Tag Archives: rant

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

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.

Bloodsucking Shiteaters

Upon arrival to Korea I was introduced to some grody-ass toilets that triggered this epic rantalysis. Little did I know then the true horrors that were in store for me every time I step into a 화장실. At this point bathroom bitching is so yesterday, but you guys, this last week it has a reached a new level of filthy disgusting awfulness.

why hello! sit down on me!

The temperatures are getting higher and the humidity is climbing its ever oppresive way to unbearable and so the bathrooms have mutated from frigid, dirty puddles of horror to damp, malodorous bogs of all that is nasty and vile in this world. There’s an inch of water on the floor, toilet paper strewn about, dirty mops hanging out in the wash basin. Everything is wet; it can be best described as “swampy”. I would be absolutely livid if I were a parent and discovered that my child played unsupervised in Satan’s rectum. I just can’t understand how any part of the school is allowed to exist in such an unsanitary state. I mean, isn’t this how disease is born and spread? Hasn’t Korea heard of the Middle Ages? What is everyone thinking!? Continue reading

Erin’s Problems are Hipster Bands

We are Erin's Problems. sitarmustachehat*fart*

I’m coming to you live, internet, from my office. I’m eating a Tootsie roll pop. It’s Friday afternoon. The kiddies are gone for the day and I get to doink around on the internet, writing frivolous blog posts and what not.  They pay me to do this guys. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of actual work involved too, and I’ve had a few crappy weeks prior to this. But today was a good day. And tomorrow will be a good day because I’m going to Seoul to stare at some North Koreans and then I’m going to bathe myself in IPA. (More on how orgasmically exciting that is next week.)

The thing is, I can’t think of anything to write about.

At some point, I transitioned from being Uberforeign, to Mute and  Uncomfortable, to Not Terrified Anymore, to Partial Understanding of Everything, to I Get It, to I Live Here, to I’m Stagnant Again.

Yeah, we're called Uberforeign. You've probably never heard of us...

“As Erin awoke one morning from uneasy dreams she found herself transformed in her bed into a gigantic ennui-machine…”

We are Ennui-Machine. Here's a 20 minute keyboard solo.

It’s a welcome feeling, I mean, compared to the first few weeks of peeking cautiously out of your windows and around corners lest you come in contact with a native. And I couldn’t claim to be acclimated. I just claim to be much less surprised. And that makes me sad.

We are Dread the Hipster. This is a song about....Galesburg. Whatever.

But in 90 days I’m out. And in 90 days I have no idea where I’ll be. Safety net = home, but home is so full of hipsters….how I dread the hipsters…The answer is, I guess keep moving. Which is what I did when I got bored with Chicago. And Omaha. And good God, who wouldn’t have been bored with Galesburg? And Cheyenne!? Come on.

So tell me Hipster Band, am I doomed to constant movement? Am I lost to the world of Normals and Happies?? Will the conclusion of 90 days find me in my parents’ basement or living out of a van somewhere?

Here's my pocket Nietzsche. There are no Normals and Happies.

 Cold comfort, hipsters. Cold comfort.

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…

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Ugly You Ain’t Got No Alibi

Along with new lessons and new activities in this year’s English textbooks came new cartoons and animations. They seem generally improved, less 1990’s and more 2000’s, which I appreciate if only because it keeps the kids’ attention a tad longer. But then I started teaching 5th grade Lessons 4 and 5, where a bumbling pair of ginger-headed waygook tourists help demonstrate how to comment on landmarks (“What a tall tower!”) and get directions to said landmarks (“Where is Gyeongbokwuilhswgkhs?”).

Meet the Mr. and Mrs. Waygook. Continue reading

Imma Set It Straight, This Watergate

My coteacher is undermining me. This is not Euna, the tiny, terrifying ball of badassery, but someone we will refer to as B. What you need to know about B: he had never taught a day in his life prior to mid-March, nor does he speak English. Likes: picking lint off his suit. Dislikes: Me.

I cannot figure out why we were paired together to teach young children English when we can’t even communicate with each other. (I reserve the right to punch the balls off the authority figures responsible.) In our first week of teaching together, I tried a few questions to get him to open up.

Me: So did you always want to be an English teacher?

B: No.

Me: Ha. Um.

B: <scowling at sidewalk> I have no skills. I am English teacher.

I then tried to decide if this comment was directed at me. He is Korean (thus, incapable of sarcasm or direct insults), so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. However, now that we’re over a month into the semester it is increasingly clear that B’s entire purpose is to undermine my every move and push me toward a psychological break. At first I chocked these incidents up to the language barrier, than to simple stupidity. But the trouble is too persistent…his attitude too sinister…he is here to destroy me.

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