I walked into my Ninas today to see Sohee being accosted by Eric with the buuing buuing hammer. She slammed her pink basket-of-fun on to the table and a broken marker flew out and she said under her breath, “they are horrible today. Eric cried,” and stormed out.
The problem is that we got a new student—Hyunjoo. He lived in the States for two years and speaks perfect grammar, non-accented English. Mr. E was not too happy about this development because now he is not the Smartest Boy in the Class. Let’s just say that my Ninas have officially descended into the ninth level of hell.
But let’s not dwell on that!
Instead let’s cover something you may not know about Korea. This is a guide to Bathrooms in Korea.
First off—it’s BYOTP. There may be some in the bathroom, and there may not be. It’s always a toss up. So best to play it safe and keep some in your purse. If they do have toilet paper, it’s likely in a roll thing outside by the door so once you’re in the stall it’s not very helpful. So like I said—best to play it safe and keep it in your purse.
Next—you will likely throw your toilet paper into a trash bin instead of down the toilet. This is to prevent blockage, which apparently is a big problem.
Next—you can check yourself out while doing your business. In many public bathrooms there are not only the mirrors above the sinks, but also small mirrors inside the stall door.
This can be a little disturbing at first but if you’re OCD about your makeup, as many Korean women are, it’s actually a perfect time to touch up.
Actually I’ve noticed mirrors in the most random places. Most elevators have mirrors on all four sides, making it this weird trick house experience. But also useful.
I think there are more people who care about their appearance in this country than in my own. Not everyone obviously, but for instance every five minute break we have (precious vegetation time) Sohee takes out a flip mirror and touches up her lip stick. Maybe one day, when she realizes that the kids couldn’t give a crap, she will quit this routine. Or maybe it’s not for the kids but for herself and therefore she won’t stop and in that case
Lastly—you may or may not wash your hands. Some bathrooms have soap dispensers, but others have literally bars of soap on silver poles hanging over the sink. You rub the bar and wash in the water. It makes sense I guess, but I have a strange aversion to bar soap. It really grosses me out actually. So I just stick to hand sanitizer. And there probably won’t be paper towel or a hand blower. You air dry or grab some toilet paper outside the door and throw in the garbage bin.
Now, this is a general bathroom, and there are definitely “nicer” bathrooms in airports and theaters and restaurants. But the bathrooms I frequent, in coffee shops and my school, this is my experience.
Oh one more item of note. Apparently our school was named one of the top Avalon Langcon schools and we were given a prize. I was expecting pizza or candy but no. We actually got a gift card to the Macy’s of Korea! A rather large amount at that. Unfortunately, the Macy’s of Korea is very far from me and like Macy’s, sells fur coats and Prada bags and other things that I don’t particularly want or need.
So Director did a little mock presentation of the gift cards and said something really nice about each teacher. All she had to say about me was that I was determined to work hard even though I was sick. While true, I would have preferred something a little more personal. Everyone in Korea works hard when they’re sick. Sick days?
But I got a gift card and I put it with my movie gift card and someday when I have no plans I will figure out how to use them.