Archive | November, 2010

important quotes/update.

16 Nov

i’m sure a whole lot of strange things are said here but i find i’m so used to hearing weird stuff that i just ignore it or don’t think much of it. however, some of them stick with me and i thought you might find them amusing.

for example.

“I want to revolutionize andromeda.”

-said by a grade 6 student on a simple “what do you want to do?” worksheet. most other students said ” i want to dance/sing/play the piano” or something directly from the textbook.

“You’re my little bitch!”

-this is my personal favourite quote said to me by my dear co-teacher, mia. one day when i was studying korean, mia said that i was just so cute and called me her little bitch. i said…”what did you just say?” “little bitch! [beetch] you’re my little bitch! little puppy.” i asked her, “where did you hear that from?” and she told me that her english teacher in san diego had said that about some of her students. i explained what it meant, very awkwardly. apparently in korean it’s fully acceptable to call someone your puppy. this is clearly not the same thing.

“Teacher, did you know that cabbage is very expensive now?”

– said to me by a grade 4 student during the period of time where they were to ask me questions about myself.


-my friend sahil is from bahrain, and is in no way black. however. korean students are really very sheltered about people from different cultures (the society is quite racist in general). so. when shown a picture of my tall/broad friend sahil, they all screech either “teacher!” “obama!” or just generally scream and laugh in amazement. note: he looks absolutely NOTHING like obama.

“Is that your uncle?”
-this was said to me about my boyfriend, jacob. i have no idea why this was asked.

“hey baby. what’s up?”

-said to me by a grade 6  boy. after he said it he seemed extremely startled and shocked that it had even come out of his mouth. when i asked him, “what did you just say?” he said “nononononono!” and backed away.

“the grade 6 boys find you very attractive.”–multiple teachers

self-explanatory and weird.

“we’re talking about breasts.”

my co-workers are lovely, but they rarely translate anything that they’re talking about for me (understandably). every so often they will translate the odd thing, such as, “we’re talking about a joke.” this is always completely useless but i pretend to understand everything after they tell me their one shining piece of information. on one occasion, all my co-workers were dying laughing in the office (not unusual) and i (as usual) looked confused. mia looked at me and asked “do you know what we’re talking about?” “um no.” “we’re talking about breasts.” “ohhh!” obviously.

“if i hold your arm, do you think i want to be a lesbian with you?”

koreans are in general very touchy. women are always clutching each other and holding hands or have their arms linked. teachers do this to me as well, which i find very cute and don’t mind in the least. one day when i was walking like that with sophie she asked, “erika…in canada do women walk like this?” “oh not really. but if they did i probably wouldn’t notice.” “oh. really? because i was wondering if i hold your arm, do you think i want to be a lesbian with you?” bahaha. i laughed and told her that i had no suspicions about her sexual orientation. she said, “oh good. i was really worried.” she probably wasn’t REALLY worried, but koreans use words strangely. “really” is thrown in everywhere and usually isn’t actually meant literally.

health update!

i’m sure you’ve all been wondering my health status these past few weeks, as i haven’t updated on it. hah! well. i’ve had a headache for about a week, so after mentioning that i wanted to go to a doctor to  mia, all my co-workers got into a rapid discussion about what hospital i (meaning we) should go to. they finally found a neuro-clinic just around my school and mia drove sophie and i there. it was at the subway stop where i walk from every day to work. after talking to a doctor (who asked if i spoke korean), he decided that i should have a CT scan. i’m pretty sure in canada you’d have to book that a few weeks in advance. but here i went back into the waiting room for just long enough to take my earrings out, then was ushered into the CT scan room. after that was finished, the doctor stated that there were no “matters” or masses in my brain and that i probably had a migraine brought on by hormones and the changing weather. he prescribed two more kinds of painkillers and also some antibiotics for my stupid cartilage piercing that became infected after it was attacked by the hairdresser. the pill for the migraines didn’t work, but the other painkiller did, strangely. now i don’t know what i have, but i would like for it to go away.


my coworkers are convinced i have “new house syndrome”. the closest real illness i can find to this is here. mia has now asked if i can move apartments in my own building. there will be a vacant apartment on the 5th floor in a month or so, so i will go to see it soon. it’s on the 5th floor, with real koreans, and apparently is smaller than my current room. from what i hear from a friend on my floor, the 5th floor is for single mothers or something, so the rooms are small. also sketchy characters hang out and smoke there. however, this may all be worth it if i can get some light from a real window. so, if the room is smaller, but still has a double bed and has a window, i will probably take it. it really means a lot to me that all my coworkers care so much about my health. i have heard of lots of people (myself included) complaining that koreans have no empathy. my coworkers certainly do and all think they are my mother. this is ok with me. they are very aware that i am in a new place that is strange to me and now think that a combination of all these things is causing me to get sick. they are probably not completely wrong.

anyway. i’ll be back in canada is just 59 days now for 3 lovely weeks. i absolutely can’t wait.

more later.


halloween has come and gone.

1 Nov

halloween has come and gone.

i apologize for taking so long to write something. it’s been ages i know. my one excuse is that the “a” button on my keyboard stopped working and i haven’t yet bought a new one. i didn’t want to write a message without “As.” it’s terrible, really. so i’m writing this at work and sending it to myself in an email.

i’m pretty sure the last thing i wrote about was how i get to go home in january now. well that is still true. what have i done since that time period?

shopping at dongdaemun: i have gone shopping to this area a couple of times now, not ever really buying anything but seeing a lot to buy. dongdaemun is a strange area of mall type stores. basically there are two major malls that i visited, each about 9 floors high. the inside reminds me more of a market or something, especially in the cheaper mall. each store is about the size of a closet, and is just packed with stuff to buy. usually there are no prices and no changerooms. you can haggle, although i’ve been mostly afraid to do so and have relied upon others to get me 5,000 won off (like $4). the better of the two, doosan, is more expensive and only opens at 7 pm! this is because it stays open until like 4:30 am. why? i have no idea. we left around 11:30 on friday and that was late enough for me. plus the subway closes at like midnight or something equally ridiculous.

teacher’s hike: last week i went for a hike with my co-workers and then for dinner. the hike itself was very light (a walk) and only about 30 minutes long. it was a lovely opportunity to talk at length with julia on the way up and mia on the way down. then we went to some restaurant and ate these delicious soups and drank 덩덩 주 (dong dong ju), a sweet rice wine. i accidentally told mia that i’d be leaving after my one year contract here was up. she was surprised. apparently they expect you to stay longer, despite the fact that the majority of people do not. i just hope this doesn’t negatively affect me in any way. sometimes they hesitate to give extra vacation because you’re not as trusted. oh well. there’s nothing i can do now.

halloween: halloween in korea left something to be desired. it doesn’t really exist, especially not in the schools. i suppose it’s up to the foreign teacher to bring it in, in the form of costumes and candy, but i wasn’t planning on buying treats for 800 students, and i think i stand out enough without wearing a costume. we went out on saturday night in hongdae to celebrate the day. i dressed up as a widow, as it was easiest. overally, i was unimpressed. lackluster costumes (everyone was probably in the same mindset as me) combined with the fact that it just didn’t FEEL like halloween had me a bit blue. although it was only for one day, i suddenly felt very far from home. i always miss people from home terribly, but it was worse than usual on halloween weekend. all i wanted to do was be back with my friends and seeing little kids in costumes running around. halloween is just such a wonderful time and i really missed it. it made me mostly worried about how i’d be feeling in decemeber when christmas and new year’s rolls around. obviously horrible. i’ll just remind myself on those days that it’s only for one day then too. on the plus side, my family is waiting to celebrate christmas and channukah until i return in january. a nice silver lining on that cloud.

on top of this, i had to come to terms with my financial reality. despite coming to this country to learn and experience, a large motivation was that it was simply a job that i am getting paid to do. i have to save a large sum of money in order to afford going to college next year, so at this point i’m almost putting away half of my take home pay a month to do that. i still can live a reasonably good life, but i had to realize that i probably wouldn’t be going on as many of the trips i had hoped to take. it simply isn’t possible with the amount i need to save. i’ve tried to be positive about this and to think that i’ll just  spend more time in korea itself instead of traipsing around over asia, but i really did want to traipse around asia. i’m still planning on going to japan for a bit in may with jacob, but i don’t know how likely it is that i’ll head over to china in the summer. right now there’s no real need to dwell on this, because who knows what the future will bring. however, it is a choice that i’ve made to attend college and saving money is just a sad fact of life. although, if i don’t get in i’ll be a bit mad.

one of the more odd things that happened on the weekend was at coex mall. dave and i noticed there was some g20 thing going on, and so we were invited to take a photo with the g20 leader of our choice on a green screen. of course we chose stephen (probably the only ones who will) and then also recorded a 20 second video “to the leaders.” i have received the video in my email and have no idea where else it went. an interesting aspect of this booth was that there were caricatures of all the leaders. in one, obama had a basketball, the india pm was on a flying carpet, and stephen was holding a beer. can you imagine what would happen if that went on in canada? the world would probably be up in arms. all dave and i could do was sigh and say, “oh, korea” and just move on.

my last thoughts will be about the upcoming winter. i am dreading it. the reason for this is because the school keeps the windows open, or has up to this point. the heat is not on. all the teachers are wearing coats and blankets in the office and the children wear coats to class. this is normal. as well, everyone is sick. well, i wonder why! i’m sure the fact that it’s 10 degrees indoors and the children seem to be inexperienced with the thought of covering one’s mouth when sneezing or coughing have nothing to do with it. or the communal bar soaps everywhere. actually, the majority of subway goers (from my experience) do not cover their mouths to sneeze or cough. HOWEVER! they do wear those masks! i don’t know if they wear them because they’re sick or because they don’t want to get sick, or both. either way, i’m sure some basic hygiene could do a world of good here. i know that comes off as “white man knows best” but sometimes the western world’s fear of germs is just appropriate in flu season.

alright. i’m going to buy electronics accessories.