Monday, June 28, 2010

Last pictures

For many reasons Korea can be called “The Land of the Morning Calm” I have a few different ideas. On the weekends it can be called this because every Korean has just gone to bed after a long fun night. Korea really has not been a free democracy for long, most will say it happened in 1988, and it happened for one reason, they held the Olympics that year and they wanted to show the world who they were. When I first got here I noticed a lot of older men getting really drunk from the Korean alcohol called Soju. I thought it was unbelievable. ( I do not mean just buzzed, I mean passed out in the streets, or throwing up in public, being carried home drunk) After six months I think I figured out why; they may be old man, but the country is a 20 year old kid experiencing freedom for the first time and they are not letting any second of freedom pass. I say good for them, it is really hard for a USA citizen to realize this because our freedom dates back a couple hundred years, it doesn’t for them. The weekdays are quite different. The morning is calm, it is very calm, but once business is open the calm disappears. When I walk to the gym at 6:30AM ( I do this in the morning because I do not start work until 9:30 and I hate sleeping in.) it is like being at the beach, it is so peaceful, the only difference is this haze is smog from China. ( another reason why China sucks) When I leave the gym the whole city seems to have woken up and it is hustle and bustle. That is what makes the morning so nice here, it really is the only peaceful time of the day.

Korea is the worlds little secret, nobody knows about Korea, everyone knows about Japan, China, Vietnam, India, etc. Korea is a cool place, there problem is there turbulent history. Sometimes I wonder if Koreans know who they are, and most will admit after a few drinks of soju that they do not know who they are. Korea has been occupied by just about everyone it seems. China, Japan, Russia and the USA had a major hold on them after the Korean war, of course Russia took the North, hence the communism. China is the only reason why the South didn’t win the Korean war. The USA is the reason why the South did not lose the Korean war.
I feel like I did not talk about my job much in this blog because I did not feel it was too important to talk about, it’s a job, no one wants to read about someone else working, we all want to escape from work. Teaching really is rewarding, it is cool to see kids progress in the English language which I taught them. Teaching is also not for me, I do not know how people devote their whole lives to teaching kids, I would go crazy. ( I am grateful for those who do) I am talking about preschool, kindergarten; the really young ages. Teaching older kids are fun because you can actually talk to them. There is no way I can talk to a 6 year old Korean when I am teaching them English for the first time, it is quite the interesting situation, but laughter does go a long way. What amazed me the most was how jealous the Korean teachers were of me because the kids liked me so much. There was one glowing reason, I had a lot of fun with the kids and they like to yell at them. They could never figure out why they did not like them as much. It just the Korean way vs. the USA way of teaching; In the morning right as I walk in the school it seems just about every kid stops whatever they are doing and comes to say hello to me or jump on my legs and slide down them like they are telephone poles.
As we all know the World Cup is going on, Koreans love this. There was a huge party to watch the opening round in Seoul. (there actually is for every game) They put huge projection tv’s on buildings at city hall and abour 200,000 people go to this. One thing stopped me from going, the rain. I do not know exactly how many people went this year but I imagine the rain did not stop many people from going. However, The USA-England match is Saturday tonight and it should be a fun time. It is at 3:30 AM, just a little late; I went to Itaewon to watch South Korea play and watch the USA-England match, the atmosphere was rocking, the games were boring as hell. It was a lot of fun to see the huge crowds, there really in nothing like an international crowd watching their home countries. The Korea game was obviously wild, as we walked up the street to the sports bar you could hear the crowd. Every major bar in Itaewon has open windows in the summer and they are large windows, basically giving them no walls and over looking the street, it is a cool scene. Every bar was jammed, the sports bar I went to you could not move. As it crept to about 3 AM the crowd started buzzing again, half hour away from the big match. USA chants started going wild and England then had their dumb chants. It was a fun time and it was funny to see how disappointed the England crowd was when it ended in a draw because most USA fans could of cared less.
I have never seen so much smog in my life, it is absolutely disgusting, it all comes from china, “yellow dust” they call it. I currently have a sore throat from it and I have had it for about two weeks. When I wake up it feels like I ate dust. This really affects the weather, when it is not cloudy the air is filled with pollution, it really kills the effect of the sun. Most days I can not see it, some times it is just in a haze, it is amazing how this smog just blocks the sun.
Another great thing about South Korea, a GPS just does not cut it. You need to have a tv on your windshield; it is amazing how careless they are when it comes to driving; hence the mind blowing traffic death rate.
I got one more day in Korea, it has been a great time. At times it felt like I just got here, but more often than not it felt like I was here for a decade. It has been a great experience; getting dropped off at the opposite end of the world to teach English; Five years ago I would’ve said anyone that did that would be crazy, why would they do it? As my international awareness expanded I thought I would be crazy not to do it. It was great, Koreans are awesome; just think of a country a quarter the size of California; Being here has really made me realize how big the USA is, it is mind blowing compared to just about every other country in the world. I can not say one bad thing about South Koreans, they welcomed me into their country; I can’t count the times they helped me out with directions, what to eat, etc; they really do love Americans and are grateful for all the help the USA has given them. Not many people know much about Korea; I wish more did because it is a great country, and I would tell anyone that is thinking of Teaching English abroad to go for it and do it in South Korea. You will not find a more respective culture with traditions so deeply rooted in everyday life it still baffles me. Monday was the first day of finishing classes and it was pretty unreal. Most of my kids asked for autographs, email and my phone number. They did not believe me they could not call me from Korea when I was back home and I just told them I do not have an email. It was pretty cool that these students have so much respect for a teacher and I realized that I actually helped them out in life; not just with English but I think the biggest thing is they can understand the freedom of thought American’s have, of course this is understood for my older classes only.
Thank you everyone for following my blog

“He travels best that knows when to return” - Thomas More
‘I have found adventure in flying, in world travel, in business, and even close at hand... Adventure is a state of mind - and spirit.”
Jacqueline Cochran

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I put up some new pics....

I have been in need of a haircut but after the last time I went to the barber shop there was no way I would return to the barber; I was going to a hair salon. As I was walking to the area where the hair salon’s are I passed the barber shop, for a second I thought I might as well go in. I look through the glass door see the same barber and walked away; no way was I going in there. I went to the hair salon. I think it might have cost a dollar more. On Saturday it was Teacher’s Day which meant on Friday I got a bunch of presents from my students, it ended up being a pretty good day of work. I got a nice Nike hat, a gift certificate, some cologne, a bunch of muffins and fruits and various other gifts.

Saturday I went up to Itaewon to watch the Boston Bruins play, this was a disaster from the start. I got in a little early so I was walking around the City. I had a Boston shirt on and some old lady (she was not really old, maybe mid 40’s) but I am saying old because she told me the score of the hockey game, I wanted to throw something at her. I was pissed, there is nothing worse then traveling over an hour to watch a taped delayed game 7 and be told the score 5 minutes before watching the game. I told myself she must have been talking about game 6, what does this lady know and if anyone reading this saw her you would have no reason to believe her. All of a sudden the Bruin’s go up 3-0, now I am convinced she was wrong and had no clue what she was talking about, just a crazy lady. About two hours later I realized she was right and it made a long train ride home. At the end of the game there was a wedding party, and who doesn’t like a random wedding party in a sports bar in South Korea, it took my mind off the game. It was a Korean girl marrying a British man; it was a fun time, there always seems to be something going on in this country, probably because it is so small and there are a lot of people all jammed in.

I am guessing most people have heard about the recent run in South Korea had with the North. There is one big problem here, the North is the South’s enemy and the South wants to be friends. In order to have a relationship you need both sides to be on the same page; these two countries aren’t even in the same book. The South is a free country, with everything a developed country could want, it is not up to western standards but you have to remember they have been on their own for only around 60 years. Of course the North denies the bombing of the South’s ship; they have been doing these small things for the past decade. The only problem is, this time it actually upset the south and they may do something about it, they also may not. They will go to the UN council for this, there is only one problem. CHINA loves North Korea. For anyone believing China is a humane society follow this current episode, they are not. China will most likely veto anything that will hurt the North because they are allies and they border each other. They will say they do not want to be in a war zone with a bordering country, but that is not the case, they just like North Korea. The South does not want war because they are a developed country and the war will be on both countries soil, now that does not mean much for the North because they are so poor and essentially the residents live in the Stone Age. The south has everything to lose, the North has nothing to lose; eventually the North (government) will eat themselves to death, it is going to happen and this is what the South is waiting for. This may take 20 years, which is the problem, it could be shorter, it could be longer. This is why the South wanted to end the war back in 1953, but that didn’t happen, technically the war is still going on. They knew these problems would only keep occurring. There has been a lot of buzz about this, even our Korean teachers are talking about this episode and I have never heard them talk about the North before. Koreans seem to treat the North as its spoiled brother and just let it complain because in the end they will not do anything. It seems they do not feel this way anymore, plus everyone, in this case ever country has a breaking point and when will the South hit it with the North and was this it?

Anyways, Buddha’s birthday was Friday and we went out Thursday night with a co worker and a few Korean friends to celebrate. Six of us went out; we had about a 2 hour dinner and drinks, it costs $64, absolutely unbelievable, The meat is awesome and the beer is always good and it costs so little, this will be the biggest culture shock coming back into the USA. On Buddha’s birthday I went up to the Han River again, this time I went to the N63 (63 floors) building, it overlooks the Han; the building looks like it is made of gold and it overlooks the city of Seoul from the south side; it’s a shame the windows were so dirty looking out on the city but it was a great view. The Han River is a cool place to spend a day, Koreans everywhere are walking around with beers and having picnics in public areas; absolutely unheard of in the USA. After walking around for about two hours I rented a bike and I realized I should’ve done that 2 hours ago. I have now found the cheapest way to get into Seoul; it cost me 90 cents to get to Seoul from my apartment. It is about 30 miles. I hop on the bus to get to the station and take the train into Seoul. The best part about the bus is after you swipe your card you have 30 minutes to get to the metro and it is free to get one. It is unbelievable how cheap the transportation is here. Of course the one problem with public transportation is all the variables that go along with it. On the bus ride home I saw firsthand. I got on the bus and the driver and a man were talking rather loudly and the paced just kept picking up (Korean language remember) and all of a sudden the driver slammed the brakes, stopped the bus and got out of his seat and opened his glass door and started screaming at this guy. It got heated for a while and of course you have the old lady (70 yrs, guessing and maybe 5 feet tall) steps in the middle of both of them, I thought she was going to get trampled on; while this is going on about five people got off the bus, I just enjoyed the show. At one point I thought there was actually going to be a fight. It did not come to that point, the bus driver then stopped and went to his seat grabbed his wallet and stormed off the bus. Everyone is now wondering what the hell to do, he then rampages back on ( I think he realized he was the driver, not the passenger) and started screaming again, all of a sudden they came to some sort of an agreement and stopped yelling. The passenger then apologized in Korean to everyone and did the customary Korean bow; then the funny part came, he noticed a six foot 3 white person, you should have seen his eyes light up, it was like all of a sudden they were not slanted. He then apologized to me in English and gave me a bow and the bus ride went on.

Rained all day Saturday and is supposed to rain Sunday, that ruins my plan to go to the beach. 39 days until I come home, I realized on Thursday that the countdown has begun in my mind, I have really enjoyed my time here, learned a lot of things, but it is time to go home

Sunday, May 9, 2010

It is less then two months until I come home; June 30th . It is a weird feeling. I feel like an immigrant ready to make the great jump to the land of opportunity. Except I will be doing it legally, unlike most immigrants these days. Recently I have been asking my Korean friends what they think they will do if they had the opportunity to come to the USA. All the girls have said they absolutely want to go to the USA or Canada. There parents have giving them the blessings to do so. The girls say yes because Korea is absolutely a men’s world, there is no denying that; It does not matter how much you believe in equal rights, that is not how it works here. This is why Korean girls want to leave, of course some time (I think in the near future there will be a women’s movement, It has to happen, Korea wants to be America and this would be a step.) Just witnessing this, not just through travel but living through it is quite the experience. I left the USA knowing it was the greatest country in the world, but now….It is like the Michael Jordan of countries…It is amazing how cool the USA is and how Koreans (just because I know from living here) want to be a part of it. Most Koreans I hang out with know more about USA pop culture then I do, but most Americans know more then me also, but they keep up with all that stuff. They are obsessed, it really is interesting seeing this first hand. These Korean girls love hanging out with Americans, they really do. Some to improve their English, some to get to USA, marriage or just ideas on what to do there, and some just to simply tell someone they spent time with an American. It is a really incredible experience, I hope everyone reading this can understand what I just wrote, it really is special to be an American. I went to an Indian restaurant the other night and the owner (spoke English) had Indian news on and everything that was on the news had something to do with the USA. I would not change this experience I had for anything, I will not stay for the whole year, but I have no regrets on what I have done, it has been awesome.

Last Friday night I was out and I turned around and saw a Korean who was easily 7’ 3”; he stuck out like a sore thumb and man was it funny. I started talking to him and he ended up being a professional basketball player in Korea. You never see Koreans over 5’10”, never mind 7’. It was pretty funny, especially when he tried dancing (not to say I am a good dancer, I’m not, but this was pretty funny. I mean, what do you say to a 7’ Korean man. The next day I finally ventured to the Han River and did a boat cruise up the river at night. This was awesome, it was finally a nice enough day to go for a boat ride and be warm enough to actually enjoy it. Going up the river was pretty cool seeing the huge city lights, the tall skyscrapers, and busy city life. The Han River runs right through the heart of Seoul, creating a south part of Seoul and the north part of Seoul, it is an impressive river. The boat ride was pretty impressive, they have themed nights on these boats and somehow I ran into a flowered theme river cruise, anyone could’ve easily mistaken it for a wedding cruise up the Han River and of course a Korean family came up to me and another teacher I was with to take pictures and ask questions about the USA. The best part about the river cruise is that it is byob. I could not believe it was, just for the fact that they could make a killing. This was not much of a drinking cruise for me because I wanted to enjoy the views and just be able to enjoy being back on the water for a night.

Sunday May 2nd was a fun day of watching sports in Itaewon. This day started at about 11am. The time differences makes watching sports next to impossible. Sunday morning we were able to catch the boxing match live on tv, it is pretty entertaining watching a boxing match with an international audience. I got to the sports bar around 11 and enjoyed a big breakfast and relaxed for a while. Some patrons there I believe stayed up from the night before, it was funny. Three guys got thrown out after the second under card match and created a nice scene. It is always amusing to watch these events when it is someone you do not know that is involved. There is also nothing like a bunch of idiots at 11 am on a Sunday; I think it is safe to say they are not the church going type. After the boxing match I was set to watch the Bruins after they finished up another hockey game that was on, as this game was in the third period ( remember I have been waiting all weekend to watch these playoff games, Celtics and Bruins and making sure I would not see the score on the internet.) So everyone is watching the game and on the ticker the score of the Bruins game comes on; Bruins won, day is almost wasted by now. It just is not fun watching a game when you know the results when it is just a regular playoff games. Luckily it was a sunny day out so I just enjoyed the sun and waited for the Celtics play game one against the Cavs; as we all know that went great until the second half and really ruined my day. So a Celtics loss and a Bruins win but a loss for me because the score gets shown right before the game comes on tape delayed. I did win the bet for how long the boxing match would go, that won a round of beers for everyone.

Saturday May 8- 75 Degrees and I am heading back to Jebu island, this time with another English teacher and two Korean friends. What a day it was to be on the beach, there is nothing better then escaping the hot city for a cool, sunny beach day. I already wrote about Jebu island so I will not go into much detail about the place. The seafood was still absolutely delicious and really reasonable. Four of us ate and had some drinks and it was 15,000 won a person; It only got better as we arrived back to Suwon and went to a Galbi restaurant and it cost each person 10,000 won ($10) to eat and drink for dinner and Galbi is absolutely awesome. Galbi is BBQ beef that Suwon is known for because of its great quality. I was explaining to my two Korean friends the differences in restaurants from Korea to the USA. They could not believe it. Basically whenever you are ready to order in Korea the customer just yells out “yogi” which means “here” If you ask me it is pretty rude but that is the culture and of course you do not tip in Korea. When you order beer they bring a large bottle and everyone drinks from the bottle with their own cup; and of course Soju is always involved when you go out to eat with a Korean. Soju is even cheaper then the food.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I am reading a book on Koreans and I have read a very interesting chapter relating to why Korean’s stare blatantly at white people and I am left too wonder why the hell do they keep on staring at me. We all know the answer to that, it is because they never see white people. The interesting thing is when I see another white person in Korea I basically become a Korean and stare at them and they draw the same blank stare back at me. It becomes quite amusing; I am just not used to seeing a white person randomly on the street. This happened tonight when a Korean man at the gym brought me over to see two other white girls who were signing up. I probably stared at them for five seconds before realizing what was going on and that they were white. It is a really weird situation and quite amusing. This is never the case in a place like Itaewon because you are expected to see white people. Korans love the game rock, paper, scissors. I am still trying to figure out why. I mean they live and die buy this. They decide just about everything by it. When we play basketball this is how we decide teams and who gets the ball. My students play it all day it seems, they always want to play against the teachers. I see old man play it on the streets and shouts of victory erupt from them. This blog is getting harder and harder to write, it seems that is has run its course. On Saturday I will head to the DMZ (weather depending) I have had to postpone it twice already. I have put my 60 day notice in to head home. I am ready to go home, Korea has been a good time, I finally found a good way to explain my reason to go home. Most people will think that I do not like korea, it is not the case; I am having a good time and that results in the problem. Is a good time worth living half way around the world? I do not think so, if I loved it here I would finish my year off, but I do not love it, I like it. Also if this was my first time traveling I would definitely stay but I have been traveling for a few years now and after a while just like most things, it gets old. I really enjoyed my time here and I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking of going; I would also recommend living in Seoul. Seoul is an absolutely amazing city, about the size of New York and it has so many things to do. I am lucky and live 45 minutes away from Seoul so I can make easy day trips into the big city. Seoul and Busan are really the only true great cities Korea has, (think of how many great cities USA has) Korea is really small; about the quarter the size of California. Of course with the small size it makes the train system so efficient just like in Japan (although not up to par with Japan) A lot of people have asked why the USA train system is not as efficient as Japans and it has simply to do with the size. Imagine how inefficient it would be to travel across the USA by train instead of flying. It really is tough to understand how big the USA is and how many natural resources it has which has helped in making the USA so great. People in Japan do not fly for the same reason the people in the USA do not use trains as often, it all has to do with efficiency of time and money.,

When Korean’s meet up with a white person they say “nice to meet you” no matter how long you have known them. It is just one of those misunderstandings in the language translation I am guessing. I was also told it is a Korean joke, it just does not seem to be too funny, just confusing when you hear it for the first time. One of the guys I play basketball with is from Japan and he flew in the exact same day as me and he is also leaving the same day as me, I found it pretty interesting and I really do not have much else to write about.

As of now the weather is suppose to be nice next Saturday so the DMZ trip is looking good, but we all know how wrong the weather man are.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter! Funny story about this Easter, it completely slipped my mind that today was Easter. I did not realize it until a Korean girl and her mom came up to me in the park while I was playing basketball and handed me eggs. I was shocked that I forgot it was Easter, but that is the oblivious life an expat lives in Korea. After handing me the eggs the Korean lady asked me for my phone number, I had to get a little help to explain to her that I did not have a phone; it gets funnier each passing day I do not have a cell phone, but it is awesome. This blog update is not too interesting to me; maybe next Saturday I will head to the DMZ, all depends on the weather. I was very happy I finally got to play a basketball game today; there were finally enough people to play. The talent level was not too great but it was fun. Nothing good to read about this week, Saturday I went to insa dong, the markets there are awesome. I love seeing the huge crowds in such a small area, the insane amounts of items that are for sale and of course the awesome street food.

It is amazing how Koreans can be afraid of foreigners. Maybe because Korea is probably the most homogenous country on earth, I mean you know who is Korean and who is not. In the USA you got no clue, which is awesome. There is not more then one race here, I wish I could see the percentage. It must be 99% Korean. I got a few ideas why they are so afraid of foreigners. Number one, look at their past; the country has been treated like shit. They have been bullied around for so long they are probably happy it is mostly if not all Koreans in Korea. Japan tortured them, China tortured them, (they both at one point in the not so distant past controlled the country) When I first got to Korea I was told you will always be “an insider looking in from the outside” no matter how long I stay, and I believe it. Now with Korea holding the 11th largest economy in the world they are no longer pushed around; they went to rice patty workers to industrial leaders in one generation; there success story is pretty impressive. One major thing is left to happen and that is the future of North Korea. From what I can see the South is just waiting for them to eat them selves away. They are doing a pretty good job at it. At some point the North will fall, everyone hopes it is not war because that will just set the South back because of the damage to the infrastructure, I really think they are just waiting for the North to implode, and it could happen, not tomorrow but maybe in a decade? In the newspaper they wrote about civil unrest occurring in the North which was unheard of because of the brutality the North Korean government treats their civilians. The North’s citizens are tortured, hungry, all those things. I wonder how long it will go on for, will the South some day step in or just wait for the implosion of the North? The North’s government is dumb enough and powerful enough to do it. The citizens have no internet, government run media, tv, newspaper, a small private market which the government is forcibly eliminating. It is absolute hell to be in North Korea right now. This weekend in Insa dong was the first time I have seen a awareness group for the suffering of the north. They were not even Korea which was quite amazing. They were white; I got no clue what country they were from. Koreans are really passive so maybe it is harder to find a group of Koreans doing a public showing like this but North Korea is a very interesting country in the world today. Last Week a S. Korean nave ship sunk of the coast, they are now saying it might have been a torpedo, not a mine; they are still not entirely sure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jebu Island pics link

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Last night I got a haircut and I am still trying to figure out what happened at the barbershop. I have a Korean Culture book and it mentioned a Korean barbershop and it is a unique experience. I tried it out last night, the first time I got a haircut in Korea it was more of a hairdresser then a barbershop; it was the first thing I could find. The haircutting part of this trip went as expected. ( I use trip because it was anything but normal) The barber put on these huge yellow gloves and shampoos my hair. The yellow gloves are like the industrial ones one would use to do some cleaning with. He massaged the hell out of my head, it was rather uncomfortable; this was just the beginning. Then came the clean shave part, around your neck, sideburns, and FOREHEAD, I did not know what was going on but I figured it would not kill me. Most young Koreans have really hairy foreheads, I figured he could tell my forehead does not have any hair. Some of my students literally have hair all the way down to there eyebrows; it is really weird. As they get older I guess they start shaving it. I remember when I first noticed this, it freaked the hell out of me. I told my co workers about this discovery and they were also in shock. Back to the trip, after the shave the barber put more cream or whatever in my hair and (this is when it got awkward) had these huge brushes that he held tightly to my head and he hit a button and these things started going crazy on my head. It hurt, it was uncomfortable and I could not stop laughing because of the situation I was in. (If I was in the USA I would of told the person to stop but since my culture book told me I would be in for a surprise I let it continue) I could only imagine what this guy was thinking about me. I was literally laughing out loud and my face showed many signs of pain, I almost asked him to stop again but I couldn’t, it was too funny. That ended and I was hoping I was out of the woods; I was not. I tried standing up and in English he said “sit down” I was surprised he knew those words, but it is basic for a barber to know these words. The same procedure happened again, this time it was a little more then the last, which means more faces of agony while laughing. Then it was all over; costing me 8,000 won; not bad at all. $8 to wonder what the hell just happened to me and a nice looking haircut

In class Friday one of my students forgot his book, so as I was about to leave class I told my super hyper student to draw on the board so he would not be running around when I came back. This idea went wrong when I got back. He drew a picture of me, he is a hell of a drawer. My other teacher told me he was a good drawer so I wanted to find out. He drew me as an alien because I always show him my alien registration card because he is in awe of it. The alien drawing was awesome. As I look down he decided to add a penis. It was pretty funny, actually it was really funny. I held my laughter in because I am supposed to be the teacher. They could tell I thought it was funny, and they all start laughing. I quickly erased it and on went the class.

Friday night another teacher and I was going to meet up with some Korean girls and bring them to a bar we have not been to in quite a while, the Korean girls have never gone there. We love this bar, they did not. We did not even have the time to sit down and they told us they wanted to go to a different bar. It turns out it was to traditional for them so we had to go to a more modern bar. It was pretty funny because I love that bar. I have written about this bar before, it is always empty and you can go on stage and sing with the workers, it is really a fun place; there is just no customers. We went to a different bar and none of these girls speak good English so it made for a interesting time. I went to bed early because of my trip to Jebu Island the next morning.

I Got directions to Jebu island from the internet and they instructed which buses to go on, the only hard part was after about an hour fifteen minute bus ride I needed to switch and this trip ended in a dirt parking lot. I had no clue where I was supposed to go. I walked to the nearest bus station, got some water and a powerade because I figured I would be lost for a while. Luckily I walked for about five minutes and found a little bus stop and two minutes later the bus came. As I got to Jebu Island the weather was bad but it did not put a damper on the day, this was actually my favorite day since I have been in Korea. I saw the ocean for the first time in what seems to be years. Jebu Island is on the yellow sea across from it is China (which you cannot see) There are tons of mountains around the area. The coolest part it getting out to the island. You can only go at certain times of the day depending on the tide. The paved road is covered in about five feet of water at high tide and remains high for 6 hours. It is pretty cool. I walked around the island, I was the only white person there and it had one nice beach, the rest was all mud. It had some really cool views of mountains in the oceans, cliffs, and of course the ocean. The size of the mountain is about a half square mile. As I got to one side which seemed to have all the excitement there was a row of restaurants and each restaurant had someone dressed in a cartoon costume trying to wave people into there restaurant. It was a pretty funny site. I stopped to get lunch, ( had every kind of clam you could think of, man was it good) During lunch I got invited to join two older Korean couples and I spent the rest of the day with them, they asked me to walk around with them and what not. They were about 7 bottles deep in soju, it was pretty funny because they were super drunk. Each couple left for about 30 minutes at a time, one couple told me they went to throw up, which I thought was pretty funny. It was around 2 PM. They basically rented me for the entire day, at one point another Korean couple asked to take a picture with me and I thought there was going to be a brawl. The other group seemed to get really mad. We went back to the beach and a group was playing soccer and for some reason we ended up playing with them. The one guy told me it was for exercise. Now, if I am in this guys position; after drinking, eating, and throwing up the last thing I am doing is playing soccer but he wanted to so I did it. After that we went to another restaurant where the owner invited us in, they were having a party in memory of the former South Korean President who committed suicide. I stayed there for about an hour, I wanted to stay over night but the weather was not good and it would’ve been a waste. I walked the road back to the bus and headed home. My day was complete and it was easily the best day I had in Korea so far basically because I got to see the beach. I hope to go back soon when the weather is nice and spend a night, they have ocean front hotel rooms for $70 a night, not bad. Jebu island was a cool place, there are no ATM’s on the island, I was told the population is around 1,000, and there are no stores other then restaurants.

Something funny about the culture of Korea and me; in Korea no one does anything alone, it is against every culture rule. Everything is based on doing things together. This is when I step in and break this culture rule. I always get asked why are you alone, why do you not have a girlfriend, are you married, you should be married, where are you friends, etc….I travel alone because it is easy, I can go where I want and when I want and do not have to wait for anyone, plus no one else gets up early on a Saturday morning. Korean’s still do not understand why I travel alone, but it definitely works our better traveling alone because it is just so much easier.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The grocery store always seems to have something exciting, Tuesday night was no exception. I went in to get some milk and toothpaste and when I was in Homeplus the song “when you happy and you know, clap your hands” came on. All the females that do the marketing, by looking good and standing in front of the products did the dance, the whole place was dancing. Imagine about 20 Koreans doing this dance in a crowded grocery store (in just about no clothes.) It was funny because they all came out one by one to do this dance and you could tell none of them wanted to do this and it was the “Happy when you know it” song.
Two students I had today cried, that was a lot of fun. One cried because she tried attacking another student and I made her apologize and the other girl bit a page in her book and ripped it. She them blamed it on me and cried for the next 30 minutes until class ended. It was a lot of fun, especially when she whacked me with a coat hanger when I was putting her jacket on. I am hoping she has a memory like a goldfish and will forget about this tomorrow, crying 6 year olds are always a treat. It is Tuesday night and I am getting excited about this weekend of March Madness. It will be awesome, going in early Saturday and getting myself a huge Western breakfast at the bar. ( Remember western breakfast hardly exists in Korea.) and then watching basketball from about 10 AM till 10 PM, life does not get much better then that.
Sunday March 21, 2010
The western breakfast was everything I dreamed of. Man was it good; it’s funny I am 24 years old and I am writing about eating pancakes, bacon, and toast. This should be an ordinary thing for someone to eat, but not in Korea. It absolutely takes it toll after a while. I want to talk about the setup of restaurants in South Korea. They could not be any different from Western standards, unless of course you go to Itaewon. Korean restaurants are small, very small, you do not tip, and most you take your shoes off and sit on the floor. I absolutely hate because I am so tall and a knee surgery also does not help. It just is not comfortable, the heated floors are nice; that’s about it. The restaurants are really small, probably no more then 15 customers in a traditional Korean Restaurant and that is a high number. You really notice how small they are when you go to Outback or TGI Fridays because they are up to western standards. Some restaurants have you pay right after you order, some will bring you the bill right after you order, and you do not pay at your table, you have to bring it to the hostess. It is pretty unique. The part I find really odd is when you are ready to order you do not wait for the waiter to come to the table, rather you yell out “yogi yo” that is definitely spelt wrong but that is how it sounds. It means here, telling the waiter to come here because I am ready to order. I find it rude, but that’s the culture.
Saturday turned out to be a fun day and night. I went to Itaewon to watch March Madness and man was this frustrating. The Canadian bartender was not in, so it was up to the Korean staff to run the TV. All the games are from the internet and are streamed to the tv. To put it nicely, they had no clue what was going on. Then some boob ( a customer) decided he was going to randomly change the game and the tv went out for about 30 minutes. Everyone heckled him and he left about 15 minutes later. It was nice to see some games and then later in the day one of my English Teachers came to visit and she brought me to an Irish pub for a Saint Patrick’s Day party and man was that bar fun. Too bad the trains stop running at 11.
Another English teacher and I bought a badmitton set today and man is that game difficult. Koreans love it, and they are really good at it. I made an ass out of myself playing that for a while but got my revenge later in the day playing basketball. Later in the day we were sitting in the park and I ran into one of my students, it was pretty funny. She took the role of the teacher and was teaching me Korean. When a student sees a teacher outside of class they go absolutely crazy, it is pretty funny. A little later in the day I saw another student of mine as we were walking to get some food; it took us a moment to realize it was a student and we already walked passed him so we only got to wave to him. I am guessing his mother is wondering why we did not stop and say hello.
Weather is still rather cold here, which makes for not the best of times. Hopefully it will warm up soon!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pics- Nothing too great

It is starting to get quite amusing the amount of Koreans that will come up to me and start talking with me; whether it is walking down the street, waiting for a train, sitting at a bar, playing pool, etc. Most of the time it is a positive experience, they tell me something unique about Korea, things to do, some history, they say how much they Love the USA but have never gone, but it is a dream of theirs. It is totally insane, a dream just to touch the land of the USA; It is really tough to realize how special a place the USA is. Think about it, just about everything the USA does is among the best in the world, and the Koreans are in absolute awe of it. One of my teachers from London summed it up pretty good “When the USA sneezes, the whole world gets a cold.” It is pretty amazing, especially currently being on the outside and seeing it from a Korean perspective. Anyways, enough of that; but I thought it was pretty interesting. Sometimes when you get a Korean coming up to talk to you it is painful. Mostly they want to just have a conversation to practice English and it takes forever to get one sentence completed and to understand what they were talking about. When I first got here I thought it was pretty funny and I still do but it does wear on me. I still sit there and try to hammer out what they are trying to say out of respect to them. Another cool thing is when you walk by a kid 5 years or younger, their eyes light up and then when the parents notice they turn and say hello a million times and get their kid as close to me as possible, just to get their kids introduced to the tiniest amount of English as possible, I also think they want them to see an American just as much to hear a tiny bit of English. Another interesting thing about Koreans, when they see a white person the white person is automatically from the USA, ( I think this is the case with most Asian countries, which we all know simply is not the case. So for all the good or bad a white person does the USA tends to get the credit or blame, whether they are American or not. You have to remember that Korea is almost all Korean people, there just are not many blacks, whites, etc, just basically Korean’s.

Here is one of the most random stories that anyone will ever read about. A few weeks back I was talking to my mom on Skype, she got a phone call and it happened to be from the University of San Diego. They were calling to get donations and my mom simply responded that I was in South Korea, and the girl on the phone (USD student) said her sister was in South Korea, who happened to be living in Suwon ( I live in Suwon) I was on skype the whole time so I was listening to the conversation. This girl also happened to be going to visit her sister the next week in Suwon, and she also went on Semester at Sea. Last Wednesday we all met up and went out to dinner and played some pool, it was a fun time but the story how this all happened I thought was pretty interesting. Speaking of interesting, the cab ride to meet up with this girl was real interesting. We planned on meeting at a police station, well the cab driver brought me to the wrong police station, I had the place written down and everything. Going to the wrong police station made for an interesting time, I told the guard that I was meeting a friend and she then thought my friend got arrested and I was looking for him, it got pretty amusing, after a few minutes I cleared up the story and the police officer told my driver where to go. It took about an extra 40 minutes ( good thing I planned on getting there about 20 minutes early, in a cab I tend to plan on a screw up like this) Small World. When we were playing pool (a group of maybe 8 of us) I noticed about five minutes in that our pool table was the only one with pockets. It threw me for a loop, wondering if my eyesight had left me. I guess they also play pool here with no pockets, I have no clue what type of games they play but it is interesting. After playing for a while, two Korean men came over and played. They knew some English and they wanted to play pool with us, they turned out to be pretty good also. Korean men are very interesting, these two were no different. They loved to drink, make a lot of weird noises randomly and they really get into what they are doing. Maybe it is one of those things you have to see but it is pretty funny. Around midnight I was heading to bed and I said to the Korean men bye and he was not too happy about me leaving and then someone said the word Kimchi and he tried dragging everyone to a street vendor to eat Kimchi together, and he did this for about 10 minutes and he was pretty adamant about it. I do not think anyone went; I just took off after a while with a good laugh.

Saturday March 13- It has been about four days I have not known the date and many random times throughout the day I have thought what day it was but never took the time to look. I finally found out and it is the lucky 13th. Today I finally found some stuff worth buying as souvenirs. I went to Insa-dong, this place is pretty cool. It is a huge street market of all traditional items. A lot of nice Korean ceramics and other cool things, it is also another great place just to watch the crowd. Today I think I was in the biggest subway station in the world. It easily took me ten minutes to get to the exit from the train and it was not because of foot traffic. It was just so big, it was quite amazing how big it was. I accidentally walked into a few Buddhist temples today, they are awesome. All the designs and colors are the same and they are designed pretty cool, the colors being with a pleasant background to look at. I looked at one sign and it said no pictures unless you pay a small fee, well this sign was about five pictures too late and no small fee was paid.

I have been here three months, it is weird; sometimes I feel like I just got to Korea, but most of the time it seems like I have been here for ten years. Don’t take that the wrong way. I am enjoying my time here. But when you go out traveling a country every weekend you see a lot and experience a lot. It is basically non stop. I am looking forward to March Madness when I find myself at a bar and watch college basketball all day and not do much traveling for two weeks other then traveling to the bar. It will be a nice resting point. Then after that the weather will be nice and it there will be the Han river cruise, the DMZ (which seems to get a little more creepier every passing day), and a trip to the west coast beaches.

Sunday March 14-
It rained today and man was it boring. There is not much to do here when it rains, especially in this small apartment. I purchased my MLB subscription so I can watch the Red Sox, Can’t wait for opening day….

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Pics

Older pics

I really wish I was better at taking pictures, but I am not; I like to be part of the moment rather then taking a picture of the moment and missing it....

There is something to be said for teaching two classes of six years olds that know no English. Not a word, it is pretty funny. They look at you like you are from another planet. Being the first day of the new semester there are some kids who are scared and will not show any emotion, (none of my kids cry, thank God) and then you got the kids who are so excited to be in school for the first time they will do anything for attention and tend to pick up small English sayings rather quickly, just enough to so they can laugh. I am on my second day teaching these kids and sometimes you feel like they are learning a word and most of the times they are learning nothing. I tried teaching them boy and girl today to no avail. So basically what I do is play with them. When you play with them they get comfortable with you and they also pick up on the random words you say and see it in action so they learn rather efficiently for a beginner. The best part is hearing songs from when you were a kid. I find myself singing them as much as the kids are. On my schedule for these kids every Thursday is to teach the kids math. I do not see this happening. My administrator told me where the book was and told me good luck. I went in the class passed the books out, opened one up and realized it was not happening. I shut the book and just played with the kids for the next 30 minutes. Hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to teach them the basics of math, but first they need the basics of English. I really enjoy these new classes; it is amazing how easy it is to get burnt out by kids in a class, sometimes it just gets boring. So the new classes bring a new excitement to teaching which is always good. I also got lucky in the classes I really liked to teach in the afternoon I somehow kept. This weekend I plan on waking up early Saturday and ignore every Suwon English teacher and stay in. It is amazing how many teachers here have not been to Seoul or traveled at all. They are happy with what they are doing. How could they not be, they just party till 6 in the morning every weekend and have a blast. So good for them, I am heading to Seoul National University for the second time, hopefully I go to the correct place this time.

A few good things happened this weekend; I found Seoul national University, I got myself a new watch, watched some basketball in Itaewon, and got a new pair of shoes, I also got a new nickname. Friday night I went out with the intention of laying low and waking up early Saturday and traveling all day, and somehow I managed to do it. Friday night I went to Suwon Yuk. Got some dinner and headed to Lao bar. I went with another teacher I work with and we got some BBQ meet and called Galbi and some “:bacon” called sum gip sa. I put bacon in parenthesis because it is not close to bacon back home. It is just pork which they think is bacon. The Galbi is unbelievable though and real cheap. It is beef that has a lot of flavor which you should easily pay 25,000 won for but for some good reason it is only 9000 won. Lao bar is an interesting place. It is a basement bar ( always the best kind of bars) and it is loaded with Military (mostly army), teachers, and Koreans and everyone gets along really well. There seems to be a group about as big as 20 people that are very friendly with each other and makes for a fun time because someone is always up to something and everyone tends to join in on the celebration. Friday night a kid in the army got promoted, which is always nice so that was the party for Friday night. The tradition that these kids follow if quite interesting, who ever gets promoted has to get punched in the chest and can not flinch. I heard it happen once and turned around and it did not look fun. Then another kid who got promoted had to do it too. These are pretty big kids punching one another in the chest, but hey it is tradition right. My new nickname was given to me by a group of Korean girls that we have been hanging out with recently. They call me smiling man. Pretty self explanatory, but it is pretty funny when it is said with a Korean accent. I watched the fire show at 11 which is increasingly becoming more and more entertaining as the weeks pass because they are not the best at this. Often the bartenders are dropping stuff while in show. I am going to bring my camera next week and take a video of it. After that everyone went on to the next place to celebrate the night. I went home; I stuck with my plan to travel the next morning. I ended up making a good decision.

Saturday, as I got up it was quite comfortable outside and I was headed to Seoul National University. I finally made it after going a little astray my first trip. The school itself was pretty impressive, a lot more impressive then the first time I saw it, or thought I saw it. This university actually looked like one. It looked like a typical nice university in the States; the background had plenty of mountains. There were some buildings that had some very cool designs and the mountains really gave the campus a nice feel. Being about a ten minute walk from the city was also nice because it was so quiet and so close to the city. There was a cool arch at the entrance to the campus which gave a pretty cool scene upon entering the University. Overall a pretty nice campus, and of course once you head inside the brick buildings the technology really stands out. I went into the college of business administration building to check it out. After walking around the campus I saw a baseball game going on so I went and watched a couple innings and this game was not too impressive, the talent level was really low, I am pretty sure it was just a scrimmage between Korea University and Seoul National University. Either way, not too impressive, anytime someone got on base they would steal all the way too third base with not even a throw that is how weak the catchers arm was. After the game I headed to Itaewon got some Mexican food and watched a basketball game. After getting off the train at Suwon Yuk I decided to walk around before heading to bed. This is always fun to do in Korea, walk around at night. The Suwon Yuk area is always crowded and the funniest thing to see is the men in the 40’s absolutely dead drunk off soju. It is awesome, these guys are stumbling over the place, passed out in the area where no cars can go, it just basically a blocked off street with bars, hofs, shops, etc. You will always find throwup, you know it is coming because of the smell; it is just really funny to see middle aged men in this condition and it is nor a rarity. The arcade area is pretty cool, filled with games, batting cages, shooting ranges with bb guns. ( if that is how you spell that), and the newest thing a stack of think bricks you get to punch and see how many you can break. I guess you can karate chop it too if you want. I watched a few people do it and it was worth a good laugh. I got home around midnight and went to bed to wake up early again on Sunday to begin an adventure that I did not see coming.

This adventure I went on was finding a pair of shoes, it was not too efficient. I went down to Suwon yuk where there is a six story mall and I walked all around it only to find that every shoe in the mall was too small and too small by a wide margin, not too mention amazingly overpriced. It is amazing how overpriced some items are and then how cheap other items are. Any type of clothing seems to be rather expensive because the brand names here tend to not be created in Korea. Gap, is easily twice the price in Korea then what it would be in the states. Another thing that does not help is that all the malls in Korea tend to be geared toward the upper class, you will not find department stores where you can find low priced clothes on the clearance rack. After not finding any shoes I went back to the restaurant I went to Friday night and got some more galbi and it was just as good as it was Friday night. After grabbing a cab to head home I got dropped off at the usual spot, Ingadong Homeplus, a five minute walk to my apartment; I decided to go in there to find some shoes. This place has just about everything and it had shoes, I am hoping the shoes that I bought will break in and become a little more comfortable so I do not have to go into Seoul and buy a bigger pair. I also bought a new watch because the last two I had stopped ticking and I do a lot of traveling and depend on being somewhere at a certain time. I can not believe I went on Semester at Sea without a watch because it makes every thing so much easier when traveling, but I was also traveling in groups so I guess it didn’t matter, someone had a watch. This was a low key week in terms of entertainment but it was a real fun weekend. The weather is warming up so I should be doing a lot more new traveling, I am planning to go to a beach soon. I live near the west coast which is across the pond from China. And the Koreans hate it, China ( I am convinced there is not much good coming from China) gives Korea a lot of pollution; most of the water is so dirty because of China so therefore the west coast is basically not traveled to. A thing called yellow dust comes from China, which is basically all the pollution sent to Korea in the air which gets pretty heavy in the spring and rumor has it, this yellow dust even reaches Suwon creating very hazy skies. The markets in Asian are awesome, this might be the only part of Korea that I will truly miss. As I walked around Suwon Yuk today I was just amazed at how many different foods there was laying around in the markets. They just have tons of fish either sitting on ice or in small buckets of water, chickens lying around, and every vegetable you can think of. It really it a pretty cool thing just to walk around and experience all the sights and sounds of the markets in Korea or any part of Asia.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pictures copy and paste
I want to talk about the prostitution that exists in South Korea. It is pretty amusing. I was talking to a fellow teacher about this during the week and we could not help but laugh at the situation that presents itself, especially living in the red light district. Every night around 6 Pm there is one guy ( I have noticed this a few times on the way to the gym) who basically puts a bunch of business cards on the ground outside of the love motels. The other night I picked up a card to see what it was. It was a picture of a girl, a phone number, and I could not understand the Korean. Off I went to the gym. This guy does this every night. Then in the morning on the way to work there is an employee of the love motels cleaning up the cards from the street. It is a pretty amusing process. I told my co worker about this and he told me a story about a street around the Suwon Station area. I did not believe it, so we went down there to see it. I could not believe this place existed. It seemed like it was out of a movie. I brought it up to one kid at a bar and he called them “glass houses” it really seemed like he knew what he was talking about. I was still in shock these places existed. It is just really funny. There is a street you walk down and there are literally girls in a glass room, which maybe about 10 feet wide. I wanted to take a picture, but I figured I would get killed or something. If you like a girl, I am guessing you knock or something, just don’t throw a rock to get her attention and go in. This whole situation really makes me laugh, some people might take this the wrong way, but it is just really funny to see this when you had no clue something like this existed and then all of a sudden it is everywhere.These glass house were a few blocks long, it was not just like 5 of them or something small and hidden. Back to the guy that drops the business cards off in front of the love motels, this is not even the funny part. The driver for the call girls, you see them everywhere after dinner. First off, they are in a minivan, just think of a mini van randomly stopping and out comes seven hookers, dressed like hookers from the short skirts to the really high heels, it is a bizarre sight. The minivan is what really gets me. Maybe just coming from the USA you would think a hooker would be in a small fancy sports car, not a mini van which symbolizes soccer moms. From what I understand the government is trying to crack down on this kind of activity but it is a really slow moving process.

Thursday February 25,
Last night I bought a basketball and went to the park and played. It has been 60 degrees here the last few days, which is soon to change and get cold again. Anyways, every single Korean that walked by me stopped to watch a tall white person play basketball. After a while three Koreans aged 23 came to play. We shot around for a bit and two of them spoke some English and the third did not even try. They were funny kids, mention every famous thing about the USA. The funniest part about the night, revealed some truth to my thinking about the last few months here. Koreans, and basically all Asians wear USA sport teams hats. They got no clue what the teams are, they just buy the hats because they like the color or design. One kid had an Atlanta Braves hat and he had no clue. He liked the blue and red. I told him about the team, and he did not even know it was a baseball team. It was worth a good laugh.

On Sunday I went back to the Korean War Museum and they did a really good job with this place. One statue I did not see the first time I went was the statue of brothers. This was a pretty moving statue. The statue is of two brothers hugging each other on the battlefield, one brother is fighting for the South and one for the North. It gives a real creepy feeling when you see it. They somehow got divided up and had to fight against each other. It was the most memorable thing in the museum. I have also figured out why all South Korean men smoke so much, a Korean teacher told me why. It is a pretty simple answer, they all have to serve two years in the military and just about everyone in the military smokes, and smoking of course is a hard habit to kick, so they continue doing it; it makes a lot of sense.

One kid I hang out with teaches at a public school. I teach at a private school, better known as a hawgon. There are a few differences, public gets more days off, a lot more, they can pick when they want to vacation, they are often the only English teacher in the school, they get paid a tiny bit less then a private school, and they can basically do anything when teaching kids. He told me that all he mostly does is play games and watch movies. The hawgon is very different, because there is so much pressure put on by the parents to the director of the school. I think if I got caught playing a game or watching a movie they would ask me politely to go home. From what I hear I am in a very good situation director wise because mine are very nice and hawgons are known for not being to teacher friendly, so that’s a plus. Friday night was the much anticipated dinner with the boss. The three foreign teachers and one rich Korean man; now you have to remember Koreans love whiskey, well all Asians love whiskey. The dinner everything started out normal, just had some Vietnamese food, but then we went to a bar; which is his hangout spot. The bartenders were nervous as hell because there were three white people in the bar. One of the kids ordered a margarita and after about twenty minutes the bartenders came back and told him he needed to order another drink because they did not know how to make it. We got a good laugh out of that. Anyways, back to the whiskey. This bar we were at you can buy a bottle of alcohol and if you do not finish it they will store it for you for the next time you come back. ( I got no clue how much this cost, but it is not cheap.) The amount of money this guy spends for a night out is a lot. He is a real bright man, who has a lot of ambition; he is currently trying to start an international school in the Philippines for the tune of $35 million. A nice quiet night planned, so I could wake up early and travel turned into an exciting night with our boss. Again, all the teachers became victims of the fact that the bars do not close down. I got this one group of friends who live in about 45 minutes by bus in the countryside and they come to Suwon every weekend and every weekend they stay up till 6 and wait for the busses to start up again. I feel bad when I tell them I am going to bed and it is before 6. They always make it out for Friday and Saturday; it is pretty impressive.

Tomorrow, Monday March 1 is a holiday, resulting in another three day weekend. It is there Independence day, in 1919 they declared there independence from Japan. I am going to travel into Seoul and find something to do, just not quite sure yet; that is the best part about being halfway around the world from anyone you are real close to do. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. USA Vs. Canada could be on the menu for tomorrow also. I think this blog is starting to get a little boring, because I am becoming more used to South Korea and most things I do are of the same until the weather gets nicer when I can do a little more traveling which will be really soon. My two biggest things that I still want to do are go to the DMZ and then head to the hang river and go on a nice boat ride and see Seoul, It is still pretty amazing how many Koreans will stop on the streets just to say hello. I have noticed that parents with young kids do it more often then anyone else, mostly all of them are in amazement of an American. They will almost always want to continue talking for as long as you let them. This often becomes difficult; for example, when I go to the gym I put my Ipod in and I can not hear anyone and I will often see people waving to me but I do not notice until they have been waving for a period of time and I miss them and they are often disappointed and I look like an ass, but it happens. This happens every day but it is never a big deal or a pain because everyone is so friendly and I often get amused by it and it kills time when there is nothing else to do. Also in the markets you are more of a target then a celebrity. I know they jack the prices up when the see a tall white person come to buy fruits and vegetables. I do a little haggling with them and it usually becomes very friendly and a pretty fun time because they know they are making money and I know I am getting ripped off even though it is still really cheap for me. Another interesting thing is the old people and how many of them are really hunched over. They literally look like and upside down L. This is because there whole lives they have been dragging carts on there back selling some good or picking up trash from the streets, it is pretty amazing how much they have given to there country in physical labor which every country needs to do in order to prosper. Just like how my grandparents generation was the special generation of our time, theirs is too.

I hope everyone is doing well back home. There is one thing I am pretty amazed at, this blog has hit 50 pages, I never in my life thought I would compile any writing 50 pages. Blows my mind. GO TEAM USA!!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Pictures

I made my first “how did I screw that one up” mistake; well, I made it a while ago but I realized it just the other day and Today (Tuesday) I asked my co teachers. (Korean) This mistake explains a disappointment of mine really well. SEOUL NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION IS NOT SEOUL NATIONAL UNIVERSITY. In fact there is a major difference. Seoul National University is one of the most prestigious Universities in the world; Seoul National University of Education is not even prestigious in Seoul. The fact that I was disappointed in what I saw for the campus of “Seoul National University” is a good thing because it was not Seoul National University. I got the idea Sunday when I was on the subway; there were two different stops about six or eight stops away each stating the Universities. Monday I forgot to ask anyone so I did today. The good part about it is I have another day to do some traveling around Seoul just incase if I need an excuse to go out. I got a pretty good routine going. I generally will stay in Friday night so I can wake up early Saturday, go to the gym and then travel around all day. At the end of my traveling in Seoul I go to Itaewon and watch a sporting event, meet some people, (tell them I do not have a phone, which is starting to freak people out) and have some adult beverages. 2500 won for a pint of frost OB beer. You can not beat it. The bar I have been going to is pretty cool, tons of tv’s, dart boards and people from all over the world (this is my favorite part.) it is not just people from the USA (sometimes there is nothing like talking to someone from the USA however, makes it fell like I am back home for a bit,) also the fact that they speak the same language makes the bar nice to go to. That is my typical Saturday, pretty good day. A few Saturdays ago at Sam Ryans I was watching the Celtics play and a lady from Hong Kong was there and she went crazy, I found a video of the lady, copy and past this web address.

And for the people that miss seeing me (hopefully there is one or two people by now) I make a cameo about 25 seconds into the video, I am behind my friend John who is wearing the yellow shirt, I am wearing the grey long sleeve shirt sitting at the bar.

Samsung is a major company is Suwon, because of Samsung one part of Suwon is littered with foreigners, once again not all USA citizens. Therefore with a bunch of foreigners located in one are there must be a bar for foreigners in that little area. Now Bar, it is a gold mind; it is the only bar of its kind located in a perfect spot. I have only gone once; it is not a bad place (no Sam Ryan’s) but not bad. I met some kid from Slovakia at the gym and he is an employee of Samsung. If you are white and live in Suwon you are either an English teacher or work at Samsung. This kid saved my ass the past week, my apartment key fell out of my back pack when I was leaving the gym. Walked about 10 minutes home in the cold to realize I had no key. I figured I was screwed. I walked back to the gym and looked where I last opened my back pack. Somehow, some way the only white person, and the only person that speaks English at the gym found it. Pure shit luck. He told me he found it and he put it at the front desk, this was a project getting it from the front desk because they do not speak English; but after a few motions of someone using a key and me saying key repeatedly I got it back. Trying to communicate with someone that does not speak the same language; like in the case of my key and the workers at the front desk, (even though the “front desk” is located in the back of the gym) makes for a pretty funny situation, no matter what I always end up talking English louder and faster each time until realizing it is not helping. My students do the same to me, they will talk to me in Korean like I know what they are saying. Most times I tell them to stop, but sometimes I will let them finish just to get a laugh.

Thursday February 11, 2010
I just got back from my kids kindergarten graduation; it was funny seeing all the kids dressed up; the best part of the night was when around 20 students dressed up as ninjas. No matter what the situation is, it seems to be funny when Asian’s dress up as ninjas; it just seems right. After our dinner got postponed because some teachers were tired, moved to Wednesday night; so I took the liberty of getting myself a pizza; it will probably be the last pizza I eat in South Korea. Was not good, actually it reminded me of eating cardboard; it had no taste and I got the supreme to try and add flavor, the only thing it added was hot dog. They put hot dog on the pizza; that pretty much ends my pizza cravings for the next four months. Halftime Pizza and Poopsie’s pizza would not be bad right now.

Saturday February 13-
This turned out to be a fun day. It was spent entirely in Itaewon; which is the foreigner district of Seoul. This part of Seoul is awesome, there are people from all over the world; if you want to find someone from any area of the world this is the spot where you will find them. This is what makes Itaewon a special place. Some Koreans never go here, I was talking to two Koreans at a bar Saturday night and they told me that they drink in other areas of Seoul before heading to Itaewon because they need to drink to get the courage to go to Itaewon. This tends to be the thinking for most Koreans. They are intimidated by foreigners. This is the case because South Korea is so traditional. They do not call it racism but it is. Koreans are racist; not segregation racist but enough to know that if you are not Korean you are on the outside looking in on society; Itaewon seems to be the place where all the foreigners can go and be with people of their own race It is funny how this happens and it happens no matter where you go in the world; it is pretty interesting. Back to my day in Itaewon, it was spent watching the opening ceremony, a replay of the Super Bowl, I was correct in my pick last week. Thank you Peyton Manning for that, after watching the Olympics and the super Bowl I met a bunch of new people, some familiar faces; which is weird because the only familiar faces were the teachers and students at my school before this month. I have met a lot of good people here; which always makes for a fun time. We played darts, (during one of the dart games some kid ordered “insane” buffalo wings, these were as the title goes; I could not believe how hot they were. Of course when someone asked me to eat one I said something like “that’s no problem, they can not be too hot; well they were, I did not do anything for the next 20 minutes but flush my mouth out in the sink in the bathroom, it was incredible to taste these things, nothing like I have had before. It would be funny if I ordered them again and recorded a video and see the reactions.) had various conversations until it was time to go to the next drinking facility to play pool. I stayed about 15 minutes longer then I should have to catch the train back to Suwon. I got to Seoul Station to find out that there were no more trains going to Suwon. I made a rookie traveling mistake earlier in the day for what times the trains stop leaving Seoul. I looked at the slot for the trains arriving in Seoul instead of leaving. O well. I got a cab driver down to 20000 won for a ride home from Seoul; it is a great price, everyone that misses the train to wherever their destination is gets grouped together and they go in the same cab. You save money and the cabs make money. Yet, my memories of my last cab ride (the guy driving a million miles an hour, actually kilometers, running street lights, and scaring the shit out of me.) I opted to go back to Itaewon.(remember South Korea has one of the highest fatality rates from traffic accidents in the world) The subway in Seoul still had about twenty minutes of running time. Going back to Itaewon meant staying up till 6am; this is when the trains start running again. I headed back to Itaewon, got some street food which was absolutely delicious and went back into the bars. I made it till about 4 am with no problem, and then I hit a wall and wanted to sleep. I walked around Itaewon and it was amazing to see how busy and loud it still was. After walking around for about 30 minutes I was going to make a decision, either sleep (they have these really cheap places to sleep where it is basically on a mat, I forget the Korean name of them, they are around 10000 won) or I was going to another bar. I didn’t see any sense in sleeping for two hours; I saw a lot of sense going to another bar for two hours and then headed home. I went to the bar; it blew me away with how busy this place was. When I first got there it was basically to kill two hours, then it got real fun and I would’ve liked to of stayed longer but it was time to go home. I left around 7:00 AM and the bar was still packed, it is unbelievable how these bars are busy this late into the morning. The trains opened back up at six but it was too much fun and I stayed an extra hour. I would like to find out how late these people stay up till. I still think this is awful for society, bars not closing down, but if they allow it why not join the winning team. The trains were back up and running and I went home ready for a nice nap.

Sunday February 14, 2010
It is Lunar New Years and it is eerie how quiet it is outside, I have never seen Suwon like this. For this holiday everyone basically leaves the city and goes to visit family. Restaurant that are normally light up the street with fluorescent lights are closed and dark, there is about no one roaming the streets. It is weird seeing Suwon like this because this city is always bustling with people. For this holiday and Valentines Day it seems like they turned the grocery store upside down. They have literally moved everything in the entrance. This meant I had to go look for my milk (which is super expensive, I easily spend $12 a week on milk.) It was quite amazing how much the grocery store entrance changed for this holiday. It is a major holiday for people. This is basically their version of Christmas. It is now Thursday February 18, and the grocery store is back to normal. It is amazing how much quieter it seems to me now in the grocery store. When I first got here I was blown away buy it. They have ladies trying to sell you everything and yelling trying to get any customers attention. They still do this now but I am just used to is so it seems like nothing now. On Monday of the holiday I went back to the Hawseong Walls, it was a nice enough day to spend outside and my friend and I walked it for about 2-3 hours; it is actually a pretty nice walk, it has some really cool views of Suwon and you can see how big and densely populated the city actually is. (I posted pictures) A little interesting piece of information, the swastika is very visible in South Korea and this was not created by the Nazi’s. The original meaning is peace. When I first saw it I was shocked to see it, even asking my coworkers if they were looking at the same thing I was; I was told the history of it and it is pretty amazing how the Nazi’s turned this symbol into such a horror. I am guessing I learned this at one point of my life and just forgot about it which I am betting most people reading this did the same.

I can not wait for the warm weather to come!!!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday February 7, 2010
I had a very quiet weekend this past weekend. I stayed in Suwon for the most part of the weekend. I went into Seoul Sunday to do some exploring and people watching. People watching in Seoul is fun because there are so many people. It is crazy how many people there are. The city of Seoul is in comparison to New York City in the size, a little bigger. Days when I go into Seoul I can only got to a few parts of Seoul. On Sunday I went to Gangnam and Coex. Gangnam is one of the upscale parts of Seoul. This is where the bus from Suwon drops most people off; it is the last stop and most common because it is closer to other parts of Seoul because the subway is 100 feet from the bus stop. Street food in Korea never seems to let me down, I got a burger for 2500 won ($2) it was not an American burger but not bad. The street food vendors always have a huge crowd in front of them. Whether it be in Suwon on a side street or in the middle of Seoul. Gangnam was where I did the people watching and it is a very interesting place to people watch because everyone in this area is so fashionable. One of the teachers told me about this area and said that if you want to date a girl from Gangnam you have to have deep pockets; so I do not meet the criteria for dating girls from Gangnam. In general girls in Korea are very fashionable; and Seoul brings it to a whole new level, it is quite amazing how everyone is dressed to the nines. The men seem to dress just like the girls, very fashionable……….. only if they were girls. There clothes are all very tight and well they look like a bunch of girls, it is pretty funny. I do not think the fact that they are tiny help them out too much either. After heading back to the subway station I went to Coex. Coex, is a cool area in Seoul; it has a gigantic mall, a casino, and the Seoul World Trade Center. The buildings all around are skyscrapers and it makes it feel like it is an important part of the city.

Next Sunday is the lunar New Year, which means that Monday there is no school. From what I have read the lunar New Year in Korea is not like most Asian countries. China goes absolutely nuts, they basically shut down the country. Koreans mostly leave Seoul and head back to the countryside and spend down time with their families. Since I do not have family here and I have plenty of downtime when I am not teaching I will have a very exciting three day weekend. I am going to head back to the Korean War Memorial Museum, and experience the nightlife of Korea. Hopefully one night I can go to a night market, they are supposed to be a cool sight to see. Our school semester is ending this week. We have a graduation for kindergarten and the rest of the kids I guess they just tell them to move along. ( how it should be) School’s in Korea change every Mid February and September, these are there two semesters. I wish that graduation was not happening because I started to really enjoy my kindergarten classes, finally got to know the kids pretty well, life goes on. I am looking forward to my new students soon. It is funny, when our school gets a new student, the directors of the school do not like to tell the English teacher, same thing when a student leaves. It makes for some confusion. The leaving part is not as big a deal as when a random kid sits in my class and they do not speak any English, so I can not interact with them. And wonder what they hell they are doing in my class; after a while you just get used to it and just realized that the hawgon (private language school) is very inefficient at this process. From what I hear the economy has pretty much put a squash on new English teaching jobs in the private language schools, but the public schools are still hiring for there Sep/Mid Feb jobs. We have had some kids leave because of financial reasons and the fact that Hawgons get ripped apart in the newspaper here because the students just get overwhelmed with school. Our school does kindy in the morning, and in the afternoon it is students coming from public school for the rest of the day. They have a long day for them and most students are just burnt out and it is clear that some kids do not want to do anything. They literally never do hw and do nothing in class because there is too much pressure on them and way too much studying for a young kid to do. None of my kids are more then 10 American years and they have school for 10+ hours a day. It shows how important it is to learn English and how much society stresses it so they can become a powerful force in the world and further advance there country and the growth stage in such a small country takes a lot of investment of time. It is cool see a country like Korea in the present because they are in such a growth period, something you will never see in the United States because they have already been through those times. I did not write much this week because I really did not do much, this weekend was more of relaxation then traveling around and finding new things to do.

My money is on the Saints, I will not be able to watch the Super Bowl until next weekend; A good party can always be put on hold for a week…….

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Everyone knows how Asians are the worst drivers back in the states, and Asian women are even worse; well, in Korea its all that combined into one. The traffic in Korea is not fun. The people can not drive. Korea has one of the highest traffic deaths in the world. It is easy to see why. I am happy that I do not drive here and take the train almost anywhere I go (sometimes the bus) The train is great, runs on time, easy to use, and very comfortable. Back to Korean drivers, they are bad. Waiting at a traffic light to cross the street is always interesting. Not all drivers follow the “red means stop” idea. It happens all the time, it is more of a shock to see people obeying traffic signs then to see cars or bikes running a light. A major reason why everyone runs these red lights is that the traffic rules just are not enforced heavily. Motorbikes are the worst, they do whatever they want. They drive on sidewalks, run red lights more frequently and they will do just about anything to get somewhere. You just have to be really careful when crossing the streets or walking on the sidewalk because you never know who you are going to cross paths with. South Korea is considered the “most wired” country in the world. Between their cell phones and internet Koreans can not get enough of it. There is something always going on with their phone, whether they are playing a video game, talking, texting, music, looking at websites, it is nonstop. It makes people in the USA look like they never use them. I do not have a cell phone here, at first I did not plan on getting one, and I might cave on this idea. Whenever I tell someone I do not have cell phone they look at me like I am from outer space. It is nice not having a phone and at times hard. Like when I meet people of course it is hard to meet up with them, but that is what facebook is for. Korean kids absolutely love video games, it seems like that is all they do on the weekends. Whenever I ask my kids what they are going to do for the weekend video games always comes out of the boys mouths. And there are pc rooms around the area. You can not walk anywhere without seeing one. Pc game rooms and coffee shops are everywhere.

I have been here for almost two months now. I have realized a few things. First thing is I do not want to be a teacher for the rest of my life. It is not that I do not like it; I like it enough to do it for the time that I am here. Private business definitely is more appealing to me. It can be really frustrating at times and also very fun at times. Seeing the kids learn English right in front of you is pretty cool and rewarding though. S. Korea is very modern, yet not westernized which can make for some interesting sites. When I go to Seoul it seems like I am in a major city in the USA, but when I walk down Suwon at times you would think you are in a third world country, and then some parts of the city feels like I am back in the USA again. My favorite part of Suwon is the Suwon Station area; there is so much to do in such a little area.

On Saturday I went to Seoul National University of Education. I was expecting a lot more then it was. I was expecting to see this beautiful campus like University of San Diego because that is the school I went to and what I was used to being a part of. Well, I was wrong. It was still a nice school with modern buildings but nothing of what I was expecting. This is the best school in Korea, and it is known for its rigorous academics so I thought I mine as well check it out. I was a little disappointed that I did not find any parties going on at the time I went. It was a fun time, after that I went to Itaewon again and got some Mexican food and it was awesome, I then watched the Celtics get beat by the Atlanta Hawks (they got a very good team) then I left Seoul around 10:30 to catch the last train home, I made it by seven minutes. This is the worst part about the train system here. It shuts completely down at 12. In order to get back to Suwon you have to plan really well, and we all know that losing track of time at a bar in a major city is very easy to do. This is when you have two choices; take a cab home and pay about 50,000 won or party till 5:30 AM when I believe the trains and buses start working again I made the train, talked to some kid from Georgia. People from the south are always interesting. I was telling him about the Korean War memorial and the next words out of his mouth were “is there a lot of war history there?” He was interesting to say the least, but a good kid. As I got back to Suwon I decided to grab a beer at a bar before I went home. This turned an early night into a long night. I met some kids from London, New Zealand, and the USA. After leaving that bar we went to a new place right down the street and it was a fun time. The bars do not close down in S. Korea so it makes for a long night; I honestly think that closing bars down at a certain time is real beneficial to society. Before I knew it, 4:30 AM comes, once I realized how late it was I headed home, this club still with a pretty good crowd (mostly Koreans) as I was walking to the door there was a bunch of people coming into the club. I could not believe it. 4:30 AM and they are entering a club, that was pretty cool. As I was walking down the street there are a few carnival esque games you can play. The game I played entailed a gun with rubber bullets and it was awesome. Any place you can stay out all night then go shooting is good in my book. I hit a few targets, missed a few more then took a cab ride home. Noon time Sunday I got up and walked around Suwon (It has started to get a little warmer here and hopefully that will continue.) and went to the market I saw the week before to get a meal which still looked delicious. It was not. They served the meat cold and it was not the best quality meat. I ate about half of it and paid for it. It was actually very expensive too, which did not help matters. It did not compare to the burrito I got the night before. I have found a few cool things to do but I am waiting for it to get warmer outside so they can be enjoyed a little more, I can not wait to take a boat ride on the Han river and go to the DMZ. Obviously these will have to wait until the weather gets warmer. My friend that lives in China (I went on Semester at Sea with) is flying into Seoul on the 14th. I am looking forward to that; I met some fun people this weekend, always nice to meet good people when you live in a foreign country. After this weekend I realized that I should spend time on learning the language. I started to learn it but I read a few books and stopped learning the language and have fell back to knowing just about nothing. So this is what I will be doing in the coming weeks.
I hope everyone is doing well

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Pictures, the cow ones are pretty cool

An interesting thing happened this week while I was walking home for lunch break. There was an old Korean man sitting outside his home and waved me over. He spoke some English not very well, but enough to make conversation. He ended up being a Korean War Veteran. He had his Veteran baseball cap on with his medals he received during the war and he was very proud to show them off, and was even happier to show them to a young USA citizen. You could not wipe the smile off his face, he was really happy that he fought with the United States and was even happier about the freedom that the USA gave his country. It was another one of those random cool moments that happens in the life of an English teacher in South Korea.

Sunday January 24, 2010
Friday night consisted of going to Fridays, getting a cheeseburger and a margarita then headed to bed to get up early Saturday to go exploring in some part of Seoul that I forget the name of. The reason why I forget the name was that this part of Seoul had nothing in it and the name does not seem important enough to remember. There was suppose to be an old antique market located there, supposedly the oldest in Seoul. One of the kids I teach with wanted to go, he told me about it and I was interested. It was not all bad, the one restaurant we stopped at had a phenomenal pork cutlet. So for about 3 hours of traveling all we really ended up with was a pork cutlet, it was fairly nice out so it was not a wasted day. After leaving this market we went to Itaewon and went to Sam Ryan’s which is the sports bar that I went to the week before, (and see myself going back to a lot) we watched the Celtics game and had a good time. I stayed a little later and watched some hockey and met some kids from the USA and ended up playing darts with them for a while, and then headed back to Suwon, or so I thought. On the way home I had to switch trains to get to the train that went back to Suwon, little did I know this train stopped running one minute before I got there and 45 minutes earlier then all the other trains. Now I was stuck in a random train station in some part of Seoul. I took a cab back to Suwon with a few other people and was about 40 minutes outside of Suwon. Other then that little miss hap it was a good time. Shit happens.

This Sunday turned out to be pretty cool. After going to the gym and finding out they are closed on Sunday I wondered what I could do to kill time today. I was thinking about going back to Seoul and check some stuff out or go watch the Bruins. I decided to stay in Suwon and check out more of the city. The whole city seems to be set up in the same design with tiny restaurants littered everywhere and little convenience stores on every corner. I was walking around and started to get a little hungry and I ran into a small pizza store. Pizza tends to be very expensive in Korea. Usually around 20,000 Won for a pizza. This place the pizza was 5,000 won so I figured I would try it out. The pizza was good, for some reason they put corn on my cheese pizza. It tasted the exact same as the more expensive pizzas for a quarter of the price. I realize that no pizza here will taste anything like back home; it is like being in San Diego, do not expect to come by good pizza too often because it does not exist. The funny part of the pizza place was the translation of the menu. Pepperoni was spelt “Pepaloni” While I was walking around Suwon just looking at the array of restaurants located in such a small area I smelt some damn good food. I was disappointed when I got there because not only did it smell good, it looked awesome and I just ate a crappy pizza and was no longer hungry. This little market they were chopping up pig and serving the food five feet right next to where they were chopping it up. Next Saturday afternoon I will be heading here to try this food out and I am pretty excited about it because it is tough to find any real meat around Korea. It seems that the other two teachers have not explored this area at all; actually, it seems for the almost two months I have been here that I have explored more of the area we live around then they have, which is quite interesting, resulting into some cool places I have found that they had no clue existed. After walking through the market I wanted to head to the butcher shop for the first time. This place was cool.

If a man can not watch playoff football on a Sunday in January, he mine as well watch a butcher carve open a cows head. That is exactly what I did; it was pretty cool to see it. There is something special about a bunch of guys sitting together on a Sunday watching a butcher chop open a cows head. I watched him gut two cows’ heads. It is quite the technique; I got some pretty cool pictures of the cow. I got some meat from the butcher will I will be cooking for the first time in my tiny apartment (unless you count making cereal cooking.) I have gotten a little tired of going out to dinner every night, even though it is so cheap. The note that I will leave on which I do not like, at the grocery store they charge 60 Won for a grocery bag, I know it is not much but I tend to always grab an extra one because I double them as my trash bags. The trash situation for my apartment is pretty funny; actually the trash situation for South Korea is pretty funny. I might have written about this earlier. If I didn’t, hear goes. Trash is just left in the tiny parking lot under the apartment complex; there is no dumpster to be found. It just stacks up against s wall on the ground until the trash man comes. The trash process is interesting. A flat bed pickup truck will drive up and down the street and the driver will talk on the loudspeaker and announce what he is picking up. One day if he is picking up TV’s he will drive up and down the streets announcing the trash item of the day are TV’s. It is a funny process, and took me a while to figure out why I consistently heard a man yelling over a car’s loudspeaker everyday driving up and down the street. I have also come to realize that I live in the worst part of Suwon, all the buildings in my neighborhood seem to be the worst no matter where I go in Suwon. The good thing about my neighbor it is centrally located, everything is right around the area. I guess you get the good with the bad.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday January 17

Pictures- Still do not think I got any great photos of Korea yet

In South Korea it is legal to smoke anywhere unlike back home. What a great law it is to ban smoking in restaurants, bars, movie theaters, etc. I do not smoke and never have really been around a smoking crowd, so I realize when someone is smoking around me. Asians smoke like a bastard. Everywhere someone is smoking and whenever I go out, a restaurant, a bar, the hallway in my apartment, it sucks when someone has smoked in the elevator. That is the worst; it is like being trapped in an elevator when someone has farted, but worse. Everything smells like smoke after, and breathing is not much fun, but still remains a necessity to survive on earth. It is not just males that smoke either, females smoke just as much. The younger generations of Koreans do not smoke as much as there parent’s generation but it is definitely more prevalent then in the United States.
A few funny things that have happened recently, Thursday when I was leaving school for the night I got in the elevator with two Koreans who were coming from the floor above me. (we are on the third floor of four) I was sitting there just waiting for the ride to end and all of a sudden one of the Korean started rubbing against me. (caught me by surprise) then he bumped me again, I was still ignoring him at this point, then all of a sudden his hand hit my upper arm, I finally looked at him to find out what he was doing. (Most random things like this are Koreans being interested in Americans) and he was measuring himself with me. It was pretty funny. I started laughing and he did too. Then his friend said tall about a million times to me, all three of us had a laugh and they went on there way. Now, the most surprising thing that has happened, it has to do with one of my students. I was walking by the classroom and he had his middle finger up. He is probably 11 years old and he is just beginning English, as I walk into the class I hear the saying “fuck you” I told him to stop immediately; I do not think he knows what this saying means. There is now way he understands the meaning of this saying because he can not put a sentence together. After I told him to stop and that it was not nice he did not do it for the rest of class. The next class I walk by the window and there it was, the middle finger, waving in the air again; this time there was a song to go with it. It made no sense at all. Something about two fingers becoming one and then “fuck you.” I then told him to stop doing that and it has not happened since. It is a pretty funny story. I also had my first student who I got mad at. Looking back, this story is pretty funny. The kid was yelling, screaming and running around. So I put his name on the board, he stopped yelling for about a minute, then he started running around, so I put a check next to his name. Then he got really quiet; I started writing on the whiteboard, and the next thing I know the kid starts attacking me like a little ninja, throwing punches and kicking me. So I made him stand outside the door for a while and another teacher made me bring him back into my class. So far, this is the only behavioral problem I have had.
Sunday January 17, 2010
Another weekend in South Korea is in the books. Friday night two teachers and I went down to Suwon Yuk (Station) and went to a BBQ restaurant and it was awesome. The BBQ like anywhere is good. Throw in a few beers and some soju it turned into a fun evening. The lady that worked at the restaurant was the same lady I met when I went out on Christmas Eve and she immediately pointed to me after walking through the door. She was still friendly as ever. She spoke a few words of English and was constantly using them to use, she knew “thank you very much and ok.” It was funny for a while then it became quite annoying. She would not stop saying “ok” it was like the rap song where it is repeatedly spoken. However, she was a really friendly lady. Later in the night we went to the infamous “Now Bar” this is where all the foreigners hang out and waste there time. I was surprised how small it was. I created a huge bar in my mind and it did not come close to being the bar that I made up. However, it was still a fun place with a pool table and a bunch of white people. You never realize how much you miss seeing white people or eating American food until you either see a bunch of white people or eat a cheeseburger.
Today, Sunday my friend and I went into Seoul. I needed to get some basketball sneakers. Since I got a pretty big foot I had to go to the foreigner district of Seoul to get a pair of shoes. Itaewon is the foreigner district in Seoul, and it is a cool place, a few things that it has, bars, western chain restaurants, shopping, custom tailored suits, American sports. Since we went in early enough Sunday morning we got to catch the last half of the playoff game of the Colts and ravens. Even though the game was basically over in the third it was still great to see an NFL playoff game. There is still nothing in the world like watching a NFL playoff game, drinking a beer and eating a Cheeseburger. Even though the cheeseburgers are not to good so far in Korea. They are not bad, but nothing like the 99. Itaewon is a cool place and I will be headed back there next weekend to pick up some more stuff and watch more sports. After leaving Itaewon we took the subway to a market in another area of Seoul. This outdoor market was the biggest market I have ever seen. It made any other market I have seen in Asia look really small. It kept going on and on. I love the markets, I usually never buy anything because there tends to be nothing worth buying, but the people watching is awesome. The atmosphere in the markets is awesome. You can feel the energy because there are so many people and everyone is haggling for prices and there always seems to be music coming from somewhere. And of course the Koreans always grab the American because they know they have money and are willing to spend money.

If anyone wants to get in touch with me, ask me any questions, comments, whatever….My email is
Also, I have skype (a program on your computer where you can talk to people for free) my skype name is Patrick.jones1986