The Black Barbie Chronicles: 5 Ways to Beat the Blues in Korea

Everyone gets them.  Even Black Barbie

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However, Korea was just so full of life, life, and more life. There was always something happening on my block which made me get out.  So check out this here entry on some of the things that I did when I felt the blues calling my name. Have a good one.

F. M. Laster

“I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.” -Mae West

5 Tips to Beat the Blues In Korea

  Aw, new adventures. You already know it takes a certain type of person to drop everything and move to the other side of the world to begin a new life. Unless of course, you are trying to run away from people, relationships, warrants, or judgments. I see you, Roman! If you’re “normal” people will admire your wanderlust spirit and wish you luck on your new adventures.

It really doesn’t matter how much of a Billy Bad Ass you think you are, there will come a time when you will find yourself crying like a bitch on the floor of your one-room apartment wondering the fuck you have gotten yourself into, and it’s only a month into a 12-month contract. Don’t fret; you’re not losing your mind. Culture shock is real and can cause one to become homesick even for something as mundane as grits! You can beat the blues and here are a few tips I used other than alcohol and sex (that’s for a later post) to keep my cool, stay sane, and loving Korea.

  1. Ab Fab your space, darling!

The first thing I did after, finding out where to buy booze, was to make my living area livable. I was lucky and whoever had my place last left me the most gorgeous black heavy curtains for my windows. This really helped to block out the sun on my hungover days. While the curtains were great, and in my favorite color, I just needed to add a few more things to make my space say Black Barbie!

I went down the street to Daiso, the Family Dollar/Dollar Tree of Korea. If you’re familiar with either Dollar Tree or Family Dollar, you know Daiso hooked me up. I got a lot of cheap, simple, cute stuff to make my place a place I would love to hang my head instead of wanting to hang myself. The end result of was of course fabulous.

  1. Get thee some friends

Human relationships are key to lift your spirits and get you out of whatever funk you may be in. I was lucky and met my tribe when I first arrived in Busan. Forming friendships is key to when you guys visit other cities in Korea, east, massive amounts of Korean BBQ, chicken and beer, and party until 7 in the morning in the mean streets of Seoul! Now can you see this happening solo? Naw. Get some friends and make a memory or two. Hell, you’ll need someone to back your story which will begin with, “Y’all ain’t gonna believe this shit.”

  1. Get Out; Of the house that is

Don’t be that foreigner. You know the one; that only came to Korea for money and go to school, the store, and home. They ignore any and everyone and stay to themselves. That’s not living; that’s existing. You, and most definitely me, was not, I repeat, not put on this Earth to exist. Yes, we foreigners are an outsider to the culture, but to feel less like an outside embrace the culture.

Now, I didn’t say go full native to the point of actually insulting Koreans. Just try and start to slowly integrate yourself into the culture. Do little things. For example, I let it slip one day that I enjoy hiking. Well, it turns out that 98% of my school staff LOVES hiking. Guess who gets invited hiking at least once a week? Hey, I’m a popular girl.

If hiking’s not your thing join a gym. However, the best way to get involved in the culture could be sitting right next to you. Even the most die-hard ass Korean co-teacher will be more than happy to go out of their way to give some insight or tidbits into Korean culture if you so happen to ask. Ask for a good recommendation to try Korean BBQ. Or ask what day or time is the best to get the best fish at the fish market. It’s the little things that make them think you’re interested and care. It’s also an excellent way to get some brownie points, and in my case, a great Korean BBQ dinner with administration staff, where the soju flowed freely and the higher-ups were acting like jackasses. Aww, that’s a topic for another post.

  1. Get a Hobby Bitch

It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s legal. You could hike; ride a bike, or read. You what the old saying about the idle hands is the Devil’s workshop. As TITS we have a hell of a lot of free time. We really don’t work as hard as a Korean teacher, and we don’t have to deal with the parents.

Usually, when I finish teaching for the day, I have a few hours to kill before I head off home. I use that time to finish lesson planning for next week or make some copies. I am a firm believer that at 4 pm, I leave work at work until 8am the next day. I refuse to bring shit home.

When I get home I usually change do some form of exercise before meeting up with friends for dinner. Or some nights I’m home, and I catch up my Korean drama. Damn, I am addicted to Korean dramas! Dancing and Korean dramas are my hobbies. And men. Definitely men.

  1. Dorothy was right, there’s no place like home

This is very important. Do not burn that bridge and say, “later bitches.” It’s a must to keep in contact with the peeps back home. If only for them to send you care packages, get your mail, and take care of personal stuff for you stateside. I kid, but it is good to keep in contact with the people who have pretty much known you a good chunk of your life. Now your day to day friendships will be with the new people you have met, who will put up with your bullshit. It’s nice to hear a friendly voice from the other side of the world who won’t take your bullshit, talk to you straight, and if need be, give you a verbal kick in the ass when you need it.

I did need that verbal kick in the ass last week when I spoke to one of my friends about the pains of having to find good fried chicken without having to go to my favorite place on the other side of town. She, in no uncertain terms, told me where to go, how to get there, and that there are bigger things to be concerned about that fried chicken bitch! In fact, she told me I needed to lay off the fried anything. Yep, that’s the verbal kick in the ass I needed. Hated her, but I could not see one of my new found peeps in Korea telling me that; they wouldn’t dare; you need close friends and family to call you on your bullshit.

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