I walked three miles uphill in the snow barefoot

I started working on the Korea book again today, for the first time since I lost three chapters due to some evil residing in my computer. I’ve been pretty demoralized about it, which made me not want to write any more of this book AT ALL. Instead I wrote a 10-page essay and added a few more pages to the children’s book I am writing, but really, I have procrastinated and made demoralization an excuse long enough, so I got back to it today. It was kind of a slow start, but it was something.
After writing four pages or so at the local coffee shop, I came back to the apartment and got immediately distracted by the thing that always immediately distracts me: The Internet.
Here’s what happens. I am writing along, and I discover that I am having trouble describing something. Usually I have forgotten a word, for example, or a Korean tradition or something, and so I think to myself, “I’ll just go online and find out what it is.” Two hours later, I am reading somebody’s blog or something.
That’s pretty much what happened today. I was writing, writing, writing and I was wondering whether someone else had written about trucks blaring announcements in Korea and about the things that said announcements might have consisted of, because I wasn’t sure I remembered correctly. So I search on Google, and end up reading the U.S. Embassy in Seoul’s web site. And, later, this blog.
This could be considered a complete waste of time, but in fact, it wasn’t. Reading both sites reminded me of how different my experience in Korea was compared to the average English teacher in Korea, particularly those teachers who have gone since the time I was there. I guess what I am saying is that I found these web sites motivating, despite the fact that they didn’t shed any light on the truck announcment issue.
The blog especially had me interested. The blogger resides in Korea, and has been there for a few years, teaching English. He doesn’t seem super worldly or concerned about writing down cultural differences, but reading about what he does in Korea– drink with other teachers, watch American movies, surf the net, play video games, watch Simpsons DVDs — made me realize how cut off we really were while we were there. We didn’t socialize with other Americans. We didn’t watch DVDs because they didn’t exist. There was no Internet, no email, no cell phones, no text messaging, no American Embassy email blast. We registered at the Embassy in person, not online. I watched a total of, I think, three American movies in the theaters in Korea: Leaving Las Vegas, Dolores Claiborne… Ok, maybe there were only two. We did watch some American TV, I will say that. And we did eat KFC and TGI Fridays and so on, but pretty infrequently. Where this blogger got three days of training before being thrown into the classroom, we got none. Where this blogger’s boss a)picked him up from the airport and b) took him to the immigration office to register as an “alien,” ours did not.
It’s nice to be reminded that my experience is, perhaps, interesting and different from the stories out there now.


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