Lola O.
My first month in Korea has been a blur of places, people, and things. Before I even realized it, I had hit the one month mark in Korea. If I could sum up my feelings/experiences of the past month I would say "foggy," some moments are crystal clear and others are dim and hard to remember. Here is a breakdown of my first month in Korea...

  •  An Honest Mistake...
    • My second day here, I got yelled at by the security guard. It was an honest mistake. I saw this dresser and mirror by the trash area and I was like score, free furniture. I lugged the dresser up to my apartment, and then went for the mirror. I saw that there was rope attaching it to the wall, and in my mind I just thought that was to keep it from falling, in hindsight I should have realized this mirror wasn't meant to be taken. Anyway I brought a knife (didn't have scissors) and cut it down, just as I was about to walk off triumphant the security guard comes out screaming in Korean, saying why??? What are you doing??? I'm standing there frozen, not sure what exactly is going on, and this other guy comes out saying no, no, you aren't supposed to take that. The security guard is super angry, and I just keep apologizing in Korean, and then walk quickly back to my apartment in total embarrassment. That was the first of many embarrassing moments over the past month. Like when I got my purse stuck in the turnstile at the subway. Or when I went to the Global Center last week and kept on pressing the button for what I assumed was the elevator, as these Korean girls giggled away, before finally showing me that these weren't elevators and directed me to the right area. Honestly, I am such a dork and seem to get into these kinds of situations, but what can I do but laugh at my confusion.
    •  The Epic Journey To Find Trash Bags
      • OMG, looking back on that epic day, it really is a laughable situation, but in the moment it was one of the first frustrations of being a foreigner in Seoul. I live right behind Homeplus, and  went there with a mission to get trash bags. I asked for surregi kabang which literally means garbage/trash bags, but I guess that wasn't good enough because the lady took me to the food storage area. Come on, am I going to store my garbage in ziplock bags? Well, I went to like five other places before I finally found these epic white and yellow trash bags. I told my co-teacher about it and it turns out they say surregi ponchigi...something like that (can't remember of the top of my head) but she said the lady should have gotten what I meant from surregi kabang. It turns out these epic trash bags are at Home Plus (go figure). I think in that moment I realized that there would be many moments of mis-communication over the year, but I just have to take it as a learning experience.
    •  Kum San Elementary
      • I LOVE MY SCHOOL!!! I LOVE MY CO-TEACHER!!! I REALLY LOVE MY STUDENTS/KIDS:)!!! Haha...that about sums it up. I was told Nambu District was one of the poorest districts to teach in, but it doesn't seem to be the case at my school, where even the first graders have cellphones. My first week, I was only there for 2 days, and the other three days I went to my mentor's school. Within those three days, I got lost for two hours in Oryu-dong, went to the wrong school, and really just wanted to curl up and cry. But I didn't, instead I pushed through, and just took everything as a learning experience. I learned how to use the subway with a lot of trial and error, and the kindness of strangers.
      • Back to my school, I have my own English Zone classroom, and it's very nice. My co-teacher is 29, and a very fun and chill kind of person. Her, and her mom (my Korean mom) have really gone out of their way to make me comfortable and help me get adjusted to being here on my own. My co-teacher is very involved so when we teach, it is more like team teaching, where each of us play an equal part in the lesson. I like this, because neither of us is slacking off. Did I say I LOVE MY STUDENTS. I teach 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade. I do after school programs for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. The kids are just a fun bunch, and make me laugh and smile everyday. I have a few class clowns, but no "bad kids" who make me scream or give me headaches. The kids seem to enjoy learning English and are very curious about me. They really like to touch my skin, and the braids in my hair. I run into a lot of them outside of school because they live around my area. I might not be in the most happening area of Seoul, but I have been blessed with a great apartment, school, co-teacher, and students. I'm thankful for all of it.
    • Hongdae/Gangnam
      • My first week here, I did the clubbing scene, and definitely had my fill for a bit. Hongdae is a fun place. We went to some place called Ska Bar 2, and that was a good night with just the girls. The second night...Gangnam, was to weird. No other words describes it but weird. We met up with people, some were already drunk..not my thing. I just wanted to go dancing. My friend, wanted to find some flats because her feet were killing her, so we went in search of them. I saw this tall African-American guy, but just kept walking. On our way back, he stopped us and started talking to us. One of the girls invited him to come to Rainbow with us. In my head I was like WHYYYYYY!!!!! Being the nice, polite person I am I made small talk, instead of completely ignoring him. The guy was 35 years old, turns out he was divorced and had a ten year old daughter. No, No, and NO. 
      • We ended up going to this club called NB, which had good music, but was SOOOOO crowded. The guy went with us. He had some friends there, and all of them were mid thirties. All I could think, was what is this guy doing getting down at this club at 35. This other guy asked me to dance, and I said I was with my friends, and he got really close to me and whispered in my ear I don't believe you, but that's okay. Umm...okay can an African American woman not be hanging out with a Korean woman and a Chinese woman? Back to GI Joe, I felt uncomfortable around him, and couldn't really enjoy myself. He just seemed not quite right, talking about how he would take me out sometime and that money was no problem. When a guy keeps talking about money not bieng a problem. Made me sound like I was an escort of something. 
      • We danced, and he was like what am I doing later tonight. It's past midnight. I told him I am going to sleep after. He said he was planning to go to a hotel and then head back to Yongsan in the morning. I said, good for you. He asked me if there was any guy that had caught my interest, and I replied nope. He just couldn't take a hint. He needed to go to the bathroom, and he told me not to leave until he gets back. The minute he leaves I tell my friends lets escape, the club was so crowded there was no way he'd be able to find me/us. We met up with some other friends, and finally I could breathe and enjoy myself. The whole thing was weird, and I was glad to just enjoy hanging out with my friends. 
    •  The Randoms...
      • The journey to get internet and a cellphone taught me how reliant we are on technology. I could live without a cellphone, but not the internet. I need to keep in touch with my family back home, and of course blog:)!
      • I feel the loneliest/homesick when I am eating dinner alone. Most of the people I hung out with at orientation live far from my area so I don't get to see them during the week. Some of the girls who live 1 or 2 stops away decided to make Wednesday, a weekly dinner night. I look forward to it every week. I've never lived alone before, and I can't say I love it. I would rather have a roommate. I don't like coming home to me, myself, and I.
      • Everyday has a challenge waiting for me to take it on. I do my best to always stay strong and true to myself, while being open to change.
      • I feel the happiest when I am doing something I've been wanting to do in Seoul. Like today when I explored Ehwa on my own, and just got out of my apartment and did something. 
      • I'm realizing that there will be moments when I will be alone in Seoul, but they don't have to be lonely ones. A big part of self-discovery/creation comes from figuring out and doing things on my own.
      • I love when I am riding the subway, and we cross over the Han River, everything looks so beautiful, and it always makes me smile.
      • I have to remember to give myself a break, and do things in my own way and time. I feel like time is ticking away, and that I don't want to waste even one minute of my time here. But sometimes I have to just let myself stop, and remember the moments that led me to this point in my life.
      • I hate snow, cold fingers, spit on the ground, and gloomy skies. I miss AZ weather a lot right now.
      • I feel very emotional whenever I see someone begging on the subway or in the subway station. I never really saw that back home, and it really gets to me everytime I see it.
      • I tried pork feet and cow intestines. Pork feet, pretty good. Cow intestines, never again!
      • I'm surprised by the amount of kindness I have received from strangers. I always try and repay kindness with kindness.
      • I need to learn more Korean, and it makes me happy whenever people are surprised by the Korean I already know. It motivates me to bridge that language barrier as much as I can.
      • I've come a long way, but the journey is only beginning.
      • No regrets, if there is something I want to do, do it. If there is something I want to say, say it. This is my life, my time, and I will live it well.
     Today, I was thinking about why I decided to come to Seoul, and it came down to a need for change, and to do something different on my own. Everyday I am experiencing that change. There are highs and lows, and some days a better than others. But at the end of teach day I am proud/happy I am here and doing this. I want to do my best to enjoy every moment. To take this time, and let myself be immersed in a world different from the one I knew.

    That's a wrap, have a super duper blessed day...hehe
    ~Lola O.~

    I love this drama: Still, Marry Me/The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry, and this song rocks:) in a cheesy way..muhhaha...ENJOY:)!
    8 Responses
    1. John Says:

      this is john choi. i just read your post and i'm glad to hear that you're enjoying your time here for the most part!

      I still haven't gotten garbage bags so kudos to you. (it's piling up a little in my garbage bin... it's probably time...)

      sorry that the trip to gyeongju didn't pan out for you! i wish you coulda been there, but in the same way, you've been exploring seoul and making the most of your time here! besides, we will have more trips :)

      anyway, thanks for sharing, and i hope we hang out again soon!

      -jc


    2. Greetings,
      Chris in South Korea - just found you on KoreanBlogList. Wow, after only a month you're looking like a veteran blogger :) I've added you to my Google Reader and bloglist - perhaps you could add me under your "My S. Korea Faves!!!"??? Take care for now -- Chris


    3. Lola O. Says:

      Hi Chris, I've been reading your blog for a while. It inspires me to travel around Korea and see and do as many things as I can. I have added you to my SK Faves...should have done it already:)


    4. hwarangi Says:

      You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders. Silly mistakes and frustrations happen; you seem to have a really positive way of dealing with things - I'm sure this is going to help you have an easy(-ier) time of things in Korea. Just laugh gaffes off like the Koreans do!

      Your work situation sounds great; if you have this sorted everything else should slot into place!

      It's hard to get used to eating alone. One thing to think about would be to join a Korean class in the evenings (even a free one), as it's an easy way to make friends and you often end up grabbing dinner with people before/after class.

      After going to Korean class (or any other class, like Korean traditional papercraft/ music, etc) a few nights a week, you'll actually come to savor your home time!

      Your random: ...

      "I love when I am riding the subway, and we cross over the Han River, everything looks so beautiful, and it always makes me smile."

      ...
      made me smile too! To this day, (over 10 years since first coming to Korea) every trip over the Han River still takes my breath away and makes my heart skip a beat. Especially coming home at night in a taxi...

      I wish you all the best ^^&


    5. kissmykimchi Says:

      You've been really keeping busy! I can't believe you've tried gobchon already! I've been meaning to for years but haven't done it yet!

      Glad you've been having so much fun despite the occasional hiccup!


    6. Lola O. Says:

      Hwarangi: I'm looking into one at the Seoul Global Center, so hopefully I will be able to start in May. I'm going to see if I can find any around Gumcheon-gu.

      KMK: Lol...it was one of those in the moment decicions, since I was out with some friends, and we were all like, try everything at least once. Let me just warn you, don't look or think about it, just put it in your mouth, chew, and swallow:)...:)


    7. Jade Says:

      Hi, I'm just a random passing through your blog - I found it whilst researching about Seoul in general. I was born there but immigrated to Australia and now I'm in my final year at highschool in Sydney. I'm planning to go visit my family in Korea after I finish the HSC this December, I'm so excited!
      Anyway, just thought that I'd give you a shout out and let you know that your blog is very entertaining/fascinating, and I hope you have a fun stay in Korea! Please keep blogging, I'll definitely be coming back for more : )


    8. Lola O. Says:

      Thank you Jade for the sweet comment. Made me smile...there are no randoms on my blog. Anyone takes takes the time to read what I write is a welcome addition:). I will defintely keep blogging!