A big part of socializing pre-cast was language exchanges. I had three partners (Cindy, Yuria, and May) with whom I ate dinner and sometimes learned a phrase in Korean from. Tonight I returned from hiatus and enjoyed dinner with Cindy, May, Alice, Alex, and Mina teacher, all to say goodbye to Cindy as she prepares to return to Canada. I hung around work long enough for them to invite me to seafood, despite my previous vociferous refusal to try real Korean seafood, and off we went!
It was some of the most comfortable floor sitting I've experienced, with each little eating area having walls that were good for leaning against. Once settled in with some cider (Sprite-like beverage) and soju, we munched on the radishes marinated in soy sauce, kimchi, acorn pudding, sesame leaves, iceberg salad (bizarre), and other miscellaneous side dishes. (I would tell you what they were, but ... I didn't know.) Dinner then came out and we put May's phone away (where we had been watching a Korean soap opera), watching as the woman sliced up the freshly cooked squid into the steaming serving dish, then digging in.
Korean seafood is not like American seafood. When I heard "seafood," initially I thought this was shrimp, lobster, and crab. In Korea, "seafood" means "anything from the sea that resembles food." This includes--but is not limited to--squid, octopus, shrimp, prawns, unknown fish, unknown exploding things, mussels, crab, sea snails, and sea cucumbers. All of these (but for the sea cucumbers) came out, mixed with heaps of bean sprouts, and the entire dish cooked with an amazing amount of red pepper paste. It was spicy, as you can imagine, what with it being Korean and all. It even made Alex's nose run. When the meal began to wind down (a.k.a. there were only sprouts and baby octopuses left), the woman came and scooped some into what looked like a trash can lid, then reappeared ten minutes later with the leftovers mixed with rice and sesame seeds having been freshly fried. Nibbling around the babies, the third course (haha) was completely different (and delicious) despite containing basically the same ingredients. At the end of the night, we all feasted like queens for $11 a head. I dare anyone to attempt that back home. (Seafood dinner + drinks)
Afterward, all Alex and Alice had to do was mention coffee and I was settled into the front seat of the taxi, just waiting for them to give directions. Over our cafe mochas at my favorite place (that I'd yet to get to since being able to walk), the most bizarre conversation took place.
Alex: Blah blah blah, shoes, blah blah blah.
Alice: Do you want to go to Thailand for summer vacation?
Kate and Alex: Okay.
Alice: It will be around $1,000.
At this point in time I left to use the restroom, and when I came back they had the monthly saving plan and knew what we were going to do. So uhm, I guess at the end of July I'm going to Thailand?
It could turn out to be one of those, "hey wouldn't it be great if we blahblahblah" but it never happens sort of things, but if it doesn't... Then not only will I have gone and taught English as a second language in South Korea for a year, but I will have, on practically a whim, gone to exotic Thailand for under a grand.
I can't believe that I wanted to pursue some stuffy career like law or medicine; I might have gotten some sort of adventure, but this is so unadulterated, so invigorating, and I feel so alive. Carpe diem!
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