Though going to Thailand was my idea, Kevin got there a week before I did and when I arrived, he acted like he owned the place. “You’ll see my schedule,” he told me as we walked across the beach in the dark. “We’ll get up around noon, go to the coffee shop for a few hours, have some breakfast, go to the beach for a swim and a nap…”
“Rough life,” I said.
Filed under Asia, Thailand
A lovely thing happens when you live overseas: you start to learn a new language. While some new words stick because of their funny sound, other words remain baffling.
While living in Korea, I’ve noticed that sometimes I can Konglish up my English and people understand me. Part of this is because a remarkable amount of Korean words are English, or a variation of English. Sometimes I’ll have to add a syllable at the end of a word, or omit an ‘r’ from a word, but there are ways to get my point across.
Below is a list of words that are the same in both English and Korean. I’ll include Korean pronunciation for the words that aren’t exactly the same. If you read this list aloud, you will have just spoken over 100 Korean words.
When I learned of its existence, I knew I wanted to go. South Korea has a park on the coast that is dedicated to penises, and though I didn’t know of the purpose of it, I was hoping to see something funny and strange. And I did.
Asians are tiny. There is just no other way to explain it. They are, for the most part, short people with skinny legs and narrow hips. When most white people move to Korea, they realize that the clothes they brought along are the only thing that they’ll fit in for the length of their stay. For white people who shop in Korea, the pants sold are too short, the bras are too tiny, and the largest shoes will fit snugly.
Occasionally a foreigner will find a sweater or t-shirt that seems as if it may fit. These people are often told by a shop owner “no,” when they try to purchase the item. White people are rarely allowed to try on clothes, which could be because Koreans think we’ll stretch out the clothes, or stink up the armpits (Koreans don’t have stinky pits, and deodorant baffles them), or both.
Summer colds are awful. And trying to teach with a cold is one of the most wretched things, too. So when I wound up coughing myself to tears mid August, I simultaneously became one of the worst teachers.
I spent the entire week mostly sitting at my desk and occasionally croaking at different children to read certain pages. When I had to stand, I did it like I had old bones beneath my skin. I continuously spaced out throughout my classes. And then I fucked up hangman.
Every country has their old wives tales. I’m a gullible person, so it takes constant effort for me to distinguish between truth and fiction.
When a Korean told me that a cultural norm was for grandmothers to go into their pre-teen grandson’s bedrooms in the night and jack them off, I was stunned. In the year in a half I’ve been in Korea, there’s only one other foreigner I’ve meet who has heard of this. So it’s an easy rumor to write off as fake.
There are, of course, truths that seem like myths. For example, many Koreans believe in Fan Death. This means that if someone sleeps with a fan on in a room with closed doors and windows, they will die in the night.
The westernization of Asia was never as obvious to me as it was when I attended a Korean wedding. I’d been invited to attend my coworker’s wedding, and I was excited to experience Korean tradition and touched to be included.
I expected to be overwhelmed by a cultural difference, but in reality, all I saw was a nearly American event with some odd variations.