Korean Quarks

Today, as well as everyday, I have been amazed by the number of extremely silly things that Koreans do (while thinking it is totally normal).

Korean Culture = Paradox = any person, thing or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature (thanks, dictionary.com).

For your enjoyment, please read below and feel free to laugh because I chuckle under my breath daily:

1. Recently in Korea it has gotten verrry cold, verrry fast. The winter is obviously approaching, which means heavy jackets, scarves and those hand warmers (yano, those square hand-held paper things that have the self-warming rock-type things in them to keep your hands warm during the winter? On a rabbit trail, the only memory I have from those until now is from Junior Cheerleading (Ponderosa Cowgirls) competitions that always seemed to be extremely cold. With our side pony tails, fire-engine-red lipstick and navy and white uniforms, we always used those hand warmers during the long day of competition!!!) Korean schools, yet, still leave all of the windows open (with cold gusts of wind coming into the classroom) Why, you ask? My friend Haley informed me it is because they think the open windows will "let the swine flu out."

a. This is funny because I didn't think that the flu would just let itself out like a house-guest.
b. The open-window perdicament means that the children and teachers are forced to keep their heavy winter jackets on during all 8 hours of school. I asked my co-teacher why the heater was not on in the school. His response: "Heaters? In school? That's crazy!"
c. The flu-letting-itself-out-open-windows, in my opinion, is going to make more children sick from the cold than the swine flu ever had the chance of doing.

2. After 4th period today (right before lunch) my co-teacher said, "Lauren, aren't you dizzy?" I got rather confused and then replied, "Well...no. Am I supposed to be?" For the record I think he meant 'are you dizzy?' but he then proceeded to tell me that he is very dizzy and needs nutrients in his brain. I suggested that maybe he was dehydrated since that could lead to dizziness and he rarely drinks water. He looked at me like that was the craziest idea ever and then proceeded to smack his head repeatedly with an empty water bottle and told me that he thought that that would make his head feel better.

We then arrived into the lunch room and he noticed that today for lunch we were having a brothy vegetable noodle soup rather than the typical protein dish, rice and kimchi. He gasped, "oh no!!! I need rice in my brain to make me less dizzy!" I kinda chuckled and then said "You know what? In the US many people do not eat white rice because it is a simple carbohyrdrate and they think it will make them fat and not give then as much nutrients as a complex carb." His response? "Why, that's crazy! Rice is the most nutritous vegetable there is!!!!"

haha. I have to laugh again as I type this.

3. Back onto the topic of the Swine Flu. (which Koreans are craaaazy obsessed with) Many Koreans (children in school, teachers, people on the street, etc.) wear face masks very similar to the ones that doctors wear while at work. Some are the typical solid blue or white, but the best ones are "designer face masks" that the children wear that have an animals face on them, usually with the ears protruding off of the face mask in a 3d fasion. They are crazy about the kids not getting swine flu and being very sanitary in all aspects of life, however, many things they do totally contradict that:

a. My co-teacher just cleaned all of the tables and all of the classroom with a dirty towel with a bit of water on it. He excused himself to wash the towel and I asked where he washes it. He said, "in the bathroom, of course. I sprinkle some water on it!" So, now the kids will be touching and working on totally dirty and NOT sanitary tables tomorrow!
b. In Korean bathrooms, you are not supposed to put toilet paper down the toilet. Instead, there are waste baskets next to the toilet that you simply drop your used t.p. in. These absolutely disgusting pieces of toilet paper might not aid to contracting the Swine Flu, but it is just downright gross.
c. Also in the bathrooms, we have bar soap to clean our hands with. Something about everyone in the whole school sharing the same bar soap does not make my hands feel clean...and they don't believe in paper towels because it will pollute the country so the kids walk out of the bathroom and wipe their hands on their pants, their shirts or their friends. Hello nasty.

That is all that has happened today at school, but I'm sure there will be even more before this beautiful Thursday is over!

Until next time, take care friends and family. We miss you all dearly.