Note: This post was written by Matt.
On Monday, I went to a welcoming dinner with all the Korean girls middle school teachers. There were many announcements that I did not understand until I heard my name called. I stood up to bow and got a short applause. Shortly after that the eating began.
I sat near my co-teacher, Rosa, and she asked if I wanted some soju, a Korean rice liquor. Soju is very good; I had already tried it several times, but this was my first time drinking it with Koreans. Rosa poured a shot and told me that the women, who I was surrounded by, do not drink much soju at these types of dinners but that the men love it. I did not think much about that and had a few small shots during dinner.
After dinner the soju starting flowing. In Korea, soju drinks are exchanged between two people. That means that someone hands you a shot glass and pours you a drink. You are then supposed to drink it with two hands and give the person back the same glass and pour a shot for him or her. Soon enough, the Koreans were coming up to me left and right with soju shots for me. When they start drinking, their English gets a lot better (or they are more motivated to use their English) so it was fun to talk to them.
It is not polite or good for my status with the Koreans to turn down the shots. By the time the soju ran out, I had had quite a few shots but felt OK. I got a ride home and when I entered the apartment it hit me hard as I had been warned it would. Soon enough the room was spinning and it was time for bed. It’s safe to say I will wait until after dinner to start with soju from now on!