Today was a hard day for no other reason than that there will always be hard days, especially as a foreign transplant.
In the last obstacle before I could go home the subway turnstile once again blocked me too early and I didn’t know what to do, because every card scan after that yielded a noisy ERROR message and I physically could not leave the metro station unless I jumped a fence.
Like last time though, a helpful stranger noticed my distress and called the attendant (“a foreigner can’t get through”) who buzzed me through the handicapped gate. I felt grateful but also frustrated because it was a log in a category of moments in which I feel like a dumb foreigner who can’t get anything right. I wanted to cry.
This will probably be compounded as I have to go to the immigration office tomorrow for my official Alien Registration Card… which I need to get a bank account. And order takeout (delivery doesn’t accept foreign cards). But I have to take the good with the bad, and the good is very very good (safety, transportation, work life, coffee accessibility, travel opportunity).
There were of course highlights:
The vice principal, who I saw doing pull-ups in front of the kids at recess in his suit, stopped me in the hallway.
“Where is Sangwha Teacher?”
“Uh she left. Um 아이 학교에”
“I need your ㅁㅁㅁㅁㅁ”
I had no idea what he meant, my brain just registered the word as the error symbol one receives when emojis aren’t installed.
I couldn’t remember the Korean word for passport and he couldn’t remember the word for… whatever he meant. He blinked at me a few times then said “okay bye bye” and left, which probably was best for both of us.
During afternoon planning hours I’m alone since my coteacher leaves early to pick up her son. My precious 4-1 students who had just finished club activities knocked on the door, slid it open a few inches and shouted “hi hello bye” into the crack. I heard their laughter as they ran away down the hall.
In a Gangnam chain coffee shop the cashier spoke English and my brain actually broke. I said “iced americano and bagel please” partly in Korean then asked for it to be toasted in a Korean accent (toast-uh is Konglish for toast). Not my best but I didn’t get poisoned by rotten milk this time so I say this is a win!
Thursday and Friday are a holiday! Everything will be closed but I’ve been reassured that at least the bars and national parks will be open so amusement is assured.