So, yesterday was interesting. My day started out really horrible, but ended with my 40-something Korean colleague during the thriller dance in the middle of a seedy kareoke room with red booths, a disco ball and about thirty empty Cass cans.
And here's the story.
Korean food hates me. And my stomach hates it right back. Yesterday, the grudge match came to a head, and Korean food won. I was at my desk at school, basically doubled over after another insanely spicy dose of Daewol cafeteria cuisine, when my co-teacher rushes over. While I was pretty sure she came to give me Korean teaching guideline #5,000, she noticed my state of hell, and brought me up to the school's infirmary. (Incidentally, right next to the "broadcasting room". What gets broadcast from a rural middle school in Icheon? This eludes me.) So she hands me over to the new school nurse, who gives me a hot pad and a bed, and I basically lie there for an hour trying to ride out the pain, all the while students coming in and out of the nurse's office, wondering what's wrong with Jennifer-teacher. Delightful.
Eventually, the pain either digests or subsides, and I felt slightly better. I went back to my desk to half-heartedly make more slides for my Introduction powerpoint I'll be using next week. Upon my re-arrival to the office, Mrs. Kim informs me that we will be having a "teachers dinner" that evening, and we're all leaving at 4:30.
Now. I really like my teachers. But I was in no mood to eat more Korean food, and I was going to beg off. But I didn't. So, we hop in Mrs. Kim's silver car, with what is probably a $1000 GPS but AC she refuses to use even in post-typhoon humidity, and we were off.
We arrived at the restaurant, and I was surprised to see that we were actually at one of the old-style Korean meal joints, complete with a shoe rack, seat pads on the floor and tables that are about a foot high. Add some table burners and about 500 semi-identifiable side dishes, and voila! Korean dinner. The main course were these pork strips, that looked a lot like thick-cut bacon and were a bugger to try to stab with chopsticks. All of the teachers from the school piled in, and within five minutes, the place was a total buzz of Korean chatter, simmering pork and really loud fans that did absolutely nothing for the immense heat coming through the windows.
Now, I'd heard about Korean drinking traditions. I thought I'd been adequately prepared. I was mistaken. I don't know exactly how many bottles of soju our two tables went through, but I'd have to guess it was at least 10-15, not counting the beer that was also flowing. It seemed like every five minutes one of the teachers was coming over to pour you a glass. After about five shots of the stuff, I was feeling no pain, and the other teachers seemed mildly impressed that I could even keep up. (Thanks, Madison.) It was actually really funny seeing my really formal Vice Principal thoroughly buzzed, pouring drinks for everyone, letting his hair down. The meal went on forever, and we ate a ton, and I remember about 70% of it. But it was fun.
The night did not end there, however. After dinner, the P.E. teacher, whose name I don't think I know yet, insisted that we traipse over to the nori-bang (kareoke room) right across the streets. The younger female teachers were just drunk enough to agree that this was a fabulous idea, so we all rambled over.
Cue the kareoke room: gigantic, sticky tiled floor. Red leather seats. Table full of beer in the middle. Disco ball overhead. Enormous TV screen with what looks like Korean music videos from the nineties rolling in a loop. More beers, and then the madness began.
Korean teachers know how to get down. Miss Yun, the math teacher whose desk is across from mine was yowling like a rock star, the nurse was on tambourine, the P.E. teacher was dancing like he was in a 90s boy band, and the rest of the crew was bopping and drinking and singing along for every song. The science teacher, (name also unknown), was definitely the best though. He was popping and locking like it was nobody's business, and coming up to me every ten minutes insisting that I dance with him. Seeing him on Monday is definitely going to be funny.
After many, MANY Korean pop songs, and probably more beers, we finally retired to our respective rides. Luckily, Miss Ha, my driver for the evening, doesn't drink very much, so we all got home in one piece. After meandering back to my apartment, I collapsed into bed, and slept in until 8 AM. Quite the partier, this girl.
So, that was my Friday. Hope your's was just as enjoyable. And if it wasn't- just find a middle-aged Korean teacher. They're ragers. :)
Miss you all!
<3 from Korea.