Sunday, October 14, 2007

America: Same Same but Awesome

I've been home for a week now. However, even though I managed to escape Korea, it still likes to taunt me. I have not yet rid my body of all the harmful toxins that ate away at my soul over the last year. Everyone has a nasty hacking cough in Seoul, but when I get this going at home, people are genuinely disgusted.

The school probably ended up shorting me a few hundred bucks but when you're dealing with the Yellow Man, at some point, you just roll over and take it in the ass. And overall, I can't complain, I know a lot of people get screwed a lot harder by their schools. The last batch of photos is here, along with a couple videos at the bottom. One video is 15 minutes long, please do not watch it.

The flight home wasn't terrible, but I couldn't get to sleep, despite taking enough xanax to kill a small horse. When we landed in NY, the plane's parking spot was blocked so I had to wait an hour before getting off. It was like God's last evil trick of the year, "Ryan, I know you've dealt with these Asians for an entire year, but now, just for laughs, I'm gonna make you stay inside a metal tube surrounded by the bastards for another hour."

I was all paranoid about going through customs, since I was smuggling in about a 5 year supply of prescription drugs. But I guess I was white enough to not get picked out for inspection. I did declare the two liters of soju I brought home but when I tried to pay the tax at the cashier, the guy told me "Don't worry about it, thanks for being honest." I haven't had the stomach to crack open the soju yet, I'm saving it for when Bender is around, at which time, drinking soju will at least seem somewhat acceptable.

The day after I got home, I went to the supermarket and all of the white people and English was enough to almost get me to curl up into the fetal position, stick my thumb in my mouth and fall into a peaceful sleep on the floor. It was that enjoyable. I even saw three fat high school girls walking around the store together in their pajamas. That was pure American and it was beautiful.

It has been kind of weird getting used to New Yorkers again. Koreans bury their emotions and back down at any sign of conflict, and I sort of adopted that same mentality. But here, everyone is crass, in-your-face, if you look at me the wrong way, I'll kill you. I love it, but I'm still a little bit scared of New Yorkers right now. In Korea, people looked at me with apprehension in their eyes, I was that white thing to be stared at and analyzed. Here, I'm just another douchebag. And that's perfectly OK with me.

I got a job with the local Democratic committee. Basically, for the next month, I walk around town, knock on peoples' doors and find out if they are voting for the good guys. Even though I only go to houses where the people are registered Democrats, most of them want nothing to do with me. I'd say a good 20 percent of the houses I go to, the lights are on, TV blasting, but when I ring the bell, suddenly no one is home. The most depressing thing is how few people know anything about local politics. Who is that guy? I've never heard of him. I just want to smack these people.

That's all. Good to be home. To my buddies still in Korea, the next time you see a table and a pole, dance on it for me. Oh, and for the record, I've only been to Taco Bell once since I got home. Let's just say when you toss a few grande soft tacos into a body accustomed to only rice and vegetables for a year, turns out it doesn't work too well.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Homeward Bound (and Gagged)

Post #92 from Korea, and the final one. I'm throwing up a hot four-way of videos, which I don't expect anyone to watch, I couldn't even make it through them. I was trying to get the kids to be cute and say goodbye into the camera, and that just went terribly. In the first video, I had just told the kids that when I got home, I wasn't going to get a job but instead I would just steal my parents money. So they had a blast grabbing the camera from me and delivering that message to my parents. In the second one, it captures one of the rare times where I've been genuinely pissed off at a kid. When I utter the words "not funny", after a kid draws on my face and shirt with a marker, that could be translated into adult speak as "@$#@ off".

So yeah, I've got two more days of work, then I collect my huge final paycheck and catch a plane out of this place on Saturday. The school paid $1800 for the plane ticket, because they are retarded, but that's not really something I worry about. The only two things I have to worry about between now and 7:05 Saturday night when the bird touches down at JFK is making sure the school coughs up all the cash I'm due (but don't deserve) and deciding how many drugs I can take on the plane without lapsing into a coma.

Final thoughts on Korea? Don't care? That's OK, I'll give them to you anyway. My feelings towards this place have changed a lot since I first came, the first few months were all just new experiences and it was exciting. Around the 4th month, I really loved it here, it was getting easier at work and I wasn't feeling so isolated. And then there was a problem. You stay in Korea more than six months and that's enough time for the country to really bear down on you and beat you with its culture.

Simply put, foreigners just aren't treated properly in Korea. Screw the excuses about cultural differences and how Koreans aren't used to be around foreigners, you're either nice to people or you're an ass. And Korea is full of asses. The racism isn't blatant and it isn't in your face, probably one of the reasons I didn't really pick up on when I first got here, but dig a little deeper and it's there, and it's not a pretty picture. I've always felt alone in this country, even when surrounded by Koreans. It's tough to describe, but anyone whose been in Korea for any length of time knows that feeling I'm talking about.

The worst isolation, by far, has come at work. Nathan and I are up against a great beast, in the form of a bunch of Koreans who have no desire to even be remotely friendly towards us. It's easy to just say, so what, just ignore them, do your job and go home. And I convinced myself to do that a long time ago, but it still eats away at you, day by day. Somehow God forgot to give Koreans the gene that controls showing compassion towards people of different races. Here's an example, the teacher who will replace me will get here on Saturday night, just as I did last year. Then at Monday, at 2pm, still jet-lagged and probably awake since 5am, he'll be thrown to the wolves. He will walk into that office and the Korean teachers will look up from their desks for a second, smile and say hi, and five seconds later, all will be calm again. He will just be the next white guy. Besides Nathan, nobody will help him, nobody will ask him anything about his life, about how he's adjusting to Korea. He will be expected to teach 30 classes a week and teach them all well, without any direction as to how to teach, what materials to use, and if he doesn't do this, he will be looked down upon and treated like an idiot. It's an awfully difficult situation to come into, and all I can do is wish him the best. Although, for his sake, he better not see this blog until at least his 6th month here.

If I could do it all again, I wouldn't. As in, I wouldn't have come to Korea. Living abroad is an amazing experience and I think everyone should do it at least once in their life, but the world is full of incredible places and cities, and Seoul, South Korea is not one of them. I knew before I came here that I was choosing money over the experience and I also kind of knew before I came that would be a mistake. I should have gone to Thailand, but what's done is done and getting out of where I was with my life in America last year was still the best decision I've ever made.

I'm heading on a prolonged blog break, although I might post a few more photos and videos once I get home. Honestly, I appreciate the comments people have made about this blog, especially the ones that exaggerate my writing ability, which I will still accept at face-value. To any potential future employers, who will inevitably find this blog: Today (insert future date here), I'm a much different person. I don't even remember that douchebag who wrote this stuff. Please hire me. I'm probably very poor.

To everyone else, until next time, it's been fun. But not real fun.