So far, it may seem that my opinions about Koreans are largely negative. And when it comes to things like bathrooms or the ability to walk straight, they are. But overall, Koreans are cool and often manage to make me look like a pathetic human being without even trying.
1.) Language – Okay so, I’ve been working at my center school now for nearly two months. And it was only last week that two of the four teachers who I share an office with, eat lunch with every day and spend pretty much all school related free time with, decided to let me in on their little secret: they speak some English. What the eff?! I wish someone had been there to see my reaction to their casual, “Goodbye!” and, “See you tomorrow!”. As confusion, shock, disbelief, anger, incredulity and joy washed over me, one after another after another, my face must’ve contorted a hundred different ways in like 10 seconds. Like I malfunctioned. Why had they hidden this from me? How much freakin English do they speak? Why the hell did they wait until now to let me know that they probably understand a good deal of what I’m saying?! So many questions.
The only answer I have is that most Koreans speak some English. ‘Some’ varies by age and education, but generally means they can at least say “hello”, “goodbye”, “where are you from” and a few phonetically similar Korean words like “computer” and “spaghetti”. About 50% of the cab drivers I ride with ask my nationality. It’s as far as the conversation usually gets, but still. The problem is that Koreans are shy about it; they are embarrassed to speak English to a native English speaker. So far though, I haven’t met a Korean whose English I’ve really been disappointed in. As in, “You can speak some English? That’s fuckin awesome because I’m the asshole that came to live in this country and I can still really only say ‘grape'”.
Koreans: 1 Megan: 0
2.) Dental Hygiene – It took a few days, but finally I noticed one of my coteachers walking around the office brushing her teeth. This seemed weird to me, however, I had just started school and needed to focus on perfecting my dancing bear English teacher routine. I decided not to worry about it. Then I saw it a few more times with other teachers and I thought, Gee, these people at my visiting school really care about their teeth. Interesting. Then it started happening at my center school. Before class, after lunch. Shortly thereafter, I became aware of all the dixie cups lined up near the sink, each filled with a toothbrush. One..two..three..four…hm…four other people in my office. Everyone has a freakin toothbrush here! Slowly I realized that everyone brushes their teeth after lunch. Except me.
And now I’m torn. Torn between taking a stand against unnecessary brushing and feeling like the gross-o in the office who doesn’t clean her teeth or just doing like the Koreans do. I brush my teeth everyday, a lot of the time twice a day (what can I say? Perfection eludes me). And believe it or not, sometimes I even floss (um yeah, who’s better than who now bitches?). But I’m bothered by the brushing after lunch. It seems uncalled for. You don’t need to brush your teeth that much, and it could even be bad because if you brush the shit out of your teeth you’ll brush the enamel off and then you’re fucked. But there’s a chance this is just be me using questionable “facts” to defend my laziness. I don’t wanna brush my teeth threeeeeeeee times a day. And the Koreans are making me look like a nasty for being so lazy.
Koreans: 2 Megan: 0
3.) Fruit– Koreans love fruit. This has been made clear to me since day one here. I’m positive that I ate more watermelon during the week of EPIK orientation than I have my entire life put together. And that is because I didn’t have a choice. Much like I don’t have a choice at lunch everyday: if you want something sweet you better pile on the grapes. Grapes, apple wedges, grapes, oranges, more grapes. Did I mention grapes?
The problem is that I do not love fruit. Fruit is okay. It’s rarely my first choice (unless you are talking about a strawberry; I would beat up children for a strawberry). I tend to enjoy bananas, an occasional apple, maybe an orange three or four times a year. Knowing this, I still try to eat fruit. I will not tell you how many bananas have gone to waste since my arrival here because it’s embarrassing (stupid is buying the same bananas over and over again and expecting different results).
Anyway, Koreans don’t have this problem. They consider fruit a very nice gift. If you brought me a crate of grapes, I would ask you, “Do I look like some sort of wild animal to you?” And then I would demand that you bring me some fuckin chocolate. Not so for Koreans. And since everyone knows fruit is better for you than chocolatecrap, the Koreans trump me again.
Koreans: 3 Megan: 0