Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hangups for Halloween

“It is when you are sick that you get home sick the most” people say. Actually, I have heard this more than once since coming to Korea and probably have said it a couple times myself. Well, I work at a school with little kids that face me all day long and from time to time cough right on my face. I teach 20 different classes a week, which exposes me to lots of little kids and lots of little coughs. The weather also changed here and I went outside in the cold for a couple hours one night and so it was bound to happen sooner or later. For the last five days I have been sick. Just the average cold I think. I am handling it better than most and I should mention that quite a few people do have it too. At my work, all three of the guys are sick right now and possibly a couple of the girls too!

I had run into some other difficulties in addition to this. Seems like one of my classes hated me. Three middle school girls that didn’t speak English very well, that also couldn’t understand me, that were also using a book that was way above their heads complained about me. I complained about the girls and the book and so my class was transferred. I say I have failed in one class but it is much better to look at it like I have succeeded in 19. After all, teaching is a tough job, and working at a cram school (hagwon) is not the easiest job as far as teaching goes.

Despite losing the class and a few other problems here and there like being cussed out by one of my students topped off with being sick, I am getting by as well as can be. Also, for anyone who knows me well knows that October 30th is not my favorite day, in fact the exact opposite. Despite all this, I am not as homesick as what I thought I would be. Homesick? Yes, but not dying to go back but gladly would if I had too. Some days are actually pretty good here, like the weekends.

I have been here three months now. I can really feel like I can say, “I live in Korea”. Shorter than three months, just seems like an extended stay away from home. After three months, I really start to feel a part of the community but yes, also miss America. Three months is enough time to make some friends. Enough friends to fill a cell phone up with numbers. Three months is enough to go on a couple dates and have a girlfriend. Three months is more than enough to get use to Korean food and even start to learn how to cook it. Three months is even enough time to get use to living in a small studio apartment (officetel). Three months is enough time to learn how to use the subway and even learn enough Korean to do necessary small talk. Well, most of the time anyway. And lastly, three months is enough time to work at a hagwon to already start planning my long and extended stay in Thailand when I am finished.

Hope everyone had a nice Halloween. Here is a spooky picture of me on the subway.
October 31, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

New Videos from Vacation

Here I explain what a "dongchim" is for the newbies who have not been loved enough to experience it.

This is the end trip video.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Chusuk (Thanksgiving)

Melissa said, “It is a famous Korean holiday, come to my house tomorrow with Randi and help my mother cook pancakes”. Sounded fun to me, so I set the time to meet Randi at the subway at 11:00 AM. Now, 11:00 AM comes pretty early for me these days. I know all you out there might be crying out “WHAT!” but I don’t have to be at work till 2PM so sometimes I sleep till 11 or 12. Stay up late, wake up even later.

Also, 11 AM must have also been a bit early for Randi because she was late but it was no big deal. Randi is from Hawaii and she is very laid back. It is clear she has lived her whole life on the islands and so we get a long well; I like that style. In the meantime while waiting for Randi, two grandmothers who I am sitting next to try to talk with me. I don’t speak Korean, except enough to ask for the bathroom, get directions, and then say, “thank you but I don’t speak Korean.” Unfortunately, they don’t even speak that much English. Still they still manage to mime out the fact they have daughters or maybe sons and wanted me to meet their kids, maybe for dates or for English lessons, I am not sure but when it came time for them to ask me for my #, I didn’t give it to them, not because I wouldn’t have because I might have but I really didn’t have a pen with me. This is by far not the strangest meeting I have had with strangers and I expect many more.

Randi and I caught the bus and were on our way to experience the traditional Korean Thanksgiving, the biggest holiday in Korea. Here, it is called Chusuk and we were arriving on Chusuk Eve at Melissa’s house, a co-worker of Randi, to help her mother prepare some pancakes for the following day. I figured that for one, it would be really neat to see how a regular Korean family acted and lived in a house and two, that it would be cool to see the traditional food being made and assured myself I would get to try some during the process. Cultural exchange and good food is what I thought would happen and I that was pretty much right. It was a great time and here are some of the pics.

Recent trip to Suwon

Haha, This trip went nowhere but we still made a time out of it!

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