No. You haven’t missed a previous article titled “The Freshman 15, part. 1”. “The freshman 15 part. 2” refers to something all its own. Something slightly sinister and devious. Something that you should be very aware of, if you ever consider teaching in S. Korea. Allow me to explain.
I tend to think of the experience of teaching English in Korea as “college, part. 2”. The reasons for this moniker are the following: While some people take their jobs as educators in Korea seriously, most seem to be here to eat, drink, and party first and foremost. Just like college. And if they can manage to wake up in the morning they go ahead and teach some English to some Koreans to earn some money to pay for some more food, drinks, and parties. Oh, and those lovely massages that leave a smile on your face long after they’re done. Come again… Don’t mind if I do.
With this college-like behavior also comes the college-related phenomenon known as, “the freshman 15” or “the freshman 6.80388555” if you’re from Canada (I think “freshman 15” sounds better). You know? The average 15 lbs. (or 6.80388555 kilos) that most college students gain or lose their first year. We will focus on the gaining crowd, because the loser crowd tend to be the ones that take school/work way too serious and lose weight due to excessive studying/lesson-planning and stress. I don’t associate with those losers.
Back to “the 15” that matter. Yes, it can happen here as well and it can happen to you. Think about it. There is all this great food to eat and plenty of places to drink. And in Korea, they seem to go hand in hand.
It’s not uncommon to meet up with some friends to indulge in some fine Korean cuisine, which cannot be consumed without some fine (and not so fine) Korean alcohol accompanying said meal. Next you typically head over to a bar and throw back a few brews and munch on the complementary bar snacks that never run out. You might order a plate of nachos or a sausage platter or whatever else tastes good with beer. And finally, when the time comes for you to stumble your way to a taxi, you grab a few more quick bites from the nearest ajumma food cart, strategically placed between the bar and the taxi pick-up spot (those sneaky old broads).
Sure, you may throw all of that stuff up when you get home, and while the idea of sleeping in your own vomit each night sounds mighty appealing, soon enough you’ll build up a tolerance and you’ll never be bale to puke again. well, all that food has to go somewhere, right?
Just to be clear, the aforementioned scenario doesn’t only apply to weekends. This can happen any night of any week. And if you’re in Korea and this hasn’t happened to you yet, then you probably just don’t have any friends, and you should go out to a bar right now and make some. I don’t care what time it is when you’re reading this, if you go to a bar right now in Korea, you’ll be sure to make some friends. Unless you’re just super weird. And if that’s the case, please stop reading, cuz you’re creaping me out.
All this late night eating and drinking can catch up with you. Fast. Sure, Korean food is generally healthier for you but there are plenty of bad foods out there, especially with the ever-increasing western influence here. The next thing you know, you’ve put on a few pounds (or kilos) and sooner or later you might want to consider doing something about it.
I’d like to suggest some things you can do to kick out these uninvited party crashers, called pounds, from that awesome party, called your body. (I’m not sure if I correctly punctuated that last sentence, as I am only and English teacher, not an English student).
Of course you already know the basics such as: walking to more places, taking the stairs, jogging, utilizing the random exercise equipment placed around the city, blah, blah, blah. While all those things can help, they aren’t too much fun to do. I’d like to offer you some more creative suggestions for keeping off or losing the extra pounds.
First suggestion: Make it a point to find someone to take home every time you go out. This applies to men and women alike. When I say “take home” I mean for the purpose of having sexual intercourse, which burns a great deal of calories. If you have it in you, go several rounds to maximize results. I’m a quick finisher, so I use this method frequently.
Once you have been here a while you may be able build a steady stream of partners or even snatch up a boyfriend or girlfriend, which can help. I do want to point out to the fellas that I actually have a girlfriend here, but after doing the math I realized that strangers and even prostitutes are less time-consuming and more cost-effective in the long run.
Second suggestion: Start bar fights. I know I’m a real douche for suggesting this one, but one cannot overlook the cardiovascular and strength training benefits a good ol’ bar fight provides. Especially bar fights where multiple people are involved, which keeps you on your toes and moving at all times. Much like sex, they don’t have to last long and no one needs to get seriously injured.
You can also do, what I like to call, a “bar brawl crawl” and take the show on the raod to neighboring bars. I must warn you, however, to refrain from fighting the locals, as you will have to pay an obscene amount of money in the event that you mess up someone’s new hair-do or cause them to break a nail. Oh those guys in the tight jeans with the nice hair and nails might look tough, but… nah, who am I kidding. Just take it from me, don’t get into it with the locals, because it’s guaranteed to get you thrown into a jail cell or out of the country.
I like to bar-fight frequently, so if you’re looking for some action just party where I party and I’d be happy to serve you a two-piece sans biscuit (that’s a friend chicken reference for those that are not black). No hard feelings, whatsoever. Oh, except for the hard feelings of my fist towards your face and your face towards whatever object I see fit to slam you, face first, of course, into. (Not sure about the punctuation here either. Again, I’m just an English teacher.)
Last suggestion: If you cannot accomplish any of the above with successful results, or if you run out of people to sleep and/or fight with , then find a good gym and get a membership. There are a number of gyms available in varying price ranges. But, don’t expect the western-style mega gyms you might be used to back home. There are a few that come close, but most don’t. You may also pick up a martial art and use that to gain discipline and a new skill while you keep your weight in check at the same time. Or just use it in your next bar fight and see if that stuff really works.
So, freshman expats beware! There are many rouge 15 pound deamons out here in Korea looking for a new comfy home in your body. Be vigilant. Don’t let ’em creep up on you and make you another victim. Apply my suggestions early and you’ll be able to eat, drink and party as much you want. I wish you the best of luck, my foreign friends.