I was leaning against the wall overlooking my co teacher’s shoulder double checking her spelling. “Why isn’t the stupid bank letting me log in?!” We were both questioning our sanity. Then I felt a rumble down my spine. We looked forward at the sliding doors, the sun’s reflection looked like glitter as the doors trembled in their track.
“Are they earthquakes in Korea?” My co teacher laughed and told me it was probably just the kids upstairs running. Kids are crazy, after all. She started reminiscing on a much bigger earthquake the previous year. She had just had her baby, so she was quite shaken by the earthquake both figuratively and literally. An emergency alert interrupted her reenactment of how she shielded her newborn son.
A sneeze by California’s standards. It was just enough to evacuate the school. I stood there in my indoor shoes, which are actually just cozy house slippers. I acted comfortable walking on sandy terrain, even though I knew I was ripping holes on my soles. It was a minor earthquake but a major excuse to not work the rest of that Friday afternoon.
I am sitting in my office trying to tune out the sound of elementary schoolers trying to learn the flute, violin, skinning animals alive, or whatever that god awful noise is in the afternoon. I am alternating tabs between GoPro cameras on Amazon and tips on how to achieve minimalism. It is almost three o’clock in the afternoon on Friday and I finished working two hours ago.
It looks like it’s snowing outside, but it’s really the freshly bloomed cherry blossoms calling it quits. I feel like they were in full bloom a total of 2.3 days and now they are going to back to their natural state of glorified sticks. Very few get a tattoo of cherry blossom trees not in bloom. They do look pretty falling to the ground.
I can’t help but think of how the cherry blossoms are metaphoric of the way of life in Korea. Shit changes rather quickly here. I’ve been teaching here barely over a month and two of my three co teachers have changed. My students went from being amazed about my foreigner-ness to being less amazed. Actually, no — they’re still pretty into it.
Although things around me are changing all time, I feel the exact same. I thought when I came to Korea, my life would be a whirlwind of change. I was going to speak Korean, magically lose 40 pounds, and learn tae kwan do just by being here. Nope.
My diet is still 65% carbohydrates. I still need an excessive amount of alone time. I still hate writing even though I am infatuated with the idea of being a writer but am crippled by my own laziness. I still wear leggings as pants #LeggingsArePants #FuckYourOpinon and despite being an English teacher, I am still the world’s worst speller. I spelt science wrong on the board and no one knew better to correct me. I am such a bad speller, that I just spelt spelt wrong, and Grammarly had to fix it.
No matter your coordinates on this planet, you’re the same person.
My weekly blog is more like a bimonthly afterthought, but at least I have been living my life, to an extent.
I went to go see the cherry blossoms in Gyeongju the last weekend of March. The cherry blossoms weren’t fully bloomed at that point, but it didn’t rain on my parade. No, the actual rain rained on my parade. I didn’t even know rain could rain perpendicular to the Earth. Me and my Korea bestie (she’s not Korean, she’s just my only friend in this country) saw Beauty and the Beast. As the lights flicked off abruptly, and the film began, I breathed a sigh of relief. The movie was in English.
In all seriousness, Gyeongju is a gorgeous city rich in Korean history and culture. There are ancient tombs everywhere and a lot of Koreanesque architecture. You can take my word that it was really neat because most of the time I could care less about buildings.
It was a lovely getaway. Gyeongju, I will come back for you.
This past weekend was the first round of Saturday classes. I signed up for the science classes (so fitting) and taught on the “nature” floor. I bought a necklace that was a pen holder for the special occasion. Upon arrival, I gleefully removed my own sciencey vest, to proudly put on this amazing, yellow vest with a discreet breast pocket that all the foreign language teachers got to wear. I was nervous at first during the first class, but it was definitely fun towards the end when I grew familiar with my script. Thanks to my experience with stand-up comedy, I have no problem telling the same jokes over and over again. Plus, there’s nothing like a vest to boost my self confidence.
After class, returning our vests (until next time!), and lunch, my friend and I headed to the Ulsan Grand Park — not without stopping by a convenience store to buy a bottle of wine, soju, 2 cans of 7-up, 2 little bottles of OJ, and a cup of ice, of course. At the park, all of the Koreans were sitting on blankets with their children and dogs in overalls. We were sitting in the dirt and drinking makeshift sangria. Although the wine smelled like arsenic, the sangria proved to be quite delicious. I drank all if it despite developing splotches all over my skin and my heart was beating abnormally fast.
After I finished googling alcohol allergies, we rented bicycles with no helmets, naturally. I, of course, picked the bike that matched my digital watch. My friends got a tandem bike. We took turns and I learned that I really don’t like tandem bikes, even though they look really cool. It was a great time and it was nice to get some exercise in the lovely weather and feel the cool breeze on my hot and hive-ish face.
Alas, spring is here!