Sunday, March 30, 2008

Moving In, SoKo style...

Lest we allow this weekend's sickness to detract from the overall fun of the experience, here are some snaps from last weekend for your amusement:

This is me: preparing to clean... 
(I'm a "Method" cleaner... I like to get into character first.) 

I'm a maniac once I actually get going.

More lounging around in the finished product.

And finally, the view from my bed: 

Back to my current status~ Sucking down citron tea and water.  My luck I'll wake up with a vitamin C hang-over, which would be fine, as long as I wake up no longer sick.
Power of suggestion: I will wake up healthy and full of energy. 

Under the Weather...

Your girl has internet. 
She also has a nasty, sticky, gross infection lodged in her upper respiratory system. 
She is currently trying to drown that sucker out by drinking liters of water and sleeping a lot.  
Will let you know how all that goes. 


Friday, March 28, 2008


Your girl is working on getting internet access set up...
She hopes to resume blogging just as soon as possible. 
In the meantime, she is storing up delightful tidbits for your amusement. 

(It's amazing how quickly you get used to things.  Before I came to SoKo, I was using trusty ol' 56k dial-up and that was just fine.  Now I feel like it's part of my basic human rights to have hi-speed internet access everywhere I go... This is a slippery slope, I'm sure.)

Meanwhile, I'm a pirate surfing the net like a bandit. 

Kid story: We were discussing extreme sports and danger.  One of the questions in the workbook 'which of these sports have you tried: skiing, rock climbing, tennis, soccer, surfing.' 
The kid question: "Teacher, surfing is mean 'surfing the net'?" 
Er, no.  But almost as much fun.  

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Venturing Out

Saturday, 3/15

"I Love Speed" 

Off on my first solo excursion to Daejeon.  Took the KTX "bullet" train, which got me there in 48 minutes and cost 18.300 won.  (appx $18.30) There's lots of press that makes this train out to be something space age, but really, it's kind of like a NYRR train in the states.  It's fast, but it's no teleportation...  Hmmm, teleportation.  Now THAT I would pay good money to experience.  Come on, Korea.  Let's get on it!   

Daejeon Station 

Met up w. Ms. Fighter Girl (who rocks the lingo like a native) and her new fiancee.  We walked around downtown and picked up their Hanboks, traditional Korean wedding clothes, which they bought to wear for the ceremony back in the states.  

We dropped the boxes off at their apartment, which is positively palatial.  It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms -one with a bathtub (!)- and two balconies.  

The Chairman's Request 

Had a little fun at E-Mart, or "sigma dot" as Ms. Fighter calls it (the sign looks like the greek letter Sigma) It's Korea's answer to Wal-Mart.  And it's open 24/7.  When I heard that, I think I had a teeny tiny heart flutter.  

Found a Popeye's and decided to pay homage to the Chairman.  Look!  I'm even giving the international sign of peace.  

My purchases included a book of short stories w. English on one side and the Korean translation printed on the other.   

Oh, happy day.  

First Week

No one likes a lazy blogger. 

Despite my wealth of free time, I've been lax in updating.  This is mostly because I don't know what I feel just yet.  I haven't seen my permanent apartment nor have I met any of the people at my branch although I've spoken to most of them via e-mail and they seem like a pretty cool bunch.   

I've decided to stick to the facts, of which I can be fairly certain.  

Week in Review:


Landed in Daegu @8:40pm.  Was met at the airport by a member of the MK Korean support staff.  He drove me to my temporary flat and made sure I was all set up for training on Monday.  There was food and drink in my fridge, but just in case (and to hold me over for the week) I brought beef jerky and energy bars.  Mordant laughed at me, but seriously, they were a life saver.  


New teacher training w. the teaching manager and another new teacher. 

They ordered us pizza and soda for lunch.  Easing into the local cuisine gradually.  


E2 Health check up at the hospital.  The waiting room had a large, colorful poster detailing the importance of a regular colonoscopy, featuring an assortment of polyps and bleeding lesions.  I call that "scared straight".  

They checked ears, eyes, weight, height, randomly, measured my chest.  I went with the other new foreign teacher and they had us both disrobe from the waist up.  She went into the room first and I saw her standing arms around a giant machine.  My first thought, after the colonoscopy poster, was .... Mammogram!?!?  wth? I was busy gettin' all riled up when she walked out and said something to the effect of  ... "Gotta love the chest Xray."

Ah.  Chest Xray.  Of course.  


Observed more classes at branch #3


Had the "day off".


Was called to fill in branch #3.  My first full day of teaching solo.  It was six story telling classes, so it required fairly light prep.  This is what I was hired to do.  I love being in the classroom.

Was invited to go out w. the other foreign teachers, but I declined in favor of an early night.  

Yeah.  I'm that exciting. 

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cuba’s Fidel Castro Tries to Capture Asian Readers

What, like with a net? 

No, it appears that he’s aiming his autobiography at readers in Asia. Following last week’s release of his book in Mandarin , translations in Hindi, Farsi, Hindhalese are set to follow.

I thought the title would be something exciting like “How to Become Leader of Your Own Communist Country in Ten Easy Lessons”.  Instead, he chose the boring “Fidel Castro: My Life – A Spoken Autobiography.”  Come on, dude.  How do you expect to move any product with a title like that?

Let us not forget that this is the same paranoid man who built himself his own private hospital and has a predilection for consuming gourmet hams.   

After a recent visit, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pronounced his friend, Mr. Castro, to be “happy, splendid, and full of ideas.”  (Which sounds suspiciously like a euphemism for “babbling lunatic”…)

Why do we read about other (more famous) peoples’ lives?  Does it show us the path to power?  Give us a possible template for success?  Or do they simply allow us to live lavish lives vicariously, if only for a few hours…  

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What I didn't tell them in the interview...

My dirty little secret: I'm looking forward to having my own apartment so that I can practice (violin, piano hopefully, marimba, kazoo, etc.) at all hours of the day. Oh, yeah. I try not to do that now in order to avoid waking up my ridiculously hard working good lady mother.

I'm carrying on my violin on the plane as my one "personal" item. Helpful hints and advice have included wrapping the instrument up in a bag to prevent cracking due to loss of humidity, and remembering to remove extra strings from the case, lest they be confiscated as the dangerous weapons that they so clearly are...

My college violin teacher tells a story about practicing his violin in the student apartments one afternoon (quietly and with the mute on). Some old guy starts banging on his door and yelling at him to stop making such a racket. My teacher is baffled as he can't see how he could possibly be making that much noise. The next day, that same old guy comes knocking on his door again and apologizes saying "I'm very sorry, it wasn't you."

I'm prepared to feign innocence if questioned about a "racket". Complete deniability is essential.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Consulate and Free Stuff

Interviewed at the Korean Consulate (460 Park Ave. 6th floor. NYC) this afternoon.

It took about 8 minutes and included such questions as "Who is your favorite author?" (I was an English major) "Why do you want to go to Korea?" and "Are you satisfied with the terms and conditions of your contract?" Interesting observation: The interviewer was wearing slippers, his shoes were tucked under his desk. Korea, I dub thee Land of the House Shoe.
I pick up my visa tomorrow @ 2pm.

Right across the hall from the Korean Consulate is is the Korean Cultural Service, a delightful little enclave that features a exhibits of Korean and Korean-American artists, video installations, and a lovely little lending library that doles out free literature like Santa at Christmas. I left bearing a hefty little stash of maps, an airport guide, and a fat little book entitled "The Flavor and Tradition of Korean Restaurants", published by Korean Food Services, Inc. I'm looking forward to using this as my guide to the gastronomic delights that await.

The Beginning

written Friday- 2.29.08
This is my last weekend here in the States. Not that the "weekend" really means anything to me as I'm not currently working full-time. At present, I am relying on the kindness of my good lady mother who is graciously allowing me to live in her house rent free.
Though very soon, I will no longer be able to call myself a free loader because...

I am going to teaching English in South Korea at Moon Kkang Foreign Language Academy (Chilgok location in Daegu) on a one year contract beginning March 10, 2008 and ending midnight March 9, 2009.

Apparently, no knowledge of the Korean language is required in order to teach English to Korean children, as they are supposed to use only English in the classroom. This will be a fun experiment as, despite that my father was born and raised in Korea, I speak not one lick of Korean. My vocabulary is strictly limited to such basics as: Hello, good-bye, thank you (deferential) and 'Yo-Bu-Say-Oh', which my phrase book informs me is used "to attract someone's attention". Hmmmm.
On the whole, I am excited, terrified, and thrilled at the prospect of this departure from the norm.

While in South Korea, I look forward to...

  • The structure of a routine and classroom schedule.
  • Interacting with the children. (although I'm sure this will be a source of stress as well...)
  • Having my own apartment (woo!)
  • Eventually, having money in the bank.
  • Possibly, having money to enjoy recreational activities (yoga, dance, etc.)
  • Seeing the gym on the side of the mountain (?)
  • Becoming more familiar with the language.
  • Enjoying the simplicity of the life that I will be living.

At the end of one year, I would like to have...

  • a deeper appreciation of Korean culture and heritage.
  • better Korean language skills (really, there's nowhere to go but up...)
  • a stockpile of experience and information.
  • more money in the bank.
  • a lighter debt load.
  • ...become a better teacher, writer, and musician.

Tall order I know, but why not dream big?
Thanks for stopping by!