Saturday, July 30, 2016

Heeeeeey, summer!

Summer is here, and so is the rain. Since this is actually my first full summer in Seoul,  I thought I'd add a few things to The List about summer.

This is an event we were supposed to go to, boo!
147. Rainy Summers (typhoon season). Though I love summer, Korean summers can sometimes suck because it rains quite often, and it is very unpredictable.

Korean summer is really icky as well. It is so humid that you sweat just by sitting down and being motionless. Add the rain on top of that, and it's a yucky feeling fest. Unfortunately, due to the rain, sometimes summer events get canceled, boooo!

Typhoon Sanba in 2012; it knocked over the school's canopy 
I held out on buying rain boots because I have never really needed them since I have summers off. And so if I just wear sandals wherever I go, I'm fine. This summer however, I'm actually working almost full time M-F, so I gotta wear nice shoes. About three weeks ago when it was raining really hard, my shoes got completely soaked that I was so uncomfortable throughout the day, so I decided to get a nice pair of boots. Cute, right?!

148. But when the sun comes out, it is picnic time!!! Picnics at the Han River are one of my favorite things to do when it's nice outside. Just pack up a bottle of wine, some cheese and bread, a mat, and you're ready to go. Actually, do don't even need any of that. You can buy almost anything there. You can even order takeout ...yes, takeout will be delivered to wherever you're sitting. When you get to the park, a flock of ajummas will attack you to hand you their take-out chicken/pizza fliers. 

The last time I was at the Han waiting for my friends near the subway station, I got so amused by their attacks that I started recording them. These ladies are intense! At some point, two of them started fighting each other because a younger ajumma kept pushing an older one whenever they approached a person, crazy!

149. In the video above you can hear them (00:26), the cicadas. They only come out in the summer and are annoying AF. They mostly stay on trees and blend in pretty well, so you'll never really see them. 

From what I've heard, cicadas have a very sad life. When they hatch from their egg, they immediately go underground and stay there for years until they become adults, come out in the summer, sing, mate, and die; que triste.

Y de paso aprendí que en español estos animalitos se llaman cigarras tenia idea jaja. 

150. This last one doesn't have to do with summer, but rather with the last post. I wrote about how Koreans like to sit on the floor at home. Some restaurants (Korean food) have floor seating as well. When I first came to Korea it was kind of annoying to go to those restaurants because my legs would get all numb. Now that I'm used to it, I don't mind it; I actually prefer it sometimes. But anyways, there is this bar in Gangnam that I've been to a couple times and it also has floor seating! You feel like a Roman lying down and drinking your cocktail. Awesome!

Other things happening in my life:

I passed my Korean Level 1A class! Woot Woot! 


WHY? Check out this map below. Google maps is not allowed to fully work in Korea because of national security (having to do with North Korea). The rhombus type shapes are the areas protected, thus nobody can use PokemonGo there. However, if you look closely, there is a tiny small area to the north east that does not fall under the protected area. Apparently, a few weeks ago, thousands of people flooded the city of Sokcho in order to play. I would go, but, meh, just too lazy.


Lastly, thanks to the Jisan Rock Festival, one of my dreams has come true. The awkward 13-year-old inside of me finally got to see the band that saved her life. AND IT WAS AMAZING! 

I was sick as a dog, but waited 7 hours standing in the sun surrounded by lame Korean teenagers all the way at the front so I could see them as close as possible. I'm still paying for it though; I'm still sick, and I don't know when I'll be all better. But again, it was all worth it!!

Hope you're having an amazing summer!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

GUUUYS It's My 100th Post!!!

And since this is a special occasion, I thought I'd do something different. When I started writing The List, I thought I should focus on things that are different from American stuff, so I almost never write about similarities. The only times I have written about similarities is when I've talked about Mexican and Korean similarities, though I've only mentioned a couple. Today, I'd like to add more to that list -some of which will also be added to The List. 

Why? I just find it remarkable how similar Korea and Mexico are when it comes to the smallest of things. It's the small things that amaze me the most.

                                                  Amélie, anyone?

This is for sure not a complete list, and though I've been trying to add to this list the minute I landed in Soko for the first time, I'm sure there are loads more. So if you got more, shoot and I'll add them.

Spicy food -duh, this is a given. Though I do have to say that it is a different type of spiciness. My family only knows this, but I don't particularly enjoy Mexican spicy food  *gasp!* ...yeah, I know. My mom always had to make me a separate batch of food if she knew I wouldn't eat what she made una concentida jeje. However, that doesn't mean that I can't handle it, trust me, I can. So when I came to Korea and started eating their spicy food, I was like "pff, you call this spicy?" What I mean is that Korean spicy food burns differently. Mexican spicy food hurts/burns as you swallow, but Korean spicy food is quite enjoyable. Needless to say, I do prefer eating Korean spicy food over Mexican spicy food hehe ...sshh, don't tell my mom though.

Side note, it blows Koreans' minds when I tell them that it is thanks to Mexico that they have spicy food, you're welcome! 

Other Food -in Mexico we eat moronga, here they eat sundae (순대). Both countries eat chicken feet. Both countries eat intestines (tripas/ gop-chang 곱창) ...I guess in 'Murica they're eaten too, but only in the South. Both countries eat insects (chapulines/beondegi 번데기). Mexicans eat frituras as a snack, Koreans eat them too:

notice the hot sauce my Mexican friends and I added hehe
Patriarchal ...and misogynistic -Not much to say here, it is what it is in both countries. I felt so bad when my Korean female coworkers at my old job would tell me how their husbands didn't give a crap about them, and that they were just there to clean, cook, and raise the children.

There was a recent attack in Gangnam Station where a man hid in a bathroom and waited to kill a woman. In a statement he said he did it because he hates women:

On the up side (if that), one kickass thing that women do in a marriage is that they take control of the family money, ha! 

**UPDATE: I saw this post this other day. A new women-only train is going to be tested in Busan. One of the reasons is to prevent crimes against women. Shouldn't they focus on the problem instead of trying to put a bandaid over it? EDUCATION PEOPLE! Parents and the community need to educate their young sons to not be assholes. I know of mothers with sons in Korea and in Mexico who have straight up told me that they would never have such a conversation with their sons because ...well just because they don't want to. AY! The ignorance. 

Superstitious -Mexicans believe in el chamuco, la llorona, lighting candles to saints for luck, and many more things. 

142. Koreans believe that you can die if you sleep with the fan on and leave your windows closed. I do it all the time, yet here I am. 

Koreans also believe in fortunetelling (Mexicans do too). (#77)

143. Koreans believe the number 4 is unlucky. They are so hard core about it that most elevators will only say "F" instead of listing the number. (see pic)

Family oriented -a def nice thing about both cultures is that both are very family oriented. Like Mexicans, young people do not move out of their parents' until they get married. Also, holidays are about being with family not about getting trashed with your friends.

Family image -and the above leads to this. Family image is everything! Both cultures will lie about their problems in order to portray a happy perfect  family which c'mon, who has one?

Small cities similar to Tijuana -This is something I've been saying since I moved here but no one believed me. Actually, when I took my Korean friends who were studying in SD to Tijuana, the very first thing they said was how similar it looked to Korea. I, of course, didn't believe them, but once I got to Pohang, I was like "yup!"

This is a picture of a neighborhood near where I live, and it could easily be Tijuana.

Electricity cables - one thing that both countries share is how crazy the electricity cables can get. Both countries give a crap about safety -you can kind of see it in the pic above.

City feel -and not only can Mexico and Korea look similar, but they also feel similar. It's a little hard to explain, but the low buildings, trash everywhere, and dog ddong/caca on the street make me feel right at home, lol.

Jay walking -this happens in most countries I guess. The difference between Korea, Mexico, and the US is that in the US you can get a ticket for it. Here and in Mexico it's nothing illegal -or at least not enforced at all. However, one thing I've noticed here is that people are not that careful when they jaywalk; they don't look both ways, children and adults alike! I've seen more than my share of almost accidents and even a couple accidents, yikes!

Bad drivers -I've talked about bad drivers in Korea before, but I didn't mention that in Mexico (or at least in Tijuana), they are pretty bad as well. Unlike most US expats who are scared to get behind the wheel, I'm not scared of driving here in Korea since I drive in Tijuana too.

Street vendors -ah yes, one of my faves. In both countries, street vendors are everywhere. They sell anything from snacks, to hats, to toys for your kids. 

Lack of hygiene -street food in both countries can make you sick haha.

Soda with meals -In Mexico we drink coke, here they drink cider, or a Korean version of 7Up. 

Sparkly clothing for doñas and ajummas - I wish I had pictures of this. But I will say that when my mom came to visit, she blended right in.

Tackiness -and the clothes aren't the only tacky thing in both countries, the level of tackiness both countries share is hilarious. Both countries looooooove tacky doilies and anything lace. Both love tacky figurines. The worst is when Koreans buy a nice car and they tacky (new verb?) the crap out of it with tacky cover seats and monos on their dashboards.

Exhibit A (Korea): Tacky fake flowers glued on to the glove compartment of a taxi.

Exhibit B: Look at all that tackiness ...look at the monitos!!

Lastly, Exhibit C: poor car (wedding car)

Bad hair dyes- especially on doñas and ajummas. In both countries when they do home hair treatments anything could go wrong, and if often does. 

Floor seating -in Mexico we use petates, in Korea they use floor mats. All Korean houses I've been to have a dining set and couches, but they prefer to sit on the floor to eat and watch TV and sometimes even sleep. I like it. I'm siting on the floor now as we speak instead of my couch or desk chair, haha. 

Marry early -I'm considered an old maid in both countries now *ask me if I care*. I've heard of Korean girls marrying just because they "have to" since their parents pressure them to and end up in an unhappy marriage. So sad. 

144. Tuberculosis vaccine scar - I have mine and Koreans do too! The weird part is that children nowadays have this crazy looking scar, which is actually kind of cool looking.

I never took a pic of my students because I though it'd be weird to be like "Hey, let me take a pic of your arm", but I found a pic on the internet.

So that's what I go so far, I may keep adding more if they come up later so stay tuned.

In other news, today in Korea is Chobok (145) which according to the Lunar calendar, it is the hottest day of the summer (not really, it's been raining and a little chillier than normal). 

Dog meat stand in Ansan

Chobok is part of a three day cluster (2nd day = Jungbok” (중복), 3rd day = Malbok” (말복)) which is a part of the month long sambok (삼복) or boknal (복날) meaning the dog days of summer. From what I've read, it used to be a holiday for farmers who needed to get away from the heat before their harvests. Traditionally/historically on this day, Koreans ate dog stew, 보신탕 (boshitang -146) to keep cool. I never got the logic of how eating a hot stew keeps you cool by the way.

Anyways, I don't know how I've never talked about dog stew. First of all, no, not all Koreans eat it nor have tried it. Especially people here in Seoul are disgusted by it. But yes, there are restaurants hidden here and there. There are still dog meat markets (to which foreigners are not allowed). People in the countryside are more likely to eat it. And yes, I have expat friends who have eaten it. 

I would NEVER EVER EVER EVER try it. The one time I thought my coworkers had taken me to a dog restaurant, I almost puked.

Back when the World Cup happened in Seoul, the government was trying to say that they had completely abolished this tradition and closed down all dog stew restaurants, BS!! ...I wonder if they'll say the same for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Thankfully, nowadays Koreans do not eat dog stew on Chobok, they instead eat a chicken soup called samgyetang (삼계탕) or other traditional dishes like bingsu, yum!!

Lol, sorry, this post ended up longer than I expected, but thanks for sticking around! 

Hope you're having a nice summer!