Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Keimyung University

This is the university where I work as an instructor! :-)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

My apartment in Daegu!

Here it is. A new video of my apartment. Enjoy! If you are jealous of me. Well, sometimes I am jealous of me too. hahahaha

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I am a teacher. This is a test. Here is a multiple choice question. Please see the attached picture to answer.

This beer cost how much?
A) $0.40
B) $7.00
C) $30.00
D) All of the above
E) None of the above

So, it was a trick question I guess, but the answer if you can believe it or not is a little bit of all of the above, and this is a little story about how it all came to be.

I recently had a chance to go to Japan and travel. First of all I would like to say that Japan was very nice; the people, the food, the streets, the shops, and everything else was just nice. I would have to say it is probably the nicest country I have been in. It really was amazing and I had a great time, except when it came time to pay for things, which was a quite sobering experience indeed quickly dissolving my euphoria.

I was walking through a Buddhist temple/shrine on my recent trip when a nice older woman and her friend approached me. They were maybe about 55 years old and very friendly, but only one spoke English. They said they worked at a bar and told my friend and I that we should come by it later. We decided to say, “Why not?” hahahahaha This time “Why not?” turned into “Pay more!” Or maybe when they said, “Come by,” they really meant, “Come buy.”

After we arrived we sat down at a very small bar with about five comfortable bar stools and two tables in a very small bar room. When I say small I mean small; like my bedroom is larger than this type of bar, but it is Japan and housing, shops, food, clothes and generally everything comes in small sizes so I wasn’t too surprised. We sat down and my buddy ordered a beer of which I had the small glass seen in the picture. Now, I don’t drink much at all but after a while I had another. In the meantime we were given a few free shots of sake of which I took very small sips to just see the flavor. What I found out is that sake does taste subtle, sweet, and smooth. My friend ordered another beer. A couple of hours later after sipping sake, drinking my two small glasses of beer and singing a Karaoke song (Yes, I sung a real Karaoke song in Japan!) the bill came. The sake was of course free as promised, but the bill total was at $180. I had to pay almost a third so that brought my total up to $60 for two small glasses of beer, some free sips of saki and a free karaoke song. The rest of the bill was for my friend. We got a little upset and in the end and got a discount. I paid about $15 total for my two beers and my buddy paid another $25. We left dazed and confused. Were these the real prices? Were we being scammed? In the end we found out that we weren’t. We learnt our lesson well. In Japan always look at the menu first. The bar we were at was just a high-end bar for old men to go and sit alone and talk with the bartender and pay $60 a beer. We saw one such man. (This man is seen in the second pic along with the bartender) As much as we were surprised, he must have been amused that such young foreigners couldn’t shell out the cash he was. In the end I felt a little embarrassed for also not being able to pay $60 for two very small beers, but at the same time now every time I see an $8 beer in Korea I think “What a deal!”

Anyway, I hope everyone is okay sipping on cheap drinks (alcohol or not) and enjoying good free music.

Here are some videos about the trip.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ride of life to Korea!

I was thinking about how I got to Korea. Sometimes I guess we all need the willingness to point ourselves in the direction of the unfamiliar, unknown, and possibly even unsafe. But still to look in that direction and take those first small steps that will inevitably lead us to hopping onto the "ride of life" that will lead us down a mysterious path, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad, but always with wonder. For me, it starts with something small like a "hello" to a stranger, a quick read of job advertisements on the net, or a "Why not?" to a friend proposing an idea off the top of his or her head, but soon I find myself across the city, state, or even world, totally inundated with an unusual variety of sensations and experiences. It has not all been for the good and I have missed out on many things. Not watching my niece and nephew grow up are at the top of my list, but Africa and Asia and all the other adventures in between have also made me richer in ways I did not know, or couldn't have known before. And for me, it all started with a willingness to look into a path of life that I either thought was ridiculous, unnecessary or strange, but regardless, to take a few steps anyway just to see where it led me.

Being a foreigner in an interesting country, I often go to bed at night wondering with complete surprise about the events of my day. These were events that I in no way had planned for myself when I started off my seemingly normal day. Here is a little story of something that happened to me just this week.

I have been in negotiations to buy an old car from and old friend in Seoul. One of those deals that may or may not go through, or may or may not be a great deal. Who really knows these things? So, I was talking around to some people and I told a girl at my gym about this little bitty blue car I was going to buy for about $1500. If you want to know what it looks like, just think of a blue golf cart on steroids. Yes, it is one of those. It has great gas mileage, is really easy to park, but definitely won’t be good for my image. Anyway, the price is right, so I went around asking my friends if it was a good deal when a girl at my gym told me, “No. I know a place where you can get the same car for half the price.” Well, half the price sounded good to me so I asked her if she could help me out. She told me that one of her mom’s friends has a dealership, manages one, or something like that, and she would be more than happy to take me there.

A couple days later I get a call, “Are you free?” she asks.
“Why not?” I say, and I was off.
This is how one little step in an unknown direction leads me down a path of surprises. First a “hello” to a stranger at a gym, then a “why not” to an offer for help, then next thing I know I am on my way. I was imagining a short little trip to the car dealership to look around for ten minutes and then back again, but just in case I brought a large chunk of cash and my debit card because who knows what can happen. First, she came to pick me up at around 4:30 PM. Her mom was in the car and we all set off together. Next, we got lost. After driving around for a while, then making a phone call, then driving around more, we finally figured out what to do; we picked up her dad. Now it was me and her whole family on a trip together. It turns out the car dealership was on the other side of town and that her mom’s contact is merely the husband of a lady in her exercise class. I realized that her mom has no pull. By the time we got there I expected a normal…. okay, maybe sleazy car salesman to come out and try to sell me a wrecked car for double the price. Actually, the man was really nice, but yes, the car was a wrecked and recently fixed for double the price, not half. That is the way it goes I guess.

Next, her parents decided to take me to get some dinner. I couldn’t really refuse at this point. Once I was already so deep in this experience, I was kind of locked in and on cruise control for the rest of the night. After quickly running some errands we were off to dinner. They took me to a little noodle place that was, well, I am not exactly sure where it was, but I had the best Korean noodle soup I have ever had. The noodles had a wonderfully soft but chewy texture and the broth was very richly flavored with little chunks of seafood in it.

Strange I know, this long blog for the point of telling how I stumbled upon the best Korean noodle soup of my life. But it came as a total surprise to me at the time and I had no idea when I woke up that morning that I would be in for such a small but tasty little treat. I guess my point is that sometimes saying, “Why not?”, leads me to have a big adventure that leads me across the world, although sometimes I just end up across town having a good bowl of noodles, and sometimes something far less, but regardless very often I end up with a surprise. So, I would like to say happy adventures and surprises to all of you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

School Days

Hi Everyone,

I leave class these days at 6 PM. It is dark. It had to happen sooner or later. The days get shorter and the nights get longer, but still it is strange going into a classroom during the day at 4 PM, still during the day by most anyone's account, and walking out of the classroom to the cool night air and moonlight sky.

These days I guess my life has been sneaking up on me like the nighttime darkness. Everyday it seems like before I know it the night has come, and every week before I know it the weekend has come. I can't remember even when the last time I have written a letter to everyone, but it seems like now the semester is almost over and I haven't even written to tell anyone what is going on.

I have been busy. It all has been fun, but very busy. I started teaching extra classes this semester. I am still teaching my normal first year English conversation classes. I have really come into my own with these classes and have developed them well. My students seem happy and are improving their English skills. These are the bulk of my classes and I am satisified when teaching them.

I am also teaching a conversation class for a business class. It is interesting, but I don't know much about business, and don't try to even fake my way through it. I usually come up with different exercises for them to do. I started off with 10 students. I maybe have 3 now. Hahahahaha. I guess you don't win them all.

The third course I teach is a class teaching the history of religion. I have always wanted to do this. It has kind of been a dream of mine for at least 10 years. I am having a lot of fun with this class, but it takes up so much of my time. I ordered books for the class. They never came. (Well, one did later. I use it too.) Like I said there are no books and no readings for the students so I teach off of powerpoint. This means no work for the students except listening to me talk, talk, talk, and talk. Easy and fun for them, (I am an energetic and goofy teacher) but it is a lot of work for me. Take this week for instance. I have prepped for about 10 hours making a powerpoint for 3 hours of lecture. I don't really get paid extra for this. I just do it for the "experience." My experience is sometimes high, but sometimes low. My students are usually happy, usually laughing, and usually there, but also sometimes none of these. :-) It doesn't help that the class meets at 9 AM. An afternoon class would have gone over a lot better.

Well, that is a little bit about my job and what has been going on here in Korea. I am including a couple of pics. One is of me with my students in class. Another is of one of my (cute) students that I nominated to an English presentation contest, which I later on ended up hosting. Unfortunately, she didn't win.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Riding around

I had been walking up and down the hills of campus for a while. Campus does sit on the side of a mountain after all. It is nice at times. For instance, if I want to walk out my back door and start hiking in under 45 minutes I can have a view that lasts for miles. But when I don’t want to go on a hike, when I just want to walk to class and back, those hills seem to lose their beauty and more kind of just seem to be in the way.

So one day after being fed up with walking around in the cold day after day, I got a call from my buddy. “Do you want to go motorcycle shopping today?” he asked. And of course I was in. That night I was driving an old beat up motorcycle back home. I was told it was an old police motorcycle bought in a police auction and checked to makes sure the engine was still intact and good. It was and has been so far. But unfortunately for me, it still looked like a police motorcycle. I mean to me, it just looked like a normal old white motorcycle with a blue stripe on it. But to everyone else it was easily spotted for a cop bike a 100 yards away. I soon noticed people noticing me. Then soon got a barrage of cop jokes like, “Did you get the siren with that?” or “Oh no! Watch out. Here comes the copper.”….

At first I thought that maybe it was possible that people thought I was cool. Well, I still like to think that a bit, but the reality of the fact is that when people said, “Nice bike,” more times than not, it was sadly sarcastic. “Oh well,” I thought, “two old wheels were better than two feet,” and kept on riding. But soon, even when girls were pointing and laughing to my shame, I decided I had to do something about it.

A talk with my buddy and we decided that four or five cans of spray paint should do it. Maybe three white and one red we figured. Actually, nine cans of white and 4 cans of red later, it was painted. :-) I guess that is the way things go. At this point the painting was finished but I wasn’t. Now, I was going to put on some yellow tape and stickers. A long search around town and then via internet and I find my line tape. Only problem is that when it came, they sent me two different colors of yellow. I put the tape back in the mail, waited a week and then I was in business. This kind of thing seems to always follow me around in life, but for the most part I seem to get through. Finally, the tape came, well, most of it anyway. My bike is still missing a stripe and probably always will, but in the end, it doesn’t look like a cop bike. It looks like a little ole clunker, but I love it and ride it away.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Getting Started!

This is just a little note let everyone know how I am doing. The first 11 weeks of class have gone by and the midterms are done, graded, and handed back. Not all my students are happy with me after the test they just took, but in life I can’t make everyone happy, at least not anyway I have figured out. Overall my job is the best I have ever had and that is something to rejoice about. I often set back in certain classes while going to school and reflected on what it would be like to be an instructor at a University. My conclusion at those times was that as long as there was not too much in the way of out of the classroom responsibilities then it would be a great job. I seem to have landed one of those jobs and I just might have been right. J

Of course, I am not always right about everything or even most things. I have moved to the city of Daegu in Korea. It is the third largest city, pretty big by most people’s standards with a couple of million people, but still I find that I am left wanting more. I want more variety of food, more places to go, more friends, and of course as always more adventure, and an ocean view wouldn’t be all that bad either. If I had stayed in Seoul, I would have had the nightlife of Korea. Even if I had moved to Busan, the second largest city, I would have been better off then I am now and even had an ocean to play beside, which is something even Seoul does not have to offer. But I will get two months vacation between the school semesters and being only few hours away from Seoul one way and a couple of hours away from the ocean Busan the other way, I am hoping to get out more often.

I will probably be going to Busan to visit the ocean by bus or Seoul by train but here in Daegu I will be cruising my recently purchased 125cc motorcycle! Haha, actually it is a bit of an old and small clunker, but it gets me around town. I just have to tell myself that when people look and laugh that two wheels is all too often better than two legs. Still I would like to have something prettier and cooler, but I am happy for now.