Maybe I should’ve gotten that Redbull. I debated the moot point for a moment. What I correctly guessed as the last twenty-four hour convenience store on my trip down the I-95 was thirty minutes behind me. I had missed my opportunity to get a caffeine pick-me-up, but my mind continued to wrestle with the past. I slipped deeper into drowsiness.
During my first year, while at my first job here in Korea, my first students of the day noticed a second-hand Korean language book on my desk. They looked through it without my permission while I was on my designated five minute break – relieving myself, and cursing at bill collectors in the bathroom.
It was a totally new building with glass walls and a wonderful view of the woodsy campus behind the main school building. I sat inside this new cafeteria with six other teachers who, because of the new lunch schedule that accompanied the new building, weren’t used to eating with me – the foreigner. I ate kimchi and occasionally sniffed the queer smelling chemical scents given off by the building materials.
Me and a co-worker of mine started taking Muay Thai classes in April. His name is Mr. 김 (Kim) and since I arrived last December for my second year in Korea he’s taken to the idea of being my older brother – my 형님.
He knows I didn’t work at a public school before, and he knows this is my first time living in Seoul, so he wants to give me advice and expose me to Korea. He reminds me that kimchi is a very popular is a traditional Korean food. “Oh okay” is all I say after living here for a year.