 7 months in Korea and I am getting closer and closer to the finish line! I’m looking into what’s next and am so excited for a change! Korea’s still a great place to be, but as I’ve said before, visiting a place and actually living and working there are two different things! Agent Kay is also pregnant, which is kinda scary because it means there’s other robots living among us or she has a genetically modified whoo ha and that’s something I’m gonna stop thinking about this VERY MOMENT. As always, if you think I’m over reacting, that’s fine. You are entitled to your wrong opinion. We all are. God Bless America.

“Every Life is Precious…Except for Roaches”

It wouldn’t be my life unless I had an emotional run-in with some type of nocturnal rodent, critter, pest at least once a year. I guess today’s my anniversary -_-.

Yesterday marked 6 months in Korea, meaning there are only 6 left to go! Of course, I’m thinking about what my next steps will be. As per usual, I ALWAYS google what pests are prominent in any area I’m going to travel to. People always seem to overlook this minor detail- until they get to their destination and realize they are sorely unprepared! NOT ME! After spending about an hour reading blogs about tree rats and cockroaches the size of small dogs, I shut my computer off. I went to the bathroom before bed and when I turned on the lights, there it was: a huge roach scuttling around the floor! I have to mention that I was topless since my room was hot and was about to hop in the shower AND I was wearing a pair of glasses that are being held together by about three rolls of scotch tape. I scream, my glasses fall off and break into pieces and I can’t seem to find a slipper or shoe to go to town on this thing. Naked, blind, and too scared to move, I did the next best thing: I grabbed a bottle of air freshener and sprayed the roach until it was paralyzed and drowning.

I should also mention that I’ve been on a bit of a “spiritual” kick lately, which means practicing mindfulness and remaining calm instead of freaking out. I decided to let this creature live the rest of its moments out on a sticky trap I keep in the bathroom (I guess it’s not working). I figured that would be better than smashing it to death. So I grab some wet wipes (200 to be exact) and pick the thing up to drop it on the trap. Remember, my glasses are lying in shreds on the floor, so I can’t exactly see what’s going on. I’m shaking the wipe atop the trap and nothing is happening. Then I feel it- or them, I should say. Sticky legs CLUTCHING to my palm. The roach had SOMEHOW shaken off the perfume poison and regained enough strength to escape from the cluster of wet wipes. That’s when the Chicago in me came out….

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I grabbed my high heels and just….

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Instead of hardwood floors, Korea has this plastic flooring that LOOKS like hardwood floors and they just shape it to your room and basically roll it out. BUT underneath this weird, plastic covering there are bugs. Silverfish, ants, roaches, etc. Sometimes if I move a chair or my desk around, the flooring squishes up and some of the floor is exposed and unless I stick it back in place, a bug or two usually pops up! Lately, there have been more and more sightings of bugs in my place. I’m not sure if it’s because the weather is changing or someone in my building is just a dirty, trash bag human BUT I’m not playing anymore. Tomorrow, I WILL be getting some bug bombs and going to tooooooooown!

Anyways, I mentioned that I have three new co-teachers this term, but I failed to mention that one of the new ones is Lord Voldemort’s good friend  -___-.  She’s been a real treat lately. Not to mention that she’s also two months pregnant and will only get better as those pregnancy hormones start to kick in. I’m sure I’ll have more on her later. Till then, my new mantra while meditating is: 6 months. Om. 6 MONTHS.

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“Welcome Back, Upper East Siders”

WHERE HAVE I BEEN? Korean Thanksgiving just ended and it’s back to work! What did I do during my five day vacation? It was basically a lot of

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And

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PLUS

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Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been on a five day “Gossip Girl” binge, so it’s time to stop making lists and start dishing out some gossip about what’s been happening in Korea lately. Summer is over and fall in Korea is starting up. With it brings a new semester. “But Sabrina, you JUST said summer was over! Don’t you mean a new school year is starting?” is what you might be thinking BUT no. In Korea, the school year ends in February and a new one starts in March. It’s literally just the next week. No break. Kids come back from winter vacation in February and finish out the year and then they start a new year the first week of March.

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With the new semester came an amazing schedule change that I am so grateful for. I am at my worst school on Mondays and Tuesdays now and my good school the rest of the week. Even though it seems like it would be awful to start the week off at my bad school, I could not be happier! I used to leave there every Friday so anxious, stressed, sad, angry, depressed- you name it! That would carry on through the weekend and would kill the nice, warm feelings I got from my first school. Now I can just get through Mondays and Tuesdays and look forward to the rest of the week

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BUT as you should all know by now, when something good happens to you in Korea, something bad also has to happen. It’s called the law of “Fuck You” and Korea takes the law VERY seriously. My “good” school ended up giving me a two-hour conversation club with the the teachers in my school and on the first day, one of the older teachers just looked at me, unimpressed, and said, “I like to be the boss. In control.”

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That was day one of our class. She pretty much stayed that way the rest of class and demanded more time for several activities. I obliged because I have no desire to be there anyways. ALSO two of the three days I am there, I have five classes IN A ROW. If I sound like a baby, let me explain. Having four classes sucks already BUT adding that fifth class? AND it’s after lunch?! It’s just a stab through the heart. Teaching is really repetitive and after doing the same lesson three times, you’re ready to blow your brains out. FIVE TIMES THOUGH?! Believe me, I would not wish that on ANYONE! By fifth period, everything smells like ass and no one wants to be there. The kids just ate lunch and are getting ready to go to their second schools. PLUS if you have a co-teacher who plans the whole lesson and just has you standing around or even if you plan the lesson, it’s awful! Even if you could show a movie for each lesson, you would be so done with seeing the same scenes five times in a row. Having two of those classes a week is seriously tough titties and I’m still trying to develop a coping mechanism to get through it. But I do have Thursdays completely free now, which makes getting through Wednesday and getting to Friday bearable. At my bad school, I’ve been given an 8:30 AM Writing Club to START Mondays off with. Ah Korea…

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Last, but not least, I now have three new co-teachers. If you read my blog regularly, you’ll remember that one of my co-teachers “Chicken Little” suffers from a combination of having no life and being extremely nosy. Praise the lord though BECAUSE if you ask, he or she will deliver! I had to ask about a million times though, but I have limited contact with her now. I only teach with her on Mondays for two periods and then I run upstairs to teach with a different teacher. On Tuesdays, Chicken Little works at another school. It’s honestly so amazing that my first Tuesday back, I asked if she was sick and my office mate said, “Oh, you didn’t know? She goes to another school on Tuesdays…” I played it cool on the outside, but on the inside I just…

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They might as well have told me that I was now the owner of a villa in Tuscany next door to Cristiano Ronaldo and he had just been in a weird accident which makes it too hard for him to wear pants! I couldn’t believe it! It was quite the joyous occasion. But as I said, with all good news in Korea…My two new co-teachers are characters- one of them is an evil bitchy stepmother (though she’s only 23) and the other one looks likes Hatsumomo from “Memoirs of a Geisha” and I’m scared that at any moment, she’s gonna accuse me of making her things smell because I touched them. It’s crazy, but they can both be managed and aren’t causing any new issues…yet.

Going back to Chicken Little, today has been QUITE the circus thanks to her. If you recall, anytime I get a message from her, it’s actually a foreshadowing of bad shit to come. Sunday night (yesterday) I was out enjoying the last day of vacation. I had just gotten out of a movie and was on my way home when I see her name pop up on my phone. My first instinct was to throw my phone in front of an oncoming bus. I decided against it and opened the message… She was asking if I had planned anything for tomorrow’s lesson. Remember: I’ve been teaching with her for 6 months. I have planned a lesson EVERY WEEK for basically 6 months. She KNOWS I have something planned. It seems like a fairly innocent question, but come on now! How would I even show her the lesson I did have? Koreans aren’t as into email as we are, so it’s not like I can email her the lesson. PLUS we come into work way before class starts. FINALLY, I never show her my lessons! I just tell her what I’m doing and none of my lessons EVER require anything from her that she would need advanced warning for! My eye was already twitching. She knew what she was doing- being a pest because of the aforementioned “no life” thing. I just wrote back that I had something planned and she didn’t even respond…

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Today rolls around and we head up to class. Now class starts at 9:00 AM and I like to go to the classroom early so I can load up my PowerPoint and get situated for the day. Unfortunately, she is always sitting at her computer, diligently working until 8:58 when she suddenly looks up and says, “Oh Sobe! We have class, let’s go!” By the time we get up there, the kids are already in the hallway and we have to open the door, start the computer, etc. It’s at this point where one would DEDUCE that since I am hastily trying to log into my email, download the materials, and just get ready SHE would keep the kids busy. Maybe ask them about their weekend, etc. BUT no…she just stands there, watching them, watching me, watching us. She says nothing. The kids just sit there looking at me and I’m all

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KEEP IN MIND that she has plenty of experience teaching without me! It’s the most awkward 2-3 minutes of my life and it’s a guaranteed event every Monday. Moving forward, I start the class, I’m getting into the swing of things, and I make a beautiful transition to my PowerPoint. I’m asking the kids questions, etc and she just looks at me and says, “Oh Sobe. They are not on this lesson. They are on the lesson from last time. I couldn’t teach it and I forgot to tell you…”

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I had to start the whole process again and find the materials from last week WHILE still keeping the kids entertained because Chicken Little was busy practicing staring at her feet. I do believe she’s in training for the 2020 Olympics. By this point, we’ve wasted about 20 minutes of a 40 minute class. We keep it moving and the kids watch a short video from their textbook to help them practice the language EXCEPT the kid in the book has a hearty Spanish accent…he was ASIAN! So NOW the kids are repeating what they hear and are saying the words “robot” and “Can you help me, please?” with this accent and I’m subtly trying to correct it, but it was too late. They are now the same as the kid in the book! FINALLY the class comes to a close and Chicken Little is doing the goodbye portion when one of the kids start squealing and crying… I look at her to get the gist of what’s going on and she just pretends nothing is happening and sends them on their way. By this time, I’m exhausted. It’s as if I spent an eternity in this hellhole with her and she just comes out without a scar. I will have my revenge on her ONE day.

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That’s all for today. I’ve had a stomachache for about a month now with no known causes OR cures, but I think working with Satan might be a contributing factor. Thanks for reading this blog and as per usual, if you find that I’m complaining and whining, etc, you’re probably right…but so what? No one asked you. You’re obviously obsessed with me if you keep reading these and no matter what I write, that’s not gonna change.

XOXO,
Gossip Girl

 

Things I DON’T Like About Korea

When I was in high school, we had to read, “The Great Gatsby,” as I’m sure everyone reading this had to. I will never forget my English teacher telling us how smart it was that F. Scott Fitzgerald set the big fight between Tom and Gatsby during the summer. He made us picture the setting: a hot, muggy, humid hotel room on a hot, muggy, humid day. Two people with obvious tension between them,  stuck in this small, hot room together- something was about to pop off. That’s what heat does to you. It wasn’t until these past few weeks living in the WORST heat I’ve ever experienced that I really appreciated just how brilliant of a move Fitzgerald made. I never noticed how much heat can affect you, your attitude, and your outlook on life. I recently taught my co-teacher the phrase “hot as balls” because it is the best way for me to describe the weather in Korea. The humidity is killer here. I stayed in Korea for my vacation and thought I would spend time exploring the cool places here BUT I mostly spent it in my room, AC and Netflix on BLAST. It was way too hot to enjoy anything. Every morning I would wake up DETERMINED to have a good day, only to find myself SWEATING through my clothes, hair stuck to the back of my neck, and the sun searing my eyes shut. The humidity made it feel like you were walking in honey and no matter how much I tried to convince myself to have a good time, it was just too hot to be anything but miserable. Plus, I wear a fall wardrobe year round. I don’t change my outfits based on season, really, so I’m sure that adds to the problem.

Last week, I wrote about all of the great things about Korea- I left some off now that I look back over it- so this week I wanted to write about the things I don’t like…

  1. Humidity– This one is only bad for..let’s see.. oh yeah- THE WHOLE SUMMER -__- At first, I thought people were exaggerating about how bad the humidity is. Chicago gets humid, so it’s not like I’ve never experienced it before, but this is on another level. If some gypsy woman were to grant me an all expense paid trip to Thailand, I would have a few questions BUT one of the main ones would be, “When?” and if she said anytime during the summer, I would flat out refuse. Even if she said I could paddle board with Orlando Bloom.

2. Red Bean Paste– Honestly, the real silent killer. Red beans and red bean paste are so popular in Korea. It’s basically their equivalent to chocolate…only…it’s beans. Red beans taste exactly like BEANS so I have no idea who the effffff decided they were appropriate for desserts! The worst thing about them is that SOMETIMES you think it’s chocolate. Imagine thinking you’re about to bite into a chocolate filled pastry ONLY to taste frijoles! It’s the worst and they use it in so many of their desserts! Just beans on top of and in ice cream, cake, etc.

3. NO Sandwiches– Korea has sandwiches…but not really. You can’t buy actual, real deli meat unless you wanna pay up the butt for it and even then, it’s all pork, etc. You can’t go to any restaurant and just grab a sandwich to go. I never realized how essential sandwiches are to my diet. Having to pack a lunch was kinda weird at first because I actually had to cook part of my lunch, when normally I could just grab Jimmy John’s or something. I tell you what- I would do some TERRIBLE things for a Jimmy John’s sandwich.

4. Staring– Relentless. STARING. There is NO shame in a Korean’s stare game. They will literally try to burn a hole into your soul. They don’t look away. They are statues. Now I just stare right back,but it barely does anything.

5. Anxiety– Korean people have anxiety.Except, there’s no medication for it. It’s a way of life. It is in the air here and they breathe it in and it binds with their red blood cells and then becomes a part of their tissues. That’s real science there, folks. Sometimes I just watch them panicking about NOTHING and I can see them physically crumbling. It’s disheartening, but I don’t know if they’ll ever be able to truly break away from this.

6. Timing– I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a foreigner, but Koreans are so last minute with everything. I’ve mentioned several examples in my other posts, but it’s just so relevant to your life here and such an inconvenience. I would not be surprised if they were like, “Hey today is the naked parade. Be there in 3 minutes, naked.” And then you would have to show up and just walk in the parade! They give no notice for anything at work and it’s always such a pain!

7. Nothing to Do– I find Korea to be boring. Now, this could be because my city- Daegu- isn’t exactly a hub of energy, but I find it true everywhere. Maybe if I was a hiker or really, really into the outdoors, it would be different. Other than climbing mountains and eating, there is nothing exciting here. This could also be because I love big cities and find the energy to be entertainment enough, but there are plenty of weekends spent here wishing there was more to do!

8. Movies– Korea doesn’t get too many of the same movies we get back home. You’re really only guaranteed to see superhero movies. Other than that, it’s pretty hit or miss.

9. Internet & TV Monitoring– Korea monitors internet and what you see on TV. I will never forget watching TV and seeing that a cigarette was blurred out. I thought the person was smoking a dick, but no, it was just a regular ol’ cigarette. As for the internet, any/all porn is blocked. You’re probably thinking, “Um…TMI,” but porn is a VERY broad term here. This even includes kissing! Sometimes I’ll try to catch up on my reality TV shows and if there’s even a whiff of a kiss, the ENTIRE website will be blocked. Even YouTube is heavily monitored!

10. Trash System– Recycling and trash separation are very important here, which sounds amazing, but I’m a lazy American person. They have special red bins that collect food waste, and then you have to separate EVERYTHING else. I tried this for maybe a month? But then I was needing way too many garbage bags. Now I just throw everything away in the same bag and so far, so good.

11. Stress- I mentioned that people here are very anxious, which also makes them unnecessarily stressed. Koreans get SO stressed over nothing. When my co-teachers are lesson planning for THIRD GRADE, you would think they were in charge of writing the speech to end violence and hunger worldwide. They get so stressed about what to do and whether the kids will like it, meanwhile I’m like open YouTube and call it a day  -_-.

12. Collective Mindset– In Korea, the individual is nowhere near as important as the collective group. This sounds beautiful, but it actually sucks ass. People here also get stressed about going out alone and can’t handle being alone in any situation! When my co-teachers find out that I travel, eat, and see movies alone, they get all wide-eyed and start covering their mouths like I just showed them a third nipple. They always ask, “Why? Don’t you have a friend?” And I always ask them, “What if I want to do something they don’t want to do and vice versa?” and they pretty much tell me to compromise. Um…what? Compromise what I want to do in the ONE lifetime I have here? I think not… Eating lunch is especially confusing for them. Like most humans, I don’t enjoy spending EVERY minute at work with my co-workers. Sometimes I choose to have lunch in the office alone and they always stare at each other uneasily as if I’m gonna start going through their purses the second they leave the room! This also means that they rarely stick up for themselves. They just take abuse from their superiors and peers and let it manifest into stress and anxiety.

13. Lack of Creativity- I can’t tell you how many times my co-teachers have shot something down because they don’t think the students will learn from it. Anytime coloring or art is suggested, they basically roll their eyes. Even the kids have trouble when given free reign. Everyone here wants specific instructions. They don’t know how to be creative. This is even evident in Korean styles and trends.They all believe they’re being creative and unique BUT they look the same. I always think of Meryl Streep’s monologue from “The Devil Wears Prada” when she says the whole bit about Andy’s sweater being chosen for her.

14. Personal Space– Forget about it. You could be standing with your back against a wall and turn around only to see that someone somehow wedged themselves in there! It’s insane. People are basically standing on top of you in lines, shouldering the fuck out of you in the streets, and standing crotch to face on subways.

15. Spitting– It’s like they’re all auditioning for “Titanic” and they’re reading from the “spit like a man” scene -_-.  If you hold a seashell up to your ear in Korea, you can hear someone hawking a loogie. Spitting is just part of life here and they spit any/everywhere.

16. Sneezing– Lord. Help me. People here should be in the Olympics for sneezing because they would win gold EVERY TIME. Korean people sneeze out in the open- no dabbing, no hand over the mouth. They are totally open and honest with their sneezing.

17. Cats– They’re everywhere and they’re gross.

18. Pork– Pork is a flavor here in Korea. Even if something has “no meat” they don’t consider pork to be meat, just extra flavoring. Sometimes, even the beef has pork in it! I have definitely loosened up my “no pork” stance since moving here. I won’t full out eat a piece of pork, but I’ve stopped asking if it’s in everything I eat.

19. SUGAR– Yet again, LORD. Everything in Korea is sweet. SWEET. ANY sort of pizza sauce, pizza snack, red sauce, burrito- anything. Everything is really sweet. If I were to order dirt, it would either have sugar added or come with a side of mayonnaise. Burritos are filled with coleslaw and mayo. I would give anything for some salt and vinegar chips- ANYTHING!

20. Random man–  Every Monday or Tuesday, a random Korean man comes into my office and has to use my computer. I have NO idea what he’s doing. Sometimes he’s on here for 5 minutes, other times it’s up to 15 minutes. Sounds like nothing BUT it so annoying. I think he’s just checking his bank statement to be honest. I have to stop everything I’m doing, leave, and stand in the hallway or walk around until he’s finished.

21. Buses– Anytime I ride the buses in Korea, I get headaches and awful motion sickness. I actually had to get patches and pills JUST for the bus! The bus drivers here are psychos and stop and go, weave, cut, and everything else in traffic! They come to these HARD stops, where you get jerked all the way to the right or left of where you’re standing. ALSO you have to use the back door to get out. That’s so annoying, especially if you’re carrying a ton of groceries and sit at the front and then have to walk to the back just to get off!

22. Clothes Shopping– Ugh. First off, all of the shirts here literally come up to your throat! Also, it’s rare if you’re allowed to try on clothes. If you are, you definitely CANNOT try on shirts half the time! Only pants, for some reason. It’s the worst! Unless you go to H&M or some other international brand, you’re S.O.L.

23. BANKING– You already know about this one, but just for good measure- KOREAN BANKING IS THE DUMBEST THING THAT HAS EVER EXISTED. IT IS ALMOST AS BAD AS HITLER. I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW IT’S AN ACTUAL THING. *smoothes hair back into place and takes a seat*

24. Nosiness– Koreans are extremely nosy. Not only do they stare at you, they also want to know what you’re reading, what apps you’re using, what you’re looking at, etc.

25. Being Helpful…but not really– The best way to explain this one is to recount a tale of trying to find a bus terminal to leave Daegu and travel somewhere else. A friend and I were trying to leave for the weekend, but were told to go to the wrong bus terminal. When someone told us where the RIGHT terminal was, we were running low on time and decided to take a cab. The cab drivers kept looking at our paper and trying to tell us something. Finally, someone spoke English and told us that they were trying to tell us that the tickets for our bus were probably sold out already…WE ALREADY HAD THE TICKETS THOUGH! They were basically giving us the most useless information and making us even more late because they were trying to be helpful. This happens all the time. Show them an address and ask how to get somewhere and they’re trying to tell you it’ll be closed on Christmas….

26. Cab Drivers– WHY. Cab drivers in Korea are so sheisty.  They will try and take you all over town to run the meter and you really can’t do anything about it. Also, they can and usually will refuse to drive you places. On the same trip I was talking about earlier, we tried to take a cab to the new bus terminal and the drivers REFUSED to take us because it was “too close.” It was a good 10-15 minute walk from where we were!

27. Getting The Check– In Korea, you get the check RIGHT after you order. They just place it on the table and if you want anything else, they have to get you a new one. They also get anxious if you order something else! It’s like an unspoken rule that if they already gave you the check, just try and do without anything else!

28. Soap– In bathrooms, they use bars of soap or soap on a weird hook that looks like you’re jerking it off when you wanna wash your hands. This is if the bathrooms even have soap!

29. Toilet Paper– Toilet paper is NOT a priority in Korea. It is totally normal for there to be no toilet paper and if there is, the dispenser is located outside of the stall! You just have to take what you think you’ll need and pray you have good judgement. My school hasn’t had toilet paper since the week after I got here. They say there’s no budget for that. I really wanna see the budget for the schools here! No toilet paper, soap, OR A/C?! WTF are they using it for?!

30. Shop Attendants– “Get off my dick,” I think to myself EVERY TIME I am shopping. Shop attendants here stand RIGHT next to you as you shop. Even if an uncomfortable amount of time has passed, they will still be standing there. You can’t really “look” in shops here. It’s the least helpful thing in the world. They don’t even speak English half the time (not their fault of course) but they’ll still sit there talking to me in Korean until I just get frustrated and leave!

31. Getting cut– Getting cut in lines here is so normal and so annoying. I could literally be pressed against the counter at the front of the line and waiting to order and someone will just cut in or shout their order out loud. Even if you’re watching a public performance and obviously standing in a good spot, these people have no qualms about shoving in front of you and pushing you into a shitty position.

32. Cheapo Portions– I know that I’m coming from the States and our portions are just out of control, but it is totally normal to get a McFlurry that is half empty or a cup of ice cream where you can literally see the bottom of the cup! They are the worst! I WANNA EAT MORE. Just fill it up until it’s spilling over the side and let me deal with the repercussions!

33. STOPLIGHTS– AGH! You know how when you’re waiting to cross the street, your body can kind of tell when it’s time to go? Your mind kind of judges the time and knows how much waiting time is enough. HERE stoplights can be up to 5 FULL MINUTES. Every car has a chance to turn and then some. It is insane how long they are!

34. Going Out Alone– I mentioned that Koreans hate going out alone, but actually going out alone can also suck! Almost every restaurant caters to pairs and groups. Some places you can’t even go eat alone because food is priced for two and it’s expensive. Movie ticket stubs are printed on one ticket so you can’t go into a movie without both people going in together. Nothing here is meant for only one person. That’s why restaurants are so expensive here sometimes. A bucket of chicken is almost $20 and there is no single, divorced dad portion here!

35. Watching TV– UGH. Besides shitty Netflix, it’s really hard to watch TV shows here. Even using a VPN and having subscriptions to certain outlets. It’s one of the toughest things about being out here!

36. Hand-Washing– Don’t expect it from everyone! I have been in the bathroom and heard fellow teachers AND students just leave, without even so much as a glance towards the sink. It is really common to not wash your hands here. BARF.

37. Passive Aggressive– You already knew about this one, but again, just for good measure. I almost wish they would just be confrontational and tell me what they want to say. SPIT IT OUT! Remember that scene in “The First Wives Club” when Diane Keaton beat the shit out of her therapist with that styrofoam, Q-tip looking thing, but the therapist was just happy she was at least reacting? I WISH! I would actually be happy if one of them just said, “Let’s fight about it, bitch.”

38. Soda- Coke and Pepsi taste like garbage. Definitely not the same here.

39. Menus- If you go to a restaurant with a group of 600 people, restaurants will only give you one menu. This ties into the “everything being tailored for pairs or groups,” but in Korea, if you go to a restaurant, you will only get one menu per table. It’s annoying and I always ask for more menus and they’re always taken back the request.

40. Fruit- Honestly, forget about fruit in Korea. It is ridiculously expensive, mostly because you have to buy a whole big bunch at one time. It’s not like back home where you can just buy what you will eat. When I finally break down and get fruit, half of it usually goes to waste because it’s just me trying to eat it. All foreigners get excited when there’s free fruit because it’s actually a treat here  -_-.

I promise I am about two minutes from starting a topless revolt and releasing these people from the ties that bind them! I’m working on a good war cry, but till then…Of course, there are also things I am leaving off of this list, but I think 40 is good for now. I also want to add that lots of the things I’m griping about are cultural and I know I CHOSE to live here. But  then I remember that I can and will complain about anything I want to in life and no one can stop me! MUAH HA HA!!!! Thanks for reading yet another blog, I really do appreciate it!

Things I Like About Korea

My FaceBook name though <<<< It is FINALLY summer VACATION! In the spirit of celebration, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to things I ACTUALLY like about Korea! The weird thing about this list is that some of these things are also the reasons I don’t like Korea… These are in no particular order. Literally, as I think of them, I am writing them. Get over it.

HERE GOES!

  1. McDelivery– Do I have to explain this one? McFlurries right to your door! DOUBLE BIG MACS! But I definitely do the whole, “Hey guys, someone get the plates, the food’s here!” thing when I hear the delivery guy getting ready to ring the bell. ALSO the delivery guy always smiles when I open the door. It’s like he proved himself right when he saw an American open it…
  2. Service (Slow and steady, kinda one of the things that annoys me)- The service in Korea is slower than back home because they put time and effort into what they do. Even fast food here takes longer. It’s normal to wait for them to make your food “fresh” even at McDonald’s!
  3. Service (AGAIN) (It means something else here)- free shit! Koreans have what they call “service” which usually means giving you free stuff (food, drinks, etc) for waiting on an order or if you’re a regular customer..or even a new customer! It’s pretty sweet! I’m talking free dessert at restaurants, free slushies, etc.
  4. Coffee shops– there are at least 3 billion coffee shops in Korea. They are seriously EVERYWHERE. Korea is obsessed with coffee shops (which makes no sense because they’re coffee is SO weak…) and there are so many themes, specialties, etc. I love it!
  5. Cheap food– Okay, there is always some debate about this BUT you can get cheap street food, as well as, concession items at the movies. Their snacks and drinks are way cheaper than back home. Also, random foods are cheaper here. Iced coffee, smoothies, fresh fruit juices, etc. If you eat “Korean” you can probably eat pretty cheaply here.
  6. Street vendors– On my street, there is a whole outdoor market and it is run by individuals selling everything from fruits and veggies to clothes to fresh fish! It’s nice to be able to just buy what you want right then and there, without having to go to a big department store. And these people set up shop ANYWHERE. It’s not weird to walk down a random alley and see a woman with an assortment of greens spread out before her. Love it!
  7. Fish tanks– Walking around Korea is like being in a low LOW budget aquarium. There are tanks of fresh marine life all over the country. Outside of tiny grocery stores, restaurants, and random markets. The tanks are filled with squid, octopus, shrimp, etc. I love aquariums so maybe I’m too excited about this…
  8. Taking a “rest”–  When your co-workers want you to f*** off, they tell you to “take a rest.” Hearing this is music to every foreigner’s ears! They’re basically saying, “Hey we have no use for you, so go play at your desk while we pay you.” Pure bliss.
  9. Cups of chicken– Dakgangjeong. Literally cups of delicious fried chicken! I could live off of this snack. I already miss this piece of Korea and I’m still here! Koreans love fried chicken and they make some of the best I have ever tasted! Plus, these stands are usually posted up in subway stations, markets, random street corners- they’re like hookers…only you leave full, not empty. That’s a dirty joke that works on too many levels…
  10. Daiso– Daiso is kind of like if you mixed Target and Walmart and a dollar store, except everything is ridiculously cheap. It’s basically this chain of dollar stores from Japan that has everything your heart could ever desire. It’s definitely one of those places where you run in to grab a toothbrush and leave with a new puppy and some tupperware.
  11. Department stores– Korean department stores are amazing and I would definitely try to hide in one of them and camp out over night. They are really beautiful and HUGE and they have movie theatres and some brands from back home that hit you right in the feels! Also, JAMBA JUICE! I don’t even like Jamba Juice that much, but seeing it brought half a tear to my eye.
  12. Beauty products/services- Beauty and image are so popular out here that it’s basically a science. There is a beauty product/ service for everything out here and 9 times out of 10, it’s going to work and it’s cheap! They have so many different eyeliners, lipsticks, mascaras, nail polishes, EVERYTHING/ANYTHING! I wish I knew what half of this stuff did so I could really get involved but it’s probably better for my bank account that I don’t…

  13. No Kardashians- Mentioning them is probably not helping the epidemic BUT there is just no mention of them anywhere! Unless I bring it up, Korean people largely have no idea who the Kardashians are and it is sooo refreshing!

  14. Chopsticks– I kinda hate forks now EXCEPT if I’m eating pasta! Even though pasta is kinda like eating noodles… Chopsticks are amazing and I barely even think about forks anymore.
  15. Public transportation- SO, SO good! I personally hate driving and love to be driven everywhere, so Korea is perfect for me. The buses definitely give me the worst motion sickness ever BUT they get you to wherever you need to go. The trains are great too! You don’t need a car out here, which is perfect because I can’t afford a driver- yet.

  16. You really feel like you’re in Asia– because you are BUT in those moments when it hits you, it’s really amazing. Sometimes you’re just walking along and BOOM you see an Asian-looking house and it’s cool because it’s real and not just some design. Also, seeing people bow and eat with chopsticks and seeing street vendors and all of the other stereotypical stuff!
  17. Nature (also one of the things I hate)- There are insects and trees and breezes and shit all over Korea and while I don’t thoroughly enjoy nature, it is nice to sometimes stumble upon a beautiful park or just see mountains in the distance. Korea loves nature and they really have some beautiful scenery out here.
  18. Two Weeks Notice“- one of my FAVE rom-coms and it’s on the Korean Netflix.
  19. Islands/Beaches- It’s kind of cool that you’re never really that far from an island or a beach here!

  20. Korean kindness– when they’re not staring or cutting you in line, Koreans are actually some of the kindest people I have ever met. There’s been multiple occasions where I am actually shocked at how kind they are and how concerned they are with your well-being
  21. Convenience stores– the food is actually edible and super cheap!
  22. Bowing– So much easier than actually waving or saying “Hi”
  23. Respectful kids– MOSTLY. Some of them are still little shits -_-
  24. Service button at restaurants- In Korea, most places have a button on the table that you just push when you want to call your server over. It’s nice because they come right away and it makes sense and no one is interrupting your meal to see if everything is okay, etc.

  25. No tipping- Korea has a non-tipping culture and I have to say, it is still hard for me to NOT tip! Just a few months ago, I made my living this way and it’s definitely hard to get out of the habit of tipping and WANTING to tip! But it is nice.

  26. Cheap cabs- In Daegu, cabs are super cheap. What would be considered a $10 ride back home is something like $3.50 here. I think they’re even cheaper than Uber, which is good because there is no Uber here!

  27. Slippers in school- My mom did not allow us to wear pajamas or slippers with socks in high school SO I’m definitely making up for lost time in Korea! The teachers all wear slippers while inside of the school and students change into different shoes. Basically, no outside shoes inside and no inside shoes outside. Seriously, people would rather walk around barefoot than wear their outside shoes inside of the school. It is so comfy to walk around in sandals at school. I highly recommend the U.S. adopting this style!

  28. Squid- Dried squid, grilled squid- it’s all good and Korea loves it and so do I! I get grilled squid at the movie theater instead of popcorn and I buy packs of fried squid from the supermarket, I love it!
  29. Free samples– I feel like Korea gives out more free samples than back home. But then again, I just love free samples in general. They give out food and beauty products. They give out samples in bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores. I love free shit and you do too and they love it to hand it out here so it’s all good!
  30. SOUTH AFRICANS– This one weirds me out when I talk about it BUT I thoroughly have a weird respect for South Africa and its inhabitants. Maybe it’s because I love “The Color of Friendship” or because I think it’s so fascinating that all of these people have amazing accents and come from Africa and they have tribes and are super blunt and honest BUT I just love hanging and talking to South African people and I never got the opportunity back home. I could just talk about and to them all day. Also, I’m dying to visit South Africa and they’re actually from there so it blows my mind.
  31. Public bathrooms– EVERYWHERE! I don’t think I really have what can legally be called a “bladder” because my body holds no liquids. If I take a sip of water, I just get up and walk right to the bathroom because I already have to go…Korea has public bathrooms EVERYWHERE! I love knowing that I don’t have to go and buy something to use the bathroom or make sure to NOT drink anything before I leave the house because there won’t be a bathroom around.
  32. Pharmacies- You can just walk in, tell them what’s wrong, and they’ll give you antibiotics FOR CHEAP!!!! It’s amazing!
  33. No cat-calling– Guys are creeps no matter where you are on this Earth BUT cat-calling in Korea is not really an issue. Lewd stares and gestures are still alive and well here, but it is such a relief to be able to walk around alone without feeling like someone is going to take advantage of the situation. It’s seriously one of THEE BEST feelings ever!

Thirty-three is such a weird number to leave things off at BUT I’m happy I came up with that many things! Like I’ve said before, I thoroughly enjoy Korea and will definitely vacation here after I leave! This blog was set up mostly so that teachers who come here get a more accurate representation of what WORK is like. The country itself is pretty, pretty good!

Since this week’s post is about the things I like, I think you can put together what my next post will be about….