Monday, September 14, 2009

Some Days ...

1) Some days I have less patience than others
I was updating my status on facebook this morning (to: "screaming is all part of the morning routine with my mountain family.") when Oh-chahn ran into my room and asked his famous, "What are you doing?" Not really knowing how to explain, and perhaps a bit irritated by all of the morning screaming, I just said, "talking to friends." This is how it went down:

O: What are you doing?
Me: Talking to friends.
O: Boyfriend?
Me: Uh, yeah, some boys.

At this, Oh-nee laughed. I looked up and saw that Oh-chahn looked like someone who just dropped an ice cream cone. Oh-nee said laughing, "Amy said talk to boyfriend, then Oh-chahn (nun) go like this [made a very sad face]." I laughed and reassured Oh-chahn that he was the only man in my life. Families. Just when you think that you wish that they weren't there, they save the day.

2) Some days I have less foresight than others.
Today in my last class, I was helping one group with a worksheet. I was actively speaking to one girl specifically when I noticed the other two girls and one boy in the group just staring at me. Not in a listening sort of way, but in a watching sort of way. I stopped and one of the braver girls held up her finger and said, "Can I touch?" The automatic, open-minded part of me said, "Okay" even though I had no idea what she wanted to touch, which made me a little nervous. Slowly she reached up and touched my eyelashes. As soon as she touched them, she drew her hand away and gave a yelp. Instantly, the other girl that was watching went in for the touch. Same story different girl.

Then, as I was trying to get them under control (they were laughing really really loudly), the boy in the group took my finger. Somewhat distracted by the girls, and pretty use to students taking my hand, I barely even noticed as he made a direct shot for the first girls' eyelashes. "Feel," he said, "Very small, no curlys!" Next thing I felt was my finger missing her eye lashes and hitting her directly on the forehead. This, once again, caused a fit of laughter. Well, at least they didn't try pulling them off, right?

3) Some days I just never know what to expect
Right at the start of my first class today, a random student came into my room, ran to the front where I usually teach and started spinning in a circle with her arms thrust outward and her face pointed up. As she spun she sang, "Teacher smell! Yummm! Teacher smell so very very good!" And, without another word, she skipped out of the room. I'll take that as a compliment...?

4) Some days I want to tell Koreans that they're nuts but I love them
For those that don't know, I run a lot. In fact, I run every morning. Since I work late, it's easier to run in the mornings. Well, at 5:30 a.m. in my little mountain village, the only people awake are over the age of 60. Let me paint you a picture of Koreans (60+) who work out.
  • No matter how hot it is, they will be fully dressed in a coordinated tracksuit.
  • Everyone wears visors, even before the sun peaks over the mountains.
  • Breaking a sweat is not okay.
I cannot even begin to describe the looks I get as they see a yellow-haired girl wearing a mis-matched t-shirt and shorts combo, (I dress in the dark in the mornings, okay!?) huffing and puffing, face bright red and glistening passes that 60-something on a bicycle.

So, at 5:30 a.m. the entire male and female population of Gurye over the age of 60 make their way to my bike/running trail and set out for an hour walk. Armed with their visors and track suits, they walk at a mild pace. And they do these silly little stretch-like moves in the process. I'm pretty sure that the stretches do more than harm than good (because they lose their balance a lot and fall off the path), but I keep tight lips. It's pretty entertaining to watch.

5) Some days I feel nuts
I found out that my apartment is next to the mental institution. Apparently it's a pretty popular institution. I guess that's good to know for when things finally snap.

Thanks for reading, hope it made you smile!


  1. Just to put my teacher hat on, it might be a good opportunity to explain the cultural differences when they want to touch your eyelashes. A part of learning a language, I think, is learning the customs, culture and context for it. So it really is a good thing for them to know the differences.

    BTW, are you sure that those the senior citizens of Gurye in the morning lining up your path, not the residents of the building next your apartment :-) ?

  2. Hm..

    Same thing happened when we had a long road trip from Chicago to west coast long time ago. We all family got together to attend Youngmee auntie's wedding. We stopped by in the middle of mid-west.. In a restaurant, there are no "white" people but our family.. Everyone in the restaurant followed our moves and stared at us.. My mom and I went to bathroom together.. An old lady asked to touch my mom's hair because she never saw black hair before in her life! it was quite strange but funny somewhat.

    Hope you can keep your distance with your students. It is very odd feeling to be in a spot like this.. I know that.

  3. Gurye sounds like such a neat place. And the people are so cool. They treat you like a celebrity -- you always were in my eyes.
    Love and miss you, Momma