Intrepid Girl Reporter


we’ll make our homes on the water

Considering the typhoon, it was a surprisingly wonderful Sunday.

Full disclosure, as always:  We brought the storm on ourselves. My friend G’s host sister, J, told her cheerfully that a typhoon was coming Sunday, but given the fact that no one seemed to be evacuating, we all laughed it off as typical Korean hyperbole.* Also, the two weather words all my students seem to know on their own are “fine” and “typhoon.” I thought this was funny.

I was wrong.

It’s been a rough week anyway for pretty much everyone I know – my friend A said that atmospheric changes were afoot, which explained my desire on Friday to personally throttle every single student in my second grade class**, but I don’t know anyone on this island who made it through the week without at least once casting a longing glance back towards American shores. So ending with a Category 4 hurricane isn’t really surprising, I guess. Yesterday was cloudy, a little rainy, but about 75% of the island crew ended up seeing The Bourne Supremacy and/or wandering around looking for entertainment and/or eating Red Mango (finally), eating Indian food, receiving a free coffee mug from the only GNC in the province, and visiting the English bookstore and buying copies of Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim and Paul Auster’s New York trilogy. (Okay, the last part was just me.) Then G and my friend E and I went to the jjimjilbang with my host fam, where we all fell asleep on the floor and didn’t leave until 2 AM. At this point: no evacuations, no alarms, no warnings from the Big Brother-style speaker on my wall from which the superintendent declaims. I hope you don’t think I’m joking on that last part.

We woke up this morning with a promise hanging over our heads: pudding, or “ding-pu,” as Host Brother has taken to calling it. (The first time I made it – out of boredom, on another rainy night – he called the ingredients pudding, but after witnessing its metamorphosis into dessert, decided that the name needed a change as well.) Because it was HB’s birthday party day, E and G and I ventured out into the rain to the supermarket down the street and to Paris Baguette for breakfast. It was a walk that would cost us four umbrellas. I had trouble standing upright. By the time we realized how bad it was, however, we were on a mission. Also so wet that it didn’t really matter if we got any wetter.

So we got our chocolate and our sugar and our croissants and sticky buns and green-tea-cream-cheese-pancakey-thing, and headed home, where the power appeared to be flickering, to no one’s consternation but ours. We made pudding by candlelight. We ate pudding and fried chicken with Host Family and HB’s friends by candlelight. At this point, trees were falling. Then we sat around and talked and read our books, in English, and took a nap, listening to the winds batter the window. When we woke up, the buses weren’t running, so we played Uno with Host Sister.

When we finally made it to the bus station, the streets were flooded, windows were broken, and branches littered the streets. We got E on a bus to Seogwipo and G in her taxi to Hallim, and made it home, where Host Dad, HB, HS and I ate ramen and, because I am forever behind every trend, I read more of the last Harry Potter, again by candlelight. (Side note: I can’t put it down. I wouldn’t call myself a Potter fanatic, but what I love about Rowling is her ability to create a propulsive story – i.e., I always always always want to keep reading.) Then the lights came back on, and I was able to discover that what had actually occurred was Typhoon Nari, with winds somewhere between 131 and 155 miles per hour. Oh.

This is so typical, for us to be here and have no idea that we’re surviving a massive storm.  It’s the grand-scale edition of getting on a bus and hoping it goes our way. Welcome to life in a foreign country. My American mother asked me today if people don’t evacuate, and HS said no; I’m not sure if this was the first typhoon to hit the island, or if it was just the first typhoon in a while, based on what she said (see? SEE?), and I don’t know if people are blase or if they’re actually freaking out and they’re just doing it in Korean. You know? I never imagined that I could experience a storm in this way. But then I never imagined a lot of things.

*There is no typical Korean hyperbole. Mistake Number One.

**Explanation: In Korea, elementary school goes to sixth grade. Once students hit middle school, the grades are started over, so seventh grade = first grade, eighth grade = second grade, ninth grade = third grade. Then the whole thing is started again in high school. Any rhetorical confusion is usually alleviated with the explanation “(grade) (school),” as in “first grade high school,” but since I teach middle school, I think you all can figure it out for yourselves.

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3 Comments so far
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Hilldawg! At first I thought you were just being clever with the use of initials for people’s names. “How literary of her!” I thought. Then I realized it might also be for Big Brother-esque reasons. “How…scary!” I then thought. But whatever. I, also, have been in a typhoon and people did not appear to be freaking out. Except mine was frickin’ day one on the frickin’ train to my city and my supervisor was like, “Sooooo…ever hear of a typhoon?! Cuz one’s comin’!” However, I did not have pudding or candlelight, though I bet I could have if I asked. I apologize for being a horrible friend and not reading your blog. For some unknown reason, despite my innate techniness, I’m not much of a regular blog reader. But I shall attempt to become one. I hope that you are doing well, dear! New job is rough, in its way, but obviously nowhere near as rough are your own. I respect you teacher types. Speaking of teachers, I”m still in love with Teacher Devin, but he doesn’t communicate often at all, which saddens me greatly. I’ll keep trying. Um, Centre is Centre, from what I hear. I visited once and it was nice but…strange. I was out of place in a major graduate-y way. The weather is just turning to fall here in ole Kentuck. It’s been amazing the past few days. I shall do my best to write more frequently! Stay well, mon Hilldawg!

Comment by Norbert

Oh, yeah. Frickin’ increase your font size! Ants could read this blog!!!

Comment by Norbert

Dude, I totally came up with the name of this entry. Just want to set the record straight ;0) Okay, maybe I should lesson plan now…

Comment by N




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