Sunday, August 30, 2009

Training Over. New Apartment. School Starts Monday.

We finished training Friday night and the longest week ever is finally over. Constantly going over the same stories was tedious, and the hours were long (330pm-1030pm for 5 days) - we had to wear masks for swine flu which were incredibly hot and uncomfortable, but guess what? I am a teacher now!(Sorta.)

The Korean-American girl I mentioned earlier got the axe - she really did try hard but when it came down to it, she just wasn't meant to be a teacher. She was super abrasive and unapproachable and didn't know what she was doing. We are working with the littlest kids (like age 7-12) so you have to have the compassion, patience and ability to speak to their level. She didn't have any of those.

I am really missing my training group. There were eight of us and we got super close in the 9 days we were together. We were together day and night. About half of us are staying in Seoul and the other half are going to other parts of the country. It will be great to have Scott and Bob to visit in the south, and we'll just have to make Sean come to us ;) I sincerely hope we stay in touch because we had a blast together. Seoul is a HUGE city though, so its definitely going to take an effort on all of our parts to get together. Tina, Dave and Josh all live in a very central, happening area (close to the university) and I'm sure I will be the one commuting the most as I am in the northeast part of the city.

This was in the hotel on the night before our last day of training. We went to a Noraebong after (kareoke) and had a blast. Needless to say, we didn't feel so hot the next day.

Saturday morning a call taxi came to get my from the hotel and brought me to my new school. It is so cute. I have my own classroom and I am so pumped for school tomorrow. These kids are SO dang adorable. I will surely post videos of them. Clara (essentially the principal) and Zak (the head instructor, from Seattle), Clark (friend from middle school who got me the job) and I went out to lunch afterward and then they showed me around the neighborhood.

I moved into my new apartment and I can't help but feel a little scared and nervous. It's my first time to live alone and it feels really strange not having someone to talk to, watch tv with or just KNOW that they are in the other room. The place itself is really nice, spacious and the girl who lived here before me left me SO much stuff (yoga mat, tennis racket, cell phone, basketball, food, towels, dvd player, bible verses.... etc). The fridge and bathroom are huge (I actually have a glass door which is a novelty around these parts). I was told I would be in the same building as Clark, but I'm not. I am about a 15-20 min walk from his apartment in Nowon, which I am moving into in 3 months. Supposedly there is a guy leaving then; I will take his place and the new person will take my apartment. I wish I could just live there now and not have to totally repack/unpack again but no worries. For now I have a gorgeous view of some beautiful mountains I want to hike this afternoon.

I met up with Richard and his girlfriend Alyna yesterday to go to a baseball game but it was totally sold out, so we went to the "western" part of the city, Itaewon. I got a cheeseburger that was overcooked and the fries were cold, but it was still worth it. After that we went to some bars in Hongdae (university area). This one guy David and I figured out we live on the same street in Houston. Small world. We had a great night, met a ton of people, and spent waaay too much money. In certain parts of the city you can go for days without seeing another westerner, but you go to particular areas of the city and every other person is white. It's pretty hilarious.

I'll write more this week about how school is going.

Miss you all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

잠자리 (Dragonfly)

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Gondolas in Grand Park

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yeah, I live here now.
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서울대공원 (Grand Seoul Park & Contemporary Art Museum)

This museum was incredibly cool. We didn't know what we would find there, but the place is MASSIVE, free and they were having an exhibit "100 Years of Korean Cartoons" which was so cool. The rest of the museum was just as cool - installations, paintings, sculptures, not to mention the grounds surrounding it were so beautiful. Grand Seoul Park is only 5 subway stops from our hotel (in the middle of the business district) but feels like a world away. Huge mountains, lakes, petting zoo, rose garden, amusement/water parks, and an art museum all in one place? If it sounds like heaven, thats because it was....more pics to follow.

Korean Eskimos.

Zen Scott.

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Grand Pagoda made of a few thousand Samsung TVs


korean/chinese fusion, yum
hunting for lunch
composer/subway antics

Initial Seoul, 2

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Initial Seoul

one of these things is not like the other..

the crew

my girl Tina, and boys Dave & Scott

super asian hotey mates (Scott, Bob, Megan, Sean)

first kim bap shop, "Food 2,900" (basically any meal less than $4 US)

food search

Josh, Scott and Bob in the wan

my most thorough medical exam to date.

Lucha Libre Tombien

I had the very fortunate pleasure of spending my 5 hour lay over with one of my favorite people in the world. Tom just moved to San Francisco to start his MFA in Creative Writing. How I love and miss you so.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seoul Love

I have been in Seoul for a week today and this place is incredible. Honestly, much better than I was expecting. Unfortunately, I am in the middle of training for teaching (the reason I am here...) this week and its a royal pain - especially because I am supposedly not "energetic" enough but I am trying harder. Maybe after a few espresso shots today I'll be better.

Seoul is HUGE. I mean, ginormous. 11 million people. I was under the impression most if not all spoke at least some English - FALSE. Every menu/sign is in Korean - I don't know what I am ordering 90% of the time, but everything has been delicious so far. The food will take some getting used to, its all pickled and covered in red pepper paste/powder.

Since arriving last Wednesday, I have been "quarantined" for swine flu - living in a nice hotel with a few other American kids. I guess if one of us has it, we all get it, but at least we won't infect the children. We are forced to wear masks every day for training, like it's Outbreak or something (we can't speak to other training groups or drink from the water fountain).

I love the majority of the other teachers, with one exception. She was adopted from Korea and she is essentially here to find her Korean parents. Honey, if they haven't contacted you in 24 years, I have a feeling you are going to have a hard time finding them in a country of 50 million. As she is 100% Korean, all the Koreans in the restaurants/convenience stores address her first. Instead of saying "I don't speak Korean" her first response is "I AM AN AMERICAN" and if they don't understand that, she just repeats it slower and louder "I AM AN AMERICAN!!!!" Who'd have thought the American who gave Americans a bad wrap in Korea would actually be Korean.

Well, pending I get through this training...I will be in Seoul for a year, teaching elementary school kids and exploring Korea and the rest of Asia. This will mostly be a photo blog but I'll write every now and again. Love and miss you all.