19 September 2008


Things I Like About Korea:

250 mL Cans of Soda.  This amount is the absolutely perfect amount for quenching my desire for an occasional soda.  Initially it seemed small compared to the Western convention of 12 oz, but I find that after 250 mL, I really don't ever want more soda.  And I damn sure don't need a 48 oz Super Gulp.
Cost of Living.  A shopping trip for all my food for the week rarely runs more than $14.  My gas bill is $7 a month, and my electric bill is $15.  Considering my comparably generous pay, I've been able to sock away more than three grand in the bank in only two months.
I Am Foreign and So Therefore the King.  Why yes, small children, bring me water.  Ah, fellow teacher, how nice of you to move that fan over here.  Yes, old woman at the market, I would very much like some free potatoes.  Fear me, tiny Asians, lest I step on thee.
Pretty Girls.  The Korean notion of "fat" is the American notion of "thin."  And I am not exaggerating.  I was out to dinner with a pair of college girls last week, and one of them described herself unlaughingly as fat.  I could have met my thumb and forefinger around her waist.  And plastic surgery is astonishingly common and cheap.  In some ways, it's unfortunate that being a Korean girl is based so much on such superficiality.  But on the other hand: hotness.

Things I Dislike About Korea:

Coffee.  What the hell, people?  Is there just one real coffee machine per city?  Relative to many people, I'm a coffee initiate, but even I know that sucking back on this oversugared instant mix is tantamount to defecating on the altar of the dread god Java.
Uniformity.  There is almost no diversity at all.  As a rule, the only time I see a non-Korean face is when I actively seek out a waygook hangout.  I haven't seen a hispanic person or a black person since I left America, and the culture here is entirely homogenous.  It's disconcerting.
Language Difficulties.  These go beyond the normal difficulties sometimes.  For example, for two whole weeks I was under the impression that sexual harrassment was the norm here, since some male coworkers would grin widely, point at female coworkers, and say, "Ah, you know she is virgin?"  That kind of thing doesn't fly in polite discourse back home.  It took me until this past week to find out that that Korean common parlance doesn't have separate words for "single" and "virgin."  They were actually just saying that the girls were single.
Penis Fascination.  I don't care what the rumor mill says around here, it just ain't cool to lean over and examine me while I'm at the urinal.

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