Friday, July 13, 2007

Weapons of Class Destruction

One of the best parts of Korea is that it (amazingly!) has virtually no crime, at least compared to the U.S. Since possessing a gun is illegal, theft is rare, and muggings are as unreal as my friend's boobs, I can strut home at night through dark alleys in a short skirt and heels without looking over my shoulder. Even at Purdue, one of the safest universities in America, I would only walk on well-lit streets for fear the ATM Killer from two years ago would beat me from behind with a baseball bat.

However, despite their lack of actual crime, my elementary school students are obsessed with guns, murder, bombings, death, blood, and gore. They draw images of killing their teachers, blowing up the school, and shooting other classmates on their papers.

I spoke to another teacher about this horrifying phenomenon but he reminded me that shooting up a school is not even a reality in Korea and that's why the administration doesn't ban such talk and drawings at school.

Why is it that a country where boys (all of whom are forced to join the military and learn how to fire guns) are enthralled by violence is completely safe, whereas America, where even mentioning "gun" in school can get you suspended, has turned into a place where I fear walking home alone at night?

The title of this post comes from Veronica Mars Season 1, Episode 18.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Change of a Dress

Isn’t it just my luck that when I finally become enthralled by the world of Dolce and Gabbana and Nicole Miller, I land in a country that finds bare shoulders unacceptable! With South Florida-style halters and tanks, and my new discovery of the amazing tube-dress, I have absolutely nothing that covers my shoulders. So I hit the malls in search of a light cardigan or bolero (those little half jackets with short sleeves). Unfortunately, these women’s idea of style is 8-year-old meets Upper East Side credit card. If there aren’t bucketfuls of sequins and glitter lining the collar, then a break-the-bank jacket has to have puffy sleeves and frills all along the front. These women are walking around like disco balls and cheesy birthday cakes!

So I wondered: Are the cutesy dresses and reserved behavior just Korean society’s way of keeping women in line? Women even have a different set of words to use than men. I can tell Korean men aren’t used to bold women whenever my boss at work mumbles and stutters around me and my American friend, Taylor. Women here are so used to being modest, even their fashion has regressed to the shiny and lacy phase. Now, I’m not one to conform by covering up the goods, and by goods I of course mean those mouth-watering shoulders of mine. But I get enough stares walking down the street being brown and having that “Huh?” expression whenever someone tries to talk to me in Korean. Who knows; maybe one day I’ll go Lady Godiva, shed the outer layer, and let those daring shoulders see the sun.

Well, I managed to find a cheap jacket at a designer mall but spent $80, all the money I had left, on strappy sandals. Um…oops?

The title of this post comes from Sex and the City Season 4, Episode 15

Monday, June 25, 2007


It’s been two weeks since I landed in Korea, and I regret that I didn’t start blogging about this experience sooner. Korea is somewhere between Poland and Singapore. It has the badly planned traffic, the rows of identical buildings, and the often sandy sidewalks from eternal construction; but it also has bright and shiny billboards on each building, killer fashionable ladies, and fancy, rich malls.

The city I’m staying in is called Daejoen. It has about 1.3 million people total and about twice as much kimchi per block. My coworkers, Travis and Taylor (aka: TNT or Trailer), have been taking awesome care of me, showing me the delicious restaurants and general sites around the neighborhood.

I’d have to say the most interesting place I’ve been to so far has been the bathhouse: essentially a large room with 10 jacuzzis, sinks, mirrors, and naked ladies. More on this exciting experience a little later.

The food is to die for. I haven’t had even a smidge of missing Western food. Everyday it’s a different dish from delicious shrimp tempura to pork and rice to $2 sushi, an expensive delicacy in America, especially Indiana if you really want the good stuff. But here it’s actually considered a salad. Koreans definitely know how to fill you up in one sitting. It’s a wonder they squeeze into those itsy bitsy, lacy, shiny clothes of theirs!

This has been a wonderful two weeks with some small headaches like finding an apartment or learning to turn on the hot water without turning on the heater (still working on that, by the way). There are, however, some things I know I’ll miss this year. Thing 1: American clothes. Thing 2 and most important: my friends. So this post goes out to my boys, Teri, Lauren, Kage, and all my POWER and QSU friends. I think about each one of you everyday and keep up with your facebook events just to see what you’re all up to. I never thought I’d say this but I really miss that dang Indiana (omg, I did NOT just say the d-word! Gross!). Good night, guys!