Sunday, September 28, 2008

Art, retro parties and life

Saturday I was a tourist with 3 friends who we shall call The Kiwi Poet, S the Brit and R. We went to Sema, the Seoul Museum of Art where the normally low admission (700 won or 70 cents) was waived for the day. No idea why since we obviously weren't under 20 and it wasn't the 4th Sunday of the month. Maybe they were having some sort of special promo and we just couldn't read the sign. The museum is tiny by American standards, just 3 small floors. However, the collection was well edited. There was a lot of digital media which I normally don't love but their collection was really brilliant. Apparently, they change the collection pretty frequently so there is almost always something new. The only print exhibit was a small retrospective of a Korean artist, a woman by the name of Chun Kyong-ya (it might be Chun Kyoung-ya, I can't remember which). Her work reminded me a little be of le Dounier, Henri Rousseau. I looked for a book on her in the gift shop but they didn't have anything, not even in Korean. Their shop, while beautiful, had a collection of pretty generic art books and nothing relevant to the current exhibitions. However, I was amused to see a girl my age pick up the same Chagall book I have in French and start ooing and ahing over his work. I felt the same way when I saw the book, to say nothing of his actual work. I wish I could have said something to her but alas, my language skills are still rather limited. I am looking for a lesson exchange this week. The best thing to do, or so I've heard, is exchange an English lesson for a Korean lesson with a university student. The guys say they have a hard time finding exchanges because the girls are afraid the men just want to date them or something but a young female English teacher will have no trouble finding a study partner. I don't think that I'll be fluent without a more intensive course of study but I'd be satisfied with being able to order dinner for myself in a restaurant or ask for directions. Despite the simple grammatical structure and alphabet, Korean is apparently one of the hardest languages to master, up there with Arabic and Chinese. At least according the the US foreign service officer organization. Even without taking classes, I have been picking up a bit. This week I learned how to count to ten and tell a taxi driver where I live. Very useful things.

After Sema, I took a nap and then headed over to the retro party at Psycho. There was a pretty good turn out though most of the expats decided that 90s grunge and funky hats were as retro as they could get. I admit I did the same. It's hard to make a costume from 2 suitcases worth of possessions. People are always surprised to hear that I've only been here for a few weeks. I suppose I come off as rather well adjusted. In some ways I am. I don't mind venturing into the city or the grocery store on my own and I don't seem to have that nervous, twitchy look that tourists often get when they are out of their element. However, on a daily basis I'm astounded to find myself in Korea. This happens on the bus, walking to a coffee shop, or just when I'm out and about. I find myself incredulous that here I am, in Korea, living, working and perfectly happy. It just seems surreal. I remember the same feeling occurring while I was in France but this is different. I planned on going to France since the middle of my first year of college. Korea was more of a whim. I saw a bunch of postings for teaching jobs in Korea and decided 'why not?'

Today was a rather lazy day. I woke up late for the first time since my arrival in Korea and decided that my day would best be spent in a coffee shop reading and people watching. This is the only place where I've found decent coffee in Korea. It's actually strong! You can't see your spoon under the liquid and it tastes like coffee. They roast their own beans and all I have to say is yum. I also discovered today that they have free wifi so I might be back more often. I finally started doing some intellectual reading. To be fair, I started reading better novels since I got here but nothing political. I dived into The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt. It felt pleasantly strange to feel challenged by what I was reading, to stop and think and mutter to myself about the differences between causality and gradualism. In short, my brain got some much needed exercise.

Tomorrow starts the week again. I am determined to make everything go more smoothly. My learning curve has been very good but I want to be a good teacher and that means putting in time and effort. I think I'll stay after school tomorrow and do some more extensive lesson plan preparation. Hopefully, I'll be able to post a couple of times this week. Ideally, I'd like to post 3 times a week but we'll see how my schedule goes. Until next time!


Josh said...

you still need to get a usb cable so that you can upload pictures oh shortest of sisters!!!! Thoroughly enjoying reading your blog posts by the way.

Alex said...

I get paid tomorrow! I promise that this weekend I will go get a cord for my camera. I even know where to go! I'll bring my camera, see what they use to say USB (cable is cable said with a Koran accent) and point. Works every time. Then there shall be so many pictures you'll regret asking me to get the cord! Though somehow I doubt mom will have the same regret...:)

Nancy K said...

I do believe in ruthless editing! Enjoying your blog enormously!

Sarah said...

Oh yeah- prepare all you can stand but no so much that you have no life. The more prep, the smoother things do. Remember- terrible days are usually followed by good ones.