Friday, December 13, 2013

The things I love about Korea

You may have heard that I wear winter extremely well. Scarves, hats, mittens, and yes, folks, I bought my first pair of leg warmers. I know, I know; you'll just have to get over how adorable this '80's baby looks. I love that Korea has put me in a situation at work that I can really wear my winter gear to its fullest. I love winter and now I am able to enjoy its chill inside and out. The cold allows me to enjoy the warm moments -- the warm copies from the copier machine, the warmth of having thirty-some bodies in a classroom, hot soup at lunch, and boiling water from the water cooler for my afternoon cup of joe. The sun, too. It's all very primal. I love it. 

Slippers, school lunch forever, and snacks. I adore the slippers my students wear. I can't help but feel how awesome a school full of kids, running around in slippers, is. It's a comforting culture, trading outdoor for inside shoes. One my fourth grade students has this pair -- monkey faces. They crack me up; I can't help but like him the best because of those slippers. So darn cute. And the slippers extend to teachers as well. It thrills me, wearing slippers at work. This absolutely trumps the joy I felt when I would slip on my crocs for work at the bagel shop (BIG deal). 

I'm still in a love affair with school lunch, because, sometimes, it's what gets me through a rough morning of teaching excitable monsters. It's about more than eating food; it's about nourishment. Factor in the school being so cold, it is about survival, feeding the body and soul. Soul food. Spontaneous pizza. Yesterday I was called down to the teachers' room for Domino's pizza. Snacks are the best at school because I get to try new foods (rice cakes, fruit I've never heard of) but also because of spontaneous pizza, oranges, and tea. 

Food in general is a good time for me in Korea. I like Korean cuisine. I went to market day, which happens twice a month in Icheon, with my co-teacher a couple weeks back, and my oh my, such a vibrant atmosphere. My co moved at lighting speed through the stalls, speaking about the different foods and making suggestions on what to buy. I love shopping and having conversations with her -- she's one of the smartest and funniest people I know.

The bars of soap in public bathrooms are laughable to an American foreigner because they are incredibly clever. First off, it's lucky to find soap in a public bathroom, and when it's bar soap, it just about makes my day. Extended on a metal bar, it floats in the air waiting for you to furbish those dirty hands. I smile mischievously every time I use one -- something about it being such a good idea (think about the life span of a bar of soap and how much less messy it is than liquid soap) and the Koreans, even though they fund the bar soap on a metal bar, not even knowing how brilliant it is. Best kept secret in Korea if you ask me. 

I love seeing an elderly Korean woman outside shoveling snow. I love seeing that old Korean man sprint across the street, not worried about falling and breaking a hip. And as much as I hate how crass and rude ahhgummas can be, I admit I love that they treat the world so brutally. I love hiking up mountains, out of breath, only to be passed by Koreans who are obviously a hundred years old, jammin out to music on their walkmans. I love seeing that life and vitality in people I can't help but think saw the last of the dinosaurs. Crinkled and wise, it motivates me and makes me excited for the wrinkles.  

Overall, I like my life in Korea. I like the song my laundry machine plays when the load is clean. I like floor heating and how fast my electric tea pot boils water. I like the walk to school with the mountains and farmland. I like slowly learning a new language, which lets me read snippets of the signs and posters around me. Hangul really is a beautiful writing system, the characters and strokes. I am happy and that's the thing I love most about Korea: that living here gives me so much perspective on the small things as well as the big, macro, philosophical things. It's great for me because I'm consantly thinking about impact, points of. 

1 comment:

  1. Jealous of your walk to school and music playing laundry machine :)