Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Finally I Got To Treat

In the two six weeks I've been here, everyone has been incredibly generous. I've never had to pick up the tab. I've only ever had to pitch in on the tab sometimes. It certainly keeps me from spending too much money.

Most of the reason for that is because I didn't get a bank account until a month in, and don't bring enough cash for the whole party.

But last night after school, I treated five of the teachers to drinks. Wendy, Gemma, Kitty, Cindy, Vicky and I went over to InHa and drank makoli, that rice wine I had last weekend. We also got a bunch of anju to go along with it.

I didn't care how much it would cost, but I assumed treating six of us would be at least $50, considering how much food there was and how much we drank.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the tab was only $28 for the whole group. Maybe this doesn't warrant its own post on the blog, but I think it's interesting. In America, treating six people to drinks, without food even, would be way more than $28.

Now I know I can afford to take the teachers out on a regular basis, which is a pretty good deal for both of us.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Pics!

These were taken by Brent on his second-to-last night in South Korea. There was drinking involved. So these are some fun shots.

Check them out here.

This Is Never Good News

The North and South are still at it, of course. Their latest beef is over leaflets that whiny South Korean protestors drop in the North.

Check it out here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The New Teacher Is Here

On Saturday night, the new teacher -- a Canadian girl named Jessica -- got into town. But let me tell you about the beginning of the weekend before I get to that.

On Thursday night, I was just sitting around my apartment when Vicky called around midnight to tell me that she was with Gemma and Kitty at InHa. So I got into a cab and went over to meet up with them.

We were drinking some alcohol that is made out of rice. It's called Makoli. It was kind of milky, but tasted pretty good, and it certainly did its job well. It was really fun to hang out with those three. It's something I haven't done much since I've been here, but worth the late night.

Friday was supposed to be my first day of private lessons with four college students at InHa University. Two of them couldn't come, however, so it ended up just being lunch with the guy, June, and one of the girls, Jess. I met Jess and Cassie before when they came out with Chris and me.

I will see them every Friday morning, when our studying basically will just consist of conversation. They all speak English well already, but they are trying to improve.

After that, I headed into work, where I was the life of the party because I package arrived from mom and dad that had some candy and other treats in it. Friday ended up being a pretty good day at work.

On Friday night, we were going to head into Guworldong, the location of The Square, to have a few drinks. Unfortunately, the guys in Yeonsudong were dragging their feet. It got to bed midnight and we hadn't left yet. Since I was supposed to meet Vicky early Saturday, I just headed home.

When Vicky found out I didn't do anything, she offered to go out with me. First I headed over to InHa, but neither of us wanted to order the anju with our drinks. Instead, we just got beer and went back to my place, where we drank and listened to music for a few hours.

Since we were up so late, we moved our meeting time to 2 p.m. on Saturday. I had never been to Insadong, a traditional Korean neighborhood in Seoul, so she offered to come along and show me around.

It was kind of a miserable day weather-wise, because it was raining. But Insadong was a cool place. It's clearly a tourist hotspot, because there are thousands of vendors selling little souvenir-type items.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera. Sorry everyone!

We were going to look for Halloween costumes in Seoul when Stacy called to tell me that Jessica made it in. She wanted me to go back and have dinner with them. So Vicky and I hopped on the Subway and went back in to meet them. They were just finishing dinner, but Stacy wanted to take Jessica out.

So the four of us, along with Stacy's boyfriend, went over to InHa to get a few drinks. It was a really good time. Of course, the Korean guy wanted to make drinking into a competition. But don't worry, America. Your faithful son prevailed again.

On Sunday, the westerners over in Yeonsudong wanted to play American football. It was a good chance to get Jessica on the bus and introduce her to the crew.

Dan, Tim and I were playing against Jeremy, Colin and Scott. It was another classic USA-Canada grudge match. You already know who the winner was. America stomped Canada by a score of 8-4. I had six of our touchdowns and threw for one as well.

I got pretty scraped up diving for balls, so I'm really sore today. But beating Canada is worth a few raspberries.

This week will be a lot of work at school. We have something called "Market Day" on Friday, where the kids use the Jungchul dollars they've earned to buy items or something. I'm not entirely sure about the concept, but I know there are no classes. That means my schedule is crunched and I'll have six classes every day.

It'll all be worth it come Friday night, because it's Halloween!!! I'll definitely remember my camera for wherever we go.

Take care!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Lone Teacher

It's sad to say that as of this morning, Chris is on a plane back to Boston. That means I'll be the only western teacher until at least the 25th, when a Canadian girl is coming. Then, two weeks after her, another American is supposed to arrive.

That means I could get screwed in my schedule. Of course, it will be pretty hard to give me much more work, since I'm almost at full capacity as it is.

At least we made the most of Chris' last weekend in the area.

On Friday, all the teachers went out to a local place in Onyundong for some food and drinks. I always love going out with my co-workers. The cool part was that even after the party broke up, Vicky, Wendy, Cindy and I went to another place to drink some more.

After that, I was surprised to hear them say to me: "Now we're going to your house." Maybe I should've cleaned a little better, haha. So the four of us got some more beer and went back to my place, where we pretty much just listened to music and drank and hung out. It was still cool to have people in my house for the first time -- three Korean girls no less!!!

On Saturday, Chris and I went to Shinsagae to hang out during the day. We got some lunch and met up with some old friends of his. After that, Chelsea showed up and we hung with her for awhile.

Then, in the evening, we made our way out to Bupyeong to meet up with Jake. Of course, a group of the westerners from Yeonsudong were out there. It was cool to run into them since I haven't seen them for awhile.

Sunday was a lot more laid back than the typical drinking nights. It was also filled with some firsts for me.

Vicky picked me up and we went out to Shinsagae to meet a friend of hers. The plan as to go see the movie "Eagle Eye". Once we got there, though, they started making different plans. To my surprise and delight, Vicky's family wanted to take me out to dinner.

So to kill some time, the three of us got some beer in the the square before heading out to meet her family. Her mom, dad and sister all came out, and none of them speak English really at all.

So while Vicky was translating, I took some pride in knowing that I actually could understand a lot of what they were saying. I guess my Korean studying is paying off a bit.

Either way, her family was very nice and we had a cool time. It is the first time I have ever hung out with a Korean family, so it was a new experience.

After dinner, we went to watch the movie, which I liked despite weak reviews. It was in English with Korean subtitles. Even though Vicky can speak well, she said movies and television shows usually move way too fast for her to totally understand.

When I got back, Chris came up for a bit to drop off some stuff and say goodbye. The good news is he'll be back in a month or two. But keep him in your thoughts as he spends the next 30 hours on a plane home. Thanks for everything, Chris!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Typical Saturday Night

Saturday was the usual for the most part. Chris, Chelsea and Jeanna went to some seafood market for sushi, and I wasn't really interested.

Instead, I went with Chelsea's brother, Jake, to the square in Shinsegae to hang out for a little. It was pretty early when we got there, so we walked around and hung out for a couple hours. Then, we got something small to eat and drank a little beer.

After that, Vicky and Jake's girlfriend met up with us for more drinking. Then, Chelsea, Jeanna and Chris came as well. So the eight of us hung out for awhile and had a lot of fun.

Jake, Chris and I made it home by about 2 a.m. and hung out for another hour, eating some food and watching some movies.

All in all it's been a good weekend. Check back in a bit for an odds and ends list I'll post about some of the observations I've made so far.

North Korea Off the Terror List

But is it any less terrifying???

Check out the story here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Officially An Alien

After one month of waiting, I finally received my alien card and bank account on Friday. That means a couple of things.

1. I have identification in the country now. That's not a bad thing at all.
2. Even better, it means I passed my disease test. Whew!!!
3. Having a bank account is necessary because now I can get my first paycheck deposited. I wasn't low on money or anything, but that's always a good thing.

On Wednesday, Chris, Vicky and I went to InHa with Brent, another American at our sister school, to have a few drinks. Brent left on Friday morning, so we just wanted to hang out. I've only met him once before, but it's always good to make friends with a fellow foreigner.

On Thursday, the teachers from both our schools all went out for a going-away dinner for Brent. That means that besides our boss, Mr. No, it was Chris, Brent and me with 14 Korean chicks. I was a little nervous, to say the least.

Also, they thought it would be fun to keep track of my drinking. While we were waiting for our sister school to get to the restaurant, I apparently had six. Thanks Stacy for keeping track.

This is only partially my fault. It's a Korean custom to fill your glass if it's empty. And it's my custom not to leave beer just sitting around. So every time I finished, they filled me back up.

After the restaurant, we all went to a singing room and made fools of ourselves. I sang "Centerfold" with Chris, and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by myself.

The best part of the night, besides hanging out with everyone outside of work, is that Mr. No paid for the whole thing. We'll most likely have another one soon since Chris, unfortunately, is leaving next week.

Last night, I went to Yeonsu because the foreigners there were having a beer pong tourney. Some things just have to travel around the world. Dan and I didn't do too well, but the party was pretty fun. There were about 20 people packed into one of these tiny apartments.

We originally had big plans for the weekend, but it's basically a fact that no plans ever exist. We were supposed to go into a neighborhood of Seoul tonight for some fun, but now I don't know what is going on. I'm sure there are plenty of options, and resting wouldn't be all bad.

With Brent gone, Chris will be at the Songdo school for all of next week, and we are both getting dumped on with our schedules. So my days are pretty much full all next week. I doubt that will change any time soon. after Chris goes, I might be the only foreign teacher here for a few days. Even so, only one person is coming in. Until we get a third teacher, it could be a sucky teaching schedule.

That's appropriate because teaching really isn't that great anyway. That's probably not true. Teaching American kids might be fun. But teaching Korean kids blows. There is simply no control for the teachers, and the bad kids refuse to listen. On Friday, I had one kid freak out because he threw his sticky toy on the ceiling and I wouldn't let him stand on his desk to get it.

He caused a big scene and knocked his desk over and cried. So much for being a tough guy. The Korean teacher apologized to me and told me that he is sometimes "aggressive." Well, I think there's a difference between being aggressive and being a total jerk.

I guess it's time to find something to do for the day. I hope all is well back home!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

North Still Test Firing

Jeremy was asking me about this situation. Unfortunately, I don't know anymore than anyone else. I doubt we have to worry over here yet, though. Here is a story about it.

North Korea fires missiles

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Best Weekend Yet

That's right. After my bad Monday, the rest of the week really made me appreciate being here.

On Wednesday, all the teachers from the Onyun-dong school went out for dinner and drinks. It was a lot of fun to spend time with the whole group outside of school. They're all cool in school, but it's always great to see how people act out at the bar.

Of course, that meant I was exhausted on Thursday. Fortunately for me, again, some teachers were preparing for exams, so I didn't have that much to teach. I was supposed to be off for my last class of the day, but the students begged their teacher, Wendy, to let me teach them. So she asked me to play a game with them and we had a fun Quiddler time.

I had to recover quickly, because Thursday night was the opening of Rio's new bar in Shinsegae. Dan and I went to Rio's wedding last weekend, so the whole group was excited to check out the new place.

His bar was cool, but I ran into Vicky, one of the teachers, out there. So I ended up spending a lot of time with her group. Check out the pics below.

On Friday, Chris and I went to a movie with two Korean college girls to whom he gives private lessons. Their names are Cassie and Jess. We went to see some Korean flick set in the 1920s when Japan was occupying Korea.

It was about a dude who meets a chick who is secretly a Korean rebel against the Jappo government. The story is very twisted and the girls basically ruins his life. I won't give away the ending. Let's just say there was a boom.

After that, we all went out to drink and met up with Jake and his girlfriend. We went to a couple different hofs and ended up, of course, in a singing room. It was a pretty good night.

On Saturday, Chris, Chelsea, Jeanna and I went to Songdo Park for a picnic. Songdo Park is a small amusement park near our houses, and it cost something like $5 per person to get in. There is a pond, beach, rides and boating available.

The girls went shopping for food, a grill and drinks. We spent about 5 hours there, just lounging and enjoying ourselves. It was really relaxing and just what I needed to help me recharge. Chelsea and I even rolled up our pants and waded in the water. It was a lot of fun.

After that, we went to Wolmido, where there is another little amusement park. We got on the popcorn ride and the viking ship ride. Wolmido was also having a festival. Fall is apparently festival season in Korea. That meant more fireworks.

Being that this is Korea, our night didn't end there. We went to a singing room in Inha for another two hours.

The whole day was a blast, but weekends like this definitely slow me down. I skipped out on wiffleball today so I could hang in and rest. The Korean lifestyle certainly requires an off day for someone like me, especially since I don't get my naps anymore!

To answer some of Pauline's questions: No, I still do not have a bank account. I should get it very soon, because I'm supposed to get my first paycheck this week. I haven't gotten my alien card yet, but all the paperwork has been filed, so I expect that this week as well.

As far as the PA license plate. It just happened to be in some Korean bar in Buepyong, so I thought I should get a shot with it, since I'm from PA. Sometimes home just follows you.

Below are pics from Shinsegae, Songdo and Wolmido. I'm getting more of me in there now. Enjoy!

Songdo and Wolmido