I've been watching other excited posts in the EPIK group about receiving contracts, finally knowing the orientation start date so that plane tickets can be purchased, and beginning the visa process so it's been a rough few days of hoping that a package would be waiting for me at the service desk. I should get it by Monday at the latest since it is supposed to be 1-2 day shipping and it's Friday morning. How exciting!
In other news, I have three amazing campers with Latin roots who have been teaching me bachata, merengue, and salsa for approximately two hours every night for less than a week now. I've never done it before, and here I am four days later, totally addicted to it. I'm hoping to find a place in South Korea where I just might be able to do some Latin dancing (I've seen it in a K-drama so it had to be legit, right?). I posted in the Seoul English Party Facebook page, but I haven't had any hits yet on where I might go. I just might die from it.
If you're interested in some of the Latin songs I most like to dance to, here's a few:
- Bachata: Obsesion by Aventura, Un Beso by Aventura
- Merengue: Rompecintura by Los Hermanos Rosarios, Dame by La Banda Gorda
In other, other news actually related to traveling abroad, I had the opportunity to talk to someone that taught English abroad in Spain for a year and this is what they told me in terms of top advice:
- It is good to have people from your program to talk to (especially if you're having a rough time), but don't get caught up in the negativity. If you do, just get away from that interaction.
- Make sure to ask if you can join natives when they attend various events. Show interest in culture and be willing to explore so that you make friends with the people there. Additionally, if people show interest in you and your culture, connect with them.
- You will get emotionally involved with situations because you are "the idiot". You are new to the culture so you won't necessarily be able to do the simple things that you might have taken for granted (e.g. going to the bank). Remember to take in all of these situations rationally. Step back and acknowledge that things will be difficult.
- If you are treated rudely by that one guy on the train that hates Americans, remember that it's the guy that is rude and not the entire population of the country you're living. You are guaranteed to find someone back in America that is rude and hates South Koreans, or the people of whatever culture you're living in. Use logic and take the situations in rationally.
- Visit the doctor if the health care comes through the government.
- Be prepared for the culture shock that may come when you return home. You spend a year living a new perspective of the world and you might end up more disgusted with where you came from than you would expect.
From my mentor professor who is pretty well-traveled, his advice for not appearing as an American (which often has a negative stigma attached to it):
- Wear nice shoes, not sneakers. Americans are known for wearing sneakers apparently.
- Talk in a quiet conversational voice, like you would in a meeting with a boss.
These two tips apparently tip you into the realm of "from Europe" than "from America". If you are relatively skinny, this also helps you appear more European than American. And that's... that. I guess.
Also: bring toothpaste with you? I saw that one too recently.