Saturday, May 3, 2008

random observations in the r.o.k.

republic of korea, that is.

*showing shoulders is considered indecent here. girls don't wear tank tops here in the summer. i wore one today, it was such a hot day, and it's only may 3rd. i felt many disapproving looks from older ladies in particular. however, it's totally okay to wear the shortest skirts and shorts paired with high heels.

*koreans are so afraid of the sun, which is a good thing considering the damages it can do to your skin. however, they're afraid because the sun darkens their skin, they want to remain as white as possible. i've seen so many whitening skin products, it's insane. every department store brand here (chanel, lancome, estée lauder...) has a whitening line. it's funny how they're trying to get whiter and i'm desperately trying to get a tan!

*speaking of summer, i feel it coming faster than i'm ready for it. the temperatures are already hot and humid, and it's only the beginning of may. i got my hair straightened in order to avoid the extra work in the summer, it will save me so much time, as my wavy mane is too heavy for korean weather. i found out the hair straightening process is so popular here, hence a fraction of the price. i couldn't believe that most korean girls get their hair straightened, even though they already have stick-straight hair. either that or a perm to get some curls, as my korean friends told me.

*korean friends are a gold mine to have if you're a foreigner. they are so kind and generous, and so helpful. i always feel bad asking them, but i always need their help for random things, such as booking an appointment or making an important purchase. i believe i would do the same for them back home, it makes you really appreciate the small stuff.

*korean cats have shorter tails. maybe i keep seeing the same cat over and over, but it seems like they look a bit different than western cats.

*funny thing happened at the gym: i sat on a stationary bike, set it for 10 minutes at high intensity (i just wanted a quick warm-up) and start pedaling. suddenly, this korean lady sitting next to me comes over and presses 'stop' and 'reset' on my bike. before i knew what what happening she set the time for 35 minutes at a lower level. then she just went back to her bike, as if nothing happened. part of me wanted to lose it on her, i was so angry, i thought it was so rude. but another part of me thought it was hilarious, and knew that she probably did that to be helpful-- maybe she didn't think i understood the machine, or maybe she thought it was better if i had a longer workout at a lower intensity. who knows. i just kept going, and yes, i did the 35 minutes. it was so odd! i guess i learned to be more tolerant in weird situations.

*we had 'sports day' at school, a special day for kids to participate in a race around the school yard. it was great to see the kids being so excited about the challenge, and really getting into it. those kids work so hard, they study so much. they're only in elementary school, but they go to bed later than i do, and they cry when they get 28 points out of 30 because 'my mom will be so angry at me'. it's quite sad, but i'm glad to see they can let loose and have fun on sports day. i also try to make my lessons as fun as possible.

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