So yesterday was the mandatory beginning of the semester teacher dinner. The dinner is to greet new incoming teachers and to say goodbye to the transferring or retiring teachers/staff.
Everyone HAD to be there. We travelled to the other side of Suncheon to a BBQ pork restaurant.
The food was really good. There were more than thirty staff members at the dinner. So total there must have been at least twenty cars there.
Guess who ended up taking a taxi from the restaurant to a bus stop on the other side of town? Teacher Jenny and me. She is too reserved and does not feel comfortable asking people. I refuse to beg anyone for a damn thing. Some of them saw us trying to flag a taxi but ignored it. I would rather walk across burning sands then to ask a local for anything I can do my damn self. That goes for any country.
Walking to the main avenue was good exercise after eating that heavy meal, anyway. I don't know why Koreans are not fat. MY GOODNESS. We ate pork then ate another kind of pork after that!! Then most teachers drank soju and beer. Where do they put all those calories? I almost rolled out the restaurant after eating. The taxi ride was about 12 minutes to a bus stop near Teacher Jenny's house and along my bus route. I'm glad she was able to tell the taxi driver where to go but even if she had not been there, I would've survived. The main lesson in living in another country is to learn how to navigate the necessities as soon as possible. No one wants to wear out their welcome. Even if you are slow to learn the language, figure out how to do the basics by yourself. Grocery shopping, taxi and bus rides, hospital and restaurants. It will be the key to your sanity in a new environment. Less stress and less having to depend on people who may be reluctant to help anyway.
So I know usually catfishing is when a potential mate fakes an image in order to gain approval, acceptance, love and time from another person. Usually this is done in the hope that the person will fall in love with them and overlook the big lie. Well, I met a younger lady here who told me in the beginning that she suffered from a specific type of depression and had lost lots of friends from the condition. She also told me how she enjoyed catfishing many men. She would present herself as whatever type of woman they wanted, blonde, girlish, a little silly but caring. She would string them along for weeks even months. Then once they started pressuring her to meet up she would say that she decided to take a job out of the country and POOF be gone.
I did give her my sincere thoughts on this type of behaviour. Even though she seemed to understand my shock and dismay at her actions, she was heavily invested. So, then she proceeded to begin a friendship with me, gaslighting me that she wanted to be friends after we both leave Korea and basically showing me a funny, smart, ambitious young lady who was just trying to survive this phase of her life, like me. We talked almost every night and laughed about life abroad. It made things easier to have someone here to laugh with. Then POOF she was gone, after several weeks of communication. Now mind you, my definition of friendship is very strict. I know how flaky people are here so I do my best to guard myself. But I was still a little...hmmmnnnn....not sure how I felt.
A part of me understands her deep depression. It can cripple you and make you focus only on the negative. But the other side of me thinks that it is an easy way out to make sure that you only chew the sweet and juicy part of the gum. Once the gum becomes stale, you spit it out and chew a new, sweet piece. Keeping up walls protects you from having to feel real feelings. Catfishing allows for the fantasy but when reality is necessary, POOF Houdini disappears. I do wish the best for this young lady. We are all damaged by our life's experiences so I understand the need to hide and protect yourself. But to consistently do it at the expense of others is both cowardly and selfish. Catfishing anyone is wrong. Tell the truth and allow people to make a choice to stay or run away quickly.
I have four Korean friends here. Julie, Miss Lucy and Cumulus and Miss Lee from Daegu.
Well, Cumulus retired last year and was bored out of his mind.
He was also driving his wife crazy, as most retired husbands do.
In his mid-50s, he has decided to go and teach Korean, through a government sponsored program, in Uzbekistan!
Wow!! What courage and bravery!
So this past Saturday I travelled the three hours to Daegu to say my goodbyes to him before he relocates for two long years. By the time he gets back, I will be long gone, hopefully. (From my mouth to God's ears.)
We met up at the Daegu west bus terminal and drove to lunch.
I insisted on paying for the lunch and had even saved up for it.
Both of them refused and instead had me pay for mango and strawberry smoothies after our meal. Then we walked down a very famous village named after a famous Korean guitarist.
It was a very sweet time with good friends.
It was important to me to thank them for their kindness to me both before and after my family arrived last summer.
It is very difficult to find genuine people here so I was blessed to have them in my life here in Korea. They went out of their way for me, my son and my family. They picked us up from the bus terminal, drove us to the hospital, assisted in renting the cabin in the woods last summer, drove our entire family to the skydiving area and cheered and applauded all the children's jumps. Cumulus even jumped that day! They took me shopping for much needed clothing and have always shown me kindness and generosity.
I bowed deeply as we said our last good byes. All of my expat experiences will be shared with Cumulus as he begins his first time living away from his home country.
This is the way I like to end friendships, with respect and mutual admiration. That takes a certain level of maturity and commonness. It was a blessing to share friendship with them.
Thank you very much. I've appreciated it and will always pay it forward.
Cumulus had to return home after six months due to the worldwide spread of the Rona panic. Korea airlifted their citizens out of there at the government's expense. He did learn a lot just from living there for a few months. He used to call me and share some of this frustrations of not knowing the language, people using him for language exchange and not being treated fairly as a foreigner. Hmmmmmmmmm, sounds awfully familiar.
I believe it was his experience living abroad that helped him to understand my needs during my operation this summer. He finally understood how isolating it can feel living in a foreign country by yourself. i hope he can return to finish his assignment after Miss Rona leaves us alone.
When I finally leave this country, it will be because of the lack of empathy and lack of a good support system here. People only care about their tribe and absolutely no one else. Old ladies struggle with large bag of fruits and veggies, people crossing the zebra striped walkway or if someone slips and falls - no empathy for you here. Go slip and fall in another country. These people don't give a sh@t about each other and definitely not a foreign teacher unless we can benefit their lives in some way.
Maybe you will have a better chance of getting in another country or your home country but damn sure not here.
Future expats choose your country wisely. Every place has its pros and cons. Do your research so you can find a country that best suits your personality and needs.
By Chris Jordan
Cultural Arts Center
An amazing art exhibit that shows the excess and beauty of human consumption. The art consists of pieces of plastic bottles, caps, bags, credit cards and cellphones. Great message.
I really enjoyed it.