Office life has changed completely for me. Whereas life before had been library-quiet, life now is as noisy as a classroom full of caffeinated middle schoolers. Before, I had only one coworker, and he was assigned completely different projects from mine, so we barely talked during the day, except when we'd do our thrice-daily walks. The boss might come in, tell one or several of his many, many fish stories, ask us a few questions about our progress, then lapse into silence along with us. For an introvert like me, this was a good arrangement. Now, though, I work with a cluster of new coworkers who all know each other well, who have already formed strong bonds of collegiality and camaraderie, and who are constantly visiting each other's work stations to ask about something or to teach something. This new group has already grabbed up my coworker and plunged him into one of their projects (the grading of a massive pile of student essays), and they aren't shy about lobbing grammar questions my way, either.
Tonight was our department's first dinner out together (what Koreans call hwaeshik, as I romanize it, or hoesik, as I think it's officially romanized*). We ended up, after much indecision, dining at the local Ho Lee Chow, which I've reviewed here. Dinner was a noisy, random, nonlinear affair, much in the spirit of family dinners at my buddy Mike's house in Virginia: everyone talks at once, trying to get his or her thought-fragment-y point in. Chunks of ideas fly back and forth in no particular direction, and while there's plenty of noise and laughter, it's not something I enjoy very much. Sitting quietly and having a meaningful discussion that smoothly segues from topic to topic, à la "My Dinner with André," is more my style. So after about an hour at Ho Lee Chow, I felt the urge to skedaddle, and that's what I did. No disrespect to my dinner companions: they're all fine people, and I'm happy to have gotten to know them. But social occasions just aren't my thing. I suffer through them as gamely as I can, then I leave when I've had enough.
*I won't blame you for pronouncing hoesik as "hoe sick." I would, too, and that's why I prefer my more transcriptive romanization. The actual Korean sounds a bit like "hweh-sheek," but spelling the Korean that way is a little too out of bounds even for me.