Tooth #1: In the House of the Toad

So I just want to ease you guys into my Korean Exchange Student posts by opening with this. At first glance it may seem somewhat bizarre, but that’s only because, well, it kind of is! I could probably have introduced these posts with something to do with academics or at least dorm life, but, I figured, since this blog really started at the ocean, then it’s only fair to introduce this topic from the beginning. This is a photo taken on an absurdly crowded Memorial Day weekend in Virginia Beach. The subject, a Toad House. The creator, Sunyoung Park, AKA, my roommate.

By the way, let me give you guys an idea just how ridiculously crowded this beach day was.

I mean, gross right?! What’s crazy is that even on this day, the busiest of all beach days (besides the 4th of July!)


Sunyoung, my roommate, assured me that this crowd was nothing. In Korea it’s always like this, and worse! Oh, well alright then!

 To add to the misery of smooshed-up, sandy beach towels and canopies of striped umbrellas, this day just happened to have some of the strongest undertow of the year. It eventually got so bad that by around 5 o’clock they actually closed the beach early. Now, before that happened, I made an incredible discovery. Have you ever been to the beach and seen those overly-tan ex-athletes wearing the bright red bathing suits with the little white cross on the corner? Did you know they actually have a job? If you look closely on their uniform you might find the word “Lifeguard”…and can you believe it, that day they actuallysaved lives! All day we heard the gleeful cries of little children, the slapping and soothing pounding of the waves, and the shrill, piercing shriek of the lifeguard’s whistle. Perfect! Needless to say this was a good ‘ol American day at the beach and I couldn’t have been more proud to share it with Sunyoung.

So, anyway, back to the Toad House! I just wanted to really get the setting perfectly visualized for you. Basically my point in writing about this is bring up an interesting comparison. I think what people make with the sand on a day at the beach says a LOTabout a culture. When we attempted to walk down the beach, careful to avoid every sunbather and stray child, Sunyoung couldn’t help but notice the neighborhoods of sand castles under construction, popping up along the beach. As this was totally new, of course she couldn’t help but take a picture. And, to make things fair, Sunyoung showed me what she used to build at the beach when she was a child.

Step one, cover your hand with sand.

Step two, pat the sand around your hand into a mound.

Step three, remove your hand and, voila! You’ve built your very own Toad House!

The only way to describe this magnificent piece of architecture is with one word, and it’s Korean. (Surprise!) It was the first Korean word I was taught, and seeing as I’m obligated to use this word multiple times throughout the day in the presence of Koreans, I feel it’s best to share it as my first Korean Word Pick!

Korean Word Pick #1: Kiyawa

Translation: Cute

Pretty much everything about Koreans is cute, but I think it’s safe to say that the creation of a Toad House on a terribly crowded beach day, in the middle of a Lifeguard maelstrom, during Memorial Day Weekend is just kiyawa. Plus, I really think it says something that American children are taught to build castles out of sand, while Korean children are taught to build a house for a toad. Kiyawa.



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