Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Koreanisms

I cannot believe that my two month anniversary of living in Busan, South Korea is approaching rapidly! I stop myself every now and then to marvel at this fact. A couple of months ago I was worrying about if my application to teach here would be successful, but now my immediate surroundings are becoming familiar and I am planning lessons as if I’ve been doing it for years!

I was chatting to some mates recently about how Korea has changed us, and what we will take away from this place when we leave. Below are a few Koreanisms that I am adopting as my own.

I brush my teeth after eating lunch at school. Before I would only brush my teeth twice a day- morning and evening. Here is Korea it is quite normal for people to carry around their toothbrush and toothpaste, and get to scrubbing right after a meal. I think this is fantastic as Kimchi has some powerful ingredients and you don’t want to give your students a whiff of your lunch when you’re teaching. I bought a cute dental kit from a convenience store around the corner and now I floss like a boss! I want to now buy a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss for my bag- gotta keep it real everywhere I go! Just to give you an idea of how serious people are about keeping their munchers sparkly- I was at the cinema here in Deokcheon watching Noah with a friend and after the movie we went to the loo- as one does after consuming too much cinema coke. While washing my hands, a woman around my age (dressed to the nines!) had  toothpaste foam dripping from her beautifully made-up face as she scrubbed her pearly whites vigorously with her pink toothbrush. I stared for a few seconds and decided this chick had the right idea and it was time for me to get real with my own dental regime!

I bought these baddies for 2000won (R20, $2) at Daiso. Will
they last to the end of the year? That remains to be seen. 
I lurrrrvvv the idea of ‘indoor shoes’. Let me explain this intriguing term. We have to wear ‘indoor shoes’ at school each day. I arrive at 8am, take off my 'outdoor' shoes, and slip on shoes that I leave at the school.  These bad-boys are only worn on school property. I find it quite hilarious that these slippers are called ‘indoor shoes’ because recently, I had to meet parents in the school’s auditorium. To get there, I had to cross the school field. With the indoor shoe mentality set firmly in my brain, I panicked and asked my co-teacher, “Should I change into my outdoor shoes because we have to walk over grass?...” she replied with a giggle (probably thinking I’m an idiot), “No Nadia, your indoor shoes are fine.” So yes, the term “indoor shoes” varies with each situation and I’m sure each school. At home, I have a space by my own doorway where I take off my shoes and I expect my guests to do the same. Why? Well I don’t want your street-dirt coming into my place after having cleaned the floors. Simple.  

The start of the hike
I find that I am slowly becoming more conscious of my image and health here in Korea. Fashion is everywhere you look and men take as much effort as the lovely ladies. Recently I went on a hike with my fellow staff members and I was astounded at how focused they are regarding leading a healthy lifestyle. We were climbing that mountain (it was probably just a hill for the teachers but it resembled Table Mountain to me) at such a speed, I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk again. The Principal nearly pushed me up the mountain but I told him to go on without me in epic Titanic/Jack and Rose fashion. Before I left South Africa I had started jogging and the time has come to slip on my takkies (trainers/sneakers) once again. Watch that space...
Hard work. The Korean people I have come into contact with work so hard! However, as much as they work hard, they party hard too! After the hike, we all went out for dinner where I had my first raw fish meal. I was pleasantly surprised with how yummy the meal turned out to be and then I was even more surprised when my shot glass kept getting refilled with Soju while the other glass was being filled with beer! Teachers who had never spoken to me before were now plonking next to me on the floor to chat about the kids, schooling and how they want to talk to me more, in a bid to improve their English. And then we went to the Noribang.... the Korean singing rooms. This was amazing! More beer was flowing, the teachers were singing their favourite songs and I felt so at home! It was truly one of the best nights I have had here in Busan! I also found the snacks to be so interesting in that specific (swanky) Noribang. Chips and nuts were on the snack-menu but alongside this were strawberries and a selection of different fruits! Fast forward to the next day at work, and everyone looked as if nothing had happened. I however, felt slightly broken from the hike, good dinner experience and my off tune rendition of “Uptown Girl”. Staff here at my school are legends I tell you!


The walk back down
View of Busan from the first peak. Yay to first hikes! 
My co-teacher explained that people stack these rocks after making a wish on it. I saw a number if these 'wish-towers' on the hike. 

Nom nom nom...

Seafood porridge

Some raw fish vibes... this was most yummy when I wrapped it in a lettuce leaf and added a bit of the chunky-spicy sauce. 

There are so many courses! This was the last course. It's a seafood (spicy) soup, with sides of Kimchi, sweetened beans and veggies. 

Anywhoo... that’s it for now! More updates to follow soon :)

Nadia

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