I can’t believe it’s December!

I thought that I would write in green because it is officially the start of the holiday season now. It is really weird to think that it’s December – that means that I have been here for 2 months today – that’s just crazy. Seriously, time flies here – maybe it’s the crazy hours we keep or the fact that I love it here and am having a great time, but the days and even weeks just seem to melt by. So the answer to your question, yes, I am still enjoying myself – the glow of the initial adventure has worn off and I find that I like the day-to-day life of Korea, I love teaching (all except for 2 kids, well maybe 5 but out of 250 approx. that’s pretty good) and the people here are wonderful for the most part. There are a few things that would make my life even better and I am working on those – chiefly learning Korean. I fell slightly out-of-place when a salesperson comes up and starts chatting away and I understand like 1 word in 50. But I am reading a “Teach Yourself Korean” book and will probably sign up for the next university course in the new year. Then I can find out what some of the things I am eating are. I try to only buy groceries that I can either translate or recognize (I mean an apple is an apple) and I do buy lots of stuff that we can’t get in Canada but I know what it is.

I have been here long enough to miss certain foods. I know from experience that while I don’t suffer homesickness – if you are having fun and stay in contact with friends and family you generally don’t, homesickness happens when you aren’t enjoying yourself or you cut yourself of from loved ones – I do often miss certain creature comforts. The first ones to come to light here are black tea – because I always started my morning with a cup – and roast chicken. The second one is harder to explain because I don’t have a full roast chicken that often but I do often roast a chicken breast – the reason I think I am craving it is there are no ovens here, except in the occasional kitchen. You can buy them at Wal-Mart but hopefully the craving won’t get that big – I would rather buy a laptop so I don’t have to go to smoky internet cafes. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of tea here – lots of green teas, brown rice tea, walnut tea, Job’s Tears tea (don’t know what that is), Ginsing tea, pomegranate tea and lots of different combinations. Many teas are powdered instead of in tea bags which is odd but many of them are quite good. You can also get coffee packets (okay its instant but that’s all they drink here outside of a coffee shop) that come with powdered milk and sugar. They are hugely popular.

Well, someone opened the door and left it open so it is getting cold in here and it is also almost time for CSI (it often comes on at 1AM). But before I go – I am going to rant for a brief moment about Korean TV. There are quite a few familiar english-speaking shows, even if they are all re-runs and there are a few Korean shows that even if I don’t fully understand them, they are fun to watch. Plus Korean TV doesn’t have commercials during the programs usually – so it is nice to watch ER in 40 minutes straight. But there are a few disadvantages, try watching a 2 hour movie without a bathroom or snack break. The worst disadvantage is that they make up for the lack of commercials during the show with insanely long ones – I’m talking 10-20 minute infomercials between shows – the exact same ones every time. There are only a handful of ones – for a mattress, a duvet, men’s pants, funky plastic containers and a kinda neat looking exercise machine. They got old really fast. My other complaint is the same show is not always on the same time and day – or it might be for a while and then it won’t be. That is frustrating, I keep finding Crossing Jordan and losing it too.

But enough bitching, cheers all.

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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