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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Espanol

A recent Facebook post  by a family member inspired this post. The post (I come from a Mexican family) said that even though they are Mexican, they think that all Mexican immigrants should know or learn English. That's definitely the way I felt before I moved to Korea.

Before moving to Korea I worked for a communications company doing billing. If a Spanish-speaking person called in, I just transferred them to the Spanish line. I feel like that's the way most big companies are moving towards. There is such an influx population of individuals who cannot communicate in English so companies are making changes to accommodate them.

Once again, before moving to Korea, I would probably be outraged if a job requirement that I was qualified for demanded that I be fluent in Spanish. I would think, "They came to our country. They should know English. Period." But Korea changed me.

I don't know Korean. Period. Yet in Korea, I can always find someone who can communicate minimally with me. Even if it's a Konglish conversation with ridiculous hand gestures and picture-drawing, we communicate. My bank's website is in Korean and English. McDonald's menu is in Korean and English (as are a lot of restaurant menus).

I used to believe that if someone is here (America) to live, they should know the language or at least be making a serious attempt to learn it. I live in Korea. I'm not making any attempt other than what I pick up along the way to learn the language.

My view here is that I'm not here for good. I'm just here temporarily to make money and basically have a good time until I return to America. Well, who's to say that's what Mexicans aren't doing. Maybe they're here temporarily to make money so their children in Mexico can eat. And soon they hope to be financially stable enough to return to Mexico.

Korea really opened my eyes to how close-minded Americans are. Right now I can only ask for a beer and tell you that I'm drunk in Spanish but I'm inspired to be able to communicate to a growing population in my home land.

I can also count to twenty and I've mastered greetings in Spanish. Boo-ya!

Hola. Como estas?
Muy Bien. Y tu?

Please leave responses in the below comment section. Por favor.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy New Year!

I think when I actually get a real job I'm going to try to convince my employer I'm Chinese and it's imperative to my culture and religion that I be off for Chinese New Year. Great holiday. Mine was especially great this year!

It all started at 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday (Why is it that I'm always up earlier on the weekends than during the work week...?). Tiffany and I rode to Busan with my amazing friend Teddy. Great car ride full of jokes and K-Pop! I can finally tell my students I know a K-Pop group now! (Update: Sang and danced with said students to said K-Pop song!)


We get to our destination and meet up with Mary. It was my first time meeting her and it was friends at first sight! After some much needed food consumption it was time to find a place to crash and get onto alcohol consumption. Our hotel room was awesome! This photo explains it all!


Next was beach time. I've never had a bad time drinking at Haeundae Beach.

Beautiful.

My signature Budweiser on the beach photo!
A girl's gotta' represent where she's from!

I would expect this from Koreans but why are these
foreigners letting the rats of the air touch their bodies?
The entire time I was fearful of getting pooped on...

Then it was back to the hotel for some bath time and getting ready. We made it out for a carb-free dinner of grilled chicken and radish. Bad idea. We had to go back to the hotel to change shoes (and at some point it was decided that we would all puke too...) and the girls were OUT. Sad face. 

While waiting to hear back a friend who would be out in the area later, I dozed off with the girls. At one point, Tiffany woke up. Within five minutes she managed to break a coffee mug, another glass and a full bottle of red wine. Oops. I'm just glad the hotels in Korea don't require a credit card on file. We had a nice laugh about it as I got in around 4 a.m. 

Early the next morning we were all up early, desperately  needing some food. We decided that carbs were a necessity this time around. 

Afterwards it was off to the temple. It's hands down my favorite place in Korea. It's called Yong-gung-sa and it's a cheap taxi ride from Haeundae Beach. 

Walk like an Egyptian?



Can you find me??

Then we were off to the Busan Musem of Modern Art. There was a bizarre exhibition there with so called "art." The others took the time to read about it but I didn't have the patience. I guess having visited world class art museums in Europe and even in my home town, I had too high expectations.

There was just enough time to take an afternoon siesta (included a bath, of course, in our wonderfully big red bathtub!) before getting ready to go out again. This time we made it past dinner, midnight and early hours of the morning! Somehow our dinner again once again consisted of only meat and radish. No carbs... But it was okay this time because we finally learned how to pace ourselves!

Then we were off to Fuzzy Navel, a popular foreigner hang out spot with "Mexican" eats and over-priced drinks. We were, however, lucky to meet some nice fellas to court us around for the rest of the night! I could tell at first sight that they were military. We exchanged stares across the bar throughout our time at Fuzzy Navel and as they were leaving they finally had the courage to wave to us. That gave us the confidence to flag them over. On the way to the next destination they informed us that they were all teachers. Lie. Ironically, the worst liar of the group was the point man for information. I already knew he was lying about everything from his name to his job. I decided to have a little fun with it. I told Tiffany that they were all lying through their teeth, but let's not call them out just yet. I asked detail oriented questions about them being teachers - to the bad liar no less. "Bob" knew his cover was blown so he had to have a quick pow wow with his buddy to get his story straight. During a game of pool Tiffany called him out. That's when I pointed out all of the flaws in his story and helped him come up with a better one.

The thing is, some American military members have given all of them a bad name in Korea. They are often refused services at restaurants, bars and hotels. So I suppose I can understand where they were coming from, but he should have given up when he knew he blew it. 

Tiffany and Mary are fairly new to Korea so it was my pleasure to introduce them to noraebang, one of my absolute favorite Korean past times! Usually I go with equally strong singers and everyone takes turn singing and backing up, etc. Not this time. I carried everyone (or so I thought!) We sang everything from classic rock to K-Pop and NSync! It was definitely one of my most memorable noraebang experiences!

Next we were off to the casino. Unfortunately it was another disappointment. I'm not much of a gambler, not to mention I had $20 left to my name... I lost $10 in five minutes so I was finished pretty quickly. The guys played roulette and one of them actually won big! He announced he would be taking everyone out for dinner! Well, everything was closed so that turned into breakfast after everyone caught some shut-eye. Thanks to the holiday, everything was still closed at 10:30 when we were ready to eat. So we ate Quiznos. No complaints there! Then they also took us out for an early afternoon hangover drink. 

Finally it was time to take our exhausted bodies back to Pohang. What is an outing in Korea without a run in with an angry Korean ajashi?!?! On the subway an old man didn't like us speaking English and yelled at the kid next to him to tell us in English to be quiet. Everyone ignored the man, as he reeked of soju and cigarettes. He finally moved to the next car. 

We still had one more glorious day of vacation left! To take advantage, we decided to go home and rally a little later for yet another night of drinking! Bonus: The awesome bar in town was giving away a free keg! Score! One more epic night with the girls and tons of friends I hadn't seen in a while was a great way to top off the already fabulous weekend!

Now it's time for the often dreaded, but welcomed work week. Finally I can get some rest! I love Korea. I love my life! Wednesdays should always be the new Monday! Cheers, everyone!





Thursday, January 19, 2012

"USA... I think Brother...."

"....USA. Korea. Brother."

This is a little snippet from the story I'm about to share...

Since I'm staying in Korea for yet another year, I have to renew my visa yet again. Luckily this time around I don't have to go through the endless paperwork and risk getting deported again. But I did have to go for a yearly medical check at the hospital. Hospital. With my boss. Always a good story!

The story begins waiting at the front desk of the hospital for paperwork. My coworker, Seth, and I sit down while my boss takes care of everything. A friendly elderly man [woops... getting ahead of myself. 99.9% of people in the hospital atrium area were over 99.9 years old. Most of these people have probably never seen a white person. Not an exaggeration] so the elderly man comes up to us. Just stares for a few minutes, even though we can see him staring at us. So I smile. That was the go ahead for him to try out his English. He didn't know the English word for "handsome" so he told Seth that he's handsome in Korean. Then asks where we're from. [Insert many facial expressions of happiness.] "Oh!! USA!! [thumbs up] USA... Korean. Brother..." It was really cute. And is a great example of the (majority) opinion of America among Koreans.

Then the medical check... The process took an hour and a half while we walked from one area of the hospital to the next and back to the first place, etc. First was the EKG. Seth went first. My boss went in with him. [chuckle] And came out and let me know that Seth had his shirt off. My turn. Boss didn't come in.

Next was blood and urine... We had our blood taken (the nurse, of course, wore no gloves...) then were given a paper solo cup (the kind you use for mouthwash) to...urinate in. If you haven't read my post about my first medical check let me tell you that the first time I had to pee in a cup I had to find the bathroom through a crowded hallway, do my business, then walk back through the crowded hallway with my...specimen. This hospital was much more user friendly. My boss went into the bathroom with Seth to show him what to do (as if pissing in a cup is so complicated) and beckoned me to come with them. I stood outside. He came back out to tell me how to piss in the cup and where to put it. I saw the window in the bathroom from the door. But my boss had to make sure I understood. Picture a Korean man with his feet outside the women's bathroom but his whole body inside to gesture where to put the cup of pee.

Then another series of tests and a chest X-Ray. The technician made sure to tell me that I have a good heart. Thanks?

Finally we're finished and we all got drinks at the convenient store. I got a vitamin water, Boss got a nasty barley tea drink and Seth got a MINI bottle of Coke. We're talking like eight ounces, tops. My boss points to the Coke and says, "Seth. It's not good for you. You should change it." Then we all walk outside and my boss lights up a cigarette. Hmmm...

Then we're on our way home. Silence. Silence broken by, "Seth. I think you have a lot of stress. Your blood pressure is much higher than Heather's." I just don't even know what to say to that... No one did. So we finished the trip home in silence.

I have to say that trip to the hospital was one of the better ones. There were no people dying next to me and no dried blood on the floor. Both are things I have actually experienced in a Korean hospital.

I had to go to the doctor last week for strep throat. I told my mom I was going but then my internet went out and I didn't tell her how it went. She got worried and contacted my friends on Facebook to make sure I was okay. Perhaps a little unnecessary but I totally understand where she was coming from. She said the stories I tell about Korean hospitals are such horror stories that she was afraid I was rushed into emergency story or died... Hahaha. (Just a shot in the arse and three days worth of party packs!... That would be packets of various pills that no one really knows what they are or what they're for...)

So that ends my medical experience for hopefully the next year.