Tag Archives: me vs. asia

Walk Like a Korean

A well known ‘problem’ foreigners have in Korea is predicting at what speed and in which direction a Korean is going to walk near you on the street. They are notoriously erratic in their travel from A to B and one must always be wary. I have become mostly numb to this specific issue (except for the occasional krazy who walks AT me at Home Plus).* But that is because all my anger is used up in another daily Korea walking conflict: Getting from Office to Cafeteria.

See, this can never happen in a normal manner and it never ceases to enrage me. I’ve wanted to write about these ten minutes for a long time because it is a daily fight. But it makes me so mad that I can actually feel my blood pressure rise and I don’t know how to write it nicely. The best I can do is present the situation factually and reflect on each part. Continue reading

Cloudy with a Chance of Dying

Erin wrote about it the other day and I’ve been whining about it on Facebook to anyone who will listen all week. It’s hot. And humid. And miserable. As a result, I’m one drop of sweat away from a breakdown. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every conversation I’ve had this week has revolved around how hot and wet and straight up pissed off I am.  I really almost lost it yesterday afternoon when I walked by my principal’s office and realized that all his windows were closed because he is the only one in school allowed to have the air conditioner on. I dare him to look at me today.

To spare you the pain of a whole new ranty blog post about it (it is seriously the only thing I can think or talk or write about, I’m sorry), I’ve reduced my daily gchats to a “word cloud” that shows exactly how climate-centric my life has been in the last ten days. August 26th, where are you??

Heat Stroke

Humans are warm-blooded, maintaining a near-constant body temperature. Thermoregulation is an important aspect of human homeostasis …. High temperatures pose serious stresses for the human body, placing it in great danger of injury or even death. In order to deal with these climatic conditions, humans have developed physiologic and cultural modes of adaptation. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

I would like state for the record that Korea has not made any physiologic or cultural adaptations. They are a people willing to accept discomfort.

But I am an American.

So I do not accept discomfort.

So I am on the brink of a sweaty, dehydrated breakdown.

Have you ever gone to the zoo during the summer? Have you ever checked out the polar bears while you were there? Know how depressing and crabby they look because they’re very obviously in the wrong climate? I am that crabby polar bear.

Heat makes you do crazy things

This is one of those horrible times when your spoiled middle class  American-ness gets thrown in your face. “Pardon me sir, but your country is not chilled enough for me to properly enjoy my champagne and caviar and money.  See to it tout suite, my good man.” What can I say? I have led a comfortable, dry existence prior to this, and I would like to continue on that less-sweaty path.

Like any developed nation worth its salt, everywhere is air conditioned in Korea. (Please do not get on my back about the environmental ramifications of this. I will tear off the widest part of you and use it to fan myself. I AMHOT.) But somehow, the Republic of Korea has not deemed June worthy of turning on said AC. That means my bus, full of unwashed high school boys, smells like unwashed high school boys.  Coffee shops are stuffy, ATM bank alcoves are nearly unbearable, going outside in the damp, jungley heat will make you pray for death.

I was willing to overlook this heat intolerance as a problem limited to my foreignness. I simply not used to it and do not understand, like I didn’t understand wearing coats indoors during the winter.

But today, drowning in my own useless sweat, my classes of NATIVE KOREAN CHILDREN did nothing but bleat the two relevant words they know: teacher, hot, teacher, hot, hot, hot, HOT, HOTT, TEACHERRRRR.

So much unnecessary suffering.

Weird Shit On Korean TV: Bob Ross?!

I lived in Chicago when Bernie Mac died, and everyday the terrible bus I rode as some karmic punishment (read: my commute) went directly beneath this enormous billboard of Bernie Mac’s grinning face and everyday I was like, “Man, that guy died of the flu, which is one of the bigger bummers out there considering it’s the 21st century, and here he is smiling at me from an enormous  billboard, but he’s been dead for like a year now so I feel like this is creepy and I cannot help but ponder my own fragile existence.” It might have been this exact picture:

The grim face of mortality.

So anyway, guess who I spotted on TV the other day: Bob Ross. And not in the capacity you might expect.

Is this the same Bob Ross of “The Joy of Painting”, you ask? The be-‘froed, gentle renaissance man Bob Ross? The Bob Ross who passed away in 1995?

I say to you, the same.

Only now, he’s hawking smart phones in commercials and reminding you that your image is apparently public domain or something in South Korea and that death is no reason for people to stop making money off you or whatever.

I use my smart phone to communicate from beyond the grave.

And it’s all creepy cgi-ed and there’s some dude dressed up as Bob Ross demonstrating how he can use his phone on the subway. It’s just so….unsettling. Of all the dead American celebrities out there, you choose Bob Ross, Korea. Another great mystery to this waygook.

In slightly less weird Dead Person News, one will occasionally spot the odd Billy Mays commercial. But dubbing doesn’t do the man justice.

………………………………….UPDATE!!……………………………………

For the first time ever, I have discovered a relevant video. This is NOT the commercial I saw when I took the above photo, but it’s obviously related. How  weird is it that there appears to be a whole SERIES of Bob Ross commercials in Asia?

Is it just me? Tell me this is weird:

On Hydration

There’s a really funny thread on Waygook.org right now that has kept my attention for the past 24 hours. It’s slightly entertaining (and often irritating) to watch strangers bicker over really mundane, though often apropos, observations of life as a Waygook. Things like if it’s cool that Koreans ask you to take pictures with them. Or whether or not this teaching gig will look good on a resume later on.

If you live in Korea, you know that looks fucking delicious

The particular topic I’m interested in today is “Do Koreans drink enough water?” The original poster simply finds it strange that Koreans don’t appear to drink much water at all, a doubt which OP and I share, and which I have long gotten over. But this person’s wondering has incensed many KOREA-CAN-DO-NO-WRONGers. Since I have no interest in arguing with people on an increasingly troll-y and uptight message forum, I have decided pontificate here, on my blog, where I am the ultimate authority.

I will be fair and make my comparisons only to the U.S, since I really don’t know how much water the rest of you English speakers drink. I suspect America overdoes it a little (though, it’s certainly not in our character to be intemperate).

Things that make me feel like Koreans drink significantly less water than Americans (possibly to their detriment): Continue reading

And the Living is…Easy?

We are on the brink of summertime in Gwangju.The trees are green, the skies are hazy with heat, the street cats are shrieking to breed beneath my window. The shorts are getting shorters; the heels, higher.

Jacket longer than shorts? HAWT.

For most, summer is a time of splashing and beaches, tans and pina coladas. And sometimes my summers are like this too. But guys, I fear the coming season as I fear few other things (ie: death, tight spaces, death inside tight spaces, Kate Hudson movies, etc). You see I was here, if only briefly, LAST summer. And I remember it all too well…

Continue reading

Sound Defense

When I’m finished with work, when I’m done saying “Hello” 3000 times to the sincere and wicked students alike, when I’ve been stared at by the old men on the bus, harassed by the ajummas on the street, when all that is through, some days I just want to go to my teeny apartment and forget that I’m in Korea for a little while. Just be for a few quiet hours. It is the simplest of desires. And so it is the most difficult to achieve.

I am all too aware that I, Erin, am in the beginning phases of reclusedom. Meh, don’t worry about sweeping the floor today, no one else can see your cracker crumbs. Don’t worry about that t-shirt with the food stain on it – it’s only one food stain. You don’t have plans – maybe don’t put pants on today. Or tomorrow. Maybe you should start collecting newspapers and stack them from floor to ceiling, like reinforce the ceiling with newspaper pillars…make a newspaper pillar maze that will one day collapse on your body only to be found 3 years later…

Aaaaand I may have done this once or twice, but never with a Snuggie:

Continue reading