Sunday, November 13, 2011


I know we've all heard it..
Q: "Is assumption spelled with 1 S or 2?!"
A: "Don't forget, ASSumptions make an ass out of you and me. 2."

Ooooh assumptions! Chelsea and I visited our friend Faith in Cheongju this weekend and while wandering around to the different 'foreign hang outs' in town, we entertained ourselves... with a little people watching.

People watching, one of my favorite pastimes in Korea... who am I kidding, EVERYWHERE!

We came to this one bar called MJ's which was more than entertaining:
You had your usual:
-a group of girls dancing
-random foreigners and Koreans mingling together
-the bar and 2 bar tenders
-the computer for self-DJing
-pool table

You had your.. semi-unusual:
-the 2 guys having a dance off (.. the whole night)
-a guy with a nose ring
-a Bob Saget lookalike
-a group of guys who looked South American
-a guy wearing an Alpaca sweater

The super-unusual:

So of course, I had so many questions... and I needed SO many answers... and I'm not shy... which is probably not a good thing all the time... so I asked...

The 2 guys having a dance off (+ nose ring guy):
I ASSumed, that since they were being super cocky, and super fist pump-alicious, that they were OF COURSE from New Jersey.. absolutely had to be. Guy #1- from Connecticut, HEY I was close. Guy #2- who is ALSO the guy with the nose ring... from NOVA SCOTIA. Fail... I told him I was SO sorry, I thought he was from New Jersey, haha.... ha... but he didn't find the humor in that.. he OBVIOUSLY isn't a fan of MTV's Jersey Shore. (It's okay to make West Virginia jokes... therefore it's okay to make Jersey jokes !)
He probably also thought I was hitting on him... awkward.

Bob Saget LookaLike:
The truth is in the picture...

Group of guys who looked South American:
While Chelsea and I were chatting, I noticed a group of guys... one had tan skin & quite a distinct nose (my thoughts, HAD to be Peruvian), another was short, tan & spunky (mm... random guess for him, maybe Colombia), and the last 2 were tall, skinny & had Euro-Mullets (MUST be from Argentina!).
Oh! And wait! They were taking tequila shots.... my thoughts: 'That's it.. I HAVE to ask.. they're taking TEQUILA shots.. I have to, it's a sign!'
Mr. Peru- actually from IRAN
The other 3- actually from RUSSIA "Errrlrlr-ussia"

You can imagine my disappointed, but I made friends! They're students at a local university.

(The guy in the blue and brown were the two ArgentineanRussians, the others weren't included.. best picture we could get)
The PeruvianIranian

Alpaca Sweater Dude:
:::I walk over to him, so confident, so internally excited....::::
Paula: "Hey! WHERE did you get your sweater?!"
Mr. Smiley: "Ha, do you want the truth?"
Paula: "mmm.... sure."
Mr. Smiley: "I got it at a thrift store."
Paula: "Gah!!!!! Darnit!"
Mr. Smiley: "Where do you think it's from?"
Paula: "I think it was made in Ecuador!! Geeze, err. OK"
Mr. Smiley: "Sorry! I've had a lot of people ask me that. Were you hoping we could have traveled to the same place and we could connect and gab about trips?!"
Paula: sad face "Yes! K.. now I'm sad."

I return to Chelsea to tell her about ANOTHER defeat.

15 minutes later.

I decide I NEED pictures of everyone to describe my failures on my blog.
We decide to act like she's taking my picture, but really she'll zoom in and take pictures of all of the people.
Although we were successful... Mr. Smiley heard us giggling and laughing about what we were doing... he took my camera... told us we were pervy little girls and wanted to know what we were taking pictures of.
He wouldn't give the camera back.
Give it back!
Give it back!
No! I want to see, what you two are up to.
Give it back, pleeeease! OK, well you can look at it, but I have to tell you why we took each of them.

So I told him the same things I just told you... adding in how we accidentally took a picture of his friend because he walked into our picture while we were taking it..

and the picture of a guy's butt was an accident with the zoom and the darkness of the room... and YES in fact, we did have a picture of his Alpaca sweater.

I think he believed us... but that just put the icing on the cake. I haven't laughed that much IN A WHILE!

Good times!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Violated by my Toilet

Since I moved into the teacher's dorm at the University, things have been a bit different.

As in I now have a bidet in my private bathroom.

These things are like $300 in the store!!! I'm not understanding why EVERY toilet on campus has one, in all of the buildings, ALL of the dorm rooms....

Anyways, they're kind of lovely in the winter because they're heated.. I did a post on this earlier..

So this past week has been record breaking hot.. but to me it felt like a normal beginning of Fall in the states (about 65 degrees steadily.... whereas in Korea, when Fall comes, it is FREEZING at night and in the morning, and pretty hot during the day....). So I really didn't need my buns toasted when sitting down to do my business. Therefore, I tried to turn it off.. unfortunately all of the buttons are in Korean.. and there are about 13 buttons.. go figure! So I pressed the one towards the end that was just a square.. thinking this MUST be it..


I started hearing some noises like mechanisms moving around, then all of a sudden SPRAY to the butt. I screamed and laughed, and about died... and it lasted for about 7 seconds.


Friday, November 4, 2011

I'm a Prostitute

Part A: Article used in a discussion class
Part B: Main points of discussion from the actual class
Conclusion: Foreigner = Prostitute

Naturalized Korean decries refusal of entry to sauna

Ku Su-jin, an Uzbek native who was naturalized in Korea, shows her passport indicating Korean nationality during a media briefing at Gyeongnam Migrant Community Service Center in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, Thursday. Ku said she was prohibited from using a sauna in a case of racial discrimination. / Yonhap

Lack of law against racial discrimination leaves foreigners vulnerable

By Kim Rahn

An ethnic Uzbekistan woman has filed a petition with the National Human Rights Commission after she was denied entrance to a sauna here.

A sauna employee refused to admit to the woman, a naturalized Korean, saying she was still a “foreigner” by appearance and foreign users may “make water in bathtub dirty” and “pass on AIDS.”

Such an action was possible because there is no law on discrimination by race, according to a support center for immigrants.

“Many foreigners face such discrimination often but mostly they remain silent because they don’t speak Korean well and don’t know where they can appeal,” said Ku Su-jin, whose Uzbek name is Karina Kurbanova.

Assisted by a civic group, she held a media briefing at Gyeongnam Migrant Community Service Center in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, Thursday.

“I’m filing the petition on behalf of other foreigners and especially our children including my seven-year-old boy, as I don’t want him to be discriminated against because of physically appearing different to Koreans,” she said.

Ku visited a sauna in Busan at around 3 p.m. on Sept. 25. But the employee denied her entry, saying foreigners are prohibited.

She reported this immediately to the police.

“The sauna worker told police that foreigners are not allowed there because they may make the water dirty. He also said Koreans customers don’t like using the facility with foreigners because in the town there are many foreign women working at bars and there were rumors that some have AIDS,” she said.

Ku is legally a Korean as she obtained citizenship in 2009 after marrying a Korean man. She told this to the owner, but he said she was a foreigner by appearance.

Police officers said there is no law to regulate such racist discrimination, advising her to go to another sauna, she said.

Officials at the center, who are supporting Ku’s petition, said the owner took advantage of a legal loophole regarding discrimination.

“There are laws banning discrimination by gender or by worker’s status. But there is none governing discrimination by race, not only do Koreans discriminate against foreigners but also Koreans discriminate against other Koreans like in Ku’s case,” a director of the center said.

The director said if the rights commission recommends the sauna to change, the group will help Ku file a civil suit against the sauna owner for the mental distress she sustained.

She said what Ku and the center ultimately call for is the establishment of a law banning discrimination by race, against both foreigners and naturalized Koreans.

“In these modern times when 1.3 million immigrants live here, it is shameful that they have their human rights infringed upon and are deprived of many entitled rights in daily life only because they look different or they came from other countries. Korea claims to stand for multiculturalism, but is far short of laws and systems for immigrants,” the director said.


I used this article in one of my discussion/debate classes.. I'll let you guess which one. My face turned different shades of red during the class, but I kept my anger and disappointment under control for the most part. It made me super sad though, because some of my favorite students had this view that... was just disturbing. One of my co-workers said that he would never do that topic in class... he'd probably get fired because he'd get so angry at the viewpoints discussed. I had a more optimistic outlook on it I suppose.. one that I shouldn't have had. I thought that since most of the class has traveled to other countries, they're educated, and have lived long lives and seen many things.. they wouldn't have the view that was expected. Because the sad thing is, is that many of us (expats in Korea) WOULD expect the views of the employee in the article to be shared with many Koreans. (the bolded phrases below come from things said in class, the non-bolded text were responses from me said during class... the class took place 2 hours ago)

~This is a very special case, it doesn't happen a lot.
-But it DOES happen a lot. As the article says, many aren't reported. This lady luckily speaks Korean and was able to hear what the sauna worker said about her, and the police officer also spoke with the employee and he said them same thing. There are more cases, it's not just this one in Busan. I've experienced some discrimination, others have experienced more.

~Laws will eventually happen... one day... not now.
-I realize that, and the US has been in the exact same position. But worse, 100 times worse. We grew stronger though, and stopped being brain washed.. we were all able to unite, live together, and racism is not as harsh now.. there are laws, not always upheld, but the government and many agencies work hard to minimize racism in the USA. I know it's different here, because Korea was homogeneous for an extremely long time, but the government and the people have been asking foreigners to come to Korea.. the culture strives for multiculturalism now.. as the article says, there are 1.3 million immigrants living in Korea. ONE POINT THREE!

~Foreigners in Public Bath Houses are a problem, many prostitutes.
~This was in Busan, there are many prostitutes in Busan.
~The prostitutes are dirty, it's a problem.
-So all foreigners are prostitutes? The funny thing is that, many MANY Koreans believe this. You say it as a joke, but I know a few foreign women who have been approached by men, asked if they are Russian, or prostitutes, and you know what they're response is? "I TEACH KINDERGARTEN CHILDREN IN YOUR COUNTRY". Is this fair? It gives Koreans a very bad name when this continues to happen. It is a problem all over the country, not just Busan, not just Seoul.

-The employee in the article said the woman would make the water dirty and pass on AIDS to the Koreans. Is this what a majority of people believe? That you can spread AIDS in the water?
~I think she said this to prove a point, to make her point stronger.
~HaHa! AIDS is passed on sexually.
-This makes the employee sound extremely ignorant. And people like this make the entire Korean culture look ignorant. Is that okay?

~The Public Bath Houses need to be separated.
~Just like the men and women are separated, foreigners and Koreans should be separated.
-This lady is a Korean just like any of you, she has a Korean passport. She IS Korean. She wasn't born here, but she's married to a Korean, she has a 7-year old son.. WITH a Korean.
-Where does her son go? Does he go to the Foreign side or the Korean side? Is he dirty because he's 1/2 foreign?
-What will happen to children like this one? Do they have to live the rest of their lives like this?

~I think you need to look at both sides.
-What side am I missing? I realize that when Public Bath Houses began there were hardly any foreigners living in Korea. I also realize that Koreans think they are different from every race on Earth. I understand it must be weird to see people in the Bath House who look different. But this lady is legally Korean, her son is Korean, her husband is Korean.
-What about the Korean men who sleep with all of these prostitutes. Should they have a separate sauna too.. because if the prostitute has a disease, welp, he's going to as well. Should there be separate sections between men who sleep with prostitutes and men who don't?
-I'm sorry, I guess I don't understand.

~Actually, prostitutes do get regular health checks.
-Great sir, I'm glad that you know that. So does this mean that not all foreigners are infected with AIDS?

Conclusion: I'm a foreigner so I must be a prostitute, have AIDS, I'm just plain different, from another planet.... I'm glad I now know the truth, my parents have been lying to me since I was born!!! Laws need to be changed if Korea wants to keep growing to be a powerful nation in the world... things like this can't just 'take time'... people need to start saying, 'No! You're wrong!' and stand up for what they believe in.. then maybe other people's hearts will change in the mean time.

Note: I don't believe ALL Koreans share the same views as in the article. I DO however believe at least 1/2 do, in some way, deep down. I DON'T believe change will happen anytime soon, I think it will continue to be brushed to the side. I have many Korean acquaintances and friends that I know don't believe all foreigners are prostitutes... however I know many that do. So the disturbing facts become surreal...

I can honestly say that last year I wandered around Korea with a veil over my eyes. I ignored most negative qualities, and didn't truly believe many things I had heard about the culture. Now, however .. after working with students who can say more than "Purple, Door, Cookie"... views change... in some ways I wish I had stayed in the dark, I think I'd be happier living here... but if everyone ignores what goes on in the world, society will soon be worse than it already has become!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


No other culture can grab some shuteye like the Koreans!  Impossible!  Many businesses/schools even have nap rooms for their employees... pretty legit!  You find many asleep on the sidewalk on your way home at night or at the cafe.. sometimes in class... but ALWAYS, you find them asleep on the subway!  And I rarely read a book or use my iPOD for entertainment.. because I know that I can count on my Hangookin Community to keep me well amused!

Bruce & Paula Subway Siesta Fiesta

Feet Like an Elephant

A Forever 21 that has 4 floors should have a pair of shoes that fit me, right?!

If I enjoy leopard hooker boots, then yes!  Bruce and I looked through basically every pair of shoes in that stupid store and couldn't find a size 10.. rarely a 9!  Welcome to Korea! I got really sad, and after our shopping day with the girls on Sunday I shopped around in some of the Korean shoe stores that sell boots.. thinking since it's Seoul, MAYBE they would have my size?!

Errrr... wrong again!

After trying on 2 pairs of XL boots.. and me about to cry.. the lady said "These boots are for Korean women's feet"... so I boohoo'd my way out the door!

BUT after venturing to Myeongdong AGAIN the next day (as well as the day after that ^^), Forever 21 had restocked and I found a super cute pair of ankle boots that were my size! Yippee!!!

Here's a looksy into what Myeongdong is like on a CALM Monday :).. Imagine what it's like on the weekend.. SO FUN!

..Yes, it is super random... in almost every way possible!


While Ali asked the nice old man how to find Hooters in Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea... I decided to give you a mini tour!

We didn't expect much out of Hooters, we just really wanted the experience... luckily. Prices and food quality were poo-zy! But had an absolute blast with friends! <3 <3

Emotional Journal Entry

Guess what?! I finished my first quarter! Who'da thunk ..... I survived!!! 2 months ago, I would have said (and did!) 'I'm not going to make it working here!'... but now, my engine has been started and I'm ready to take over that classroom and show them who's boss!

Last Quarter:
My 3 conversation classes (University students/adults from Jeonju) were absolutely amazing, and I enjoyed all of them! There was one small class that was awkward at times, because it was 4 girls.. and each came whenever they felt like it. 2 were older women, and 2 were my age.... anyways, one of them constantly looked like she hated life, another had a smart phone permanently attached to her hand, and the class was just.. WEIRD! I never knew what to expect.. and I learned not to expect too much, that's for sure!

I had 1 class of children, who were absolutely heaven sent. I've never had a group of kids that I've enjoyed more! They were (and are.. I still have them) extremely well behaved, SO smart, and we had a lot of fun!!! At least I think we did, ^^.

AND THEN.. there were the professors! As many of you know, I almost peed my pants from fear when I first walked into that class. Korean professors are VERY VERY VERY different from the professors I'm used to. And it fully has to do with the culture, it just isn't quite what I had expected because I've never been around Korean professors before.

This was more of a growing experience than I ever in my life expected to have.. I knew that getting a big girl University job would change me as a teacher, but I feel like this class has actually bettered me as a person! I am much more informed with the world around me now.. I'm sure you're wondering how on earth that could happen.. but I meet this class 5 times a week for 7-weeks straight.. it's titled a 'Discussion & Debate Class'.. however I was informed quite early on that the professors aren't a fan of debating, and they don't want to discuss politics/religion. They want to talk to ME, they don't want to talk to each other (HELLO, it's a conversation class.. 10 Professors.. 1 of me..) WELL, there goes extremely controversial topics, the news, LIFE... and I know you're thinking.. well Paula, this is YOUR class, YOU'RE the teacher, do it anyways.

It doesn't quite work like that here in Korea! LIFE is based around who is higher up, who is older, who is more important... I can't change a culture.. in a classroom or out, no matter how hard I try. I've adjusted and I've asked them to adjust as well, and in turn we've worked together pretty darn well!

So I give them news articles or interesting TIME Magazine articles every day, they can read it if they want to or just discuss anything they know about the topic from previous knowledge, and then we discuss that article the next day in class. This system has worked out amazingly well, and this is how most of the previous teachers worked the class.

The first article wasn't so hot though... it was about South Korea working with Russia to build a pipeline through North Korea into South Korea... an important topic to Koreans (I thought).. and it turned out that it IS important.. however the author of the article was extremely biased.. and this TICKED my professors off. I began asking them questions to get the conversation going.. and you could almost hear a pin drop.. they didn't say anything! NOTHING! OMG, I think they could almost see my heart pounding.. until one professor finally chimed in and told me about how the article is biased. WOW, I definitely pulled the foreigner card on that one and tried to get them to tell me how/why but they were totally shut down and shut off. Later I find out that you don't argue with people who are of a higher status in society than you are and you surely don't express opinions that are contrary to the majority. This really bothered me at first, I was imagining every class being that strange and just weird! There was OBVIOUSLY something to talk about there, but it was almost like they couldn't! After that day, I can't even tell you how stressed out I was about the class.

For the next few weeks...
.... all I could think was that I'm only a Li'l 23 Year Old Bachelor Degree Holding Uninformed American ESL Teacher... how the heck can I be expected to converse with Korean professors like this?! Are you judging me? Do you hate me?! How can I be better?! Will you ever like me? What did I do? Do I look bad? Do you think I should wear more make-up to class?! Do you think I'm dumb? Unintelligent? Unimportant? Unworthy of your time?! How can I be better? What can I do? What DO I DO?! How do I handle this stress? I hate this city! I hate this University! I hate that I didn't move back to Jinju! I hate that I left my family and friends again, for this... For this treatment! Do I cry? Do I relax.. but what if that makes the class even worse? I can't relax! I can't stop worrying about it! This is my character, myself, me, it was ruining me.. I didn't feel happy, I didn't want to be me, I didn't feel like I could go in that classroom and be optimistic, I didn't think that was what they wanted.. but I am optimistic.. I'm not the girl that worries about things like this....

After a few weeks (the longest few weeks of my life), we got used to each other and I felt more comfortable. I thoroughly enjoyed some of the classes, I thoroughly HATED others and just wanted to punch something because they made me so angry... but that comes with teaching right?

I've snapped out of my 'woe is me' attitude, I'm back to crazy antics, and I'm enjoying my lovely time with new friends!! It's shaping up to be a great year (9 1/2 more months.. but who's counting?! ^^)

This Quarter:
Everyone's schedules got cut, so I'm now down a class.. which I don't mind, although that means no overtime..
My 2 Conversation classes consist of new students, for the most part.
Kids class is the same, 3 new kids who I think will get the hang of things quickly.
And the professors class.. they all came back! Plus 1, so it must not have been too unbearable for them. I now have 11 professors, and this 7-weeks is starting off a WHOLE heck of a lot better than previously.. Thank God! I'm enjoying researching everything going on in the news, I'm becoming much more informed & I adore it, and I feel like I know them much more, so that is helping me choose topics! However, it may start getting difficult finding something NEW to talk about everyday, without recycling any of the ideas from last quarter! But, that's part of the challenge.. and I'm ready to take it on!

OK, end rant! I had a lot on my mind.. and now it's off :)