Boo, etc. Trick or Treat, etc. So forth.
Last night I noticed that whenever I go to Hanwha Mart (as I did last night), I get stared at as I do in most places, but after people notice that I’m a Westerner they almost always look in my cart to see what I’m buying. Makes me want to spend an afternoon wandering around Hanwha Mart with a cart full of toilet paper and frying pans, or toothbrushes and Vienna sausages, or lightbulbs… a cart full of lighbulbs.
Two weeks in Korea, and now I think it actually feels like two. Am I getting used to this place? Maybe so. I’m still not entirely comfortable in many of my classes, I can’t order food or read a menu (or anything, for that matter), and I have only a few relative aquaintances to speak of… but this week I stopped feeling like an outsider here. I stopped visiting and started living. Maybe this preoccupation with my health and voice has kept me from content, and now that my voice is nearly better and I feel relatively healthy, suddenly here is this mood I haven’t felt since I got here. Or maybe I’m just happy that I survived another week of teaching, or perhaps it’s just gas — I’m betting on all three.
Tonight (as on all Tuesdays & Thursdays) I had my night of conversation classes, and tonight I realized that I’m probably going to learn more about Korea from these classes than from anything else I do here. The classes have one or two people in each of them, and the whole hour consists of us just conversing about anything while I occasionally correct their English grammar. They all speak fairly good English, so we’ve spent lots of time talking about aspects of Korea and America — cultural differences, living conditions, etc. This situation — to be forced to converse with someone from a completely different culture — is hard to come by, and it’s one that I need to continue to appreciate. One of my classes is with two male university students, both of whom have had to put their studies on hold to do the two years of military service that’s required of every South Korean male. I have plans to go out to dinner with those guys in a couple weeks, and I also may attend church (eek!) with a middle-aged married couple I converse with… Christianity is very different here, and I’m curious to see how they do church.
I took some pictures at school today — CLICK HERE, or down a bit and to the left. The quality/resolution of most of them is pretty lousy because I haven’t yet gotten full control of my digital camera, for that I apologize. I’m here for a year, so there’s plenty of time to take more.
Well, it looks like America’s gone and gotten smarter since I’ve left: Poll: Iraq War Drains Confidence in Bush
I wish I could say the same about George Bush.
My voice is slightly improved this morning — I drank a ton of water last night and I slept with a vaporizer by my bed. I’m going to do my best to talk as little as possible at school today so my voice doesn’t disappear again. Handouts, and all that. I have a couple conversation classes this evening, one of which I’m really hoping will actually converse this time — I’m tired of listening to myself talk for an hour.
My voice didn’t come back today, so I wasn’t able to teach. I only went in for my afternoon classes, and I just sat in on them and didn’t say much of anything — I couldn’t say much of anything. I was supposed to have three hour-long adult conversation classes tonight, but they were all either rescheduled or just cancelled. Mr. ___ seemed a bit stressed out about the whole thing, but Mr. ___ seems a bit stressed out about most things, and what am I going to do — I lost my voice.
I’d like to preface the following remarks by saying that Mr. ___ is a very nice guy who has gone out of his way to make my first few weeks here in Korea go smoothly. I feel bad saying anything negative about him at all, but the time has come and I must…
Those of you who know me personally know that I am skinny, and those of you who don’t know now — I am a skinny person, I have always been a skinny person, and I will probably always be a skinny person. Being skinny does not mean I am unhealthy, it simply means that I am skinny. Since I have been here in Korea, Mr. ___ will not stop obsessing about how I am skinny therefore I must not be eating well therefore I must be unhealthy therefore I should eat much more and excercise or I will be a bad teacher. For a few days, it was nice to have someone show such concern for me and buy me food, but now it’s just getting annoying. Every day he asks me if I’ve “taken food,” or tells me that I should buy long underwear so I will be warm enough. I try and explain to him that I have always been skinny, and that I am eating just fine, and that Cleveland gets just as cold as Incheon in the winter. But Mr. ___ refuses to believe it, and seems to continue to believe that I was once a very muscular man who ate ten meals a day and wasn’t exposed to the concept of “cold” until just this week. Even now that I have lost my voice — I feel perfectly healthy, and I told Mr. ___ the same, but he still took me to the pharmacy and bought me three different medicines this afternoon. I am hoping that once I get my voice back and am, more or less, healthy again, that he will stop this incessant badgering behavior. Otherwise my head may explode because I am so skinny.
Aye, my voice is indeed dead. I can’t really talk at this point, I can only eek out a pseudo-whisper. I have three conversation classes in a row tomorrow night… so, yes, I’m hoping for an overnight recovery. Otherwise, well… I’m hoping for an overnight recovery. What does one do for extreme hoarseness, aside from not talking? Is this a gargle with salt water situation? What I need is one of those Stephen Hawking synthetic voice computer things — I’ll check ebay.
Teaching went a bit better today. I felt more at ease with most of the students, and I went in with a bit more preparation, so things fell into place fairly well. Among other things: I played “Simon Says” with the Kindergartners, I reviewed/taught (very big) numbers to my Primary School students, and I tried desperately to get most of my Middle School conversation students to talk. My sore throat is mostly gone, but now so is my voice.
I went grocery shopping at Hanwha Mart after work. Hanwha Mart is the Super K-Mart of South Korea, with everything from computers to socks to live anchovies to a whole aisle of ramen noodles. It’s a very large and very confusing place — you have to walk through an entire floor of clothes in order to get to the sloped moving walkway that takes you to the food area, and I still don’t know exactly how I ended up getting out of there. Koreans apparently have a thing for Vienna sausages — I saw them in an unsettling number of places in that store, in an even more unsettling array of shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, Koreans apparently don’t have a thing for real cheese — lots and lots of processed American slices, absolutely no actual cheddar or swiss.
I went to Bupyeong Station this afternoon and bought a digital camera at ElectroMart, which is basically a huge floor full of different vendors selling every electronic device and accessory you can imagine. Koreans are serious technological fetishists, and ElectroMart is where they go to feed.
But I fed, too, and then I took some digital photos. CLICK HERE, or down a bit and to the left (“San Gok Dong & Stuff — 10/26/03”).