Sunday, March 7, 2010

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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.

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