Monday, July 31, 2006

Busy day, getting situated

Well, I guess I am starting to feel a little more comfortable in my surroundings. You know I am starting to feel that familiar feeling when I walk in the door. I have unpacked and done some basic cleaning, picked up necessary things for my apartment, finally got my address figured out (I think), got a foreigner ID card (green card), picked up a cell phone, got a bank account, got a medical book and medical insurance (happens all at the same time, I think because health care is nationalized). So, even on my days off, it seems like I have still been really busy.

First, let me explain about my apartment. It was furnished with a bed, table, chair, reading chair, desk, TV with stand, two wardrobes, washing machine, sink, fridge, microwave, toaster and some dishes and blankets. Not so bad, I think. But I still felt like I needed other things. Like a toothbrush holder, trashcans, fan, drying rack for clothes and an extra chair would have been nice so I did not have to drag my one regular chair back and forth between the kitchen table and the desk. Last night I went walking around after dark. In different peoples trash piles and brought home a couple of chairs. One is an almost new and quite comfortable computer chair but it has a nasty burn on one corner, maybe from a heater, I don’t know. The other chair is old, worn out and maybe belonged in the trash but I brought it home to put next to my door so I can put groceries on it when I come home or maybe sit on while I tie my shoes.

Getting the ID card has been pretty pivotal on the rest of my activities. Sure, I got a visa before I came and that let me get across immigration but it is an ID card that anybody and everybody wants to see whenever I do anything else. Last Monday, after a trip to Seoul and a long wait to speak to someone, I signed a bunch of papers and gave a lady my passport. She said in a week I would have my passport back and I would have an ID too. She was right. After I got my ID, then I was an officially registered alien in Korea.

Next I was off to the bank. After another long line and the signing of some more papers, I was given my new check card and the Funny Looking Checkbook (FLC). Then I went to the cell phone shop and showed them my FLC and my ID card and I was given a cell phone that presumably will charged to my bank account, who knows?

Lastly, I was off to the medical issurance, health department place where after a long line, I was able to get my Funny Looking Medical book. It is some kind of book you take to the doctor and he writes prescriptions/diagnosis in (Again, I think). Like a lot of things, I am not too sure about all this but I was told I would have to pay about 180 dollars every four months as my insurance premium. Not too bad, I guess.

I am not really too sure about all of this but it does seem like my cell phone works pretty well, I have sent and received calls on it already. Most of the day, I have been just walking around with a person that speaks very broken English and was directed in sentences like “bank now”, “phone now”, “medical card now”. I don’t really know what my cell phone plan is or how my bank account really works but I was given a debit card and the PLC and at one point they had me type a four digit # into a keypad so I can only gather that is my new pin. Pretty funny, I am all amazed but also tired.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Back from a day in Seoul

The rains have been coming. Its monsoon season, they say. It is not too bad, just a steady rain that does not stop, no wind or bad lightning, just a lot of rain. Monday it did not rain but on Tuesday it started and did not really stop until Friday evening/Saturday morning.

I got rained on to and from work everyday, which really sucked. It is only a two and a half block walk, maybe a quarter of a mile, maybe a half mile though, I don’t know. Anyway, it is not so far so that is good but I mean it is not so far when it is not raining that is because when it is raining anything more than a trip through the parking lot is too much for me.

The rain is good for killing the pollution though. Seoul is really bad air pollution but Anyang where I live is better, still bad by American standards though. I have been in Seoul a couple times now and I am glad I don’t live there, close enough to visit but far enough away to not feel like I live in a giant smoky bar. I always feel dirty, I don’t know if it is because of the pollution or the humidity but my skin always feels sticky and so I think it is a combination of both.

Otherwise the city is amazing. The buildings are everywhere, it doesn’t stop. One after another and on and on. Business area, housing area, shopping area, restuaruant and bar areas. They are all mixed but all together somehow in pockets. You are never to far from any of them.

The subway lines are cheap and really easy to figure out and I think once you figured out a subway system anywhere else in the world, using the Seoul system is no problem. Buses are another story and I am not sure what I will do about that.

Taxis are suppose to be expensive so I haven’t taken them and so far the most part I am walking everywhere. Good for the waistline and the heart.

Hmmm, I think next I will write about my job so if you want to know what I do for a living please stay tuned.

Tired legs and tickled to be in Asia

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hope I can update more often than this

I know I haven’t written very much in this blog or responded to almost any of the emails that have been sent to me. For those that are checking in to the blog or waiting for the email responses, please hang in there, I shall respond.

I have been working so much and I don’t really have internet access. If I stick my computer on the trashcan on the window ledge, I can (sometimes) get a signal from a neighbor, otherwise no net.

While my workdays have been long and my frustrations many, I am starting to get things worked through. I haven’t even finished unpacking yet! When I do, I plan on responding to emails and telling about my first adventure or two.

Waiting to talk and wanting to walk,

Monday, July 24, 2006

what shall I eat now that I am in Korea?

Above is what I might eat if I was in Korea.

Below is what I might eat if I am in America.

Well, I am might actually stick to the America food for a while, since it is here anyway. Sooner or later, I will probably eat more and more Korean food though.


Sunday, July 23, 2006


Well, what can I say? To some of you I didn’t say goodbye, to others I didn’t even say I was leaving, and I apologize. I have been busy, really busy. First, it was getting a job, then it was packing my stuff, lastly it was moving and packing and it has all been long and intense to get here.

So where is here? It is Seoul, Korea. Actually, it is a city called Anyang but I like to say Seoul. Anyang is a little South of Seoul and could be considered a suberb.

What am I doing? I ask myself that too but it seems like I have found my way into a position as an English teacher doing after school tutoring at a private school/academy known as a haegwon in Korean. Such schools are extremely popular and almost every Korean school kid attends such an academy.

I am staying in a little place, kind of dorm roomish I guess but still good enough to live in. I am still working on getting a phone, internet, and who knows what else so my communications will be spotty for a while. On top of that I won’t have a lot of free time to write because my first month here happens to be during a “summer intensive” session which means lots of hours, lots of teaching, and lots of work for me to do. Hope I can do it all ready. I was only in the country for less than a couple hours before I was given a stack of nine books by my boss at my school that I am suppose to go through today and start teaching out of tomorrow.

Worse, I don’t know what I am going to where tomorrow for school. Seems as if all my luggage from America has been lost so yes, I have been wearing the same pair of underwear for the last 40 hours. I shall let you all know when I get clean pair on and until then. Peace and light.

Also, I am starting a blog with my Korean adventures. It will be cool, have lots of neat pics, and should be worth checking out now and then.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Night before, 7 hours and counting

It is later here, I should be in bed. In 7 hours I have to wake up to go to the airport to begin my voyage to Korea. The last few days have been really hectic. Moving from Kansas, packing for Korea has taken all my time. I am so tired and my days will still be completely full. Hope all goes well.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

First frustration

This little piece of paper was difficult to get. First, I called three different consulates. Then I even had my girlfriend call and ask what the process was in Korean as some of the people did not speak English well. Chicago was nice and Houston was very rude but and Alanta was also short of complete instructions. The lady in Houston was very short, could not speak English well at all, and just plain rude. She had a terrible tone of voice and was eating while she spoke to me on the phone. In the end, it was her instructions I went by and it was her instructions that were wrong.

I had not got the copies of my diploma certified. During my second go around, I was suppose to get the certified with a stamp that embroiders the paper. These are impossible to find. Nobody uses them anymore. After calling the consulate, I was able to get them to accept the rubber stamp notary that are current these days.

Anyway, I have received the stamped and notarized copy of my diploma and have sent it to Korea along with my employment contract, copy of my passport, passport photos, copies of my transcripts and my resume. After this material is processed then I can begin the next part of my visa application process. After sending more information and an application to Houston, my E-2 visa for South Korea will be issued.

Hope all goes well and if it does, I will be in Korea by July 24th teaching English.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

How Big is South Korea?

So, how big is South Korea? Well, not very big, in size that is. For instance, South Korea is about three times larger than the country of Lesotho, a country I love and lived in for very long. But at the same time, the state I am from, Oklahoma, is almost twice the size of South Korea. So, the country itself is not a very big country. I like that because it means I will be able to travel around and really be able to get a feel for the country.

So, how big is Seoul? Very big. The Seoul proper area has about nine million people in it and the greater Seoul area has about twenty-three million people in it! What a city! This will be my first time to live in one of the worlds true mega cities.

A Seoul man

Looks like I have gotten a job in Anyang, Korea, a suberb of Seoul. I am working on getting my visa. More later.