How to Use a Toilet

We've all seen them: the signs on the doors with either an Asian-style squat toilet or a Western-style seat toilet. To a foreigner here, a squat toilet can be scary. It's suddenly like you're a toddler again and learning how to go potty without your mommy or daddy's help. But for the Korean who is now getting used to the new, Western-style toilets that are creeping their way into Korean public restrooms, they can seem just as foreign and scary.

The proper technique for using an Asian squat toilet

The proper technique for using an Asian squat toilet

The Asian-style Squat Toilet

Since moving to Korea, I have not only learned how to use these squat toilets, but also learned to love them. They're comfortable and easy to use, but most of all, they're clean. There's no need to touch anything---no cheeks on the seats, no fingers on the flushers (they have foot pedals instead).

They're certainly an upgrade from the squat toilets I experienced in Africa, which were usually no more than a hole in the ground. Sandals plus a difficult get the picture. Some so-called "toilets" didn't even have a hole, but were just a slab of concrete behind a door. At least then when you peed all over your feet you did it in private, right?

So, yes, I was pleasantly surprised that I could learn to love these little loos. To spread the joy, I thought I'd post this how-to picture I spotted in a stall during my travels in Japan. It's the first time I'd seen a picture for the squatter; usually it's the other way around, which brings me to...

How to use (and not use) a Western seat toilet

How to use (and not use) a Western seat toilet

The Western-style Seat Toilet

As the less-common toilet style here, these pictures are a lot more frequent. (The bottom-right picture always makes me laugh.) The plus-side for these Johns is their laziness factor---it's certainly easier to take a seat than to balance yourself over the squatter-style ones. But, on the other hand, I know a lot of ladies out there don't even sit on the seats for fear of getting booty germs or finding a wayward drop from the last user (you know they're out there).

Now when you're in Asia and nature calls, as it does, you can relieve yourself with confidence---no matter which stall you choose.

On Coming Home

Hey everyone!

Now that "coming home" is visible on the horizon, I've compiled a few lists of my thoughts on my adventures here: Things I Will Miss, Things I Will NOT Miss, and Things I'm Looking Forward To.

For those who were here last term: I'm interested to read your comments on what I may have left out, etc. And for those who haven't been here: maybe these lists will give you a better idea of what it's like here.


I will miss small boys to run errands for me. 

I will miss dancing all the time, and wicked African music.

I will miss Star Beer (and other supersized bottles of beer). 

I will miss hawkers—buying food (and random things like toilet seats and clothes) out of car and trotro windows. It's just good fun! And I love cakebread... 

I will miss having clothes tailor-made, for cheap.

I will miss "pure water" satchets. Actually, anything that comes in a satchet. 

I will miss cute babies and small children everywhere. 

I will miss the egg sandwhich girls who make my breakfast for me. 

I will miss travelling on the weekends. I will miss community-oriented culture. 

I will miss Champs Bar's Thursday Night Trivia, and my Best Team Ever (yes, I am a geek). 

I will miss giving clothes, etc. away to people who need it/love it/use it immediately. 

I will miss being surrounded by people with similar interests as me here at The Hostel. 

I will miss the "everyday adventures".

things I will not miss

I will NOT miss frequent "lights-out" and water shortages.

I will NOT miss how it's common for everyone to just butt in line.

I will NOT miss garbage everywhere.

I will NOT miss open sewage and rainwater gutters beside every road—they're smelly and dangerous!

I will NOT miss DISGUSTING public toilets....or lack of toilets altogether!

I will NOT miss barbed wire everywhere.

I will NOT miss public urination and....defecation.

I will NOT miss ssslllooowww internet connections.

I will NOT miss being worried about robberies on campus and in the city.

I will NOT miss unsafe transportation....all the time.

I will NOT miss lugging around wads of ridiculously small bills (How is it possible that the biggest note equals about $2?!).

I will NOT miss relentless heat. But I will miss palm trees, tropical flowers, the ocean, one sunny day after another...

I will NOT miss being asked for "a dash" or "a cadeau" by everyone. But I will miss receiving dashes and random cadeaux—yay for nice T-shirts and funny sunglasses given to me in Mali by random people! hahaha

I will NOT miss unwanted sexual advances. But I will miss the general friendliness of strangers.

I will NOT miss "Ghana time". But I will miss having "Ghana time" as an excuse for being late.

I will NOT miss all traditional Ghanaian dishes that are loaded with spices. But I will miss eating out at various restaurants across the city often, and fresh fruit.

I will NOT miss no personal space on trotros and shared taxis. But I will miss picking up random, nice people in shared taxis.

I will NOT miss market shopping, bargaining, and forced impulse purchasing. But I will miss market shopping and bargaining.

I will NOT miss handwashing all clothes—and not getting my whites, white. But I will miss getting my laundry washed for me (Charity, my laundry woman and my surrogate-Grandmother, is the BEST!!).

I will NOT miss never understanding the jokes in class, or not understanding the prof in general. Or the lack of in-depth learning in most of my classes. But I will miss easily skipping classes to travel or do fun stuff....

I will NOT miss paying bribes. But I will miss being a celebrity, and enjoying all the perks of being an "obruni".

I will NOT miss those annoying children (even some adults) who yell at you non-stop: "Obruni! OBRUNI!!! Hello, Obruni! Obruni!!". But I will miss yelling "Obruni!" out car windows to other foreigners.

things i'm looking forward to

I'm looking forward to seeing my friends and family again (this being the obvious one of course).

I'm looking forward to watching Sex and the City with my girls.

I'm looking forward to snow, seasons.

I'm looking forward to AC!

I'm looking forward to junk food, snacks, grocery stores, variety of foods...

I'm looking forward to milk!!!

I'm looking forward to my car—and seeing what kind of driver I've become after witnessing the driving over here.

I'm looking forward to legit movies in movie theatres, and catching up on the music/movie pop culture I've been missing.

I'm looking forward to accountability and punctuality. I'm looking forward to stores and malls....fixed prices.

I'm looking forward to school, assignments of some kind, learning inside the classroom...

I'm looking forward to not worrying about malaria.

I'm looking forward to clean washrooms and flush toilets.

I'm looking forward to washing machines.

I'm looking forward to going home to a closet full of clothes and discovering that I have a whole "new" wardrobe.

I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with what's going on in the world, ie. news.

I'm looking forward to road trips to reunite with my new friends.

I'm looking forward to seeing what's changed and what hasn't.

See you all soon! XOXO