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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mjr-6dKXfrs
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!!!!!