Saturday, December 25, 2004

Sweet Potato Pizza

I got an ad for that taped to my door when I got back today... took a picture but thought I'd post some better ones. I think I got the whole camera/posting pictures on the internet thing figured out. Merry Christmas!

Biggest church in my area, not the one I've been to.

He's a pet. He's cold, so he's curled up in the flower pot.

The river filled up after the melting of the snow... This and the next two pictures are linked cuz they're wide.

Some city scenery, my apartment is behind the camera and to the right. The river is off camera to the left.

My mess of an apartment from the inside and outside.

Better with pictures, huh? Next in line is to get some better... pictures.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

They Marched Into Sunlight

And I kind of wish I was too, except instead it's just the name of the book I'm reading by David Maraniss. Now that I think about it, the snow is alright here... I returned from my long trip/short stay in Indiana to snow! Agh. It was like 55F when I left. Oh well. There were a couple kids on the sidewalk next to my apartment, like normal kids they were rolling huge snowballs that were getting so big that they couldn't control where the snowball was rolling.

I just arrived back in the city a couple hours ago, I spent about 5 minutes in my apartment then walked to work. I was 5 minutes early! Then Jake said go home and rest and come back tomorrow. They were saying the kids were asking every day when I was coming back, good sign. I'm guessing they just missed hanging off my arms and legs and petting the hair on the back of my hands. I asked about cooking some more, there's a little burner at school. I need to figure out something to make, I got a medium sized pan at home. I'd like to make them something for Christmas but maybe it'll end up being next week for New Year's. Mandu/dumplings are a good possibility. I can't cheat and nuke some popcorn because there's no microwave there... Now that I'm back I should get on it and do what my coworkers recommend: the difficult task of making something for these kids to eat. They need it cuz they never have time to stuff their tummies cuz of all the time they spend in schools and everything.

I met a guy, Bang, on the bus on the way back into the city. He had just spent 10 months in Australia as a waiter at an Asian restaurant. His English was pretty good, the best of anyone I've talked to in Gangneung... he was going into town to visit his parents. It was cool because he understood basic slang... like "cool"... or using "like" way too often didn't throw him off. Nice cause I could speak faster and didn't have to remember to speak extremely clearly all the time. I'm sure he doesn't realize it but spending 10 months there allowed him to understand me better... he said his English didn't improve. We'll see where I am in 10 months with Korean. His old man gave me a ride since they were also going in the direction of E-Mart. Without him I wouldn't have made it to work on time. Kamsa hamneeda. :p

I had to spend the night in Incheon because I missed the last bus going to Gangneung that night. Luckily hotel is pronounced the same in both Korean and English, I told the taxi driver and he took me to Songpo Resort, like 15 minutes from the bus terminal (bus terminal in Korean). It was a Western style hotel, it cost about $140 for the night... a hotel like it would have cost about $90 in the US... but now that I think about it, it was in the city in a decent area so. The lady at the desk spoke English, she was like "Your room is 220,000 won but you get a special 40 percent discount." Haha... I didn't bother to ask why, I just took it. She mentioned me being a foreigner... On the back of the door in my room the rate was indeed 220,000 for a night. Wow. Right now 1 USD is basically 1,000 Korean won.

So I got in the room, decent room. Big comfy bed. OK view (snapped a picture which will get on here eventually, I promise... my Mom bought me a charger in the US :). The lights of the lamps wouldn't turn on though haha. I'm sure I was missing something. Lights by the door worked and bathroom lights worked. Shrug. Korean TV... Armed Forces Network by the good ol' USA. ESPN in Korean, they showed they same stuff American Sportscenter showed except they dubbed over it in Korean and messed with the digital stuff on the screen... into Korean. And instead of the NBA they showed the pro league in Seoul. Alright level of play I guess... mostly African-Americans with some Koreans and Korean coaches. Half full arena. I'd like to go to a game when I go to Seoul next week. NBC with Jay Leno. Analyze That and Legally Blonde were on the 2 movie channels. And a Korean channel in English, Arirang. Haha sorry for writing about TV but it was my first time watching it and I was whipped from the travel so all I did was watch TV and get some rest.

There's a Tai Kwon Do place 2 minutes from my apartment, was thinking of walking in there and seeing about getting into it... I figure I'd look just as odd going into the gym to work out so I might as well do something different too. Almost none of the stares are bad stares anyways. :) The place is on the second floor, my excellent command of the Korean language allows me to figure out that the sign does definitely say Tai Kwon Do.

Good to be back.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Saying whatever.

It's nice how you can say pretty much whatever you want (within reason... :] ). For example, you know how at home you talk to your mother differently than you do to a friend... well here, for me anyways, you can talk how ever comes naturally to anyone. You just have to speak slower and clearer. The cool factor really doesn't come into play, so you can keep your language from being recycled. So instead of like saying "later" or "take it easy" or something to friends when you're leaving... you can say one of the thousands of other ways to say bye and it's all the same.

I have some personal things I will probably have to go back to the States for. I talked to my boss today about it, I think he understood. He said we would talk later. He was straight up destroying people in Call of Duty on his computer when I came in. Haha. I hope I can come back and keep my job. This is not a given, in the end he is the man signing the paychecks. I hope things work out because I am getting used to some things here and can't imagine what kind of job I'd do for forty hours a week in Florida. I am contacting the recruiter, too. Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

You very handsome.

One of my students invited me to go to her church this morning. I was the only white guy there and needless to say got plenty of attention. The service alot like any service I might go to back home, except it was all in Korean. A bunch of singing, lots of prayers throughout... the grandfather of the student that invited me is a pastor at the church, he prayed with the congregation for like 15 minutes. A bit hard to follow of course, but I was given a Korean/English bible and hymnal. At least I can keep up with the song because I can read some of the sounds out in Korean...

My presence was announced at the end, there was also a Chinese woman visiting and some people from out of town. We all got clapped for. :P

After church, like everyone I met that knew a bit of English told me how handsome I was. Hello, nice to meet you. Then they would either say You very handsome or tell my student, Nicole, something in Korean... then Nicole would say to me... they think you very handsome, teacher. Hahaha... and one guy basically yelled I WANT ENGLISH FRIEND. Haha.

Nicole and her parents took me out to lunch. It was excellent, we ate at the Dome House, a place with a herb garden down below and a restaurant in a dome up above. It was Western-style Korean food, steak and lobster and spaghetti... best meal I've had yet. Kamsahamneeda (thanks?) to them. Dome House was out of town, if I had known I would've brought my camera. Average looking city with very nice country around it.

I haven't figured out how to add my email address to be viewable to my profile cuz the site automatically comes up almost all in Korean... got to wade through some stuff just to post. works if you want to say hey.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


We play a game at my school involving alot of countries. The game deals in part with countries starting with different letters... so for one class the letter was L. One team said... Lumania! I said... no. The rowdiest kid on the team said "You're an English teacher and you don't know Lumania!"

He meant Rumania. This kid's English is a thousand times better than my Korean at the moment. Just like I can't distinguish some Korean sounds from others, he and many others like him have trouble distinguishing some L sounds from R sounds in the English language. B and V is another big point of confusion. A kid in my class might say "habuh" but he means "have". It means we get to have fun making the V sound in class sometimes... "vvVVvvvvvvVVVVVvvvvv".

I lost my digital camera's battery recharger pack. It's called Murphy's Law but I'll just buy another one with Korean plugs on it I guess. Noone's going to want to read my stuff without purty pictures to keep it interesting! We snapped some pictures for school, Koreans flash the peace sign for pictures like crazy.

Some of my kids might not know much English, but they really like describing each other in good terms. Yeah, the CHRIS JERICHO VERY HANDSOME and also cute or pretty. CRAZY... they might be using that as a good term too, I'm not so sure.

So I need to think of things to do with the kids in class. I've been informed that it's not so much about learning but that they enjoy the language. Chocolate chip cookies, anyone?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

New Guy

I am new to this whole teaching thing, I'll get used to it. I'll find way to harness their energy. Yesterday's classes went fine, no disasters. One class was real quiet and 2 were all over the place. So I just spent ninety minutes planning for the day, I've got a reward stickers chart and a behavior control thing all built into it... wish me luck. Shoulda had it day #1 but oh well. Grade school was alot easier on the mind and body than high school and college for me as a student, so hopefully it'll be the same way for me as a teacher.

I really look forward to seeing what's around here when I get my job sorted out... lucky for everyone reading I just discovered with my blind eyes a way to put my pictures on the computer here.

I tried gimbap yesterday, it was decent. Korean fast food... it is rice and some veggies and meat wrapped up in seaweed. When I had to say gimbap to order it...! I find my students real funny just like Korean women find my attempts to speak their language funny. Gimbap tastes like the stuff I bought in college at the Bi-Lo. Haha... no different. I bet the same dish from a regular restaurant (not a corner DreamMart) tastes better. If not... at least I do know there's plenty of better food out there.

Drop me a line if you know where I can buy a power converter in Gangneung, Korea. Haha.

Monday, November 29, 2004

"Jericho, very very handsome."

So one day down. The kids are pretty good. They have so much energy that it is hard to not feed off it. That'll be useful in the future I am sure. Some English teacher with a decent sense of humor got a hold of some of these kids and gave them pro wrestling names for when they go to English class. "Jericho, very very handsome." I had to bust out laughing when some kid said that about his friend in class yesterday.

Writer's block like whoa! But I am really relieved that I can handle my job. Mmm who wants a pepero stick?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

GetAmped is superior to Lineage.

I know now the name of what was the majority of my background music here yesterday and is today. Lineage, popular with Koreans of all ages. Or is it Lineage II? Either way apparently it's installed on every PC 방 computer around here. Although the kids next to me are playing a game called GetAmped. From the sounds of it they are having more fun playing that than everyone else playing Lineage combined.

Nowhere in the US can I remember ever seeing so many young, young kids running around the streets without adult supervision. It's great. Crime must not be a concern, despite the fact I've only seen 1 police car on patrol in over 2 days here. So peaceful.

Not that I expected to, but I did not see any evidence of the car plant workers on strike. And the equally unnewsworthy fact that I noticed today that Samsung and Renault have a partnership. I headed to a store with Samsung signs all over it looking to shops for electronics, only to notice large shiny new automobiles were parked inside.

I had a great lunch today with my coworker Jake and his wife (she will surely forgive me for forgetting her English name!). The main dish was ribs. It is served to you raw and you cook it in a little wok right in front of you. You are given some juice to dip the ribs in. And the side dishes! Wow, so many of them. So much food is served at a meal, and it is relatively cheap too. 김치 (spicy Korean cabbage that is served with just about every meal), radishes, spiced cucumbers, some kind of chili paste (I think!), potatoes... lettuce leaves, whole pieces of garlic (neither I nor my dining mates touched these), another dipping sauce, onions in sauce. All in seperate dishes. And I think I forgot a few. Most meals are served with less side dishes but you definitely would not go hungry eating here.

We were given a second course, rice and something else. Jake called it beans, his wife said the Korean name toju. With my brilliant abilities of deduction I figured out it was tofu (my brain slipped in realizing what it was as I never eat tofu). It was served in a kind of chili sauce. Then for dessert we were served fresh apples with the skin removed and a very good drink made from rice.

Before and during lunch we talked about work a bit. I was told thankfully the kids are just starting out on the books for most of the classes. I'll be teaching 5 classes a day with 2 to 9 kids per class, 3pm to 9pm. The reason I will work in the afternoon and evening is that my school is a private institute, the kids go there after public school for supplementary learning. Busy kids!Tuesday and Thursday from 8 til 9 I will be doing a phone check, calling the students at home. I assume I will ask them how their homework is going and have a short conversation about their day and whatnot. I probably would not have thought about this phone check part but it makes sense.

Stunning pictures will be forthcoming, I just haven't gotten a power converter yet (or felt the desire to mess around the back of one of these computers for the USB port in the PC 방). Explaining what I was doing to the inquiring Korean 방 owner wouldn't work too well due to the language barrier.

And that of course brings up another point: my skill with the Korean language is pretty slim at this point. Yes, I regret not knowing more of the language before I got here. No, it is not a huge problem. Yes, I'll do a language exchange once I get myself set here.

Yes, I like to ramble.

Yes, the kids are still thoroughly enjoying GetAmped next to me.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Amazing discoveries.

Haha I just figured out what the little tray with the wet newspaper is for... ash tray. Duh. It was the newspaper that threw me off. And the coffee is quality that they're serving... I never drink coffee.

So I am finishing my first full day living in Korea. I surprisingly wasn't able to sleep that late. Got up and walked around my section of town... discovered the large fancy Wal-Mart (E-Mart). I cheated and ate lunch at the chicken place at E-Mart.

My part of town is pretty nice I think. I live very close to an elementary school. There are little shops everywhere, hardware, video rentals, paintings: similar to home except that stores are smaller, the products are of course different (Daewoo car parts store instead of Ford or Discount Auto). I am surprised at the amount of cars on the road here, I thought public transportation would be more widely used. Not a problem as I am 10 minute walk from E-Mart and my school. And there are alot more buses around that in a city this size back in the US.

I had a small meeting with my coworkers, they encouraged me to get together a list of things that I will be doing with the kids at school. Prep time, it snuck up on me! Songs and games were mentioned as things to do. I can handle that. Going to write some stuff down now... with the sounds of seven or eight different games in the PC room as my background music.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Fixin' To Get Ready...

ETD Wednesday 7am local time. Needless to say I'm pretty pumped. Don't think I'll have too much trouble sleeping tonight but man... it's going to be nice to look forward to getting outta bed every day. Nothing like a little trip to Korea to keep things interesting.

I put a bunch of the numbers off of my cell phone onto a contact list. Weird how something simple like that brought back some pretty... vivid memories of the past 5 years or so. Good memories overall. And anyone who thought they'd be getting rid of me, I got your cell so you might be getting a random phone call with me on the other line bugging you.

I think the Pacers might miss Jermaine O'Neal. And how are they going to trade Ron Artest if he's suspended for the season! I think Duane Coleman's cheap shot was the worst out of the whole week, but losing the bowl game makes a wash of a season even more so. Could've used the practice time but hey. Tough I'll miss a whole year's worth of American sports pretty much, I hear soccer is big in Korea....... yay hotlinking. Thank you, blog, for helping me kill some time before I get out of here.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Like high school, only better.

So here it is... my online journal. It reminds me of the journal Mr. Keating made us keep for English class in high school except this one isn't just between me and my teacher. Hopefully I won't hold too many things back. Mr. Keating was the last person of a few (mostly educational types) who have encouraged me to keep some kind of record of what's going on in my life. Been a few years but any time is a good time to start up I guess.

I'm out. I'm done. Graduated in May. And what am I gonna do now? Go back into the classroom. But this time I'll be the teacher and the classroom will be in on the northeastern coast of South Korea. Gangneung City. About a quarter of a million people live there; I am about to join them.

I'll be an English conversation teacher. Now a bunch of you that now me might think that's pretty out of character for me... but I look forward to it. I know I can handle it, and I'll need to since I got to make a living somehow! It's not English lit and it's not sentence structure. I talked to a current teacher at the school a few days ago and she said she spent a decent amount of time reading to the kids then listening to the kids read and correcting them. Maybe not the best way to hold their attention but we shall see. Class size: four to eight grade school kids. I'll be working about thirty hours a week, plenty of time to see what's going on in Korea outside of a classroom.

Alright, I think that's enough for starters. I wanted to get all this set up before I flew out (ETD: Nov. 18!). I'm not even gonna tell anyone about this site until I get things established over in Korea. We'll see how much posting I'll be doing, depends on the PC 방. Thanks for reading the first one!