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.”