I’ve officially entered my third year teaching in South Korea. I’m settled into my new apartment and have already started teaching at my new elementary school. It’s a challenging and exciting time. On the same token, it causes me to reflect on all my experiences since I started. From body-altering judo injuries, to eating dog soup (yes I did it!), to meeting the wrath of ajummas getting on the subways.
As I reflect, I recount the things that I grew accustomed to, learned to accept, and also those things that just won’t get through to me. The things I will NEVER get used to.
Cats on Leashes
I’ll never forget the first time I saw a cat tied up on a leash. I was on my way to the large market near my first apartment and there in the shadows was a ruffled up cat confined to the length of its leash. I had to stop and look at him. And I even said to myself, “look at him!” All tied up and hopeless. Is it a good thing? For the cat “haters” out there – yes. No rummaging through trash. No screaming from being in heat, except from that tiny little area. Hey, we do it to dogs all the time, why not cats?! For the lovers, it’s just wrong, right? Still, it took me back for a moment. And many times after that I saw the same thing. Poor Garfield.
Women Spitting on the Street
This is one of my all time greats. The first time I witnessed an older woman completely hawk a loogie I was truly in awe. Snort in through nose, KKKHHT! through the mouth. P’tui! No holds barred. I stood there with my mouth open in astonishment. I thought maybe it was a one-off occurrence and that the lady had a legitimate reason to do so like a bug flew in her mouth or something.
It wasn’t the first, and I now know it won’t be the last. Time and time again I’ve witnessed many a girl and women alike snort up and phlegm out right on the street. Just like I used to do at the wood cutting pile or the scrap yard. Ok, maybe it’s a double standard, but like I said, these are things I don’t think I’ll be able to get used to. For better or worse.
|Sea slugs 개불 (gaebul)|
Yeah, that’s the unofficial name for these. The Korean name is 개불 (gaebul) and they are not fun to look at. I have no doubt in my mind that they are tasty to the Korean palate, but I still get the same squeamish feeling now when I see them as I did 2 years ago. There’s no need to go into detail as to what they look like or how they got their name. Just check out the picture.
Globs of Vomit
Where my old apartment was had a never-ending supply of little watering holes, nore bangs (karioke bars), and restaurants. Not to mention the sexy nore bangs and double barber shop poles.
The area was not for the young, chic crowd either. It was a rougher crew. Many seamen came to the area to get their drink and groove on. 3-4 times per week the woman who owned a small bar outside my apartment would get into the most aggressive shouting matches with these drunk old men, often turning physical. There were always cops out there. Don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining, just frequent.
Well, for those that have that one-too-many shots of soju, they simply find the nearest wall or telephone pole to lean on and empty their guts onto the street. These are 1 lane streets with mostly people walking and delivery trucks. So each morning I got to see the latest specials at the local restaurant on the sidewalk. Or even better, on my way to 7-Eleven the same night where it was fresh.
It’s a vivid and shocking sight no matter where you’re from.
Some things I’ll never get used to. Let’s not overlook the toilet paper trash cans either. It made my second string as I describe in my vlog below.