Saturday, March 11, 2006

My adoring fans (ha)

OK, so you know how I always try to explain to you that we (foreigners) get stared at ALL the time here? I'm aware that you might think I'm exaggerating or whatever, but I had another unsettling staring incident yesterday in the SK Telecom office. Not that exciting, so I'll skip the incident for now, but here's the point:

I was talking to my writing group peeps here, and they shared with me their brilliant conclusion that living as an expat teacher foreigner in Korea is akin to being maybe a B-list celebrity back home.

So true! You're stared at ALL the time, but you can usually walk down the street and attend to your business without getting absolutely mobbed, but you aren't exactly left alone, and many of the times you walk down the street you are approached/spoken to/conversed with/expected to converse back/occasionally touched, and some people are brave enough to walk up and talk to you, and others sort of whisper and push and egg on their friends to approach you, and often the people who talk to you seem so proud of themselves for having done it, but also there's this sense of entitlement that of course you should stop what you are doing and talk to them, and you are known in a lot of places that you go, and you draw attention when you have coffee or go to a movie, although sometimes you can do those things in peace -- it just depends. Strangers take your picture, and you often feel an instant connection with other foreigners because you understand what they're going through, but at the same time people here assume that all the foreigners automatically are friends: "Oh, do you know Mike? He's a teacher." And it can be really frustrating, but sometimes it's rather flattering, and you just kind of get used to it but then at other times it really bugs you. It's very strange, because you're like, "I'm just here to do my job, which I did want to do, and you do want me to do, but somehow it puts us in this weird relationship." And the staring, holy crap, the constant staring...!

Well, perhaps a B-list celebrity can speak up and tell us if we're right.


Catherine_G said...

Speaking of celebrities, you MUST check out my absolute total A-list celebrity meeting (yes, I said meeting!) from last night! Photo's up on the blog!

Stephanie said...

Hello, I am Stephanie. I am a KAD (Korean American Adoptee) I lived in Korea for four months. You know that connection you are talking about all foreigners having??? It is so sad, because people like me dont have the opportunity to feel an instant connection. FOreigners dont automatically strike up a conversation, natives dont understand why you dont speak...its quite a different experience altogether. I was often jealous of my english teaching friends. (I was working in the business related feilds while there)