Here are some of my favorite kindy students in the JEL backyard. Kevin, Bhin, and Duke. Duke is one of those hilarious, spastic kids that brightens your day. He’s very smart, and he speaks English very well (I think he watches a lot of TV), but his handwriting is atrocious. I miss him, because I don’t teach kindy anymore! I’m doing summer intensive classes instead. In Korea, during vacations, students spend MORE time at the hagwon and MORE time studying. Some vacation! Anyway, I’ve got 13 working days left . . . this week will be fun since K. arrives in less than 24 hours. S. will follow soon after.
Monthly Archives: July 2005
Last weekend, I went to Jumunjin Beach with my family. It winded up being another big reunion, with nearly everyone who attended Halmoni’s 80th birthday party showing up. I’m still amazed at the sheer number of relatives I have. And so many cute cousins!
You’ll notice that people are wearing clothes in the ocean. That’s Korean-style. Most people wear an entire outfit of clothes over their bathing suit. I think this is starting to change, however, because I saw a fair number of bikinis on Haeundae Beach in Busan. Jumunjin is not as hip as Haeundae, however. There was one lone woman in a bikini, and my aunts giggled upon seeing her. I figured, “When in Rome . . . ” so I wore my cousin’s bathing suit and proceeded to put shorts and a t-shirt over it. I felt really heavy in the water, but at least I wasn’t self-conscious about my thighs. 🙂 Given the option, however, I’d prefer NOT to wear clothes when swimming.
So I tried this with my family. Everyone was slurping it up so eagerly . . . I was still hesitant, however, because it looked like a bowl full of jiggly tongues. I tasted mostly like salt water. The texture was beyond slimy, however. Still not as bad as “smelly tofu” in L.A.’s Little Taipei, however.
Here’s what’s going on with me for the moment . . . I’m going to Jumunjin Beach this weekend with my family (my sisters, my uncle & his wife & his kids, my halmoni, my aunt & her kids). It should be fun, and we’re also probably going to go to Taebaek as well, which is where my two oldest aunts live with their families. I met them in May for Halmoni’s 80th birthday celebration. All of these places are in Gangwan-do, which is the province directly east of Seoul’s provice (Gyeonggi). So two weekends in a row of beach time–nice!
I’ve only got a 20 more working days left–one month!! I can hardly believe it. I felt a little sentimental today, because it was my last day of teaching kindy, and I also said goodbye to two afternoon classes that I’ve had since I started. But I brought the kids ice cream, and they were so happy that they didn’t even notice that it was the last day. I got a plum from one student, however, and a few nice notes. The reason my schedule is clearing out is because I’m going to be teaching several “summer intensive” courses for the next month.
Also . . . I have a new roommate! That was a HUGE surprise, because I’d been told that she was going to live with J., one of the people I went to Vietnam with last February. Turns out her family was upset with the idea of her living with a guy (she has Korean relatives in Seoul who met her at the airport), so she’s going to be living with me for the next few weeks until things can get straightened out. She’s a Korean-American girl who recently graduated from college in New York. I think it’ll work out well–she’s keeping me company, which is good, b/c I was starting to get really bored of myself these past few months.
I finished Bill Clinton’s hefty memoirs last night. I surprised myself with how quickly I plowed through it. Although there’s a lot of extraneous details in the book, I found it interesting, b/c in a way it was like a history refresher for the 1990’s. I can remember vaguely being aware of things like Whitewater and the ’92 election, but I didn’t really understand the details since I was so young at the time. So it was cool to get an insider’s view on all of that. I came away from the book thinking that my dad and the President would really like each other if they ever met–both have a propensity for talking and talking and talking to everybody and their brother. However, reading all the news about Bush’s new appointee to the Supreme Court is almost doubly depressing now.
This summer in Korea, I’ve noticed that there are quite a few more young women walking around with noticeably darker skin. In the past, Koreans (like most Asian countries) prized white skin as the pinnacle of feminine beauty. Now, I’m seeing more and more women sporting what could definitely be called tans. Although I know this is just a sign of sun damage, I feel more at ease in my own tanned-self. Perhaps I just don’t care anymore, but I defnitely don’t feel as self-conscious about the color of my skin as I did during my first visit in 2001.
It’s kind of ironic that even though I’m Korean, I still feel like I stick out in Korea. There are so many little details that go into creating the Korean feminine beauty mystique. Extremely slim limbs, white skin, tons of makeup, high heels, fake designer handbags, plastic surgery, etc. I’d have to say that the two places I’ve felt like I could blend in the most are Hawaii and Hong Kong. I probably felt more at home in those places, because they’re decidedly pan-Asian (and they have plenty of people with darker skin who wear much more casual clothes). I especially felt at ease in Hawaii, because it’s still American, and the women there aren’t afraid to be athletic. Not that I’m a triathlete or anything, but I have muscles where Korean women have . . . nothing. No fat, no muscle, nothing! My adoptee friend, J., who regularly plays soccer, always gets incredulous laughs from her students when they hear that she plays such a “masculine” sport.
Anyway, if you made it through this long entry, please scroll down just a bit more to see some pics from my trip to Busan. I’ll have lots of more pics soon from Jumunjin Beach as well as K. & S.’s upcoming visit.