Hallim at first seemed like a surreally quaint and wholesome place. I found myself thinking “Is there even a bar here? Is there a coffee shop?” What will I do with my time? So for the last two days I have sojourned by foot after school and with great success. I found a grocery store called–spelled phoenetically in Korean–“Walmart,” the bar district, a coffee shop near my house, a buddhist temple, and a strip club. The coffee shop I had walked by before, but it is labeled with the old word for coffee shop–다방. In class they insisted we use the new word, which is a transliteration, literally “Kopee Shyop.” It is called 커피 장문–“Coffee Windo.”
When I told my family that I had 산책 했어요, gone for a stroll, to Hyeopjae by myself, they looked more than a little concerned. Like, what must be wrong the American that she would walk seven kilometers alone? I am already drafting in my head how to explain that even though I like and need to do things by myself, it is in no way an indication that I am not happy or that I don’t like doing things with them. As they seem to use food as a barometer for well being, at the moment the only way I have of expressing my happiness is by eating everything put in front of me. So I think I need to walk to the beach every day after school so as not to get fat in Korea.
I just got a slug of pen pal letters from Illinois for one of my classes. I read and flagged all of the letters for idioms and unfamiliar vocab. Damn American middle schoolers who can’t spell and use phrases like “Catch you on the flipside.” This will be quite a project for me.