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21 September 2015 @ 02:43 am
First Meeting Seem to Always Be Awkward  
Just writing a short entry today because it shouldn't take too long. Today was pretty much a lazy Sunday. Sort of blobbed around in bed, went out to get lunch (dumplings - subpar) with Arianne, planned to study but didn't, then went out for dinner. Around the event of both meals we sort of wandered around Sinchon (as we do) struggling to find a place to eat and I guess really getting the lay of things as well.

Since yesterday Arianne's been texting a Korean guy, Sangwon, that she met through a friend previously. I guess I came up and he wanted to meet me for some reason, and when Airanne asked when he said 10:30pm (again, no idea why), and we figured it was too much hassle to walk back to the dorms after dinner then back out again later on so we decided just to kill time.

For dinner we went to the same barbecue place I visited with my Korean class previously. This time we got the samgyeopsal (pork belly), dwaeji galbi (pork spareribs), and the pork skirt meat. It was good, I dunno. We tried to kill time with it but in the end it only took less than an hour.

After that we wandered some more, ventured onto some streets we'd not visited before. We sort of came around the back of where we'd been previously and came upon Diaso, and we wandered around there for a bit. I bought a box of Milk and Cookie peperro which were really good, and we just sort of laughed at things around the store.

My final grandmotherly form.

Then we ended up visiting the roof garden on top of U-PLEX that we'd been to before. It's really nice up there and you can get a pretty cool view of the city.

We sat around for a while after that and finally, finally, got to 10:30. We waited in front of the U-PLEX for a couple minutes for Sangwon to arrive - Arianne didn't actually remember what he looked like so we really couldn't pick him out. But I guess he must have recognized her because he came up and waved. He brought a friend, who introduced himself as AJ (that seems to be a relatively popular English name in Korea and I don't understand??), and Sangwon introduced himself as John (both 28 year old [Korean age, so 26 or 27 American] Civil Engineering students). His friend (definitely the more gregarious) asked if we wanted coffee, we sort of mumbled in the affirmative, and we went to a cafe (Caffé Pascucci) across the street.

We went to a cafe and it was so awkward and horrible and AJ bough Arianne and I ₩6500 kiwi juices (which I feel bad about) and got himself a coffee and we sat down - Arianne and I on one side of the table, AJ and John? Sangwon? on the other side. Sangwon didn't get anything and he was yawning and not saying anything at all and it was terrible. Thank goodness his friend was there because he was absolutely and entirely running the conversation (he was the only one out of the four of us making any real effort to break the horrible awkward silence). I was tearing bits of my straw wrapper off and rolling them up and stuffing them into the rest of the straw wrapper and then Sangwon asked what I was doing (I think that might actually have been the first thing he said beyond his name) and I said I didn’t know and kind of laughed and put it down (and kept sucking down my juice) and he picked up the straw wrapper and handed it back to me and told me to keep going so I did. It was really weird and that guy wasn’t really talking, only the other guy was, and I just didn't know what to do so I was just sort of very deliberately not looking at Sangwon, only looking at AJ when he was talking (otherwise I just sort of stared at random things around the cafe), and picking at my straw wrapper.

I don't remember really how it came up - probably another way to break the tension with safe topics - but Sangwon finally spoke up (he was keeping quiet because his English isn't very good, but it was certainly conversational) and asked me what kind of music I liked. I said I liked rock because I really wasn't sure what else to say that would be pretty simple to understand (and I mean I think most of what I listen to falls under the incredibly general subheading of 'rock') and he got really excited and told me he liked rock, too. Apparently until two years ago he played drums in a band (though now he doesn't play in order to focus on his studies) and he showed me some pictures on his phone. He asked me what my favorite band was and I said Siouxsie and the Banshees, not expecting any real response and preparing to back that up with someone more common, like The Who or Led Zeppelin. Shockingly, he got excited and said he knew Siouxsie, though he hadn't listened to very much, and then started listing off his favorite bands - I remember Led Zeppelin and ACDC as the two names that stood out to me. He asked if I knew how ACDC got their name; I replied that I didn't (I don't) and he seemed very smug and said that he did know, and followed that up with a story I really didn't understand about how some member of ACDC's sister looked at a science book or something. I think I need to look up the real story to understand.

From there he asked for my kakao ID, added me, and then I guess he looked at my profile picture, which is this.

and asked if I knew who this guy way (indicating Bob Ross). I said yes and, against all odds, he actually knew who Bob Ross was, said he loved watching his show as a kid, and talked about how much he loved Bob Ross' paintings because they showed such natural scenes (??? something like that). So then we further bonded over Bob Ross (who'd've guessed) and he desperately tried to get me to remember some sort of hamster (he said rat at first but then substituted hamster) who lived in Bob Ross' hair and would crawl around??? I don't remember any such thing, and told him so, but he was very insistent.

The conversation lagged again after that. Sangwon asked me what I thought of Korean food (I said it was delicious) and he said he likes hamburgers, such as from Burger King. AJ piped up and said he liked In 'N' Out (he's been to America before - he seemed quite smug about it). I said I'd never been because it was across the country, but that I liked Sonic (honestly, the burgers aren't half bad), and that I worked there, and I did my best to explain the concept of carhops. He immediately asked if it was like Hooters, which I thought was absolutely hilarious, and even after I said it wasn't he asked a couple more times whether it was like Hooters (no, it's not). They also gave me the absolute third degree about my knowledge of various internationally famous Korean football (soccer) players and American gameshow hosts (I think I was a bit of a letdown as a resource - I didn't know any of their favorite soccer players and I was only able to name half the cast of America's Got Talent).

I don't think we stayed too long after that. AJ and Sangwon said they were tired and mentioned meeting again (but what's the likelihood of any follow-through? slim to none). AJ said that next time we were going to go drinking (Sangwon immediately and enthusiastically agreed that that sounded like a great idea) in order to make Arianne and I talk more, and requested that next time we correct his English (there really isn't much to correct - he was pretty good, barring a few pronunciation issues). Sangwon shook my hand and apologized that his English wasn't good, and said that he would study for three weeks (not sure how that's gonna help?) and then we would hang out and I would help his English and he would teach me Korean (again, potentially nice but what's the likelihood of any followthrough).

All in all it was a decent-ish but incredibly, painfully awkward first meeting. Fun language barriers that I couldn't fit into this narrative include:

  • AJ trying to explain his experience shearing sheep in New Zealand as a kid, but pronouncing sheep like 'ship' leading to much confusion, before we figured out what he mean and corrected his pronunciation, at which point he jokingly said "sheeeep" in a very exaggerated way

  • AJ asking me if I hated him, my very dry answer of "yes" and his protests. When I told him that no, I didn't actually hate him, he seemed very flustered and told me he wasn't Americanized (apparently sarcasm doesn't translate well)

  • My struggle to understand their pronunciation of  "America's Got Talent" (apparently Arianne understood them right away, and didn't see how I couldn't so she waited a while before clarifying). I absolutely hate when I can't understand people because of their accent - I feel like scum when they're trying so hard