awkward

Dear Korea #136

I feel like this is one of those situations that many of us with immigrant parents experienced, but it may just be how things were where I grew up. As a child, I actually didn’t understand why my mother would get frustrated when people felt the need to compliment me on my ability to speak English (both in America and Korea), even after she had told people that I was born and raised in Texas. I always assumed that everyone was just being extra nice, even if I had to deal with things like automatically being placed in ESL classes simply because of how I looked. Even now, it doesn’t really bother me as much as it bothers other people I know, though it is a little awkward to remind some of my friends’ parents and grandparents that I’m a legal American citizen every time I see them. I can only imagine what the opposite scenario is like for those who were born and/or raised in Korea..


Dear Korea #135: Leg Cramps are a Thing

I recently read a news article saying how a person can gauge how healthy they are based on how easily they’re able to stand up without using their hands. Based on this information, my guy and I are pretty screwed.

I actually don’t mind restaurants where I have to sit on the floor too much, but a fair number of my friends (especially the taller ones) will actively avoid places that don’t have tables and chairs, no  matter how good the food may be. Even though I’m used to sitting on the floor, not using my legs for a few hours can lead to lots of wobbling, tripping, and even falling on my part. Then again, I’m just super clumsy..


Dear Korea #134: They're Catching On

I  just realized I made two strips related to language barriers in a row. Oops. Oh well, it’s too late to do anything about it now.


Dear Korea #133: I Don't Know You

Though how long it takes ranges from person to person, it seems as if the issue presented in this comic is one that affects very obvious looking expats at one point or another. As someone who doesn’t look too different from the locals, I’ve been lucky enough to not have experienced this myself, though I see it happening to my friends on a regular basis. While I can’t speak for anyone else, from what I’ve gathered, most of the people I know generally don’t mind having a conversation with strangers who want to practice some of the English they’ve learned. Heck, considering how most of them are teachers, this is kind of a good thing. That being said, there is a time and a place, and a forced dialogue in the middle of dinner or a date is apparently not ideal.


What’s Worked for Me in the Classroom

I teach for three more days and then have three days off before leaving Quinhon forever.  The three months I’ve spent here have been surreal, sort of like a learn-about-yourself-bootcamp. I have to say, I’m pretty goddamn proud of myself for making it through, since it hasn’t been easy.  The hardest part about the expat life here is the communication and culture barrier. However, the time I’ve spent trying to understand these barriers, while difficult, has also been the best part about living here, hands down.  Should be interesting to integrate these new perspectives into life back in the USA in only 22 days!

Another bright part of my time here in Quinhon has been teaching. My happiest moments here have been in front of the classroom. I’m no expert teacher, but I figured I’d write a post about some teaching tips and tricks that have helped me, because more often than not you won’t get any training in Vietnam before your first class, haha.


Sexual Harassment is Sexual Harassment.

Last night my Macbook’s charger broke. It was old; it’s time was done. So, this morning I had to get a new one. Seems like a simple enough task, right?

Wrong.

I left my hotel room wearing a long sun dress (one hundred degrees, 80% humidity).  And, as I walked the streets in search of an electronics store, the invasive shouts and stares of men left me with not a moment’s peace.


Dear Korea #124 - Dry Clean Only

Dear Korea #124

I’ve gotten to a point where if there’s even a chance of me going out to eat, I make sure to wear dark clothes. I don’t know how people manage to stay completely clean while wearing white shirts as they eat boiling hot soup and a whole lot of red stuff in general. I’ve also learned the hard way that kimchi stains are pretty darn stubborn. As a result, I don’t own a single piece of white clothing.


Dear Korea #123

Dear Korea #123

Well, this is awkward..

Making irresponsible decisions one hangover at a time!

You know what sucks? Not getting paid for eight weeks. Know what extra sucks? Funding an international move and not getting paid for eight weeks. Know what extra extra sucks? Being really bad at budgeting. Like me.

I came here with about $1,200. That, plus my plane ticket reimbursement, is all gone now.  Basically, I am terrible at budgeting. I feel really dumb and irresponsible for spending all my money and now I have to make it till July 5th without so much as a cent. WHY, NICOOOOLLEEEE, WHYYYYY? (Don’t worry, though, I have enough ramen and banana chips to make it through.)

To my defense, eight weeks is a fucking long time to go without a paycheck. Probably anyone would have a tough time. But I do have a weakness for expensive coffee and creature comforts that I need to exterminate ASAP.


Culture Shock in South Korea

The first time I went abroad was to Argentina. I was fifteen years old, and absolutely fascinated by the concept of culture shock. I thought culture shock would be like a disease: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment. I thought that it would be easy to recognize and consequently easy to overcome.

I soon realized, though, that culture shock isn’t easy to deal with at all. That realization lead me to have really negative attitudes towards Argentina. At the time, I hated the country and couldn’t wait to go back home. A similar thing happened to me at sixteen when I went to China. I was way too overwhelmed with the differences to handle myself.

Now as a pseudomature pseudoadult, I am way more capable of living and thriving in an Eastern culture. Most of my time so far in Korea has been so busy and stressful (work, studying for the LSAT) that I’ve barely had a moment to breathe and look around at my surroundings. Nonetheless, some things have shocked me. In both pleasant and unpleasant ways…

1. Pleasant: Ice cream on top of a salad, served with fried chicken. Exactly what it sounds like. Not half bad, either.

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