I love Korea, really I do. I guess that the thing that I am beginning to realize is that being in an office- any office- where you have no friends and/ or nobody speaks to you is really hard. I miss human interaction consisting of something other than awkward smiles and waving. (Story time: saying goodbye to the boss of my office always makes me really uncomfortable for some reason, especially because of how quiet the whole room usually is around the time when I head out. Like most awkward people around my age, I couple the statement with a wave. For some reason my boss now taps me on the shoulder whenever he walks by my desk and waves right in my face, like a toddler. I'm still not sure how he expects me to react to a hand less than an inch away from my face...) I wonder if things would be made easier by having better Korean, but that might even turn out to be even more frustrating.
Part of me is still wondering a few things. One of the things is this; if people walk by my desk and see that I am obviously doing nothing productive, why have none of them given me a task to do? Every day I also wonder how many people would actually notice if I just slid under my desk, curled up, and went to sleep. The last thing that I periodically wonder is this: I am a 19 year old girl from the US, why do you expect me to know everything about any and all policies for return or exchange on any website in existence even if I have never even heard of it before?
I guess I just feel awful (could just be all the kimchi- hahahaha) that when I do actually get called on to help, most of the time I can't do anything because English websites are not always good about explaining how exchanges work other than at the time of purchase, and unfortunately I cannot time travel... yet.
As my journey in Korea is drawing to a close, I want all of you to know that updates will still be coming from me about my travels, and the next destination is China!!!!
Elena (who will probably post at least one more thing about life in Korea before she leaves)
Be kind to others!
Heey Guys! I am so sorry that it has been such a long while since I last talked with all of you! I guess that I just didn't want to write a post when nothing interesting is really going on right now. This is supposed to be a meaningful and funny (hopefully) blog that provides insightful messages and meaningful cultural commentary, not about how I had to move out of my host family or the fact that work has been relatively unremarkable...
Here are the exciting things that are going on for me right now:
1) I started my club last week. This club is supposed to be for helping Korean children improve their English writing and speaking skills. Overall the whole thing has been amazing and wonderful, but there is one thing that I still do not really understand. How am I supposed to teach English to a kid who speaks no English? I mean, for someone without any formal training in English teaching... Anyway, I love all the kids I'm working with, even if one of them can barely communicate with me... This is also the little girl who looked at me, said "eyebrow" in Korean, and began to laugh really hard last Saturday. I wish that I could have had this experience earlier in my project. I have to admit that I am a little bit more than peeved that all the work I have done while here has been on a weekend. Also, I find it interesting that in terms of punishments for children in Korea, hitting kids is acceptable, but little girls are not allowed to touch the ground. (This might sound a bit odd, but this past Saturday was the second class, and the consequence for not doing homework was a set of push ups for each of the kids).
2) I got all the papers completed and turned in for my Chinese visa. Finding the correct office in Seoul alone took like 4 days. The actual embassy for China here is a huge building that looks like a palace and is guarder by an extremely unfriendly Korean man who obviously requires a code or card of some kind to move aside. In addition, you have to fill out an itinerary for every day of your stay in China, so winging it in this situation will just not cut it. To make matters more distatesteful, for a US citizen, a visa costs more than 3x more than for any other people for a visit of 30 days or less. Even with all my papers, it took me over an hour in the actual office, which was way longer than anyone else. People were leaving from either side of me, and I was still sitting there, growing increasingly frustrated with the gentleman going through my papers. Fingers crossed that I get the visa!
3) I moved in with the other volunteers in their apartment. With six girls, things could be a whole lot worse... Other than "Dishwashing Gate" things have been going pretty smoothly. Tank goodness we have 3 bathrooms :)
If anyone would be interested in an apartment tour on my YouTube channel, please let me know!
Love you all,
My parents came to visit over Christmas, and the time we spent together was some of the best that I have had in Korea. We went to lots of tourist attractions (including Seoul Tower, the DMZ, and a furniture museum). I have to say that Busan is my favorite part of Korea-- or at least, I like it a lot better than Seoul for whatever reason, I just felt more at home. Also, my mom and I went to one of the most famous spas in the world while we were in Busan and I have to say that dipping yourself into pools of boiling water while nude and surrounded by naked Korean women was surprisingly soothing. I love going to the spa. Also, in the interest of providing you with some other humor, my parents and I tried to go to yarn shopping areas at least twice because my mother likes to knit, and for whatever reason, it never worked out. However, we did have really good Korean barbecue two times. Also, while we were still in Seoul we went to a celebration for New Year where we saw hundreds of riot police forming a roadblock and the bell near Jonggak (which literally translates to bell house) rang continuously for 24 hours, helped along by a team of volunteers including Santa.
In all honesty, exploring things with my parents re- opened my eyes to some of the amazing things that Korea has to offer, and I am incredibly grateful for that. In addition, the thought that I only have a month left at my project in South Korea is allowing me to have more of a "no day but today" mentality, and the whole thing feels more like a vacation than "the Neverending Story". This change in mindset is also allowing me to make good on one of my New Year's resolutions, trying to live more freely, to adhere to what is fast becoming my personal mantra "whatever happens works".
In some other random news, I will be moving out of my host family's apartment and into the apartment where Den, Mark, Switzerland, Finland, and Germany are all already living, so that should be fun, though I am not looking forward to lugging my things around on the Subway. Also also, I am beginning to plan my trip to China, something that is proving to be a bit more complicated than I had hoped, since an itinerary for every day of my visit is required in order to apply for a visa... urrrgh!
I love you, dear ones, and I hope that 2016 is an amazing year for all of you!
Everyday Acts of Activism