Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hookah and Hongdae

On Friday night, Vicky and I went to an Indian-themed bar where we tried a Hookah. It was my first time ever trying anything like that. And I now have vindication for never doing it before. While it wasn't horrible, I certainly didn't like it very much.

The place had a cool decor, though. We were in out own little room, like at the wine bar in Gangnam. Sorry everyone, I forgot my camera that night! We'll go again and take pics. The drinks were nice and strong.

On Saturday, Vicky and I went into Hongdae, a district in Seoul, to meet with her best friend, You Kyung. You Kyung works for Asiana Air. They met when they were roommates at InHa freshman year.

The three of us went to a place called Bon-ga. It's a really famous restaurant where all the celebs go and sign their pics on the wall. It was easily the best meal I've had in Korea so far. Instead of the typical pork meal, they served thin strips of beef that we grilled in front of us. We also had a spicy beef brisket soup. Everything was really good, and You Kyung generously treated us.

After that, we walked around Hongdae just a bit before coming home. Thankfully, Sunday has been a rest day, so far. I'm cooking dinner for Vicky in a bit. It's just pasta, because I can't do much more, considering one of my burners doesn't even work haha. At least the heat is working!

I added some pics to my Jungchul folder. One of my classes made a hand print tree. Check out the Hongdae pics as well. I took more pics of the girls than I did of the sights. But I think they're good haha.


Jungchul students

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bowling and Antiques

Friday was pretty typical. Just a little bit of drinking at Rio's. Most of the western crew was there, as well Vicky, Cindy, Gina and Chelsea. It all turned out pretty well.

Saturday was pretty cool because we went bowling for the first time in Korea. Eli, JessCan (which is how she will be referred to from here on out because she is Canadian) and I went to a bowling alley in Yeonsudong with two of my college students, June and Jess. Jake also showed up later on in the evening.

Bowling is pretty much the same here as it is in America. There was electronic scoring and everything!!! One cool difference is the shoe machine. It's like a giant vending machine where you get your shoes. Shoes were only $1 to rent and games were less than $2.50. We played three games before heading out for some drinking.

I went with Jake, Jess and June to InHa to hang out and talk a little. It was a pretty relaxed night.

On Sunday, Vicky and I got lunch and went to a Korean movie called "Antique". It was about four guys who own a cake shop. The police use them to help catch a kidnapper. I understood a little bit of the Korean, and the movie was pretty easy to follow. Vicky quizzed me a bit at the end.

Also, the movie has a few gay guys in it. There is no country more uncomfortable about homosexuals than Korea. Every time guys kissed or held hands or something, I could hear and see everyone in the theater cringing.

Everything else has been pretty normal. My best news about my job is that one of my classes from Thursday got moved to Friday. So instead of seven classes Thursday and four on Friday, it's moved to six and five. I don't mind because now I get a little break on Thursday.

Check out the bowling pics here!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Weekend Full of Seoul

This weekend, Vicky and I made two trips into Seoul for various reasons.

On Friday, I joined Vicky, her mom and her sister for an all-night shopping trip to Dongdaemun. Dongdaemun Market in Seoul is famous for its thousands of outlet-type booths. The stores typically are open from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

There are a bunch of really big, department-store sized buildings with little stalls in them that are no bigger than a walk-in closet. The stalls are filled with off-brand clothing that is pretty cheap. I only found one thing I actually liked there. It's just a hooded, long-sleeve shirt.

We were mostly walking around the women's clothes. Go figure. I was with three chicks. But it was still a really cool experience since I've never seen anything like it before.

Vicky's dad picked us all up at about 5 a.m., and we headed home totally exhausted.

On Saturday, we were kind of supposed to go to a wedding in Seoul. It was one of our boss' brothers who no one knows, but I was told all the teachers were going, so I didn't want to look like a jerk. Later I found out that only the other two foreign teachers and Stacy were going.

So Vicky and I, after our very late night, backed out. Thank goodness, because I was dead.

Instead, we ended up going into Seoul again to a neighborhood called Gangnam. It's pretty much just a business district. We went because Vicky had to help her younger sister get information about studying abroad.

After she helped her sis, she took me to a really cool wine bar, where we got our own private little room to hang out in. For $32, we got a sweet red wine from Germany and a big plate of nachos. Add that to the private room with all the cushions and cool atmosphere, and it's a pretty great deal.

Since we were still pretty dead from the night before, we decided to just hop on the bus and head back to Incheon. We went to InHa, near her house, and just had some drinks and relaxed.

The nice thing about public transportation here is that while you could take the subway for $1 to get to Seoul, it's even easier to hop on the bus. We would have to take a cab to the subway station, then make two or three transfers to get to Seoul. But the bus comes right in front of our house, and only costs $2. It takes between 1 and 2 hours, depending on traffic, but it can't be beat for convenience.

On Sunday, I met with Vicky and her friend, You-Kyoung in Guworldong. You-Kyoung works in one of the Asiana Air lounges at the Incheon International Airport, catering to businessmen, who no doubt hit on her constantly. Her English listening is pretty decent, but she's studying the speaking now in college. She and Vicky were roommates at InHa when they were freshmen.

She and I decided that we're probably on the same level. It's fun when she's there, because the conversations between the three of us are probably about 50-50 English and Korean, with Vicky helping when necessary.

As for work, not much has changed. I have the most hours of any teacher there, and I have some extra things to do that the other foreign teachers don't have, like calling all the students at home to speak a little on the phone. It's a hassle. I guess that's what you get for being the "veteran" after two months.

The school just hired another Korean teacher though, so maybe my hours will go down a bit. But I'm not getting my hopes up.

Anyway, the job is more boring than anything. I just look forward to every day at 9:05 p.m. when I get to go home.

The pictures from the weekend, and some other random pics from Jess, are posted below. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pictures From the Weekend

I added some more pics to Jess's shots. I also put in pictures from this weekend. The first set is from Dongdaemun, a popular all-night shopping district in Seoul. I went with Vicky, her mom and her sister on Friday night. The second set is from Gangnam, another neighborhood of Seoul, where Vicky and I went to a wine bar on Saturday.

I'll write about the whole weekend later on tonight, but here are the pics.

Jess' pics

Dongdaemun Market


Monday, November 10, 2008

Gyeongbokgung Palace Pictures

Here are the pictures from our trip into Seoul on Saturday to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Even though it was a little rainy and cold, it turned out to be a good trip. It was my first palace experience.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

From Singing Rooms to Palaces

That's an appropriate title for the post because that's exactly what my weekend entailed.

On Friday morning I met with my college students. They are June, Jess and Cassie. We just talked about the stuff they want to learn in class. They're all really nice and have great personalities. That goes along with their solid speaking ability. It's going to be fun to see them every Friday, and out for the occasional drink.

We started out Friday night in Guworldong celebrating Stacy's birthday. Stacy, our head teacher, turns 25 (or 26 depending on your country and calendar). Either way, we headed to a singing room.

All the teachers chipped in to buy her perfume. For the party, it is Korean custom for the person celebrating the birthday to pay for everything for the guests.

I was in kind of a bad mood to start the evening because I was still feeling a little sick and I was worried about some other things. No matter. A few hours into the night, I snapped back to my normal self and had a good time. I even scored a perfect 100 on Meatloaf's "I would do anything for love". Not even Meatloaf can say he's done that.

When the birthday party broke up, a group of the teachers wanted to go to the night club. Now, the weekend before, a small group of us had a really good time there. But this was totally different. Instead of three girls and four guys, it was five girls and two guys.

The numbers didn't work out. So Vicky, Eli and I went in as a threesome, while the other four teachers, including Jess, went as a group. That was lame, because it meant they separated us. So Eli, Vicky and I were stuck at a table with four dorky Korean guys, while the other four teachers were trying to meet guys.

Well, this place is expensive, and I saw no point in hanging around so they could meet guys. So Eli and I took off and went to Rio's. It was a little brash, maybe. I didn't really consult the teachers too much. I just basically told them I was going.

I was thinking like an American and not like a polite person. Even though I thought it was a bit selfish of them to break up the group, I should've been more clear when I left.

As it was, the other teachers were worried that they made me mad. And I unintentionally left Vicky with them. I thought she might want to hang with them. But in my haste to leave, I didn't get that she didn't want to be there either.

So she came to Rio's and met Eli and I, as well as the other westerners who flocked there that night. The whole Yeonsudong crew, including, Dan, Robin, Colin and Tim were there. It ended up being a pretty good night.

On Saturday, Vicky came over just to hang out. We were both wiped out from the night before, so we just sat around and watched tv for awhile. We went to get some dinner, then came and back and laid around some more. Later on in the evening, she picked me up and took me to Homever so I could get some sweatpants in which I could lounge around the house.

Now when Sunday rolled around, Vicky and I still weren't up for doing anything, but Eli and Jess wanted to do some sightseeing in Seoul. Being a nice person and not wanting to just leave them on their own, Vicky agreed to go. So I also agreed to go so I could hang out with her.

It turned out to be a pretty good day, albeit rainy and a little cold. We went to a palace called Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was built in the late 1300s. It was a pretty cool site. The place was massive, and the traditional architecture and dress of the workers was impressive to see at the historic site.

After that, we made our way over to Insadong, which Vicky and I visited a couple weeks ago. We just got some lunch and walked around a bit with Eli and Jess. We were ready to go, and they wanted to stay a few more hours. So we found the bus route home and let them know, and took off for home.

Now the bus is really convenient, and it takes anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours. That's only a little bit more than the subway, except the subway involves multiple transfers. The bus goes right from Insadong to our door in Onyundong.

Vicky and I filled the two hours just goofing around, so it ended up being fun. When we got back, we picked up some noodles and dokboki (a rice cake and noodle dish) and went back to my place to watch some Korean tv. Even though we were exhausted, I think the day was pretty good.

After she left, I had to get my homework done. Since the teachers are so impressed with my language ability thus far, they're happy to help me improve. Vicky picked out a grammar book for me to buy, and Gemma gave me the assignment of writing a Korean entry in my journal of at least three lines.

So I write six lines. There were two four each day of the weekend. I gave it to her today, and I was happy to find that I only had a few mistakes, except for in the last sentence, which was kind of a mess. But overall, there were just a couple spelling mistakes, and some prepositional errors.

Not two bad for my first Korean essay. So she helped me correct it and I rewrote it properly. I think the essay writing is going to be really helpful, as will the grammar book. Also, hanging with Vicky so much has really helped my casual speaking a lot. I'm not at the point where I can hold full conversations, but I can understand probably 90 percent of what I hear.

Check above for the pics!

Picture Update

I added more pics to Jess' album. Check them out. Also, check back later today for a new entry about my weekend. We went to a palace in Seoul and got some great pictures.

Here are the new Jess pics.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pics From Jess

Our Canadian teacher, Jess, has been here for one week. Here are some pics she's taken during her time.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Market Day Pics

For Halloween, we had a special event at the school called Market Day. The students used their Jungchul dollars that they earned in class to buy food and little toys.

I was in charge of the quiz game. I asked them questions like "What is the capital of South Korea?" and "What colors are on the American flag?". The winner of my game got $3 to spend on more stuff.

The teachers all decorated the school with Halloween stuff, and I got to wear a sweet costume. I was worried that this would be the first Halloween that I didn't have a costume, but they had one for me. It was a really fun day.

After that, we all went out to dinner, then to a singing room, where Mr. No treated us. Then, Vicky, Kitty, Wendy, Jess and I made our was to Goworldong for some late-night drinks.

The new American guy, Elias, gets in tonight. I'm taking him and Jess to Goworldong to meet up with Stacy and Vicky.

Like I said, it's a little weird that after only seven weeks here, I'm the tour guide for the new teachers. But thankfully, over the last couple weeks, my listening has really gotten better. There are very few situations where I can't follow the conversation or at least know enough to get by. My speaking is improving too.

It's a good thing I've progressed so quickly, because now I'll have two more people relying on me at least a little bit to get them situated.

Here are the pics. Enjoy!