Love letter/International night

24 Nov
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Living in South Korea.  It’s got an exotic ring to it, right.  And to a certain extent it is kind of exotic to live in this country. Although not in the conventional way exotic.  Getting acclimated was probably my biggest challenge this year.  Getting used to all the strangeness that constantly surrounded me.  And yes it is still challenging when I am faced with cultural ‘differences’.   But for the most part South Korea has been an exotic experience.  Apart from the fact that Kimchi is national treasure number one there are so many things in this country that I cherish.  Because we ourselves are a bit exotic to the everyday Korean friendliness is not always flung our ways.  But boy oh boy when a friendly face greets you in the morning on the way to work, or the Ajuma working at the 7/eleven pats you on the back and gives you and extra chocolate it sure makes your day.  Or when the owner of a restaurant gives you some free dessert or racecakes because it is his daughter’s 100th day on earth.  When the owner of the local W1000 store stirs up a conversation and you have no idea what is being said.  Or when the college educated taxi driver tells you that you look like the kernel from KFC.  There are moment where Korea can make you feel so special.  When you go out for dinner and everybody in restaurant glares at you but the owners praise you and blurts out the only 3 words of English they know for your convenience.

The relationship I have with Korea is no different from any other relationship.  There was a lot of fighting.  Many make up sessions.  fun times and sad times.  Throughout my blog I have realised there are many posts that may paint a picture that I hate this country and the people.  This is not true.  The purpose of this blog is not to be published in one or other literary magazine or to serve as guide for foreigners living in or wanting to live in South Korea.  I wrote my blog with true honesty.  It is what it is!  I think my brutal honesty comes from the lack of ‘real’ blogs about Korea.  Most (if not all) teachers in Korea struggle with most of the same things.  But not too many write about it.  I do.  As I experience Korea I write it down, because one day when I am old and weary I can read my blog and look back on this experience and experience my true emotions.  I am not trying to paint a bad picture nor am I trying to make Korea seem as a Utopia! Korea, I don’t hate you or your people.  I don’t alway love you or you people.  But we make it work.  If i didn’t I would be here.

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There are not too many English-speaking people here in Daegu.  Of our group of teachers who were placed in Daegu only 5 are South African.  One left in May so that leaves 4.  Although we do see the other two every now and again our immediate friends here in Daegu are all from Canada and America.  So even though this year has been the ultimate Korean experience I am very glad that I had the opportunity to make so many friends from other countries as well.  The friendships we formed here grew very intense very quickly.  We needed each other, not only for communicating but also someone who can relate to our ‘side of life’.   We spend most of our free time together and experience life outside of our schools together.  It’s great.  We make memories that will last us a lifetime.  This past weekend I held an International Night where each of our friends had to bring a dish from their ‘heritage’.  It was great.  I brought boerewors and Nicola biltong crackers.   we had American, Cuban, Italian and Korean.  It was great.  We compared cultures and we ended the night in true Korean style by going Noreabanging (Karaoke).

It’s great to meet people from all over the world.  And to realise that we are all the same.  Whether we are from Africa, the US or Korea – we are all the same.

Korea it’s a love-hate relationship, but at least there is a balance!

Cheers from Kimchiland.

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