Sunday, March 27, 2005

Battle of Who Could Care Less

I almost feel spoiled because of my ability to enjoy my experience here... sounds cliche, but I can't really do it justice with words. The newbie fascination with pretty much everything still exists, I've only been here 4 months. I'm not sure I've ever learned so much in a short period of time since I real young but nonetheless... not a significant period of time. So now I just need to pick up more of the local lingo and do some things to ensure job security and bingo. I'll be all set.

I don't have too much to write about recently except I'm pretty much enjoying life. Once again, I recommend going to the Korean Blog List and seeing what else is out there. Plenty of good stuff out there, especially some of the sites with authors who are dedicated enough to consistently post some pictures.

Kimchi tastes great if you cook it on the pan a bit.
And it's finally warming up a bit.
뭘 봐요?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Parallel Universe.

Mostly a learn Korean post! Too bad I like talking about this almost as much as I do actually studying... :(

Back in the summer, I knew I wanted to do TEFL but hadn't decided between Korea and China. Japan was still in the mix too. I did some research and found Japan too expensive. I thought China would be too much of a cultural shock, especially for the first year. So here I am. If I had known earlier / was a bit more motivated, I would done this to pick up some Korean to make some things easier:

Buy the whole Korean pack from Declan (a bit expensive).

Buy Suvival Korean by the guy who does the Let's Speak Korean show here on Arirang TV.

Spend alot of time on the Sogang University site.

See if there's anything useful I can pick up from Mith's place, link on the top right.

Go to the same guy's website, click on 게시판, click Korean lessons / music and memorize some songs.

Or you could just do a Google search and find something like this, pick up some of the alphabet and wing it when you get here. Make Korean friends, try out your skills on them... but this might be tough since most of the younger people here have been studying English for a bunch of years and really want to practice their second language with a native speaker. You'll be the one living in Korea where Korean would be pretty useful but... you've only studied for a few weeks.

Oh, and don't listen to Pimsleur Korean until your Korean is good enough to figure out how flawed the product is... almost not worth the time, especially if you've arrived in Korea.

It snowed like 4 inches on Thursday. Horrible. Luckily even though I'm really tired of the winter, I felt great on Friday. Mostly because it was Friday.

I wish there were windows where you could actually see outside where I work. The windows have been covered over with huge logos/stickers.

"Webster, good morning time. What?" I'm trying to get my kids to turn this sentence into... "Hey, Mr. Webster. What did you eat for breakfast?" :)

Weekdays: Study, work out, go to work. Saturday: Bum around, Saturday night hang out. Sunday: All day with friends / at church. Repeat. Ah well, hard to avoid not getting into some kind of routine since I do have to work after all.

Listening to: RHCP, 자우림, Johnny Cash, The White Stripes, Pearl Jam.
Reading: Confucius Lives Next Door by T.R. Reid.
Watched: My Wife is a Gangster. Alright I guess, too much slang in it to make it too useful for me to study. But the subtitles in it are excellent.

Monday, March 21, 2005

You have no faith in medicine.

Um... time continues to fly. It always seems like Monday morning I'm thinking, "Ugh, it's Monday." And then it's Friday night. Too bad, really, because I'm sure that whenever I come home I will wish sometimes I could come back. Once again, I fully recommend doing something like this if you get out of college and still don't know what you really want to do.

A bit disappointing for me to rediscover the obvious though... like that lame 80s song, everybody's working for the weekend.

Popeye's is out of business! I'm down to McDonald's now for Western food I think. Rough... there's always pizza I guess. I like Korean food for the most part but... a trip to Outback is needed. Next time in Seoul...

Bob Knight, I try to like you, I really do.

Monday, March 14, 2005

White Day!

Ack, I forgot today was... another Valentine's Day in Korea, for the benefit of the girls. I did receive a bunch of candy anyways. I also got... a bulgogi burger and a can of Pepsi! Thanks to the mother who thought of this, I was starving! Like most hagwons, there is a bunch of food invariably present because the school hours run right through dinner time and the kids sometimes don't get enough time to eat properly.

The wedding was a big event yesterday. Many people shuffling in and out to wish the bride and groom well. I even got my picture taken with my friends and the bride! Haha, she was surprised. And when the ceremony started... only some of the crowd was allowed in to sit down. It was a lot louder than I am used to, a big crowd of people were in the back chatting. Bubbles! When they had tied the knot, a bubble machine popped out bubbles every where. And we had (English translation) party soup, along with a ton of seafood and veggies.

I brought up weddings in one of my classes. I was asked why American weddings are typically longer than Korean weddings even though Korea has a longer history. Wow, now there's a question. From what I gathered yesterday, some weddings are held in churches and they are more like what I am used to. And other weddings are more traditional and I don't have a clue what they're like other than they involve a horse and carriage coming to the bride's house. Also, I don't think the bride and groom see each other on wedding day until they're married.

Anyways, I think I answered the question with something about differences in culture when I should've said something about how each individual wedding is different everywhere. I'm trying to keep myself from making too many blanket statements and cringe a bit when the kids do it. Don't ask me what they think about China and Japan.

The Hoosier State is going through some tough times. Talks about no team from Indiana making it to the tourney.

Ah, if you're out there... thanks James for the comment with the bars and blogs on it. It was a while ago but I forgot to say thanks. Heh.

I wonder as I wander

What will be the first thing I do whenever I get back home that isn't the social norm? I spend all my time with Koreans here. I definitely get the white Westerner treatment here, for better or for worse. There's got to be some habit that I pick up, good or bad, that I haven't realized yet. I've talked to maybe 6 fluent English speakers in person since I've been here, for a total of around an hour. Monday through Friday I teach Korean kids. Weekends I spend with Korean friends.

Thankfully, I'm pretty sure whatever social mess up I make when I get home, it won't be that serious.

Social mess up here, the other day I walked on a carpet with my shoes on. Oops.

I went to a wedding yesterday. It looked like a very expensive event. It was held in a wedding hall. The food was good... more later I guess, because it's work time.

Friday, March 11, 2005

My body is very weak.

More than 25 hours a week of classroom teaching time can be a little tiring. I don't know how my students feel. They spend more than my 25 hours in private after-school academies and at home studying. Add on the time they spend in public school during the day and I can see why they're bouncing off the walls. Such long hours led my student to say, in the very clear fashion that often is a benefit of learning a new language, "My body is very weak." He just wasn't mentally tired. And I doubt he had much physical activity this week. Some of these kids get winded after some simple rough-housing in between classes.

Chinese overload, on the BBC Asia-Pacific news site at 01:16GMT the word China appeared 12 times. The word Korea... 0.

IU falls to Minnesota...

Never microwave those microwaveable rice packages you can buy in E-Mart with tuna on top. The rice gets all dried out for some scientific reason that is beyond me.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Flowers and beer.

They might not be two things you put in the same sentence, but they do have something in common. Some store owners in this city don't mind leaving them outside in front of the store unattended. I was meandering home tonight from work, trying to get my mind off the job. Granted, I'm sure there are very few flower robbers in the world. A person would be more inclined to steal beer, I'm guessing. But there it was out in the street, just like the flowers. A ton of it. No cameras, no policemen nearby. No shopkeeper.

Imagine a 7-11 in some city in the USA leaving beer outside the store at night. You wouldn't even have to make the "steal me" sign. So, sure, there are plenty of generalizations that one can make about Korea. I'm trying to keep them to a minimum, as this is my first time being immersed in another culture. I still need to keep my wits about me as, of course, crime can happen in any country at anytime. Nonetheless, I am comforted by simple things like seeing beer out like that (and flowers!).

What does one do when they've graduated college and don't know what they want to do? Come to Korea, of course. What else. I hope everything works out for me here one way or another. If I had to come home tomorrow, I'd leave here with many great memories stored in my head. It's difficult to put into words what I have learned about myself here. Since I enjoy the obvious statement; life is life no matter where you live it. I have the good fortune to go pretty much anywhere I want. I need to remind myself that I need to live my life in a way that I can be content with. My selective memory sometimes drops out the simple yet important stuff.

My friends here are great, but I don't have any fluent conversations in person. I use this blog, communicating with friends and family back home, reading books, and watching movies to maintain my awe inspiring level of fluency in the English language. I often produce just train of thought posts, lacking pictures, that might turn off the average blog reader. Especially when you flip through some of the other blogs on the Korean blog list, some great stuff is there. I bought a mic so I can speak with family across the pond through the computer for "free"! AIM and MSN for friends. Books... let me plug What the Book? again. And there are plenty of English movies to be had from my local movie rental store and other means.

Ah, reviewing my posts... I hope none of my old English teachers stumble upon this. I'd feel like I have failed them. Any writing is better than no writing at all, in my case.

Please forgive me IU, for not being able to follow your season very well. You are on the bubble. As a Korean might say, fighting! 피팅. Sorry, I didn't even know who Andrew Bogut is. And he's up for player of the year. Paul, yep. Redick, yep. Simien and May, yep yep. Bogut... erm. This is the information age and I can't get the Big Ten tourney on TV here. Something is amiss.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Hi, my name is...

Work, play, study, sleep, repeat. Like millions of other people everywhere. I'm trying to do this routine in a place that will hold my interest for a while. It seems I have job ADD, maybe I have been trained into this by only working for 3 months or so for my summer jobs. Luckily, the kids might stay the same but they're at lot more interesting to communicate with than a bicycle or a sledgehammer like in jobs past.

I am going to try to have some food delivered to my house today for lunch. The only catch is that I have to order it... wish me luck.

저는 Nate 임니다. 외국사람. 해물 볶음밥 한개 주새요.... 하하.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Ponamdong 2(i)-gil

Big snowstorm in this little section of the world today. I took the obligatory pictures of snow this morning. I was going to take some more but it started snowing harder. Trekked out to E-Mart, made lunch at home. Then I got a phone call 5 minutes before I was going to walk out the door to work. No class today. So here I am. It's still snowing pretty hard. I hope you enjoy my pictures as much as I enjoyed my 3 day work week.

Earlier in the week, a bit down river.

Snow-blind, a bit up river.

'Round here.

Sky thick with snow, and this was in the middle of the day.

Not uphill both ways, but still a ton of snow for someone who's spent the last few years living in South Carolina and south Florida. It reminded me of my high school trip to New York, when lots of my classmates saw snow for the first time.

I'm a bad cook, and I want the world to know it.

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