Drum roll… Ruth’s first blog post EVER.

HERE IT IS!! The blog I know you’ve all been waiting for with bated breath- tutting, tapping your watches and generally thinking bad things about me for leaving all the hard work to Andy. I’m terribly sorry it’s taken me so long, but in my defence I never said that I would write a blog before we left. I was sure to tell everyone that “Andy will be making a blog, so that’ll be a good way to keep in touch with what we’re up to won’t it? I’ll send you the link!” Remember? But after three months of tutting, tapping, poking, prodding and general bullying I have finally given in.

Honestly, it’s not such a chore, I have been wanting and intending to write for ages but it’s actually quite a daunting thing for me, I don’t really know why. There’s also always something else to do, you know… plan lessons… be ill… drink beer… be ill…

Anyway, it’s time I pulled my socks up in this direction.

Me, Dave and Anton

I’m going to have to do a rapid catch up so I thought I’d give you a few of the snippets that have been most significant for me, like being dumped in the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere by a bus driver who on second asking wasn’t actually going to the place he’d told me he was an hour before, making me miss an entire morning of classes (I’ll tell you more about that later.) Or like the middle school student who asked me if I’d had facial surgery… not sure if it’s because she can’t believe anyone could possibly be naturally this perfect, or because she thinks my face looks like it’s the remnants of a patch up job on one once mashed up with disfigurement! Who knows? Either way, I laughed. You have to.
That’s one thing that really stands out, they are extremely honest and will make no secret of the fact that they’re giving you a good ‘up and down’ and that they have an opinion on what they see. One of my millions of co-teachers Mi Sook, told me that the reason I keep getting ill is because I don’t wear enough clothes. She then pulled out each of her six layers of clothing to show me the appropriate amount of clothing for a warm spring day, when the temperature must have been nearing 30 degrees. I told her I thought she was crazy and showed her my one layer of t-shirt, pointing out that I think I must feel the heat more than her. She looked at my top and said with a sigh and a smile, “Yes… and sometimes I can see your stomach.” Don’t exaggerate Mi Sook. This is the woman who stood with me on a beach watching the sunset while holding my hand, wistfully telling me “I like you, I think Andy be jealous.” She’s such a treat!

One of the most delightful things about first arriving in Sunchang was the reaction of the students when I walked into their classrooms on my first day at each school. I was met by a chorus of, “Oh WOW!” in no less than every single class. At first I thought it was funny and went with it, with a modest wave and perhaps a small bow, but after the tenth time, it started to get embarrassing. It’s a good job my ego isn’t inflated easily! A third grade girl at one of my middle schools still greets me every week with, “Hellooooooo beeYOOtiful teacher!!” Again, at first I thought “ah, that’s nice,” but now I kinda want to tell her to give it a rest, I’m not that beautiful.

I’ve found I’ve been going through strange phases of picking up small characteristics of Korean behaviour. My most recent, which I’m still doing, is to say “mmm-m-m-m-mmm,” in agreement to things in conversation, I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed. I’m trying to stop but it’s like the time I picked up saying “yeh-yeh-yeh-yeh-yeh,” in agreement to stuff after working with Italians, I still do that.  I also found the obligatory bow that everyone greets each other with here started to turn into a courtesy in the first few weeks, if I wasn’t really thinking about what I was doing. That was just weird so I’ve stopped that.

I’m on a roll now and want to write so much more, but I think it’s unfair to punish you for my blog tardiness by writing an essay. So I’ll break it up a little and write some more soon (promise). I’ll just leave you with my answers to some questions asked by my good friend Ben Green after Andy and I had been here for two months:

“What do you get up to in the evenings? Do you have a nice living room to chill out in, with a TV, with English speaking programmes on it? I hope you do! Have you found yourself some kind of drinking establishment to go to? One that plays good stuff I hope! That’s a point, what does your average Korean listen to?”

Now then… my answer to this could be another essay on it’s own, so what you should know is…

– we don’t watch tv cos there’s no point- ALL Korean
– the only thing we sit on is our bed- no living room (well, a room with no furniture in it)
– when we go to the ‘drinking establishments’ (I use this term in it’s loosest possible form) here in Sunchang they have to turn on the lights and dust off the glasses especially for us- if we want a decent night we have to make a trip to the city which doesn’t happen often, although this is great for saving money!
– Korean modern (I would say ‘popular’ but I can’t comprehend how it possibly could be) music is the hugest, massivest, mountain of SCHEISSE cheesy pop crap you could possibly imagine… EVER, so we generally try to avoid hearing it at all costs or resort to putting our fingers in our ear holes. Your ‘average Korean’ appears to listen to it with enjoyment and the kids LOVE that stuff (am I sounding old?). Alrighty then…

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4 Responses to “Drum roll… Ruth’s first blog post EVER.”

  1. Trot Evans says:

    Well, the quality of this blog has certainly improved!;)
    By the way, who is that handsome devil scoping his guns? They are the largest most defined muscles I’ve ever seen…….
    Keep ’em coming!

  2. Mr Kim says:

    I would just like to commend you on an excellent blog, despite it’s lack of updates. Are you both OK? I especially like Ruth as I am a big fan of the ladies.
    I love the way you two just packed up and left, 2 crazy kids looking for an adventure, taking some risks, living for the moment, fantastic stuff.
    To be honest, I want to go travel. It just gets so boring here. Despite what you read in the newspapers, North Korea isn’t the communist utopia we say it is. There’s no food, the women are uptight, and don’t even get me started on the broadband connection. Sometimes I can’t play football manager online. AT ALL. In my boredom I built a theme park. Even that’s shit.

    So, I’ll cut to the chase. I really want to visit you sometime. Maybe I could bring my friends. Is there a flat area nearby where I could park like 50 attack helicopters for the night?
    Are you Ok for us to stay at yours? Money is a bit tight at the moment, and bizarrely the motel won’t accept bookings from me.

    I was thinking we could go hiking during the day, share some laughs and forge some lasting relationships, then by night eat some pork and cabbage and maybe go to Tudari for some drinks. We have a popular drinking game called Cheonan. I believe you have a similar game called Titanic. We could play that and maybe when we get drunk throw tomatoes at each other?
    If we get on really well we could even hold hands at the end.

    Of course I will bring a gift for you both. Which would you prefer, a handful of mud or a medium sized rock? And no, you can’t have both.

    I have to go now, I have a busy day planned. My VHS player has just been fixed, and I’m going to watch a new film called ‘Ghost’. I LOVE horror films, this is going to be great! Then after I’m going to find a tree and throw stones at it.

    Your indefinitely
    Mr Kim

    p.s. I hope to visit Japan shortly after my South Korean adventure. Your both welcome to join me.

  3. Mr Kim says:

    P.p.s. Just watched Ghost. Wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.

  4. Andy says:

    Thank you Mr. Kim for your kind words and suggestions. They have been taken on board (excuse the pun).

    We would LOVE for you to visit us here in sunny Sunchang. I’m sure we can find space for you and your 50 attack helicopters. We only have one rule we stick to here and that is 100% nudity at all times, luckily I believe you have no qualms with this.

    I hear you are quite the musician so we can visit a noraebang and take a relaxing hike to the legendary village of bean paste.

    Thanks again, and in answer to your question, a handful of mud would look great in our apartment, we’ve cleared a space.

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