Thursday, February 17, 2011

Korean Red Ginseng Drink

A month or two ago, I was eating lunch with my co-workers.

One thing you might not know is that Koreans say they don't speak English, which is misleading. Yeah sure they don't speak it, they are too shy. This however doesn't mean they don't know English. And more likely then not, they can understand what you are saying.

Mrs. Hwang is sitting next to me, and a young male co-worker is sitting across from us. She proceeds to ask questions about my dating life. "Ms. Wilson, are you single?... oh, you are? Do you like Korean men? Would you ever date a Korean man?... oh, you would? How old are you? Oh well Mr. Kim* (points across the table to Mr. Kim) is 26 years old and he is very smart, and nice, and single...."

AWKWARD to say the least. So here I am, knowing full and well that Mr. Kim understands everything Mrs. Hwang is saying to me in English. All he can do is smile, and all I can do is say,"Oh really?" and act like I can't take a hint.

Ever since that conversation, whenever I see Mr. Kim around he gives me this 'I like you' look. And I just smile back.

Today I'm in the office with the Vice Principle, Mr. Kim, and one other teacher. He comes over to my desk and gives me a drink labeled 'Korean Red Ginseng Drink'. I thank him for the drink, and he gives me a goofy smile and awkwardly lingers a bit, then takes off back to his desk.

I'm thinking, red ginseng? What's this good for? I go online to find out why people drink red ginseng. Turns out, it's an aphrodisiac. It "enhances libido and copulatory performance".

Wait, wait, wait... did I just get hit on? Is he trying to tell me something?

*I'm actually not sure of his name. Half the people at my school have the last name Kim, so guessing his name is Mr. Kim might actually prove to be true. But as for now, it's just a guess.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Hey, when are you suppose to be in Korea?"

Living in Korea feels like I am in a dream. Even though I've told you about how much I like it here, in this case I'm literal. As if at some point I am going to wake up and be in California.

For the first two months here, almost every night I would have variations of the same dream. I would be hanging out with my family in familiar places, they would ask at some point, "Hey, when are you suppose to be in Korea?" and I would respond, "Holy shit!" and panic, knowing I'm suppose to be there but I'm not. Then I would wake up and feel anxiety about possibly forgetting something important.

Same thing happens if I watch a lot of t.v. at home. I'll be sucked into America through episodes, then go out to do some mundane errand, walk down the street and be shock a bit, think,"Oh yeah that's right, I'm in Korea." The shock turns into a lingering buzz for awhile, until I get use to the 'being illiterate' and the Korean chatter surrounding me. If I am listening to music while I'm out and about, it extends the buzz. To actually understand the ambient language is what prolongs the shock. Like my mind is being distracted by what my ears are hearing while simultaneously catching up to the images my eyes are trying to comprehend.

If that makes sense at all.

Confused as to which reality it true, as to whether I'm in California dreaming about Korea or if I'm in Korea dreaming about California, all my thoughts get mixed and my conception of reality is at a constant double check... especially at that limbo time between going to sleep and waking up.

I've really been able to relate to the movie Inception. I'm easily confused about my actual reality.

What I've notice now is, slowly but surely, I'm getting use to living in Korea. Things that I once marked to be out of the ordinary are now common occurrences, and rarely wasted on individual thought. My dreams about California are extinct. More and more each day, instead of noise that I block out naturally, I listen in on Korean conversations and see if I can pick out a word or two. My mind has finally caught up to the visions around me and I can clearly see I'm in Korea, regardless of how much English media I've soaked up throughout the day.

And even though my mind is adjusting to my environment, it continuously processes all sorts of new information every day. Korea and everything it has to offer will never cease to be different to what I'm normally use to.