Monday, December 21, 2009

You Are So Exotic, Like Monkeys at the Zoo

This weekend, my host parents told me on Tuesday, my family would be going skiing. I've never been skiing, but I tend to have pretty strongly negative feelings about extended periods of time spent being cold as well as anything that requires any athletic grace, so I wasn't especially excited. Still, I thought, it might end up being a nice bonding activity.
So when HSD told me on Friday that we would not, in fact, be going skiing, I had mixed feelings, but leaning toward relief. So for Friday night I made big plans - I'd take an epic hot shower, get a solid 12 hours of sleep, and make French toast in the morning.
Well, all that happened, but somehow, sometime after the french toast (which turned into toad in a hole due to lack of maple syrup), I let myself get talked into going down to Gwangju for Saturday night.

There was a light layer of powder in Daejeon, but as we moved, the scenery got more and more beautifully snow-filled. I took this one somewhere just south of Iksan:


Watching the first big snowfall out the window of a moving train was lovely.

We got into Gwangju just before 3, and met up with a few ETA friends at the Lotte department store to go see Avatar. Since JJ and I weren't too crazy about the idea of sitting through nearly 3 hours of 3-D arrows being shot at our faces, and David had already seen it in 3-D, we decided to wait for the 5pm show. Like many big department stores, Lotte has a food court on the bottom floor (which includes not only your standard korean food court-y stuff, but also slightly classier options like little pastry places, world food stands, an ice cream place, and a couple of coffee options), so we settled down to kill a half hour in a little tea shop. Midway through our discussion of the book the boys chose for their pan-Korean book club, The Game, a 40-somethingish Korean woman wearing a swine flu mask started staring at us through the glass half-wall separating us from the main food court area. She came up and, in impressively fluent and lightly accented English, said that we were terribly exotic, and having us there was like watching monkeys at the zoo. Then:

Her: You must get a lot of attention. But I'm sure you like it, yes?
Us: (pause)
Us: ...no. No, not really.
Her: Oh. (continues to stand, staring at us, for at least 30 seconds, before sitting down at the table next to us)

Nice.

And okay, she maaay have a point about the whole monkey thing (we are, on occasion, ridiculous), but that's just not the ideal thing to hear.

Anyway, crazy swine flu mask lady went on her way, and after a thorough discussion of the potential merits of the dual induction massage, it was time to go see the movie. And actually, despite its being remarkably unoriginal, the movie was great. We all enjoyed ourselves for pretty much the whole behemoth 2 hours 47 minutes of it. I'm glad - I realize I'd been bracing myself for an epic failure, because I couldn't stand to be disappointed. I love James Cameron, not just for his style but for his mainsreaming of juuuust scifi-y enough to be awesome but not to scare away anti-genre folk, plus badass leading ladies. And he did not disappoint.

After that, it was on to dinner at the Lemon Table, the boys' favorite burger joint in Gwangju (I went for pizza, which despite the shrimp on it, was pretty good), where we met up with Dan and Amy.

At round one, we met up with our Korean contingent, which was lots of fun. David's principal's son, Shin, was our gateway drug - he's now introduced us to a few of his friends, and our friend Jo brought her friend Miji, whom she met while studying at SUNY Albany. So the gang gets bigger every time, which I love. Since my current and future employers may read this blog (and my parents definitely do), I'll spare you the details of rounds two and three, except for the fact that we had a great time and I went to bed sometime between 6:30-7am.

I can't wait to live with these crazy kids and spend February exploring Seoul and checking out traditional Korean traditions.

I'm excited to go home tomorrow, and I'm excited to come back in a couple of weeks and get paid extra to teach my winter camp. I'm pumped about spending a week in the Philippines, and thrilled about the one after that, on a beach in Bali. Then I get to come back and live in Seoul with 4 of my best friends.
I'm not saying that this whole year is perfect, or that it's been all highs and no lows. But overall? I work 20 hours a week with kids I adore, come home to a great family, and spend my weekends with some of the coolest people I know. I have no idea what I'm doing with my life after this year, but for now, I'm happy to just ride the wave and enjoy to the max the (almost embarassingly charmed) life that this year has handed me!

1 comment:

Mr Kim (U.S.A.) and MaybeUrMom said...

What makes you think your parents read this?