By: Maggie Moo
Today marks 3 months in Korea for me! I have had many ups and downs and developed a love for creating lists, so here goes nothing.
Things I love:
1. My rugby team I have had an amazing time playing with the Seoul Sisters,who have been a really great support network for my first few months here. It has been an amazing experience to play rugby around Korea and travel with these ladies. I really enjoy finding out new aspects of Korean rugby culture and that shitty referees are universal.
2.My fellow EPIK teachers I have made some fantastic friends here, got into plenty of shenans and found a group of wonderfully strange people who I am very grateful to know.
3. My students (most of them) I have a group of kids who are incredibly unique and brilliant. They visit me between classes and ask all sorts of questions I wouldn’t have even grasped at their age. These kids make up for the few who desperately need a reality check and some corporal punishment.
4. Nature Seoul is the only place I’ve ever been where I have the opportunity to see a Sky high Samsung building made backdrop to a traditional temple. The mountains and parks are stunning and I never have to go to far to feel like I’ve made it out of the city!
5. Exploring the city. I find out something I didn’t know about Seoul everyday and I love stumbling on new little places for me to frequent. I could get lost in this city with everything it has to offer!
Things I dislike:
1. Subway manners- In Korea it is natural and totally normal for people to push and shove other people when they are getting on or off the subway. It is also normal for me to be standing in line to board and have a middle aged man completely cut in front of me and elbow me out of the way. No one says excuse me, here. It’s just part of the culture I cannot get used to.
2. Having an ungraded class. Being a Native English teacher, most of my students assume that my class is just for “fun” and they can show up late, talk as much as they’d like and are then surprised when they do not do well on my speaking tests. The system here is a bit wonky in general and in terms of discipline…there isn’t much I can do. Korea doesn’t believe in suspensions the way the U.S does.
3. Rice (for the moment)
At the moment I honestly believe that if I never saw another piece of rice again for the rest of my life I would be so happy! I love Korean food, a lot of it is fantastic, spicy and delicious, but rice is starting to bum me out a bit.
4. Korea’s vanity culture Korea is a beautiful country, full of beautiful people, steeped in tradition. They are so proud to share their history and passion with foreigners, but they don’t grant themselves the same kindness. I personally believe Koreans are beautiful, but the plastic surgery craze is very apparent as well as the self obsession. I can’t go anywhere without watching Koreans apply full coats of makeup and constantly primp themselves, in addition to frequenting plastic surgery clinics to achieve a more “western” look. My students are constantly dieting and worrying that they are too fat, even though many of them look like they could use a good hearty meal. I no longer have shame about rolling my eyes when the women next to me is bumping me because she needs to apply a 10th coat of lipstick!
5. My lazy co-teacher I have accepted that I am out of my depth when dealing with this women and have very kindly started locking my classroom after about 10 minutes, to encourage early arrival It has become a humorous encounter that I look forward to, only for the simple fact that I believe she will provide me with excellent material for a book some day.
6. Cockroaches!! Now, I know most of Asia has cockroaches, but after discovering about 4 of them in my apartment, I cannot help but panic every time I enter my apartment and and see a speck on the floor. As a result I have loaded up on anti-cock roach traps, spray and anything else I can get my hands on.
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