Thursday, May 9, 2013

Back tracks: Getting that first haircut in Korea

From the nostalgia file...

September 2011- I'd been in-country for about a month and having started thinking it was time for a haircut. Doing so made me nervous, for my rickety Korean wouldn't cut it with talking to the hairdresser, so I asked my co-teacher to translate some directions for me and to recommend a place in Wasu. He wrote out a few phrases and told me to go the place across from the bank. 

I suppose I could've gone to Seoul and gone to a more foreigner-friendly place, but traveling 3-4 hours round trip for a haircut seemed ludicrous. Not to mention, I was determined to get acclimated to Korea and didn't want to fall into the trap of avoiding anything Korean. Many people do that once they get over here. It's as though they want to say they lived in a foreign country without actually doing anything foreign. Getting a haircut meant one step forward and one step out of the comfort zone. Doing so seemed better than avoiding the problem and wasting money on bus fare.

So, when some free time arrived, I got that haircut at the miyong sil (미용실), or beauty salon. I walked in, said hello, and showed the lady the post-it the co-teacher had written. She smiled, nodded, and gestured for me to sit down, and I got my haircut. It went well. The haircut and shampoo came to 10,000won. I said thanks and walked out. I've been coming back there ever since because she does a good job and there's no reason to seek out a different place. Over time, I picked up the phrase "Just a little trim, please," and remembered to show the passport photo of the haircut I got before coming over here. After a while, though, I'd just come in and say nothing because she remembered what to do. 

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