Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wow, has it been 3 months?

6-28 Ok, so this is the first new material I've put together in some time. I feel bad for not writing more in the past months, but to borrow from another friend's blog, once I became acclimated with my surrounds I began to travel more and spend time with friends and spending less time writing in my apartment. I will also apologize as I'm writing today about my last two months and, like when I talk, I could skip all over the place.

The first thing I'd really like to talk is my boy Steve Davis. I'd like to thank him for suggesting coming to Korea to me late last year when I wasn't sure what my next adventure would be. Steve has now finished his time as an English teacher in Hanam and is now moving on to his next adventure. Through Steve I have been able to meet some awesome people that I now consider my friends. Steve and I also were lucky to get to go on some amazing hikes while we both were here. Recently we visited Bukhansan National Park and hiked to the top of Baedundae peak. It was a great hike in which we both looked as if we had jumped into a swimming pool from the humidity and the top was amazing as it was so foggy you couldn't see anything below you.

I'm so amazed at all the people I can already call really good friends in such a short period of time and very grateful for the chance to meet everyone at the training I attended last week. I look forward to hanging out with many of those people and the adventures we can go on here in Korea and in other countries. While in Korea I have been able to pick up an SLR Cannon 400d and other than the spot I can't seem to get off the lense have been very happy with it and I am looking forward to traveling around the world and using it. Hopefully, the trip with Braden, Roz, Glendon, etc comes through and we get to spend time in Vietnam, Thailand, etc in September and I get to take some amazing pics. We all really want to visit Vietnam so later in life we can say "Back when I was in 'Nam" (No disrespect the heroes that really were in Vietnam)

I am continually amazed that a good ol' boy from Kentucky gets the opportunity to spend time with great people going to bars until 7 am in Hangdae, watch rugby with friends from all over the world in Itaewon, get lost on the 112-1 and wake up lost across the river, play beer pong until 3am at training, stay up until 4:30am to watch the U.S. play in the world cup and watch as my English friend can't comprehend how I've never watched the World Cup, have a great family that sends me packages (including deoderant!!!!), getting to drink beer and bbq on a roof with people from 7 countries, watch Korea in the World Cup and watch their excitement when their team wins and their support for their country when the team loses, getting to see the beaches in Busan, staying at a love motel and sharing a round bed with two other guys and having Steve steal all the covers, and recovering with Pizza School on Sunday's before I get on the bus as I head back to Ildong.

Living in a small town like Ildong definitely has it's positives and it's negatives but on the whole it is a fantastic opportunity especially as I know many of my friends in the bigger schools do not get the opportunity to have many personal relationships with their students. I do. I have the honor of seeing my students everywhere I go here and I love seeing them in the supermarkets and hearing practice what we've worked on in class. I love getting hugs everyday and while the language barrier in very big here, I know as long as I do my best to show the kids love and constantly hug them, they will continue to work hard and learn.

As of this week I will have officially been in Korea for three months and I can already say it was the correct decision. The opportunity to work with children, meet new friends and travel around the world is such a wonderful opportunity that most never get to or take the chance to do. I'm very thankful for this opportunity and hope I can share the ups and downs with everyone the last 9 months that I'm here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


4-21 It's been a while since I've wrote in my journal. School was good last week but wasn't particularly worth writing about. Last week was a great week in that I received my travel reimbursement and my first paycheck! I also got my cable hooked up on Friday right before I hopped on the bus to head to Seoul. I decided to head to Seoul to hang out with Steve and make some new friends. I did good getting there except I didn't select the right exit so when I tried to get off I couldn't! So, I found a small arch intended for little kids to walk through and snuck through. Later that night we met a fw people at the Hof bar for a few drinks. On Saturday we got up, grabbed some lunch and I grabbed a bottle of H20 for our hike. We were hiking the same mountain that we did last time except we hiked the entire mountain this time. Once we finished the hike we headed bac to Steve's where we got ready to go out. We first walked down the street to meet up with a few people before heading to Hangdae, a big bar area and a hangout spot for a lot of foreigners. just on our bus ride there we had a guy from New Zealand, South US, NE US, Canada, Austrailia, and Texas. When we made it to Hangdae it was like I walked into a new world as there were young people and bars everywhere.
There was a chain of bars in Hangdae called "Ho Bar" and the best we could tell there were at least 10 of them! Our fist stop was a club called FF where we enjoyed live music and danced. After FF when wondered around and found some guys playing on the streets and enjoyed that for a while. Throughout the rest of the "night" we visited a few more bars, even venturing into one of the Ho Bars before grabbing a cab at roughly 6am. We finally got back to Steve's around 7am and crashed. I hadn't had a night like that in years, good times. On sunday we grabbed some pizza and then I headed back for Ildong. I was supposed to attend a training on Monday and after missing the first bus, because I wasn't standing in the right place, I caught the second. The first 40 minutes was rought as it was packed.

I was standing up and the bus was very herky jerky. I also wasn't sure I was going. Right near the end Bomi called and said I didn't have training now; thank goodness I was still on the bus! So, I rode the bus back and went to school for the remainder of the day. Yesterday was a crazy day as it was the first day I taught alone. It started out real crazy but got better throughout the day, but was a little nerve racking. I also handout out my first discipline as I made the girl that really likes me sit in the back of class for talking, and she didn't like it at all.
After school I stopped at the big grocery and picked up some steaks, chicken, fruit, etc. It was my largest grocery trip yet, to the tune of about 36,000 Won. After leaving the grocery I stopped at the dvd store and picked up American Gangster. For dinner I cooked a couple steaks with mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Today has been an easy day as all I have on Weds are a Kindergarten class in the am and after school class. starting in May I will also bee teaching English to a few of my students parents on weds as well.

I feel good

4-13 So, Monday's are one of two long days as I have five classes to teach. Today I decided to try and teach James Brown's "I feel Good" but the kids did not like it as much as I thought they would. I was a bit bummed but it was just a learning moment as to what the kids like and don't. Otherwise it was a good day. Bomi did tell me I need to greet the principal and Vice Principal in the mornings when I get to school. Of course I attempted to do so several times this morning and they were both late! Yesterday after work we went to the bank to take out my money for my cellphone deposit and $50 for spending. After dropping off the deposit I went home and grabbed a shower. I though about venturing out for dinner but was tired and just decided on a jam sandwich and later a bowl of cereal.
Not too long after showering I developed an awful headache and just laid down and rested. I also brough home the first Pirates movie and completed the trilogy! I then listened to some music for a while before crashing around 10pm. I woke up this morning around 4 and had some more cereal before sleeping some before heading to school. I headed out for school around 8am while lstening to Avett Brothers on dad's Ipod he let me borrow while I'm over here. Tuesday's are usually very busy too but the students had testing so I had no morning classes, and just two in the afternoon! In 5th grade music we learned the farmer and the dell and the kids seems to like it pretty well. I actually have to go back to yesterday for a moment as that is when I made my first student cry. In the 3rd grade class we had a competition between the boys and girls over vocabulary words. The boys ended up winning and the girls were very upset with one of them even crying. After class, the girl who speaks English the best gave us a note that said "I'm very sad". Needless to say I felt pretty small at that point but was also encouraged as they did care about doing well in class. So, back to today. Bomi gave the 6th grade class a music test. She had the studens that failed stay behind and practic and during this I noticed that a girl was crying. I mentioned this to Bomi and she said that the girl has no parents and lives with her grand parents. She said people in the rural areas will leave their kids and head to the bigger cities some times. This is truly sad and there are too many kids around the world that suffer in the classroom because they have no support system outside of the school. It's 4:30 now and I'm heading home. Think I'll grab some chicken, mushrooms, onions, and throw them into the skillet for dinner.

Milk & Cookies

4-12 As I sit here having some milk and cookies, I also have the bedroom window open and I can see a kid playing what seems to be hide and seek while hearing others playing at the school across the street. I can't help but wonder how the kids play in North Korea. I wonder if they have the same freedom to play as the kids I see do. I'm sure I mentioned it earlier but I only live about an hour or so from the DMZ, which is basically the divider between North and South Korea. I'm pretty happy that mammaw never found out that I would be living that close to the border. One thing that I do find myself missing here in my new country is grass. Because there are so many people in such a small space (the country has 50 million people in a space that size of Indiana) that they do not have the luxury of nice manicured lawns as many of us do back in the States. I thought of this a lot as I gazed recently at Easter pics from back home. I am taking a break to eat dinner and to put away most of the rest of my clothes that are currently hanging up.
I saw a few socks as they are a little damp and I really hate wet socks. I am dining on ramen hopefully for the last time, as I should , from now on, eat
better. I really don't mind ramen except for the sodium is equivalent to what you should eat in an entire day. To drink I think I'm going to have water as I want to get back to the 100 oz days. I do have the kool-aid but I think I'll wait christen it tomorrow. After eating I'm going to read more of Walden, which I am really starting to enjoy. I just received a call from Bomi inviting me to dinner which is cool and I'll guess I'll use my card and hope dad put a little in so I'll have enough to at least pay my insurance. Ok, so I went with Bomi to Matt's apartment where we had a great dinner of Kimchi cooked with a mix like a pancake, soup, and rice. Matt also gave me a book of Korea which is cool and also an Ipod charger which absolutely made my day, I feel like I'm whole again with my music.

Birthday Weekend

4-12 Ok, so I laid around until later morning again. When I finally decided to get up I started cleaning around the apartment. I organized all of the trash by the door to take out later. Taking out the trash is going to be a little weird as I am used to throwing it in a large trash bin. Here I just sit it across from my building and it get picked up. I also swept the apartment and had to use paper to sweep it into as I do not have a dust pan just yet. I ran my fist load of laundry which I still have hanging up, as I don't have a dryer. In addition I cleaned off my living room table, stored my dress shoes, dusted the tv, did the dished, shaved and showered. Afterwards I watched Dead Man's Chest, played Yahtzee, and read some Walden.
Around 2pm I headed out and was going to try my luck with the other dvd store near me. I had no luck there as it is Sunday and they were closed. I decide to moasy(?) over to Philmart with the few Won I had left. Once there I picked up bread, strawberry jam, milk, cereal, grape kool-aid and funnels so I don't make a mess with the kool-aid. Beth asked me if I'd found the Kool-Aid yet and that's what made me think of it. It's still got sugar but it still makes for a better alternative than soft drinks, plus it'll last longer. Once everything was home and put away I worked a couple puzzles. I sure hope I guess my travel money on Monday as I'm out of money. I want Bomi to help me get my cable on tomorrow and help me at the pc room, gym, and of course, the DVD store. I really have to get back in shape for sure. I'm also going to start working on a trip idea with Steve for the May break. I think I'm going to read a little bit. 'til next time.

Been a while Cont'd

4-11 Finally, we finished and I had my cell and one contact, Bomi. Afterwards, she dropped me off and said she'd be back in 30 minutes to take me up to the natural spring. I decided to grab a quick shower after a day of playing sports. the spring is up one of the mountains a bit and will be an excellent spot to run to as I get in better shape. Once back at the apartment I took a walk to the grocery and grabbed a beer and some sushi and enjoyed it on my roof while looking at the mountains in the backdrop. I actually didn't stay up there too long as I didn't have a proper chair and my back was killing me from basketball earlier. The back continued to be a source of pain throughout the night and it was difficult to move.
Now, it's my birthday, April 10th, what shall I do? I ended up laying around until about noon since I didn't sleep much last night with the back. When I did finally arise I showered and took a stroll to find some food. I settled on a place called BBQ Chicken and ordered what I though was a 3pc chicken meal, for 8,500 Won. Boy was I wrong, as I actually ordered the equivalent of the 10 pc meal and it was 16,000 Won. So, I picked up a drink and headed back to the apartment with my bucket of chicken. I watch the 3rd Pirates again and at my chicken, which was ok. Well, I ate part of it and save some for later. Afterwards I decided to go out and find something to do. I must admit it quite intimidating trying to gget into new things in a foreign country especially when you don't speak the language. I finally got up the nerves and checked out the dvd store. I picked out a couple movies and went to the checkout. Now, I assumed it was like home in that you create an account and you're good to go. So, I gave her my address card and then the fun began. I didn't think that the card was all in English and she couldn't read it. I also didn't think at the time to give her my ARC. I tried to call Bomi to translate but to no avail. Finally, I told the poor lady I'd be back. My first truly frustrating moment, and on my birthday. I was really frustrated at this point as I'm just not used to having no one to spend my birthday with.
So, I decided to walk up to the grocery store, where I ended up picking up some cookies and milk. When I arrived back at the apartment I enjoyed the milk and cookies, watched the 2nd Pirates movie, for the 4th time I belive. I actually fell asleep during the movie and was able to sleep better than Friday night as my back was feeling better. In looking at this weekend, I'm still settling in and getting acclimated to my surroundings. I'll get my travel reimbursement on Monday and hopefully get my 1st paycheck on Friday. If all goes well, I plan on seeing Steve next weekend and celebrating my bday again, in Seoul this time. I also play to get a few phone numbers this week so I can communicate with people a little better. Well, it's a little after 5am I think I'm going to sleep a little more.

Been a while

Ok, so it has been a while since I've last posted a blog. I've really been enjoying my time here with school and my new friends. I'm hopefully going to geet all the earlier writings transferred to this blog soon. Thanks!

4/8- Today was an interesting dday as it was music day at school. First, though I walked to school and it was a nice cool morning, perfect for walking. In music class today we taught the kids the "Hokey Pokey" and they loved it! Imagine teaching kids the Hokey Pokey, now imagine teaching it as a second language. We also worked on Old Mcdonald again with the older kids. We uploaded videos of both songs to Facebook and they are great! During lunch the principal asked me if a I drink and I said yes. He told Bomi we would have to drink some time, interesting. In the afternoon we only had one class and we had a scavenger hunt for words and they had to find me and say the words in English. After class Bomi and I sat around thinking about what to do for our break in May (5-9). She's thinking of going to Japan and I looked into doing that as well.
Next, I checked into a trip to Beijing but decided against as you have to have a visa to enter China and I wouldn't have the time. It also way more expensive to get a visa for China if you are an American($130) versus any other country ($30). So, I think I might head east to the beaches and see the sea. It's pretty cheap to travel in country so that's probably my best bet. I'll discover Korea and still have plenty of $. Also, they're throwing me a birthday party tomorrow and I'm ver yexcited to see what they do. We are also goin to play some basketball with the older kids, so I'll get to show off some of my moves! Pluse the goals are only about 9'and I can dunk, the kids love it.
Bomi and I also talked about baseball and I'm thinking of basically becoming a coach for the school. Would be a ton of fun and another way to teach English. Once I got home today I was exhausted from the Hokey Pokey and fell asleep for a bit before eating ramen for dinner. I also forgot taht I uploaded my pics today and received a lot of positive comments. Charging my camera for the big day tomorrow! Going to read a little Walden and head to bed.

4-11 Thought I'd write a bit about the last two days a bit. I had bee looking forward to Friday as I knew my 6th graders were throwing me a bday party! Well, the morning started, I guess as you would expect, with the kids being sluggish. However, the afternoon was a lot better, especially with the party. So, our last class on Friday is 6th grade English and they were throwing me a party. I knew they were doing this but was overwhelmed as every kid brought me a card and I also received a drink, candy in a heart shaped box, a candy box and more candy. the cards they gave me were awesome and very hear warming, as they wrote: "you are very handsome, I love you, hansome boy, brilliant teacher, honorable, admirable, when I first met you I was a little scared, but now I love your English class" One drew pictures of basketball and baseball, and seong-Chan Kim wrote "I am sorry for not getting a present for your birthday. I will graduate next year so I hope I make a good memory". Well, you already have Seong. After reading all the cards, the kids opened up their snacks and we feasted. I went around table to table and they kept giving me food.
I took pics with each table and made one my profile picture later that day. After our feast we went outside to play some basketball and baseball. The only problem is that I'm out of shape and I believe I pulled a muscle while dunking once! never the less I went over to baseball and pitched a little before taking a few swings. After hitting a few balls, harming no one, I headed back to basketball. Once back in the room I decided to upload the pics from the day and also got some great news as my ID Alien Registration Card (ARC) came in!
After school we headed to the bank, Nonghyup, to open my account. It's interesting there as they give you your debit card right on the spot and you just give them 1,000 Won. These cards do not go through Visa though. I am probably going to have to open an account with another bank too as Nonghyup doesn't transfer or exchange currency and I will need to transfer at least a few time to pay off my loan back home. Nonghyup also charges you 500 Won to take money out when they're closed which is a load of you know what. After getting my account open we went to get me a cell phone. I've learned over time that there are certain groups of people that are pains in the rear, and cell phone people are in that group, doesn't matter what country you are in. We were there FOREVER, and just way too much trouble.