Friday, April 23, 2010

Catie: You Know You've Been in Korea Too Long When...

I'm stealing this from Mel.  I didn't pick mine up any one place, though.  I've collected them.  These are my favorites and the ones I notice most:

You know you've been in Korea too long when...

- It feels normal to see and hear little kids playing in the street at midnight.

- You no longer notice that all the meat at the butcher's is still recognizable as actual body parts - full heads, ears, feet, etc.

- You realize you really do know all the words to "Country Road" and "Let it Be".

- You select shoes based on how easy they are to get on and off and you can tell the ones that aren't because they're all bent flat in the back.

- The smell of soju mixed with sewage means you're home.

- You can fall asleep on the city bus and wake up at your stop.

- You can shove your way past a crows of ajummas (old ladies) to get to the front of a line.

- It doesn't seem strange to have a male friend tell you how handsome your husband is.

- All "good looking" men look more like girls.

- You stop holding the door for people entering a store behind you, no matter how close they are.

- You start eating onions topped with ketchup and mustard as a side dish.

- You understand the mystery of the missing 4th floor.

- You start dropping all articles of speech.  "I'm going to the store," becomes, "I go store".

- You can recognize and sing, from start to finish, most popular K-Pop songs.

- You no longer pick the corn off your pizza.  Or your toast.  Or out of your hot dog.

- "Toast" means a fried egg, bologna and cheese sandwich with cabbage.

- You start wearing a surgical mask as soon as it gets cold out.

- You recognize traffic lights as mere suggestions and always listen for honking cars when in the crosswalk, because those are the kind that will run you over.

- "Eating out" means eating outside, on brightly colored child-sized, plastic stools right next to a mobile grill.

- You understand the mystery of the missing 4th floor.

There are a lot more that are equally as applicable, but now I'm TIRED.

It's just funny to think we've been here 7 months.  Everything is just so normal now and even though I am dying to get back to the US, I also know it'll be overwhelming.  I never understood reverse culture shock, but I think I will.  Korea drives me CRAZY, but I think it's also secretly become home and that's just weird.

There are certainly things I miss:

- Corn meal.

- Whole milk that doesn't smell and taste like corn.

- Good chocolate.

- Superstores you can enter with a product in mind to purchase and actually be able to walk out with said product.

- Diner breakfast.  Being able to eat out for breakfast is impossible unless you wake up and get to McDonald's before 10am.

- My sewing machine.

- Other people's babies.  Do you know how long it's been since I've gotten to hold a baby?  Yeah.  Seven months.  Koreans don't let creepy waygooks (foreigners) touch their babies.

- Out of season produce.  I know I shouldn't miss this because it's really good to eat in season, but I still do.  Also, produce from afar.  Avocado for less than $12.00 how about?

- Consistently hot showers.  Even with our hot water heater fixed, there are just some days when hot showers don't happen.  We hear that's common in Korea and I'm used to it, but also done with it.  I guess it makes sense that showers would be warmer in the summer )(because it's hot outside) and colder in the winter (because it's cold), but then, along another line of thinking, it doesn't.

Still.. the longer we're here, the less I have very many feelings one way or the other.  I have fewer and fewer I Hate Korea Days and it kind of feels like a game now.  I spend a lot of time feeling like we're on the frontier or something because we're always making do with FAR less (and for FAR more money..) than we would in America.  And while it's definitely irritating sometimes, it keeps life interesting.

Also, there is Han Sam downstairs, who came up just now to collect our water bill.  Something he's taken on since our next door neighbor (probably the most angry ajumma in the entire world) moved out.  Interesting to note that since she moved out, our water bill has been cut in half...  But Han Sam is very sweet and is always saying things to me that I don't understand and making wild hand motions and dancing.  He pats me a lot and tells me to call him, "oppa" which is a sort of affectionate, respectful name for men who are older than you.  We see him all around our dong, chipping ice and fixing his car and riding his bike.  He always says hi and smiles and sometimes we have to go into his ginseng shop and drink tonic (so gross, you have no IDEA), but I would only do it for him.  His wife is on the iffy side.  I can never tell how she feels about us, but she knits and crochets and likes to show me her projects.  I think she likes us.

And I think those are the things you have to think about when the shiny wears off and all you want is cornbread with your chili and more embroidery floss than just the primary colors.  Also, pinto beans...

Not thinking far into the future helps, too.  I keep myself focused on today and tomorrow, but rarely anything past the end of the week.  Time flies that way.  I can't believe we're at 7 months already.  In, I think.. June, we will reach the halfway mark.  This, though, is past the halfway mark for Ben's first contract and we only have five months to go before we'll visit home.

I can't wait to eat cornbread and legit Mexican food with REAL refried beans and Americanized Chinese food and real milk and maybe even some Hamburger Connection.

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