A Foreign Slice of Life
I’m sitting in the Doosan We’ve Starbucks in Bucheon studying for the CPA exam. There are two Korean girls in the other ‘good chairs’ across from me. One of the girls is telling her friend in Korean about how she accidentally hooked up with 은영’s boyfriend Travis. They are so noisy and boisterous that the one listening knocks her chair into my table, turns around and realizes that I’m sitting here listening to this story about the text messages Travis has been sending her. ‘Oh, sorry.’ she says. ‘No problem’, I reply, glancing up from my studies. As the story goes on it turns out that this girl and her friends party with a lot of foreign dudes, including one guy they call “유엔 오빠” who speaks Korean. Turns out Travis is so fun that he’s practically irresistible, at least from this girl’s point of view. As is TJ.
At another table, two Korean guys and a girl are having a casual, relaxed English lesson masquerading as “jes’ hangin’“. ‘We say 까페모카 and you say cafe mocha, your pronunciation is so funny!’ I thank the good lord that I no longer allow myself to be party to such conversations. The guy, who speaks in crisp, clear English like an announcer on EBS, explains the pros and cons of living in Bucheon in a diplomatic, analytical way that sounds like it came right out of a conversational English textbook. Now he’s explaining how a juicy bar works (“You get a commission for each beer you sell”), for some unimaginable reason he thinks that this co-ed group of young college-age suburbanite Koreans would like to talk about this. One of the guys tells a really stupid story about a pun that he told in English and the foreigner doesn’t get it. His story ends with ‘I think I’m crazy!’ and everyone laughs warmly. The Koreans attempt to explain what a ‘greenbelt’ is to the baffled foreigner. The group is finally joined by another foreigner. ‘This is James, James, this is Nicole.’ Awkwardness ensues, like when two gigolos find themselves wooing the same wealthy old woman.
I think back to the incredible influx of foreign, specifically American, influence in my life in the recent weeks. My company has brought in a partner from Texas, and I have been spending a lot of time helping her get settled and translating for her. It has reminded me that I am indeed a foreigner. Since her arrival I have been lied to, left out of meetings that I would have been a part of otherwise, completely left alone and not assigned any work, and basically treated like more of a foreigner than I had since I got the job.
Speaking of foreigners, my little American baby is growing by leaps and bounds, and poor Miyoung is finally starting to feel the aches and pains from her stomach’s growing size, meaning the second trimester is officially over and the long hard slog to the finish line has begun. For names, we’ve settled on Pauline if it’s a girl, but we’re coming up short on boy names. Long time contender Mason was tossed out a few weeks ago, and we’re now warming to Warren. Any suggestions are welcome.