Ever have those weeks where things just seem off? Like you're just not totally in your groove? Well, this past week was quite funky for me. It was a struggle to find energy at the appropriate times, I was cranky with my students, the class material was boring, and the weather was weird. Even more, I felt like every bad social habit of the Korean culture was illuminated! Now, I'm not exactly proud of some American social habits, but seriously... Korean's could win a prize for frustrating social inappropriateness! For example, Koreans spit, ALL the time. You know that sound you make right before you're getting ready to hock a big loogie? Well if Korea had a national sound to add to their list of national flags, flowers, birds etc., the sound would be the "hocking loogie" sound. Walking down the sidewalk, everyone knows that you have to keep your eyes down to dodge piles of slimy saliva. In the States you dodge dog poo, or gum on the sidewalk. In Korea you dodge phlegm. Well, this week I was waiting for the bus and this old man standing beside me was prepping for a big spit and leaned over to spit onto the ground but the wind carried the slime and it landed right on my shoe! I was so disgusted!!! And the man didn't even apologize!
Also, Korean's push! I think there are just too many people in this country and the only way you can get anywhere is by pushing your way through the crowds. And that's fine, I can get used to that. But this week it seemed like people were pushing me around for no reason at all! One old grandma pushed me aside on the escalator just so she could stand one step in front of me. It's not like she made it to the top any faster!
By the end of the week, I just needed something fresh and inspiring. I read about this cool Design Cafe and figured it would be fun to find and a great place to sit and write. So I wandered around looking for it. I wandered for quite a while and was about to give up when I noticed this little tourism booth. I walked in and there was this sweet Japanese man sitting behind the counter. He was so lovely and was extremely helpful and when I thanked him for the directions he bowed and said "Oh, it was my pleasure!" It was such a precious little moment!
And then... and THEN I found the cafe! Oh my gosh, I think it is quite possibly my favorite cafe in the world! And maybe it's the coolest one in the world too! I fell in love.
aA Design Cafe, part of the aA Design Museum.
All the things I love about design, the things I've learned to appreciate and admire, the colors and trends that make my heart happy... this cafe was the total picture of it all!
I enjoyed an amazing fresh mozzarella and tomato focaccia panini. It was THE BEST sandwich I've had in Korea and it reminded me of Panera bread back home in the States.
Everything was kissed with design.
Those are the moments that redeem my cultural frustrations. I figure, I'm very blessed to be here and to be exposed to these differences. Not everything we discover in life is delightful (like loogie hocking Koreans) but I love being surprised by treasures.
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This weekend I had the extreme pleasure of hosting 2 CouchSurfers- Heather and Sherry. They are from Canada and are teaching English here in Korea, but they live several hours outside of Seoul. We spent less than 24 hours together but it sure was a joy to meet them and I am already making plans to visit them in Busan.
CouchSurfing, if you're not familiar with it, is a hospitality network. It's a way for people to travel affordably by staying with other CouchSurfers instead of in hotels and hostels. I might add that the benefits are more than just monetary. Staying with other people allows you to feel more connected. Meeting new people will always open your eyes to new things. And it's such a gift to be both on the giving and receiving side of hospitality. It's called "community" right? Such a beautiful thing!
We three girls shared some delightful conversation. We ate a very yummy American-style breakfast (I had peach pancakes!) and then we did some much needed clothes shopping. Good times!
I'm hosting again in 2 weeks and I am so excited! I also plan on CouchSurfing my way through most of Australia this summer. I'm so glad that I'm able to make hospitality part of my life no matter where I am. Check out the website! www.couchsurfing.com
Let me live in my house by the side of the road, Where the race of men go by; They are good, they are bad; they are weak, they are strong, Wise, foolish,--so am I; Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat, Or hurl the cynic's ban? Let me live in my house by the side of the road, And be a friend to man.
--Sam Walter Foss "House by the Side of the Road"--
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