Expat Dribble

Andrea Avery Jackley: An expat with lots of dribble to write about.


It’s been too long between writings. Shame on me. But I’ve been quite busy! In my one month and 18 days since arriving in Korea, I’ve experienced: going to a private karaoke room (“noribong”) that resembled a shady hotel room with a big screen TV and a disco ball; eating pickled octopus because my boss told me it was “very delicious” – he was wrong; almost getting engaged to my Korean doctor neighbor who speaks very little English (really nice guy, actually); and a “Korean-style” night club, where everyone gets a private booth, a tray full of fresh fruits, and immediate service. In addition, the waiters and waitresses actually grab women from their seats and bring them from table to table to meet eligible men. BRILLIANT idea! What’s wrong with the West? There was also a “hip hop” show complete with Asian men in shiny metallic jumpsuits, choreographed dancing and very large flashing lights. The dance floor was filled with awkward, and indeed sometimes painful, dancing; but I enjoyed myself heartily. And that’s all just for starters. Where does the time go?

My experience at the haegwon I’m working for has been very good so far. I adore the children. But these poor kids go to school all day in the public schools, some of them (middle and high schoolers) attend mandatory classes afterward for subjects they lack in, and then they head to haegwon until at least 9 PM and some of the older children until midnight. They also go to school every other Saturday. While I enjoy my job, it’s certainly difficult not to pity these kids when it comes to being restless and tired.

That’s when I take charge like a good teacher and get the kids involved in educational activities, such as our paper airplane contest yesterday. I kicked Elf’s butt! And yes, I did mean to type “Elf”. The children all get to pick their own English names. Elf, the student formerly known as Sean, INSISTED vehemently – I’m talking screams that could make your ears bleed – that he be called Elf, despite all of the negative implications I described to him. So be it.


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