Monday, February 28, 2011

The New Home Place

Well... We finally got our roommates out and the apartment to ourselves. It's a nice spot. We have mountain views out of all of our windows. The john has a fancy bidet and ass-warmer. There is a camera looking out our front door, and we can see who is out there while cooking in the kitchen. There is a separate kitchen area specifically for making kimchee, complete with a two drawer pull out refrigerator. We also have a side dish refrigerator in the kitchen, making 3 fridges in all. None of these niceties are really necessary, but I guess 3 fridges are better than one. And I'm not complaining about a toasty rear. Pictures to follow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rock Stars Arrive in S Korea


First Impressions


Kimchi

Check

House shoes

Check

Dunkin Donuts

CHECK

I have been in Korea for about 30 hours. I have found the 7-11, Dunkin Donuts, and Pizza Hut.
I'm feeling a big jet lagged, but not enough to shop at the giang E-Mart for Activia yogurt and Special K cereal.
And a slice of Supreme Pizza.

We got into Incheon Airport and were picked up by a driver. We were immediately taken to our school, where they were just finishing up for the day. At 8:30 pm. We were dirty, smelly, and after the 14 hour flight - pretty out of it.
But all I can say is WOW.

This ain't no Paraguay.
Which is all I have to compare it to.
The school is small and private. Kids go there AFTER public school and stay till 9pm! Korean kids usually have more school after their full day a public school in the forms of English school, Tae Kwon Do, music, or math school. Being a kid here doesn't sound very fun - but they are so dedicated! I am blown away at the English skills of some of these little little kids! I can tell them jokes! It took me 1.5 years to fully understand most jokes in Guarani!

We spent all day Tuesday shadowing a fellow Native teacher, and it was pretty long - or maybe it was just the jet lag. We get paid per class - so our days are pretty full up with at least 7 - 40 min classes. They diverse in skill level and age. I was pretty spent after 9 hours.
We do, however get lunch provided by a cook, so I will be able to taste all of her delicious Korean meals. We had bulgogi, which is rice with beef, kimchi, and creamed corn. There were also bean sprouts in a vinegar sauce. Our classes are typically 1-9pm, so we can eat right when we get into school.

After work, we went to E-Mart, which is like a smaller version of Wal-Mart. We bought a few food items and tried to look for a coffee pot. We will most likely travel into Seoul this weekend to look for one at Costco. Most people here drink instant coffee - but I didn't see any Nescafe! Haha! We also bought house slippers, as we are required to take our shoes off at the school. Mine are none too pretty - but at least comfy. I also bought some eyelid tape. It's to make the 'double eyelid' that westerners have. I'm tryin 'em out this weekend. Gonna get CRAY-ZAY!

We are currently in flux, as the teachers here before us are still in our apartment. They will be leaving this weekend, so until then, Anthony and I are sleeping in a twin size bed in a smaller bedroom. The apartment is so much bigger than we thought. I'm very excited and we have wi-fi. We will take photos after this weekend when our roomies leave. One teacher is going back to Canada, and the other got a position at a school in Seoul proper.
We are in a province Called Namyangju in a town called Pyongnedong (i think...i think i'm spelling it wrong). It's pretty lax here, and there seem to be buses that take you into neighboring areas that have more shops. But really, everything is in walking distance. It's about 10 min to school, and 20 to E-Mart and Pizza Hut. There is a movie theater, gym, subway and tons of eateries. It's like a little San Lorenzo (for those PC volunteers).

I will write a little more later, as I will now attempt to make some instant coffee. I certainly need it to keep up with little kids all day. I'm really excited to start teaching on my own on Monday. But first, I gotta get through day 2!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

DC>NYC>Incheon>Namyangju

Howdy, folks. We're headed to S. Korea tomorrow morning. It'll be around 15 hours from NY>S Korea. As a brief introduction, here are some interesting facts I gleaned from Learning to Think Korean by L. Robert Kohls.
--The Korean language is part of the Ural-Altaic language family, meaning it originated between the Central Asian mountain ranges of the same names. Korean, then, is unrelated to Chinese, although it is related to Japanese, Manchu and, interestingly, Turkish and Finnish.
--Generally, spoken language is intentionally indirect and more ambiguous than is the norm in the states. I'll update this idea with examples once I've had some personal experience.
--Koreans invented movable metal type a couple hundred years before old Gutenberg got around to it.
--Korean territory has been encroached upon repeatedly: by the Mongols (1234,1274,1281), the Japanese warlord Hideyoshi (1592-1598) and the Manchu invasions (1627,1636).
--Korea is about to have powerful foreign visitors once again... Ant and Cassie Doo.

I have to finish packing... It's tough to decide which books and song sheets to bring along.
More to come.....

We Are OUTTIE


We are leaving for South Korea tomorrow.
I am trying to pack everything I own into 2 50lb bags. Anthony has 1 rollie bag, and a backpack...
Wha???

I don't think I'm packing that much, but apparently, 100lbs of clothes, shoes and yoga equipment.

Seriously, I don't know why he packs so little, and I pack so much. It is a delicate subject, but all I can say, is that I'm not getting left in the fashion void for 2 years AGAIN. No PY or Korean spandex for me!!!! I have been reading online that if you are a bigger sized lady, bring all the clothes you might need. I won't get caught drooling over linen button up shirts again. I'm bringing my own. In Paraguay, jersey t-shirt was the national fabric. For me and my ladies, it is not a very forgiving media.

As for tons of clothes, I am also bringing lots of shoes. Although I'm sure to find cute shoes over there, I am very picky. I don't like strappy heels for petite asian bodies. I like Docs and Mary Janes - which aren't quite in style like they once were. As for Ode to PY, I still have my Ipanema zapatias.

When all is said and done, the only thing I didn't bring is toiletries. I have a few items that will last me about a month, but I'm sure I'll be able to brush my teeth and wash my hair just like the locals.

Our phone will be turned off after today. We will arrive in Korea on Monday at 5:40pm local time. Wish us luck.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Resistance is Futile

I've been reading more and more blogs on teaching english in South Korea.
It's amazing how many people are currently teaching ESL there, and even more amazing how many people are blogging about it.

As I have mentioned before, after reading many of these blogs, I feel confident and almost proud that I served in Peace Corps before moving onto this next adventure. It sounds like a cake walk. I've read a lot of pros and cons about South Korea - and lemme tell ya - people can be whinny about a lot of petty crap.
Now now, I'm not just tooting my own horn here....okay....maybe I am. But it begs the question, why go live and work abroad if the only thing you are going to do is to compare it to the country you are coming from?

The good part about most of the blogs that I read, is that at the end of them, everyone really enjoys/enjoyed teaching in South Korea. I assume that after the initial culture shock, people usually get over being annoyed at living in a new environment, and decide to just have a good time and 'live'. And as in the past I have used this blog as my personal ranting journal, I also assume that most people do the same with their blogs...so I'm constantly looking for the good posts, and breeze past the bad ones.

With this in mind, Amber turned me onto a great website that I would like to mimic here on Loco Mocos. I have invited Anthony to become a team member of Loco Mocos, so that he can share in 'ranting and raving', as well as his POV in living in South Korea. It's a Loco Mocos first, and I hope that we will be able to document our time here, and give our family and friends a little bit of insight into our shared adventure.