I am an Alien. I registered with immigration today, and should have my ARC by Saturday. In a way, it will be nice to have the card as justification for how I sometimes feel. Maybe during my next awkward cross-cultural situation, I can whip out my card by way of explanation for my ineptness: "It's okay! I'm an alien!" And all will be forgiven. This would have been helpful earlier this week, when a small but alarmingly animated security guard burst into my apartment at 9:30 am waving a card in my face, shouting Korean and gesturing wildly in a manner that suggested something really important had not yet happened. I would have been more than glad to comply, if only I had known what to do. (Turns out I hadn't registered to be living in my apartment, and he may have thought I was a squatter.)
It's not as if I can easily slip under the radar here, either. Even for someone who has spent the last five years in Idaho, I am surprised by the lack of diversity here. People are shamelessly curious about Westerners, and hanging out with Ellen all the time makes the staring matter worse. She and I command a lot of attention here. On some level, we always have, even back in college; that much do-what-I-want attitude gives most people pause. Toss Kim, our other best friend, into the mix and the world didn't stand a chance. But it is especially true here, where one brightly dressed white girl is cause for a semi-subtle sidelong glance on the elevator, but two--two! at once!--not only turns heads, but draws blatant finger-pointing. In Korea, we are the indisputable minority. It is an interesting experience, but not an altogether unpleasant one. I generally find it amusing. Complete strangers say "hello" at the market, giggling all the while as if they've just spoken to a lephrechaun. We had a similar experience last weekend at a coffee shop in Seoul, where a little girl actually jumped up and down in place, and then brought over her friend to look at the spectacle that was us drinking a latte.
On a posititve note, it's kind of cool to be unique here. With my normal brown hair and average looks of mixed European descent, I've never really been considered exotic. Here, I get to be. But that doesn't mean I'm ready to try the stewed insects at the street market. Too soon, Korea. Too soon.
on February 11, 2009
from the travel blog:
I go Korea!
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did the little girl ACTUALLY point and jump? lol was she kidding! sounds like an awesome time! :) is it warm? how are your kids?
written by Nikki Hunter on February 12, 2009
HAHA well all of us have always known that you were a magical being, but apparently in Korea this is taken to new extremes. Keep mindful, though . . . If they start to sport tee shirts with yours and Ellen's faces on them it might be time to figure out an escape plan. One can easily go from average Joe to Elijah Wood status back home in the States, so I imagine that in Korea it would be the same but louder.
PS I'm glad you're not a squatter.
PS I love you dearly.
written by Ryan W. on February 12, 2009
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Hey everyone! In February 2009 I left the Pac Northwest for South Korea to teach English for a year. This is what I'm up to! Keep in touch!
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