Just a quick update today. The foreign teacher who came to the Global center today, Jill, is from Chicago. We had a good time chatting about places we knew, which were actually relatively few because it turns out she’s not really from Chicago, but some little burgh south of Joliet. Oh well, ya can’t win em all, right? Anyway, she’s been in Korea over 2 years, so she filled me in on the things she’s found to do here. She’s going to Seoul this weekend to see the sights, maybe hit an English bookstore, and go salsa dancing with some of the other teachers at her school. She invited me to go with them… and I’m down. I mean, I haven’t tried to salsa in a long time, but hey! When in Rome, right? Uh… yeah. Plus, I really do want to get to Seoul as soon as possible. I drove through it on the way from the airport, and it’s freaking huge. More than 20 million people – the 2nd largest urban center in the world after Tokyo, in an area that’s roughly 1/5 the size of the New York City urban area. Sounds ridiculous to me, so I gotta see more of it. Other fun fact – apparently, “Jill” (or the Koreanization of it, however you say that) is a bad word here. It’s like a kiddie word that means “vagina.” So she has to tell everyone here her name is Jillian, even though it’s actually not, because at her first school they called her “Vagina-teacher” the whole time – awesome.
After school two of the teachers at the Global Center, Mi Sun and Mi Jin, took me to an outlet mall, which, comfortingly, looks exactly like an American one. The road we took to get there, on the other hand… well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So they drove me into Yeoju to go shopping for coats with them, which was nice – definitely needed a night that wasn’t spent in the hotel and eating alone in Janghowon. We left Janghowon by taking the highway, which seemed normal enough for a trip of roughly 20 kilometers. Then we turned onto a smallish country road and followed that for a bit. Then, as I’m asking what stores they have at this outlet place and the girls are telling me “OH! It’s great! Coach and Gucci and Armani and very nice very expensive places” and so on, we turn onto this one-lane barely-paved track that runs through some fields, with a ginormous ditch running along the road – no shoulder, just a scary huge dropoff on one side. And we drive, and drive, and I’m getting more and more nervous and asking if they’re sure this is the right way to the Gucci store, because, hell, it looks like this road hasn’t been used since the Korean War, give or take. But sure enough, a mile or 2 more and we come out on a huge interstate, and then there’s this radiant Christmassy light-strewn beacon of consumerism glowing in the distance. And the angels sang, and we were forced to eat Robin’s minstrels, and there was much rejoicing. We shopped for a while, but Mi Sun couldn’t find the coat she wanted, so we ate (I had bulgogi. It’s like Korean beef stew with rice – and it was, and this will come as a complete and utter shock to you all, I’m certain – fantastic!) and they dropped me off. It was… surreal, but nice. Like meeting Anna Scott.
Tomorrow, teaching, and then Wednesday I’m going with Boil to Suwon to get my Foreigner Registration Card and look at some ancient castle there. No classes on Wednesday! Whoo-ee! Also, with my Alien card I’ll be able to get a handphone, and a bank account, and I think some sort of probe with which I will test the physical makeup of the natives to see if they’re suitable for consumption… or annihilation. And a spaceship. And some sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their foreheads… I could go on, but really, why?
Then, Thursday after work it’s time to move into my apartment – NO MORE HOTEL!!! Can I get an Amen?!? =)
Today, Sean is a wide-eyed rural Korean window shopper among the fabulous and extravagant.