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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reflections: Month 2

Well guys, it happened- I've reached my second anniversary of being in Korea! Woot Woot! 

This was a pretty good month. There were no break downs in grocery stores, I didn't get stared at too much, my students stopped touching my hair, and my co-workers seem a bit more accepting of me. 

Here's what I learned this month: 

Koreans are obsessed with fire safety! For real, I have never seen so many fire extinguishers in my life. They are everywhere- on buses, in buildings, on the side of the road! And in the subways they have these emergency masks just in case there is a fire. 

This all very great, and you would think because of this Korea is the land of safety, but it's not. Which brings me to my next point: vehicular safety. That pretty much does not exist! I have seen toddlers sitting on their mother's lap on car rides. I've seen kids standing up in cars. Seat belts are apparently optional here. There's no 'click it or ticket' law here! And speaking of vehicular safety- can I just talk about the moped delivery men! Holy cow! The way these men drive- I am so surprised I haven't seen anyone crash. They drive like freaking maniacs. I know their job is to deliver food as fast as possible, but I didn't think it was a life or death type of situation. 

In terms of work things are going really well. After I gave my co-workers a Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) gift, our relationships have gotten better. They still don't invite me to lunch, which is sad, but at the same time I think it would be really hard to communicate in this setting. None of them speak English well enough to carry on a full conversation, and I don't speak any Korean. So no lunch dates, but they friendlier to me. My students are good and I am enjoying being in the teaching groove again. Although I am starting to hate the phrase listen and repeat! My students are a lot better than so of Matt's students. He has this one class of girls that apparently don't like him. They call him stupid and ugly. We are coming up with a plan to make this class a little better. So send your positive thoughts and if you have any suggestions please leave your comments! 

In other news, I used my first squatty potty and lived to tell the tale! Haha- it wasn't that dramatic, but it was a challenge. I was wearing a maxi dress and I was so paranoid my dress would slip and I would have to ride home with pee on me. I am actually surprised it took me two months to experience the squatty potty... I may or may not have been avoiding subway bathrooms for this very reason. All the restrooms in Suwon are more Western because the city prides itself on its public bathrooms. 

{Don't you love that I took a picture of the squatty potty was about to use.} 

As I end this monthly reflection, I want to talk about something Matt and I have discussed multiple times: Attitude. 
It would be so easy to become bitter here in Korea. It really would- maybe not at month two, but further down the road. We've seen it happen on some of the forums we are a part of- people being bitter. But we chose to move to Korea to have an adventure. We chose this! We were not forced to move. So bitterness is not an option. As an expat, we have to always be conscious of our behaviors and our feelings. Whenever I start to feel a bit angry that there is no "Mexican" cheese for my dang quesadillas or that I don't know where to find certain ingredients to make a dish I want- I just think of why we are here. We wanted a different experience and boy oh boy are we getting one! And that is fantastic! Month two was better than my month one in Korea, and for me that is awesome. 

Now here is my goal for month three- study Korean. I have been so darn bad about this. I have Rosetta Stone, and I have audio books to use on my bus ride, but I have not been dedicated to studying. I have slept in too much, or gotten too involved in Hulu, or The Mortal Instruments to study Korean. But when I read Mallory's second Crossing Mountains post I was encouraged to keep at my studies. So that is what I am going to do- study study study. My goal is know 30 new vocabulary words and 5 new phrases for the month! (That might sound easy but when a simple word like hello is annyeonghaseyo and thank you is gamsahabnida plus it's actually written as 감사합니다 - then I think 30 is a sound goal!) 

Here's to an even better month three. 

{Month One Reflection can be found here.}


  1. I'm happy to hear that your second month was better! :) After that initial shock, it gets better. I'm also happy to hear that your relationships at work are getting better, slowly. Hopefully one day, your coworkers will be comfortable enough to invite you out to lunch! As for the cars, from what I remember, only the people sitting in the front of the car are supposed to wear a seat belt by law. It's only optional for the people in the back, which is completely dangerous.

    Thank you so much for mentioning my post! I hope you will achieve your goal for month three! We both should motivate each other to keep pushing on through our studies :) I've had my Japanese notes open for the past hour or so and I haven't looked at it... not good!

    P.S. About Matt's classes, I'm sorry to hear that his students think like that! Has he tried making his lessons or worksheets appeal to what his students like? Maybe if they see that he "likes" what they like, they'll be more respectful and friendly towards him.

    1. Thanks so much Mallory! It really was a pretty good month. I am getting back into the groove of teaching and that makes things a lot better. That is so crazy about the seat belt laws- I just can't believe how many kids I've seen not wearing a seat belt, or in a child's seat!

      I love reading your Crossing Mountains posts, and I definitely think we should keep ourselves accountable to our studies! As for Matt's class, he has tried doing stuff like that and whatever the topic (clothes, music, movies, art, etc.) they just don't respond and engage in the class. I've suggested putting in a token economy for that class so if the students are good they can get a prize, but if they are bad they have a punishment of some sort. I hope that helps them start working towards the class!

      Thanks for your comment and your wonderful support!

  2. It's fun reading about your experiences so far!

  3. I love what you said about bitterness not being an option. I think it's easy to let differences spoil your views and experiences as an expat. It doesn't mean the experiences don't have their difficulties and frustrations, but if you treat them as isolated issues rather than the "whole" thing you can keep enjoying the adventure.

    1. I think you are completely right! You have to look at the larger picture. Thanks for your comment.

  4. That is such an excellent point you made about bitterness. It is a choice and I reminded myself of that too. It doesn't always make it easier during those frustrating times, but it helped remind me that it will pass. I'm on my 5th month and I'm finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Germany is no where near as challenging as Korea I'm sure! And good on you for learning such a difficult language!

    1. I can't even imagine being here for 5 months, but I know it's just around the corner! I keep comparing Europe with Korea and it is so different here!


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- Alex