Confusion Vs. Confucious...or something like that....
I’m so confused.
Allow me to elaborate.
Last Friday was the culmination of a 6-day-1-day-break-5-day-work-week. Even after the weekend, I’m fucking exhausted, and it’s only Tuesday, but am finding solace in the bottle of wine I purchased from the 24 hour convenience store located less then a block away from our apartment. Australian Shiraz, on sale.
There are times that I love Korea☺.
But back to the confusion.
My last class on MWF consists of a group of 6th graders who have the camaraderie that can only happen when a group of individuals has been together for an extended period of time. In their case, this particular group of kids has been together for almost a year now. They’re lazy, loud, rambunctious, sarcastic, opinionated and ADD. I fucking love them. But don’t tell them that. Their last teacher let them get away with bloody murder so I’ve been a royal B-I-T-C-H to get them to be more serious about their class work. And they’re getting better (because I’m a fucking rock star teacher, but whatever…no big deal) but they’re rowdy as ever, and I love them for it. Friday, for example, Peter shoved Daisy out of the way in order for him to have more room to write his homework answer on the board. Daisy patiently waited until he had finished writing and as soon as he turned back towards his desk, calmly placed her foot in the middle of his back and pushed. Peter went sprawling, Daisy finished writing and primly resumed her seat. I gave them both a round of applause but proceeded to give them hell for getting both of their answers wrong. We were finishing the class with a discussion regarding body image for men and women, which was going to be their next essay topic. The girls and boys were equally undisputed in their opinions (for once) in that, whatever the case, being fat is unacceptable and an offense for which you must make restitution. Big is bad, they were unanimous, small is where it’s at. I’m small, I countered, but bigger then all of you. Am I fat? I challenged, daring them to insult the one who has authority over homework distribution. My whole “They’re old enough to know better” theory went down in flames as the stupidest kid in the class cocked his head and said, “Hmmmmm……little.”
After assigning them 5 extra pages of grammar, and ending the class with a water gun fight, I was on my way home and decided to stop for a celebratory Friday night treat. Nothing like an organic, low-fat, soy ice cream cup of chocolate brownie almond goodness. Baskin Robbins be damned, I have to watch my “little fat” figure after all. Strolling up the neon soaked walkway that lead to our apartment, I was lost in my own world and enjoying my “ice cream” when I passed by a table full of young Korean men, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, and watching sports highlights on the big screen being projected from a nearby restaurant. They were all wearing pink dress shirts, sporting purses and as I watched as the one with arms the size of my legs tuck lip-gloss back into his pocket.
Only in Asia. You can’t make this shit up.
“Beautiful girl!!” they shouted at me, “Come back beautiful girl!” I turned and smiled at them in response and was given a cheer for my efforts. I suppose they were willing to look past my figure flaws on account of my chemically treated hair (blonde) and pasty “I should have a tan by now, it’s June for fucks sake but I can’t because I’m stuck in a classroom full of kids for all hours of the day” skin (white). How kind of them.
I stopped at the GS-25 (One of the many Korean versions of 7-11) to grab some milk and was calmly waiting in line to pay. An elderly Korean man sidled up to me. Here’s how you know you’ve been in Korea for too long. When someone, anyone, invades what we Canadians like to call our “personal space” you either a) don’t notice because it’s already happened to you 108 times that day or b) you immediately become defensive because you know that that person is planning on unceremoniously butting in front of you in whatever line up to happen to be in. As it turns out, both of my immediate reactions were null and void as the reason this man was arm brushing me was secret answer c) attempting to subtly wave a fistful of cash at me in the hopes of “taking a trip to Moscow” as a Korean recently put it to me. Ouch. To both my Russian sisters as well as myself. I suppose I can’t really blame him. After all, I WAS wearing yoga pants, a baggy t-shirt, glasses, and no make-up with my hair twisted into a messy bun on the top of my head. I WAS standing in line at a convenience store with a carton of milk in my hands and headphones in my ears. I MUST have been asking for it.
So to sum up.
I went, in the space of around 45 minutes, from being a “little” fat foreigner, to a “beautiful girl”, to a “hooker”.
Being an expat here in Korea can be confusing at the best of times, and there are instances when you are never really sure how the general populous views you; as an outsider, or an honored guest, an unwelcome visitor or a simple curiosity. Today was a little taste I suppose, of how a random smattering of Koreans might view me.