Monday, July 10, 2006

Odds and ends

Here are some odds and ends that I haven't talked about yet, but that deserve a mention:

Mosquitoes!! They are everywhere, and I have been bitten to shit!! Mostly, this is just because when I first got here there was no air conditioning or screens on the balcony sliding doors (we have screens now, so don't worry Grandma!). Wide-open windows and doors equals tons of mosquitoes. I woke up the first day and had a few red spots on me (right on my face were two that looked like enormous pimples-great first impression!). The next day I got up and the entire length of my right arm was covered in bites. I look like I have a pox on me! They're kind of reduced now, but I still look like a minor circus freak. Not a headliner, but still a curiosity.

Bowing! I have started slightly bowing to people when I say thank you or goodbye. And they bow back!! It's the coolest thing! Really, it's an almost involuntary reaction to the culture here because you see bowing all over the place. And I've now added "Thank you" to my Korean repertoire (kamsa hamnida), so it works even better with the bowing. The kids are the cutest at it. At the graduation ceremony that we watched last Saturday, the kids with the most "Excellent" stamps in their passports got an award. When they went to get it from the head teacher, they each bowed. So sweet! And get this shit--tonight at dinner some kids almost mowed me over coming around a corner. "No running" is a rule here, so I quite sternly said, "NO RUNNING!" And one of the kids bowed at me! Then later, as I was eating my dinner and had forgotten all about it, he actually came up to me and apologized. He said, "It was my mistake." !!!! That would SO never happen in America.

"Teacher! Teacher!" This is now what I hear everywhere I go. The kids can't pronounce most of our names, so they call us all "teacher". "Shannon" seems to be well-nigh impossible for them. Kids say hi to me in the hallways and the dining hall, and I will often hear a "Teacher! Teacher!" as I'm walking along. I turn around and a gaggle of girls are waving frantically at me. It will be interesting to see if this gets annoying or stays cute. One night, at dinner, I walked by the line of kids and they all wanted to touch my hand and were saying "Hello teacher!!" Felt like a rock star.

Cafeteria food. Up to this point, I have not had a meal in there that I have been totally unable to eat. Some scary stuff, but I have tried to sample at least a little of everything. A few examples: curry over rice (rice of some kind with every meal), spicy kimchee (also with every meal), a cross between a hamburger and meatloaf with special sauce, spicy noodles, meatballs with a glaze on them, seaweed soup, corn soup, sauteed sesame bean sprouts, fried fish plank with tartar sauce on it, fresh fruit, cuttlefish soup, noodles with black bean paste, fried rice, sweet potatoes. It's an odd mix of western and Korean food. So far, so good, mostly. I haven't yet had a dish that I've fallen in love with (Huzzah rectangle cafeteria pizza!!). I've also not tried breakfast yet. I haven't eaten at a local Korean restaurant because I'm afraid to try one on my own (the ones near here are definitely "No English Menu" types) and I haven't been able to coordinate with my friends to venture out to one. Besides, cash is low until I get my first check. This past weekend the cafeteria wasn't open, so we were totally on our own for food. I lived off of salad from Carrefour and instant ramen from the 7-Eleven. Actually, the ramen here is delicious! My favorites are the spaghetti ramen (nothing like actual spaghetti, of course) and another one that is so spicy, but so yummy. They each have a thick sauce that goes on them; they aren't soup-like. I even found some Frosted Flakes. So, I've been having those and Yoplait yogurt for breakfast. Overall, I'm happy with the food so far. I know that there will come a time when I take the bus directly to Pizza Hut, but not yet!

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