Sorry Dude.

I find it daunting at times to talk to my male students about war and the Army because it is mandatory for every male South Korean to spend at least two years in military service.  I asked many of my students about their thoughts on the subject and most shrug, “Eh, I’ll just get it over with before university classes” or others plan on going to college first and then facing reality.  The military service can either be in the Army or actually as police officers.  I’ve noticed many times that these police officers look especially young to me sometimes; in Itaewon it seems that they are patrolling only to break up fights between drunk Foreigners.  These kinds of observations lead to a quiet anxiety for me; depending on eighteen and nineteen year-old police officers isn’t ideal for an emergency situation.

However, there is a funnier side to the discussion… here

I haven’t heard of this predicament yet concerning U.S. Army soldiers, but this article does make the service requirement seem less scary, I guess.

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New Leaves Turning

My new class schedule is as follows:

  • Monday – OFF
  • Tuesday – OFF
  • Wednesday -Bridge Listening, Par Listening
  • Thursday – Par Listening, Bridge Listening
  • Friday – Bridge Listening, Report and Essay Writing
  • Saturday – OFF
  • Sunday – Report and Essay Writing, Masters Reading: Voices in Conflict

It’s okay if the schedule does not make much sense; it doesn’t make much sense to me. I had to wait for two revisions to be completed and really, I’m content. I asked for two days off in a row and having Saturday off will be a treat, i.e. time to recuperate from previous night

I went out, again, with Kendra and Martha on Friday night, sort of a last hurrah! before the end of classes. We first went to a place by my house called Club Answer. I knew immediately that the place would be a waste of time when they tried to charge me and Kendra 35,000 won each, just for cover! So we waited around for Martha and hightailed it to Monkey Beach, our recent last-ditch effort place for good, clean Foreigner fun. The best thing about the night was meeting CDI people from another branch. It’s always exciting to meet brand spanking new instructors: I met someone who arrived just one month ago!

This time around, I ended up either buying treats for my classes and downloading choice “Simpsons” episodes. I’m anticipating new classes: for my new Masters class, I’ve created cool bookmarks out of wavy cardstock and magnets.

So, very insomniac because I purchased Dr. Pepper for my students today and ended up drinking some. Until today, it had been seven months since my last flavorful American soft drink, so the sugar has really hit me hard.

Must sleep… day off tomorrow… should have fun.

I’m Blonde Again!

Huzzah! In hopes to alleviate some of the winter blues that I have, I sought out professional help… a hair stylist!

There is a salon called Toni & Guy right by my place in Samseong and I finally got the nerve to try it out… but not before doing some research. I had previously read horror stories from ex-pats on Dave’s Esl website, complaining about horrible service and dye jobs. I simply wanted some highlights, to remind myself that I am blonde and hopefully make some ripples in the water around me.

So I called and the phone was picked up by an English speaker on the other end. The shop originated from London, so the advertisements boast “English-speaking hairdressers! No more miscommunication!” I made an appointment for 2 o’clock, greatly anticipating some change.

I walked there from my place and discovered how simple it was to get there. Automatically, I walked in and men and women took my coat and bag, shuffled me to a seat, and took the photo of myself from last summer out of my hand. I was in business. My hairstylist’s name is JuHee and she has been cutting hair for more than ten years. We made chit-chat and I almost like I was at my old hair place in Ohio. Three people, including JuHee, were wrapping my hair in tin foil. “This picture, the highlights look, how you say, ‘chunky,'” JuHee said. “Yes,” I replied, “lots of blonde… lots of highlights, please.”

While I waited in aluminum foil, I was given the most recent issue of Vogue and offered coffee and/or tea. I refused politely at first, but then thought, hey, for what I’m paying I might as well indulge: orange mint tea, please.

Once the color had set in, another woman led me to the sink to wash my hair. JuHee walked by, “She will massage now.” Huh? The woman started to lather my head and run her fingers softly and then coarsely over my skull…. oh, ok…. ahhhhhhh. It felt really great to have a scalp massage. I am too chicken to think about getting a full-body massage, so this was the next best thing. I could immediately feel some of the tension leave my body. I also began to loosen up about the price of everything; how much? Let’s just say that I was spoiled on spending $70 for highlights at home.

Once I was washed and somewhat towel-dried, and completely relaxed, she offered to trim my hair, for free. A cut here would cost about 40,000 won (over forty dollars) but she seemed impressed with that fact that I have been cutting my own hair…. or she felt sympathy for me. Either way, I glowed and praised her for my new blonde hair and giggled as she “fixed” my locks, after six months of trimming them myself. So, for the price of a hair coloring, I received primo treatment from JuHee and the staff, wash and dry, and an awesome trim; the staff went above and beyond.

I’m really glad that I did this today. Things lately have been ho-hum, but there are more exciting events to look forward to: going out tonight for some dancing, Hwe-Shik tomorrow night with all of Chungdahm, and a date on Monday. Not to mention, I start new classes with new students in less than two weeks.

Hallmark-uh Holeedae

No, really Valentine’s Day isn’t marketed just for chocolates and roses… just don’t ask these kids who Saint Valentine is.

There are SEVEN distinctive holidays that are all pretty much like Valentine’s; if I thought that I was fleeing from such nonsense, I actually have been hit by a barrage of meaningless, confetti-filled, red and pink bullshit.

 

  1. January 14th is Diary Day – a mutual exchange of New Year’s diaries (clueless about this one… wasn’t even mentioned).
  2. February 14th Valentine’s Day – girls give boys chocolates.
  3. March 14th White Day – boys give girls candy.
  4. April 14th Black Day – All singles join in their apparent misery and consume black noodles together, Jjajangmyeon (짜장면).
  5. May 14th Rose Day – a mutual exchange, finally meeting halfway.
  6. June 14th Yellow Day – I’ll let you know about this one.
  7. July 14th Kiss Day – Same with this one, though the purpose is already pretty much implied.

So yeah, working in a supermarket pales in comparison to working in a nation where there is more than two days when couples can make one another struggle for approval and single people, like crap. On one hand, I would rather be single during this time and just accept E-cards from friends and family- Thanks to all for your thoughts and gestures… they were appreciated! Today reminds me of favorite “Sex & the City” episode about soulmates: maybe your girlfriends are the soulmates and guys are just there to have fun with.

Is It Spring Yet?

Did the groundhog see its shadow? I remember a friend telling me if it did or didn’t, but I don’t think that it matters here in South Korea. They don’t have groundhogs; just mosquitoes and stray cats.

Anywho, I am on a three-day long break for Seollal, the Lunar New Year. CDI hardly ever closes, but the school is closed for two days this week. Originally, a bunch of us were going to rent a cabin, but there are a group of people who are visiting North Korea (eeks!) on a tour, so we didn’t have enough people to go.

Did I mention that I got to see the Super Bowl on Monday morning? Oh yeah! There is nothing like being out at 8 A.M. with other sleep-eyed Americans who are determined to preserve the sanctity of the American tradition of eating, drinking, yelling, and cheering.

I awoke at 6:30 to be greeted by dark skies and cold weather. With a coffee in hand, I told the taxi driver “Itaewon, ju-seyo.” I’ve mentioned Itaewon before; it is foreigner central. Basically, whenever I feel nostalgic for Miami or college campus life, I could go there. Being in Itaewon is like leaving South Korea. I had made the Super Bowl plans with my friend Martha and we were supposed to meet a few of her guy friends. I didn’t think that I would be the first of our group to arrive at the Wolfhound Pub, so I was worried about having to find a table. However, my fear subsided when I entered the pub at 7:30 A.M. and found that I was one of four patrons in the pub. I found a table right next to the big screen projector. I called Martha and found out that everyone in our group was stuck in traffic; evidently people were either going out of town for Seollal or vying for premium Super Bowl seating – I think that it may have been the former. The next to arrive was Grant. He and I were put up at Seoul Residence Hotel together and I fondly remember having breakfast with him my first morning in South Korea. He had taken the subway, so he avoided the Seollal traffic.

The big screen (above) and happy on-lookers (below). The crowd was torn Giants vs. Patriots.

We ordered the only drink that could be deemed appropriate for the wee morning hours: Bloody Marys. Slowly, the crowd started to stumble in. Eventually, our entire group assembled and the guys were left to do their guy thing while me and Martha tried to keep up.

The guys

and the girls.

While the idea of waking up before the sun rose to drink brought me back to my days at Miami University, I didn’t entertain the thought that we would make an entire day out of bar-hopping. Though it was my day off, I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before or even showered the morning of the game. But after the game at the Wolfhound, me, Martha and her friend Jason ended up hitting three more bars, spending a total of twelve hours in Itaewon. I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself for sticking it out so long and keeping it together. At 8 P.M., I resisted peer pressure to stay out longer, hailed a cab to get home, and then passed out from a long day.  It was a fun day all in all, but it will be quite a while before anything like that ever happens again.

I later found out that these things would happen after this tumultuous day:

  1. Martha would lose her purse and its entire contents.
  2. I would get sick again – I had a fever the entire next day.
  3. The thought of alcohol would make my stomach do cartwheels in my body. Evidently consuming nachos, pizza, and beer simultaneously after months of eating Korean food will cause some serious damage.

Go Giants!