Monday, April 12, 2010

i should probably be lesson planning; instead, i find myself here...

This last week was rather uneventful.  I got sick last last Thursday, and my co-teacher insisted that I go to the doctor on Monday (I assume that it was more because she didn't want to catch whatever I have.  Also, Koreans are obsessed with getting medical attention), so she took me after class.  The doctor spoke decent English, which was nice, and he ended up giving me a prescription for four pills, three times a day, for three days.  Guess how much it all cost?!  3000 won for the doctor's visit and 2500 won for the prescription.  Oh, woe is me... paying less than $5.50 Canadian for a doctor's visit and a prescription... oh, and the whole "ordeal" took a grand total of about twenty minutes.  Anyways, the prescription didn't do much more than make me all jittery (I assume one of them was a caffeine pill), but I'm starting to feel better today (Monday of the next week!). 

Needless to say, my week was pretty relaxed and I didn't do much.  I had Korean lessons, though, which I'm actually enjoying.

On Saturday a few of us foreign teachers went out for dinner and then out to LSG for sex trivia night.  Actually, we got tricked into sex trivia night, we didn't know it was still going on by the time we got there.  Either way, somehow my team won (I have no idea how, we were certain we were losing).  And we won free beer, which we took a raincheque for.  No complaints here.  Afterwards, a few of us (three actually) decided that we didn't feel like going home, so we went to a norae bang, which is like this little room that you rent out and rock out to kareoke.  It's actually hilariously fun, despite the fact that I hate singing in front of others because I am horrible at it. 

Oh!  On Wednesday and I went to the hairdresser and managed to get a haircut!  It was slightly terrifying, trying to explain what you wanted without having the other person understand English.  Either way, I think it looks nice, and the lady did a great job despite the language barrier.  Also, my haircut only cost 10 000 won... less than $10 Canadian.  I have never gotten a haircut for that cheap in Canada... EVER!  The lady also managed to tell me (mostly through broken English, some Korean that I have limited knowledge of, and a lot of pointing) that she sees me walk by every day and every time she wanted to run out and cut my "wings" off.  Well, she got her wish, haha.

I also decided that, since I was able to get a haircut, that I would try buying sunglasses.  Or at least looking for some.  I went to the glasses shop down the street from my house, and after trying on just one pair, the optometrist tookthem away and stared at the wall for about a minute before pulling down a pair of sunglasses that are the most perfect sunglasses ever!  And, frames and prescription lenses altogether, they only cost me 100 000 won, or, less than $100 Canadian.  I love Korea, it's so cheap to live here!  and they were ready in two days!

On Sunday, Robyn and I decided to go to a DVD bang, which, like a norae bang, is a room you rent out and watch DVDs in.  We also bought cake.  Best.Sunday.EVER.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

glow in the dark blogging...

Just in case you were all wondering, I write these blogs at two in the morning in the dark on my weekends. I am a night owl at heart, even if being a teacher wants to break me of that habit.

Everything seems to be coming together nicely, and who doesn’t love that feeling? On Monday, I received my residence card for living in Korea (yay!!!) and my stamp to make my Visa a multiple entry visa (in case I feel like leaving the country and being able to come back in). The return of my passport and the obtaining of my residence card were the two main ingredients in being able to set up my life in Yeosu, really. The first stop after becoming an official resident was KEB bank to set up my account and internet banking. My co-teacher and I were there for over an hour, but it was completely worth it… and also had to be done. Luckily KEB caters to the expat community, and their transfer fees, among other things, are lower than the other banks. We went to go set up my cell phone afterwards, but it turns out I needed a used cell phone in order to do this. Luckily, one of my other co-teachers had just got a new cell phone, and she was willing to let me have her old one, so by Tuesday it was all set up, and then on Thursday I was able to get my internet connected… and it only took two hours! I’m not sure why, all my co-teacher could manage to translate was something about a box and something being wrong. Fantabulous. Either way, I got it all set up, and it’s magical having internet in my house again! Aaaand I got paid, huzzah! Who doesn’t love getting paid? Especially since I managed to stand my ground and actually get the settlement allowance paid for with my first cheque. Sure would have been nice to have it when, you know, I was trying to -settle- in Korea. Oh wells. What’s done is done.

On Wednesday, all of the teachers get together to play volleyball, this Wednesday was no exception. Unfortunately, I have developed a defence mechanism for hiding from the ball, where I am actually decently good at spiking the ball. Somehow in the midst of flailing and trying to protect my head, I manage to connect with the ball… who knew? I was stuck at the front of the net for the entire two hours. Oh, that’s right, they play volleyball in a freezing cold gym for two hours straight. It clearly sounds like a magical fun time. We’re supposed to be playing girls against girls and guys against guys, but there’s too many girls in the school, so we play mixed, which is terrible because the guys are all really good and take volleyball super seriously, and they hit the ball really hard! It’s terrifying!

My weekend was really nice, on Friday Casey and I went over to Annie’s apartment and I got to meet her for the first time, even though she was already on my facebook. She’s super nice and has the cutest dogs! Then on Saturday, Annie, Casey, Robyn (another teacher who I met on Saturday, who is also incredibly nice), and I went beach hunting. We went to three different beaches and I collected a whole bunch of huge sea shells, it was really nice. Another foreign teacher was having a birthday party on one of the beaches we went to, so we met some other new people. It’s weird when you get so used to Korean people surrounding you that it’s almost disorienting when there’s a group of English speaking people. Sometimes it’s nice meeting a bunch of new people at once, but for some reason it feels almost overwhelming. I think you just get used to tuning a lot of stuff out because you can’t understand it. after beach hunting for a while, we all decided we were hungry, and we drove to Suncheon to go to Outback Steakhouse, haha. It was nice to have non-Asian food. And cheese, we ate sooo much cheese, it was amazing!

Monday I had to teach at my first teacher’s meeting. Luckily the supposed half an hour I had to prepare for turned out to only be ten minutes and then they had enough (oh noes, whatever will I do?). I -know- the teachers don’t want to learn English anymore than I want to stand in front of fifty of them and try and explain the differences between hello, hi, good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, and that goodnight doesn’t work the same way. Unfortunately, on Tuesday I had to teach my fifty minute teacher’s English course, and imagine who showed up? The ladies from my office, and one of the young male teachers they somehow conned into coming. I taught them “She Loves You” by the Beatles. I was later informed that Koreans mostly only know pop music… since when are the Beatles not pop music? Aren’t they the basic definition of pop music? Oh well. Either way, it’s really hard to teach English to teachers, because they’re busy and want to speak in Korean and I think they come out of obligation. I would have no problems if they all just decided they were too busy and the class got cancelled, which is apparently what happens more often than not. Here’s hoping.

It rained this week. All week. And not just drizzly rain, but hard, gross, incessant, pouring, windy rain that makes you almost miss snow. I said -almost-, don’t get too excited. I’m kind of glad my co-teacher gave me an umbrella, even if it does act like a terrible sail that drags me around sometimes, and even if it is an awful tripping and falling hazard for a dreadful klutz like me.

Wednesday was volleyball again, except this time it was terrifying. One of the teachers came up to my co-teacher and asked her to tell me that she wanted me on her volleyball team. She seemed slightly excited. I think they think I’m good at volleyball… I’m really not. And I proved it this Wednesday. This week they decided that they would be playing for prizes. As if it wasn’t competitive enough when we were playing for fun, it is a million times more-so when playing for money in first place. Somehow my team managed to come in second place. I don’t know how, and I know I wasn’t any help. Also, the older dude on my team let me know too when we both ran for the ball and both stopped at the same time (I stopped because I didn’t want to run into him)… anyways, the ball fell between the two of us, and with the look that he gave me (a slightly murderous gaze), it was clearly my fault. Volleyball was tolerable when we weren’t playing for prizes, now it’s just scary. The guys are too competitive and I don’t have my prescription for glasses here, I don’t want to get my face smushered and not have glasses anymore. Either way, as second place winners, we got hand soap, toothbrushes, and tissues. Koreans are big on hygiene I guess, haha.

At my after school class on Thursday I taught food and drink… and I used clips of the Swedish chef from the Muppets to do so. My kids loved it. Although, for some reason, while I was teaching them the word lobster, one of my kids decided that I was a lobster, and instead of being called Tara teacher, they called me lobster teacher for the rest of the day. Oh! And I seem to be accumulating students. Each month, the kids can either drop the class or sign up for it again, and I guess a few more decided that they want to take the class, so that’s fun. I’m glad the other kids think my class is fun enough that they’re getting their friends to join.

Friday was incredibly boring. I only have three classes on Friday, but one of them got cancelled, so I was done class by 10:30, and the rest of the day I just marked tests and made worksheets while the other teachers slept at their desks. Yes, slept at their desks. I wonder if I can just sleep at my desk, because that would be lovely. Lunch was also really weird. I was told we were having red soup and sushi. It was a lie. The red soup was red bean soup, aka giant, thick noodles in pulverized red bean mush. I -hate- the texture of beans, absolutely despise it. I tried two noodles and could not choke down any more. Oi. And I felt so bad for the kid sitting beside me, because I could tell she didn’t like it either, but she had a homeroom teacher forcing her to eat all of the food on her tray, and I didn’t. She looked like she was going to cry. I felt like waiting until the homeroom teacher turned around and telling her to scoop the stuff onto my tray when she wasn’t looking so the kid wouldn’t have to eat any more of it. Poor dear. Oh, and the bloody sushi was actually just vinegar soaked rice wrapped in sweet egg. So I just ate rice for lunch. Joy.

Saturday was great; Casey, Anthony, Katie, Sheila and I drove down to Dolsan Island. We went to the tip of the island to see a temple that they have there. We had to park a super long way away from the temple, though the walk was nice, and then walk up this insanely steep hill to get to the 291 giant stairs that lead up the temple up a mountain. Remind me to never become a monk. Partway up the hill to the stairs, some ajummas (old Korean ladies that set up tents or sit on the ground on the side of the road or on sidewalks and sell you produce and food goods) stopped us by shoving a snail in Casey’s face, which, braver than I, he ate. They then gave us some drink that was terrible and made me feel sick and I swear the terrible taste is still with me. It was like fermented soy water or something, I don’t know, it tasted like battery acid and it burned my tongue and it was soooo gross. Afterwards they made us eat kimchi off of the same toothpick, haha. The walk up to the temple was insane and almost killed me, but so worth it, the temple was amazing. Part of it burned down a little while ago, but they rebuilt it, but most of the original buildings still stand, and they’re beautiful. The temple is called Hyangiram, there’s some info about it here: . It was really beautiful and there was a tour guide there who spoke amazing English. Afterwards we went to one of the beaches on Dolsan, and I found a sand dollar! I was so excited. I had found a smushered one and was really disappointed, so I was on the lookout for a whole one, and as we were walking along a concrete divider thinger I saw one, so I jumped off and down to the beach, causing everyone to think I fell off instead (I know I’m clumsy, but I’m not -that- clumsy). Anyways, I was so excited that it was a whole one. Best find ever. We then went to another little area on Dolsan that has all of these rocks jutting out into the ocean and we climbed over them, it was really pretty, but a little terrifying for someone who is clumsy and afraid of heights, aka, me. We went out for dinner afterwards at a chicken place called Mom’s Touch (the name alone opens itself up to a lot of jokes). The food was American and really good, haha. It’s nice to eat some non-korean food sometimes.

I have two links to share with you this time around. The first link is to a video made by some previous foreigners who lived in Yeosu and it is insanely hilarious, and the second link is a series of comics made by some foreigners who lived in Korea, probably Seoul, also hilarious and true. Both give you a humorous account of what living in Korea is actually really like. Enjoy!