Can’t sleep – too excited and sad

I know its a weird combination to be both excited and sad but that’s me right now. I am leaving for Thailand in 11 days, I have only 6 days of teaching left and I can’t believe that it’s basically just around the corner that my year is up. The funny thing is, it became real Saturday night – or rather Sunday morning around 4:30 am as we were getting ready to leave S2 (my favorite Ulsan club) for our regular chumchi (tuna) kimbap. For those of you that know me well, the timing of my epiphany makes sense – I was talking with my friend Nam about how we are both chickenshits (I have been playing eye contact with one of the DJs at S2 for about 6 months – yep, it’s pathetic; and Nam had been watching these two girls for about the same amount of time so we were quite a pair) when I realized that if I didn’t talk to him (the DJ) next weekend, I may never. Okay that’s not entirely true as when I come back to Seoul in January I will definitely be visiting my friends in Ulsan and we will probably go dancing but the point was I realized that my time here was not only finite but increasing short. You would have thought that the plane tickets, travel plans and packing lists would have made me realize that or the daily countdown on MSN but no, it was when I looked at a friend and realized I needed to “grow a pair” (as one of my friends say) soon or have a regret. And I have a policy, to live a life without regrets.

So it’s Sunday night – or rather 2:41 am Monday – and I am thinking of all the people I am going to miss (hence the sad in the title) and the places and things I do here that made it special. I know that I can visit – it’s only 5 hours from Seoul but it won’t be the same. Unlike some of my foreign friends here, I liked Ulsan for the most part – not enough to return unless I was offered the perfect job but I had a good time. Most of that was because of the great people I met – I now have good friends from Ireland, America, New Zealand, Britain, Australia, Canada and of course, Korea. Plus it was nice to meet people who don’t think that I am too odd for being 32 and still enjoying a wandering life – I got the impression that some of the people I know at home don’t really understand me. It was great to be able to do things I enjoy on a regular basis – like dancing – without any negative opinions like ‘you’re too old for that’. Everyone here is a little odd so unless you are truly scary (and yes, there are a couple of those), you will find some others that fit you perfectly. Unfortunately, only a couple of my foreign friends are returning to Korea from my core group but some will still be here.

Enough of the sad and serious talk – on to the happy, excited part. This part falls into two different sections: recent events and upcoming events. First, the recent events. In the last month or so I have made some new friends – a Canadian girl who is actually 2 years older than me (like me, she doesn’t look it) and several American military guys who are on the Osan rugby team. They are fun people and it means that Paula and I have people to party with even before we move to Seoul. In the past 6 weeks we have met up with them on three different weekends and all have been fun. I like people who enjoy having a good time, even if I have become the ‘den mother’ as Troy calls me now that I’m not drinking. Paula and I have a great arrangement, I give her my free drink tickets when we go to S2 (cover gets you a free drink) and she buys me water all night – it works for both of us. We also found out that Nam might be going to Seoul too which would be great as he’s like me and will dance all night.

I had forgot with the recent events in Thailand to write about last weekend – one of the best of the year because there was a reggae concert Friday night and a hip hop concert Saturday night at S2. Both nights a guest DJ played early to warm up the crowd and then at 1:00 am (approximately) the group came on and sang for about 40 minutes before the regular DJs took over. I really liked the reggae duo and the hip hop duo was pretty decent too. Both nights the music was great and I got to dance from about midnight to 5:00 (except for when I was grooving to the bands) so my weekend was complete. But things got even better as Paula got really drunk Friday night (which is unusual, she always drinks but is usually just intoxicated not drunk) and spent the night teasing and mildly insulting these three Korean guys. Yes, I know that doesn’t sound good but the fact that they keep coming back for more and continued to dance with us was funny. When Paula and I left for some chumchi kimbap, they followed us and joined us for food (and insisted on paying). I like eating with random Koreans because I always try something new – it doesn’t always taste good but it’s always an experience and this time was no different, I tried some cold pork liver (ok) and what appeared to be the Korean version of blood sausage (not so good) plus a new mushroom ramen (the mushrooms were quite tasty, especially when they were fed to me – which is SO funny). Not to be mean but mid-twenty Korean guys remind me of 17 year olds at home – they’re cute but not quite grown up which is funny because most have served their 2 year military service by then (these three did it in the navy). Anyway, they insisted that we join them at a sojubang (a bar that serves only soju and beer which must be ordered with food of some kind). We did because it was fun. I drank water and watched the drama unfold. Paula was in rare form and for some reason (I don’t understand why but maybe it was just an overdose of foreigner fascination) they were mostly enjoying it – except the one who ended up being the odd one out. The guys asked us which one we found the most attractive and the one that wasn’t picked was a little bummed but he did say that I would make a “good Korean girlfriend” – he didn’t explain why but I am assuming it was because I was the quieter of Paula and I. It was fun and definitely interesting but at the same time it made me feel old. The guy that I “choose” asked me if he could give me a hug goodbye when I got into my cab to go home – I honestly don’t know if anyone has ever asked me that, it was cute but I am not sure that I want my guy to be ‘cute’. My cat, yes but not my guy.

The other reason I am excited and can’t sleep is obvious – I’m leaving for Thailand in 11 days and I’ll be coming home on November 15th (less than 2 months).

Now you are up-to-date on my life and thoughts and perhaps by writing about it all I can sleep. Catch ya the next time, only 1 more weekend until Thailand!

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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