Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Korean Slogan

The sound of a weed whacker...the smell of asphalt...the smell in the morning when I go to walk the dog...these are all things that, oddly as it may be, remind me of home. I'm sitting in my office right now, and I hear a weed whacker outside getting to business. I find it kind of funny that a weed whacker, of all things, would make me think of home, but...well...it does!

So, recently I've decided what my new slogan for life in Korea is. The slogan goes something like this: Korea-where weird becomes normal, and normal becomes weird. This first came to mind when I was walking down the street with a friend and this guy (he sounded American by his accent), came and asked for directions to a certain sushi restaurant. I explained to him and showed him where it was, and we went our separate ways. At that, my friend said "That's not supposed to happen..." "What's not?" "Someone asking you for directions on the street in English...and you answering in English..." I laughed about it, but when thinking further, it was really true. Those kinds of things, the things that should be so normal in life, have become so few and far between, that they seem "weird" to us now. On the other hand, not being able to effectively communicate with people, not knowing what's in my food, not having half a clue as to what's going on in school sometimes....those things are the things we'd consider "weird" in the states...weird enough to note every time they happened. However, here, they've become so normal to me that I just don't think to talk about them anymore! So, I live in Korea-the land where weird becomes normal and normal becomes weird.

Also, Korea has done something for me in my thoughts of communication. In the states, I would tell people I HATE when there's a lack of communication between people. I thought that communication issues were one of the worst things to happen...ever. However, now living out of my normal element, living somewhere that communication is so different, and is not congenial with my instincts, I've learned so much about how to deal with communication issues. I've also learned to not jump to conclusions about what someone says or does, thinking first "Ok, is this cultural? Was there some sort of mix up in communication?" And that has helped me relax so much about my...well, basically my overly active worry-gene. It's a good thing, for sure!

Alright, I should go. A friend and I took pictures for some of our friends' wedding. I'm busy editing them (I've spent several several hours already doing it, and I'm only just over half done...and the wedding is next week! Ah!!!) so I should probably get back to that.
Oh!! Before I go, a random story! I walked into my classroom yesterday and this one boy was practically hyperventilating and another was livid. I have no idea what happened, but the entire class period, I was on top of this kid, trying to keep him from yelling and getting out of his seat...it was crazy! Definitely a first for me in Korea!! Ok, for real now...picture editing, here I come!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A homey event

What do these things have in common?

*Nachos (I mean with real cheese)
*Pulled pork sandwiches
*Rootbeer floats
*Banana Pudding
*Reese's Pieces
*An enormous American flag
*Ordering in English (comfortably); being responded to fluently in English
*Having to ask if it's ok to pay in Won instead of American dollars
*Lots and lots of small white, black, hispanic, and other kinds of children

Have you figured it out? The answer is "things that Tori experienced yesterday for the first time in over a year." That's right! Yesterday, I went to Camp Humphrey in Pyeongtaek for the "Freedom Fest 2010" taking place on base. For the weekend, they opened up the base to everyone (everyone with an ID at least) and had lots of fun, music, fireworks, blow up slides and other things you'd typically see on the 4th of July. Last year on the 4th, we went to the beach, which was fine, and we had pizza, which was fine, and some people tried to set off some fireworks on the beach before the beach patrol came which was, well, at least entertaining. However, it just didn't quite feel like the 4th of July. But this year was different! I couldn't believe the amount of Americans I saw in one place at one time! Haha. And I have to say that I was quite taken back by some of the conversation I heard! When my friend was ordering banana pudding, the lady working behind the counter was kicking boxes around and such going "Where da whip cream at??" Haha...I looked at my friend Courtney and said "Wow....I'm so sheltered." So, all of this to say a couple things. First of all, I had a fun 4th of July. Second, I am a little tiny bit more prepared to visit America in a month. Next, as much fun as it is to experience large amounts of Americans together on a holiday, I'm glad I live where I do. Also, eating way too much food can be entirely too satisfying sometimes. And lastly, although I love Korea, I'm still proud to be an American, and I love celebrating my country with great food, great friends, and of course, things exploding...I mean fireworks. :)