Monday, January 23, 2006


I'm sure there have been people happier to get the Internet at home than I was when I finally got my apartment wired this weekend, but I don't know those people.

Here's an example of how many Canadians there are here in Korea: when Mr. Phone Company came to hook me up, he did his thing with the phone jack and the LAN data box and so forth. Then he worked on the computer, clicking through various screens to ensure I was all set up. He took one look at me and set my homepage to (Google Canada). Which is fine -- just really funny to me. Canada is just about the default assumed home of English teachers, so in the "Where ya from?" game that is almost always my introductory conversation with people I do get a lot of "Oh, the U.S.!"

Let me just say right here and now that in the last three days I have been to the downtown Starbucks three times. And I'm so okay with that. Two out of three times, a student (late teens, possibly early university) approached me to interview me for English class homework. These things amuse me. Of course, I love anything resembling a survey/interview, so I'm game. Their English was less than stellar. One asked me to describe my personality. I started with "sarcastic." She had no idea. Eventually I wrote it down, but it may not even be an issue of translation. A lot of foreigners here insist there is no Korean concept of sarcasm.

There's almost like a little foreigners' code of mutual understanding. What I mean is, let's say that on any given Wednesday night at the commune's bar there are a handful of teachers miserable in their jobs. These hypothetical teachers might start discussing other options, talking about quitting their jobs, giving each other advice, and automatically understanding each other. You don't have to be friends with fellow foreigners' here to have them default to your side "against" the Koreans'. I don't mean to make it sound sinister or even melodramatic. It's just interesting to me what a given it is, the us/them mentality.

Did you know that here I watch Leno more often than I ever did in the States? That's because Leno and Letterman both air on AFN (the American Forces Network), and they therefore don't conflict with each other. That alone would not prompt me to watch Leno, but he just happens to be there right at the perfect flip-on-the-TV-with-late-dinner time on the weeknights when I do flip on the TV with late dinner, which isn't all of them. Then Letterman airs immediately after that. I would usually watch them on the nights I went directly from work to the "PC Bang" (public PC rooms) and then finally came home after that to collapse on the couch and eat something. Now that I'm on-line at home (wheee!) that dynamic will surely change a bit, so I'll probably go back to never watching Leno.

I'm just such a captive audience to whatever's on AFN. In our old apartment my TV was always on CNN-Asia edition. Here we don't have that much of a cable package. My roommate doesn't want to pay for it, and I haven't really determined if it's worth it for me or not. I do miss my CNN International, but now that I've got unfettered Internet access (are we noticing a theme here?) it's not as crucial. I listened to the live stream of KCRW this weekend! I'm now listening to the BBC World Service on-line! Brilliant!

Just one more week until the year of the dog commences...

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