My co-teacher, Leni, asked me last week if I wanted to join the “Nowon Club” at my school. Basically, it’s all of the teachers and school people getting together over Korean BBQ and lots of soju with a side of cider (the equivalent of Sprite) a few times a month after school. I said of course I would join since I think it’d be fun to hang out with all of them even though I need a translator 24/7. But, they’re all so freakin funny so I don’t mind being the odd ball out. You know me 🙂
So I’m sitting there, the sides come out, the drinks come out, the coals come out, and then the plate of meat comes out. On the drive over Jin told me it was probably going to be pork, so I already had in my mind that I’d be eating iceberg salad, kimchi, and turnips for dinner (and would just fill up on brie later at Jason’s cheese/housewarming-ish gathering). But, when the meat came out, there were two different types, so I asked Jin and Leni what they were. They said pork and what I thought to be DOG. I instantly went into internal freakout-wanting-to-vomit mode. This was THE cultural moment I have greatly feared since before coming here. Jin started placing the meat on the BBQ and I just kept thinking omgomgomg this is what cooked dog smells like and I kept thinking of my little Presley and Cilla back home. They asked me if I had ever tried it before and I said “Noooooo. It’s too weird for me. I just think about my baby puppies at home. It’s just too weird. Sorrrrrry!” Apparently this didn’t translate though, and they nodded like they understood it was weird for me. The meat keeps cooking, and then Leni asked me if I wanted to try LOL and I repeated again how it’s too weird and how I just think about my puppies. To which she goes “It’s DOCK! DOCK! Swim in the water!” I instantly lost my shit and let out the biggest sigh of relief. Between the 3 of us we couldn’t stop laughing allllll throughout dinner. They asked me AGAIN if I wanted to try DUCK (since it clearly wasn’t DOG), and I’m sorry judgemental Mama Schaeff and Jacq, but I tried it. I had never tried it before, and for those who know me, I used to be a vegetarian, so I’m pretty finiky with meat. But, I know duck is like a delicacy in a lot of Asian cultures so I gave it a whirl, and was actually quite pleasantly surprised. It actually tasted pretty good, however I smelled like shit the entire rest of the evening at Jason’s. I showered that night, and when I was on the bus this morning I smelled the stench again and realized it was my purse that still stunk! AHHHHH! DOCK DOCK! QUACK QUACK! STINK STINK!
After quite the hearty meal (these Korean’s like to EAT), the soju imbibing carried on, and my Principal poured me a shot and then said something to Leni in Korean to translate to me, along the lines of “I think you will be a great teacher and wish you lots of good blessings and luck.” I poured him one in return and we took our shots. Twas a lovely evening, but I had to cut it short to go help Jason and friends dig into the big wheel of brie that he bought. I said “ahn-yang-haseyo” to everyone, and then the Principal asked Leni if it was ok for him to hug me goodbye LOL. Apparently this act is very rare. We hugged, and everyoneeeee cheered and screamed and applauded. They like me! They really like me!
On top of them all liking me, and successfully completing my first full week of teaching, I received my ARC card in the mail, so I’m officially a resident of Korea!!! Today Leni took me to open a bank account in Nowon, and we attempted to get me an iPhone, but they wanted me to buy the phone up front for 800won which is absurd, so I will be getting an iPhone in Itaewon on Wednesday after the Chuseok holiday. They hook it up for foreigners there in terms of 2 year phone contracts and just paying for the phone as part of your monthly bill. So, all you pesterers, you will be able to WhatsApp and KakaoTalk me as of Wednesday of next week. Hold your horsies.
Now, I nap. I’m going to have a slumber party with Katie, Abby and Liz tonight at Abby’s since we’re getting up at the crack to catch a bus to Muuido Island for the long holiday.