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

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Copy and paste

Sunday, January 10 2010
A really quite interesting fact on South Korea’s delivery food service; In South Korea, when a restaurant delivers food they deliver with real silverware, bowls, cups, plates, etc. Not the throw away type that Americans are used to. And if you ask me it is rather inefficient. (They come back to get everything later) They drop off all the food in nice bowls, plates, etc and everyone enjoys there meal and the silverware is then left outside the apartment door and is picked up later that evening. Do not ask me what happens if the silverware is not left out ( I do not know and do not intend to find out, at least I intend not to find out the hard way) The first few times I saw food outside of my neighbors door and wondered why this was the case. I just figured he was a weirdo. Then I was walking by with a fellow teacher and he told me about this phenomenon. It answered a lot of questions and also brought upon a new one. Why the hell do they do this? It seems so inefficient from a business standpoint. That is the thing with Koreans; they strive to become more business efficient like in the west but they find it tough to drop the traditional values that Koreans hold. (In ten years from now Koreans will not drop off silverware after making a food delivery) It is interesting to be in a country seeing this change from traditional to modern western standards of business, and realizing that in no more then 10 years this country will be completely different. It will be a younger generation with completely different values. From traditional to modern, it will be fun to watch.
Another weekend has passed; I did not do much this weekend. I am waiting on my paycheck, which I will get this week in cash because I have not received my alien registration card yet. There is nothing like getting paid in cash. Today I went with the two other white teachers (only one is American, other is British) to Hwaseong fortress in Suwon. It is quite a place. It is actually a part of Suwon and quite the popular tourist attraction. Construction of this fortress began in 1794 and went through 1796. The cool thing about this fortress is the wall; it seems like it is the Great Wall of China’s younger brother (much younger, like just out of the womb younger brother) It is around 3.43 miles (I did the conversion from kilometers for everyone) Everything over here is measured differently from the USA, actually just about everything in the world is measured differently from the USA. The wall that runs 3.43 miles actually has a city in it. The fortress and walls gave a major strategic advantage to the local warriors because of the protection it gave them from the enemy. After entering through the walls, there is a huge market place ( I love street markets) they tend to have amazing food at incredibly low prices. I had smoked octopus tentacles because a street vendor offered me one and it was amazing. From the burgers with BBQ sauce, to the orange chicken, waffles, pancakes filled with syrup and walnuts, chicken kabobs, dumplings, waffles with beef, I could go on and on. Anyways, it is fun and a very interesting thing to kill time and satisfy hunger. After walking through the market we stumbled upon a Buddhist temple. This temple was right outside of the market; it was elevated a little bit and was very peaceful. It was amazing how quiet it was because it was so close to the markets which were so busy. It felt like we were out in the country. The temples were cool; the colors used in the artwork were amazing, it was so bright, and so artistic. You could not spot one nail in any of the temples; which is what they take pride in. It really was a cool thing to see. It was interesting to see how the artwork has held up in the cold weather after all these years.
Another week of work is ahead; next weekend I am planning a trip into Seoul and maybe see more of the nightlife that Seoul has to offer, which is pretty exciting because the nightlife is supposed to be amazing and the bars do not close down until the last customer has left. I will be headed to more sights hopefully on Saturday and I will update anything that has happened after next weekend. I have updated my technology in drying my clothes. I no longer use my floor. I bought a jump rope which is connected to two different parts of my room and hang my clothes on that. The technological advancements in this apartment are amazing, next week I might have a microwave.


Thursday, January 7, 2010


Some new Pictures- Copy and past link

Snow in Suwon- Sunday night through Monday night we got about 8 inches of snow; you would have thought we got four feet of snow. As I walked into school Monday morning I got on the elevator to school with one of my students, as the elevator door opened, everything was dark. The door to the school was shut, I wondered if we had gone onto the wrong floor; so I hit another button to change floors and go back to the correct one, we were on the right floor. My student and I go downstairs (my student was about 6 years old and we hung out in the hall. I was waiting for her to start crying but she never did. Ten minutes later other employees came to the building; everyone was late except Molly (the six year old) who her mom drove through the snowstorm to get her to school on time, yet the people that run the school did not even get to school on time. Eventually all the teachers came in and we all sat in our office and did nothing for a while; waiting for the rest of the students to come in. About 40 minutes after school is supposed to begin half the students arrived on the school bus. I soon found out that Suwon does not get snowstorms like this. IT SHOWED. The rest of the day was not devoted to teaching rather having the kids play around in the jungle gym that is in the school. (it is inside) 1pm we all got sent home; this is were Suwon, South Korea gets pushed back to the 1800’s. It seems like no one has shovels, people are using brooms, cardboard boxes, and their feet to clear the snow. Asians tend not to be good drivers in perfect driving conditions so in the snow, it got ugly. On my one minute walk back to my apartment I must of saw ten cars stuck in snow; pushed most of them out and realized how unprepared they were for the snow storm. I went inside to get warm, then walked around (fighting boredom) I was looking forward to getting back to teaching because I had nothing else to do after the long vacation. Now with the snowstorm the internet has gone down, it is a complete mess outside and cold and nothing to do. I read a lot over the past few days. Another teacher got a call from one of the women we work with and school is cancelled for Tuesday also. Now it is time to get really bored. I played chess for the first time in probably a decade. After a while I decided to walk around and grab dinner from my restaurant I go to once a day. It cost me about 2,000 won to get enough Gimbap (which is the Korean way of saying sushi) and thank God for this meal because most of Korean food is not to tasty. Kimchi, which is the Korean staple food is now grown to be absolutely disgusting. I was talking about this with another teacher. That in the beginning we would eat it, then the excitement wore off and it is just disgusting now. It is a good thing Suwon is known for its BBQ meat; without that this would be a tough place to eat, and also my gimbap place. Tuesday afternoon I went for some gimbap and walked the streets which most are still not plowed. (The one main road is plowed) and by plowed, they had a backhoe. They came in and picked up the snow with its huge shovel. They did not even use any plows; it was quite entertaining to see. I think it is safe to say that the snow really caught them by surprise and they do not often get snow. So now the roads that have not even been touched are even narrower then the already narrow streets they had to begin with, they are icy, and many cars spin around the place. The good thing about the snow is that it hides the awful smell from the sewer. On my short walk to work there are places where if one was severely hung over it would not be a pretty site. I noticed how much better the infrastructure in Japan was then Korea. Korea’s is not bad; but it is nothing compared to Japans. And not even close to the good old USA.
I got this neighbor who does nothing but sing until the late hours of the night. It is pretty funny and also pretty annoying. (the walls are so thin) He does not sings songs either, all he does is work on his voice, so at times he gets very loud. I have not pinpointed him; even what floor he is coming from. Anyways I am real bored and figured I would let him become part of the blog. (This might be his big opportunity)
My classes- Every morning from 9:30 until 11:10 I have three students I teach. They are young students. Five and six year olds; one kid who’s mom I hear is absolutely insane and it shows on the kid until you get him to open up and he has become quite enjoyable. I have another boy in this class and he is a tiny little kid but a lighting rod full of energy and he is probably every teacher’s favorite kid in the whole school. This kid always hangs onto my feet and makes me drag him across the room with him on my leg or just has me lift up my leg as high as I can so he can go for a ride. The third student; a little girl who is really uptight and never says a word; yet, she is very smart. My next class runs from 11;20 until 1:25 with s 40 minute lunch break is by far my most interesting class. These kids also 5 and 6 yr olds randomly start acting like dogs in the middle of class. I should be yelling at them or telling them to stop but I can not stop laughing. ( I tend to laugh at just about every joke or trick they do, and everyone tells me to yell at them to stop but I usually find it pretty entertaining. Over break they forgot about acting like dogs until one teacher over break who I told him about them acting like dogs came in and got all the students to act like dogs. There are five students in this class and they are all really bright for their age. At 1:25 we have another hour break; at this point I get pretty bored. I go home and read or I will take a nap and get ready for the afternoon. The afternoon is fun because it consists of older students (middle school) who want to learn and it is much easier to interact with them. I have class at 2:50 until 3:40 with two students, then class from 3:45 until 4:25 and class from 4:30-5:10 and class from 5:15-5:55. My last class of the day is my favorite. These kids are smart. They might be the smartest group of kids in the whole school and it is fun to see them learn with a lot of enthusiasm compared to some other classes. This school is just like any other you would find in the world; smart kids, slower kids, funny kids, shy kids, wise kids, etc. the school is located on the third floor of a building; it is quite small for a school. (it is only a foreign language school) kids come after there regular school to learn English so they can become better off later in life. (Most of these kids come from wealthy families) there are probably around eight classrooms in the school.

I hope everyone is doing well, it is Thursday night and the streets are still a mess outside, it should only get worse because of the cold weather that has moved in and I think is planning on staying here. The snow is going to turn to ice soon,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pictures from Hiroshima

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