Thursday, 27 May 2010

Korea - The first six months

Hello everyone!

Exactly six months ago, on November 28, I was sat alone and hungover in Heathrow Airport, waiting to go to a country that six months previously I only knew because of football and Team America. At the halfway point in my contract, I thought it might be good to reflect on what I have done. I'm going to do this initially in numbers.

**DISCLAIMER** Many of these are wrong, but I don't care. The point will be gotten across.

Times I've eaten kimchi - one hundred and twenty-eight.
Times I've eaten rice - one hundred and thirty-four, thanks to Thailand not doing kimchi.
Times I've cooked for myself -thirty . in six months. honestly.
Christmas dinners I've had with turkey - none.
Christmas dinners I've had with a baby octopus - one.
Fish eyeballs I've eaten - one.
Dogs I've eaten - none. yet...


Beers I've drank - probably hovering around the 500 mark.
Times we've gone for a 'quiet drink' and rolled in hammered at around 5am - seven.
Times I've vomited - four or five.
Times I've wandered around Hongdae with my face painted as the Joker - unfortunately, just the once.
Times I've fallen asleep on the bus or subway and missed my stop - close to double figures.
Number of 50 cent rap battles we've had in noraebangs - two.
New Year's I've celebrated - two.
Times I've left my camera somewhere - at a guess, five.
Times my camera has been returned to me - five.
Girls I've slept with - as if I'm going to tell you that! My mum reads this!


Coconut milkshakes I've drunk - three. i want another one. now.
Number of Thai magic tricks I've witnessed - none.
Number of Thai magic tricks I've witnessed that went wrong and lost Kelly's ring - one.
Taxi and tuk tuk races I've been in - two.
Adventures in Korea I've had outside of Seoul - five? nowhere near enough anyway.
Times I've feared for my life in a taxi - every time I get in one, but three times when I genuinely wished I'd written a will.
Elephants I've ridden - one.
Boats I've taken with illicit gem dealers - one.
Number of countries I've visited - three (the DMZ doesn't tick off North Korea, I'm afraid).

Wales and Britain

Times I've sung Tom Jones songs with a taxi driver - one.
Times I've explained where Wales is - twenty-seven.
Times I've successfully explained where Wales is to strangers - four.
Times people haven't understood my accent - I know numbers are infinite, but it's up there.
Times I've been mistaken as Canadian - two.
Time I've been to the foreigner's district in Seoul - none. no intention to, either.
Delays of packages sent from Britain - two.
Bags of teabags I've had sent over - i think its six.

Games of Ring of Fire/King's/Circle of Death we played at orientation - three.
Times I've been called a terrorist by a student - one. and boy did she pay for that.
Lessons I've had cancelled due to very random events - too many, yet not enough.
Hours I teach a week - fourteen for students, four for teachers.
Private tuition classes I teach - three.
Times I've been asked if I have a girlfriend - seventy-six. probably.
Times a student has shouted 'I love you!' at me - a lot. more from boys than girls, though...
Number of students I've thrown out of class for being a Man City fan - one.
Presents I've had given to me by students - quite a lot, often for no apparent reason. can't complain.
Lesson plans I've taught - c. 15.
Winter camps I've taught - one.
Songs I've made my students sing - three.
Number of ping-pong balls I've thrown at students in a fit of anger - one.
Bags of candy I've given to students - far, far too many.
Times I've been late for school - three.
Times I've turned up still drunk to school - three.
Times I've been told off for being late to or drunk in school - none.


Korean World Cup stadia I've visited - three.
Half-marathons I've entered - three.
Half-marathons I've turned up to - one, and one tomorrow.
Major sporting events I've been to - four.
Ping-pong singles matches I've played with Koreans - about twenty.
Ping-pong matches I've won against Koreans - one.
Number of (very) early morning hikes I've done - two.


White Christmases - one.
Coldest temperature - -16'C (Korea, January).
Coldest temperature with wind chill factored in - -27'C (Korea, NYE).
Hottest temperature - 38'C (Phuket, February).
Earthquakes - one.
Size of my flat - 3m x 6m, at a guess. Including the bathroom and kitchen.
Free Xbox machines given to me - one.
Alien cards I've gone through - two.
Pairs of sunglasses I've gone through - four.
Musical concerts I've attended - two very, very different ones.
Times I've visited a jjimjilbang - one in Korea, one in Japan.
Times I've had a haircut - none.
Times I've radically modified my hair - once.
Korean words I've learnt - between 75 and 100, though don't hold me to that.
Times I asked who Kim Yu-Na was - one. never had to ask again. ever.
Times I've logged onto facebook - I don't want to consider that.
Money I've saved - far more than expected: bank balance of W4.5mill, with W2mill already sent home.

Chance of me staying for an extra year? Honestly, it's not likely. What might change my mind is if the current political climate gets worse. I have millions of won stuck here due to a shocking exchange rate, brought about by this propaganda being spewed by both sides. Interesting that BBC, CNN et al fail to mention that many people think that this is all an election ploy from President Lee, and that it will soon die down. But if the rate worsens still, there is more chance of me staying.

I am loving my time out here. It is amazing, a real-life changing experience, and I have made the most amazing friends. Sorry to say it to everyone back home, but I don't miss Britain one iota. Not even fish and chips. I am thurrily content, and delighted that I took the plunge about ten months ago and applied for this lifestyle. What a lifestyle. What a place. Loving Korea. Loving life. And still six months of fun to be had!

Love you all

Matt Smith
매트 스미스

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