There have been a couple times so far since arriving in Korea where I had an “I’m so happy I’m in Korea moment.” The first was during orientation when we were at the folk village. We were watching dancers do a native dance where they had these crazy streamers on their heads and it was like they were dancing with their heads, but they were also jumping and playing drums. It was just so cool.
Last night I had another one of these totally feel-good-about-my-decision moments. It was my Vice Principal’s last day at my school and all the teachers went out to a Korean BBQ dinner at a super fancy restaurant close to school. My 2 co-teachers felt awful because I don’t eat pork and that’s what we were eating, so they ordered me this cold noodle dish in a super spicy red sauce. I completely forget what it’s called, but I thought it was bomb. And their version of spicy is not comparable to mine. I want more spicy! We also ate probably the 100th different type of kimchi I’ve tried since coming to Korea, salad, raw onions in this soyish type of sauce, and some other dish which I have no idea what it was and neither do they. It seemed sushi-ish and was tasty, but I’m clueless. For dessert we had this rice cake type cake that none of them liked, but I thought it tasted like bread so I enjoyed it haha. The dinner was awesome because I got to actually hang out with my co-teachers and meet some of the other younger teachers. Many of them don’t really like to speak English because they are nervous about the language, but they were speaking with me, so I felt quite happy about making them feel comfortable enough to talk to me. The night went on, we ate, talked, and drank. And drank. And drank. At one point I looked over and saw my Principal downing shot after shot of soju with some of the other teachers. I think he kind of looks like my 5th grade teacher Mr. Miyamoto. Only I never saw Mr. Miyamoto taking shots.
Here are some pictures of the food and of my 2 co-teachers and some of the others. Leni is the girl on the left making a peace sign, and then Jin is the one in the picture with me 🙂
THEN the fun continued. To those of you who don’t know what a Norebang is, it’s karaoke, but in your own private room. The Koreans are nuts about this shit! SO, you have about 15 happy drunk Koreans and lil ol’ American Danielle piled into a room, tambourines are handed out, water and more drinks are brought in on a tray, and the book of songs is opened for people to pick their song. I never karaoke. As many of you know, you probably don’t want to hear me sing because I am that god awful. But no, I was forced to sing. And I was forced to sing a duet, in English, to a song I’ve never in my life heard before…with my Principal (who doesn’t speak a lick of English, but knew this random song). He was dancing like a little Asian man and I was dancing and singing and laughing the entire time. OMG it was fun. Everyone has to sing, and Mr. Principal was not letting me get off the hook by only singing with him. I had to sing again. This time I sang with my adorable co-teacher Leni. OMG she is so cute and loves to sing, and she’s super teeny so she was super drunk! We sang a song by Lenka that she chose because I didn’t feel comfortable enough yet to whip out some Bieber Fever. In due time it shall come.
This brings me to the moment I had that “I’m so happy I’m here” feeling. After everyone sang, we all stood in a circle in this little tiny room filled with tambourines and disco lights and held hands. Principal sang a song in Korean which I had no idea what he was saying, but I could just feel it was a happy/sad song. The Vice Principal then went around the circle and gave everyone hugs and cried a bit. I only met her a few times but she was so sweet. It was amazing how I didn’t even know the words, or really her for that matter but I really did feel overwhelmed, but maybe just because I was so happy in that moment to be there. The teachers are all so kind and sweet to me, and I love watching them bow whenever they say hello or goodbye. I used to think it was a little weird and awkward, well, I still kind of do, but it just comes off as so respectful and you can just tell they’re all such nice people. Anyways, I had my moment and it was awesome.
I’m sure I’m going to have many “get me the hell out of here” moments too (like when the little 3rd grader with severe ADHD came and took over my classroom yesterday), but it’s nice to know that these ones just pop up out of no where 🙂
Now I shall leave you with a video of my amazing duet with my beautiful co-teacher Leni. Enjoy the norebang (before my memory card space ran out) and my super sexy singing voice!