Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Beginning

This first week has been rather intense; a veritable whirlwind of activity. The school runs unlike anything I have ever seen before. There are 4-5 basic "content areas" where we focus on different target language. Rarely does a teacher see the same class multiple times in a day, and unless they are a homeroom group, more than twice during a week.

The students like to laugh at my attempts to speak their names. Needless to say, my Korean is wanting. They are (almost) all in love with a pop artist/group called Beast. I've heard the song "Fiction" many times already. They are also fascinated that I am married, and get really excited when they figure out that Adam is my husband. The other day a class went nuts, then one of the students quickly explained to the other teacher, who is a native Korean, that earlier the class had met Adam and he had said his wife was very beautiful (enter me at the end of the day with only mascara on and my hair attacked by rain and humidity...I think they thought he was lying, but it was still a nice compliment to receive).

They really are typical teenagers: obsessed with celebrity icons and social trends, the girls are boy crazy, and the boys are clueless. Today some girls in one of my classes showed me eye glue. It is applied using a toothpick and glues the lower part of the top lid (where the eyelashes are) to the upper top lid to make the eyes stay open wider. They explained that it is very popular in Korea to want bigger eyes, whiter skin, blonde hair, and noses with shape (not flat). One girl held her arm out and said, "We are yellow." I placed mine next to her's and there wasn't much difference, at least not that I could see.

We also went on a second shopping trip yesterday. The first one took three hours and was completely overwhelming. This time we went to a slightly smaller and and somewhat closer store called E-mart. Rather than sprawling and large, they build up (but they are still not small, mind you). The main floor had electronics, clothing, and some home organizing things, as well as the photo booth. The top floor had a veterinarian and hair salon. The bottom floor had the groceries, toiletries, bath/kitchen, and cleaning supplies. It took us just over an hour and felt much more manageable. We were also excited to see a new, smaller grocery story (one level) opened just down the street called S-mart. Hopefully we'll be able to do most of our shopping there.

The items that most excited me on our recent venture: Shower curtain and rod! In Korean it is common practice to have a "wet bathroom." The shower and tub are open to the rest of the room, and one wears stiff shower slippers in the bathroom to keep from falling. I just couldn't cope, so we westernized and today I was blissfully happy to step out of the shower onto a mostly-dry floor (humidity still makes it damp). A toaster! Now we can do more than eat cold cereal in the mornings :) And...a wireless router! Poor Adam was exhausted last night and I wouldn't let him rest until we had the thing installed. But all the directions are in Korean and we never got it worked out. Perhaps tonight...

I'm still on the hunt for a shoe rack (our carpet in the bedroom is industrial, really-hard-to-clean, felt-like stuff so we take our shoes off at the door), but we'll make do until we get it taken care of. It's beginning to feel more like home, I'm trying to pick up Korean phrases, and I feel a little more comfortable in this very foreign place.

Monday, July 11, 2011

An Introduction

My husband has always wanted to live in an apartment over a shop or store of some kind. Makes sense. We’re people watchers. No, we’re not creepy stalker-types; we’re writers. We just moved into a one bedroom, one-story walk-up. We live above a gift shop. There’s a coffee house two doors down, next to that a little Italian place, across the way a burger cafĂ©, a little bakery, and not too far down a true English pub. We live on Main Street. Just up from here the bend in the road turns into Market Street. Although I can’t be sure why, as the bend in the road leads to the end of the road, and all the shops are here on Main Street, even the little convenience store.

The door to our building stays open all the time. Except on weekends. Weekends on Main Street is a mad house. But the rest of the time, it just stays open. The door to our apartment is always unlocked. As are all the apartments here in the Village. Seems kind of counter-intuitive with laptops out, all our personal possessions contained in 300 square foot cubes. But when we first arrived the guy who brought us to our apartment simply shrugged and said,

“This is Korea.”