Life in South Korea

Tackling some FAQs…

My school has a “test day” today so basically I have no classes but still have to sit here like a jackass in an empty room for the whole day.  Beats working I guess, but not sleeping.  Anyway I figured I’d use this time to answer some questions I hear a lot from people back home about various different things.  So here we go, starting with one inspired from Hugo’s last comment:

Q: “since you’ll have been in Korea for a while does this mean that anytime people are gonna take pictures of you in them are you gonna do the “peace” thing Asians do?”

A:  As Joanna mentioned in a comment, yeah, I have already done this a lot.  In fact, it is impossible to avoid doing this.  About 95% of the time someone wants to take a picture with you, they make you do the weird Asian “peace” thing.  I tried to hold out and not do the peace thing, but I realized about a week into being here that trying to avoid this for the next year would be much more of a hassle than just doing it.  For the record though, I still feel stupid whenever I do it.  I don’t think any amout of time in Korea could help that.  (For anybody who doesn’t know what I’m talking about here, I’ll throw a picture of me doing this up when I get back home.  And also, how is it possible you’ve never seen Asians taking pictures before, where do you live?  )


The "peace" thing. (Also interesting side note: Koreans don't say "cheese" when taking a picture. They say "kimchi." Go figure.


Q:  “When are you coming home?”

A: Depending on how much travelling I do after my contract finishes at the end of September, I’ll probably be home in late October.  Let’s go out for a (many) beer(s).


Q:  Can you speak Korean?

A:  안녕  나는 앤드류 입니다.  (‘Hello, my name is Andrew”).  I can speak a little Korean, usually enough to get by with the help of hand signals and my handy phone dictionary.  I am constantly learning though, and I have just started taking lessons in which I exchange Korean lessons for English lessons twice a week so that should help a lot.   Luckily, the Korean alphabet is extremely easy to learn and I learned to read and write about 6 weeks after being here.


Q:  1) What are Korean girls like?  2) Japanese or Korean girls?

A:  1) Just like Korean girls at home except there are way more of them, they dress better and speak worse English.  A lot of them are pretty good looking.  2) Japanese.


Q:  1) What’s the food like?  2) Do they really eat Dog?  3) Have you eaten dog?  4)  Are you sure? Maybe you’ve eaten dog without knowing it.  5)  Yeah, I bet you’ve eaten dog.

A:  1)  The food is actually really good.  All of it is really spicy, so if that’s your thing then Korea it’s great.  My neighbour’s got some good info on Korean food in his blog.   I’m actually planning on doing a whole thing about food with pictures etc. when I work up the energy to do it, so I won’t say too much on Korean food now other than it’s for the most part delicious and very healthy.         

      2) Yes, some Koreans eat dog.  However, most Koreans do not.  Dog is available here, but only at speciality restaurants that are required to have a licence to serve it.   Some Koreans are embarassed by the fact that their country eats Dogs, others are proud of the culinary history behind it.   When you think about it, it’s not really all that weird.  I mean we eat baby cows and cute little lambs etc.   I told some of my kids that some Canadians eat Elk and they looked like they wanted to yack on the spot.    Oh and it’s important to understand that Koreans do not just snatch up dogs of the street an throw them on the grill.  The dogs they eat are specially born and raised to be eaten (just like any other livestock).

       3)  No I have not eaten dog.  I was considering trying it before I got here, but then during my first week I saw a truckload of the special “yellowy brown” dogs that they eat go past and they reminded of Molly (my dog) so… no dog for  me.

        4)  Yes I’m sure I haven’t eaten dog.  No Korean would be so rude as to serve dog to a foreigner without first warning them (trust me). 

       5)  That’s not a question jerk.  And shut up I haven’t eaten dog.


Q:  Isn’t teaching Korean kids hard?  How do they understand you?  How do you not get frustrated etc.?

A:  Teaching Korean kids can be hard at times, especially with no co-teacher (lots of foreigners get co-teachers.  I didn’t), and yes I do get frustrated sometimes obviously like when I tell my 3rd graders to open their books and it takes them 10 minutes.  But hey, that’s part of the job right?  For the most part, the kids want to understand, and that really helps.   Most of the kids have a very basic understanding of English so I can usually express O.K. what I want them to do.  Also “listen and repeat” is magic.


Q: 1) Is there lots of baseball there?  2) Are you playing baseball?  3) Are you dominating in the Korean Baseball League (I have actually been asked this several times)? 

A)  1)  Yeah baseball is pretty big here (Korea just finished second in the World Baseball Classic).  It’s on T.V. a lot, but the sport of choice, especially with kids is definitely soccer.  Park Ji Sung plays for the famous soccer team Manchester United, so everybody here loves him, loves them, and loves soccer.

      2)  No, I am not playing baseball here.  I do play volleyball every wednesday though (but I’m not very good).  Although I have stepped onto the playground to dominate the 6th graders at stickball every once in a while.  (“Canada, Canada, homerun homerun!”)

      3)  No of course not.  While the Korean baseball league is definitely a lower caliber of ball than in America, the mere fact that I’m white and an O.K. at baseball does not grant me instant walk-on status.  There’s no way I could make their teams.


Q:  Do you miss home yet?

A:  Yeah, sometimes.   Mostly  just family/friends, and a lot of the food (more on that later).  But this experience is still great, and I’m definitely glad I came.  I can’t believe I’m more than half way done, the time has flown by.


Well that’s all for now, I’m going to waste time some other way.  Hopefully I answered some questions.  I Hope everyone is doing well, and those in school are surviving the home stretch.  Cheers.


3 Responses to “Tackling some FAQs…”

  1. Wow! Andrew you really got a lot more done on Tuesday than I did! Maybe having access to a computer helped (hah!). In any case, this is a very well written FAQ, it answers questions I’ve been getting from friends and relatives back in North America (yeah, I not from Canada!). So, I hope you don’t mind my linking to this post on my blog, yeah this post is that good!

    thanks again, your neighbor!

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