Sunday, November 23, 2008

CONTRACT OVER

You know what's way better than South Korea? Hanging out on the beach, or at an internet cafe overlooking the beach, but safely inside the air condition. I flew to Hong Kong to visit a few friends for a bit, and I arrived in the Philippines yesterday evening around 6pm, only to find that it's exceptionally dark at 6pm in the Philippines. I had no hotel reservations or any place to stay so I was forced to follow some random guy who wanted 100 pesos ($2) in exchange for showing me to a nice, cheap hotel. Well, the latter was certainly true, as the hotel charged 200 pesos a night, roughly $4 USD, but it also happened to be down a dark alley with almost no means for escape if I were to be attacked as was happening continuously in my head. I promise you, I have never feared for my general well being as much as I did following this guy to the place he promised was worth my effort. It turns out, that he was genuinely a kind person and not leading me to my death, so I ended up buying his "wife" and him a few beers and dinner after they showed me to a much nicer hotel.
It turns out that the national passtime of the Philippines is trying to get more money out of visitors, which isn't so bad I suppose, except for the fact that I didn't even know the exchange rate before I arrived meaning that for the few hours I had to creatively ask people to convert prices into dollars for me, a subtle way of figuring out if the first guy was lying or not.
In any case, i'm waiting to pick up my friend Eiko from the airport, but she doesn't arrive for another 5 hours or so, so i've been walking around this outrageously hot country for the last 3 hours just poking and prodding at anything of interest using my proverbial antennae.
In any case, more updates as events warrant but for the time being I just wanted to point out to the world that i'm not only alive, but fresh off a trip to Hong Kong and kicking it in Cebu. I tell you, travel is fun as hell.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

USA vs. Spain basketball

The United States played Spain in basketball last night. It took me a while to figure out a way to watch it online. I was pleasantly surprised by the 37 point victory over the current "best team in the world." Spain played horribly, and this Ricky Rubio kid that everybody was claiming would surprise Americans looked completely out classed by Paul, who completely shut him down. The kid can't defend on ball at ALL. Paul and Williams just ran right past him whenever they wanted, it was actually kind of sad. He is, however, only 17 so i'm sure he has a very bright future ahead of him. But at the moment, why would anybody say he's "great"?
Anyway, it seems pretty obvious who the best team is at this point. The refs continually try to stop the USA team from doing well, but even their horrible officiating can't stop this team.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wow

I'm no longer required to whine about Korea on my own, I have found copious resources online for more effective bitching.
Interestingly enough, there's an interesting site here about anti-foreigner comics in Korea.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Andover Hagwon

I'm really getting sick of this unhappy country. I would really like to go back to Chicago right about now. Noah got hit by a car yesterday in Seoul, by the way, and the Korean who hit him just drove off with Noah on the ground literally shaking with fear.

Andover hagwon has won. Not some respectable battle fought on the grounds of wits or ethics, but a mere battle for my resolve. They've destroyed it. I dare say not a single poor soul at my hagwon is happy with their current lot. Andover hagwon has us rehearsing an "open class" lately for the parents. It's supposedly a normal class that parents can view, but it's most definitely not. I'm performing for the third time tomorrow in front of the hagwon owner. I can't help but predict epic failure.
I never claimed to be an amazing teacher, I just claimed to speak English. My school has no curriculum, and they change everything constantly so it's not exactly easy to be a good teacher here. They also hire other foreigners for short times that are on tourist visas, yes, illegal, but somehow as an American I'm the one with questionable morality and a bad work ethic.
In any case, the new teachers who haven't breached the 6 month mark are having a much harder time. The hagwon treats new teachers much worse, only because they have to pay a $1000 penalty if they leave before 6 months, so they know they can give the new teacher more shit. It's a horrible system and they should be ashamed, but there's nothing I can do about it.

I was also reading this Article about Korean education and ethics which I found strikes very close to home. I've been told by my boss to give students who can't speak a word of English good marks so that their parents will keep paying and this article really describes the educational atmosphere here in Korea quite well.

I've completed 8 months of my contract, only 4 more to go.

Coincidentally, there is another great post on the aforementioned site that might give a bystander an understanding of the way foreigners are viewed here in Korea. Give it a read if you have a moment.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Feeding time

My brief sojourn in Korea has improved drastically after recently having an epiphany about my personal tastes: I don't like Korean culture. Don't misunderstand, I like traditional culture from almost any country based solely on its longevity and as one would expect I find the hanbok and Yut interesting in a pedestrian way but modern Korean culture generally just annoys me. My enthusiasm for Korea is a linear asymptote piqued at a low level and the food is the only thing keeping my flailing arms above water. People driving cars on the god damn sidewalk, being bumped constantly sans apology, incessant self photographing, yellow dust, positively kitsch design on building and person alike, these are all qualities of South Korea that have beaten me down and capped my morale at a point I thought reserved only for Grand Rapids Michigan.
My savior is food however. My school tricked me into thinking I had breaks, which I don't, and plenty of free time, which is also curiously absent so I spend most of my time whining and dining. Foreign restaurants are abundant and varying in quality, and I've been to several. I had compiled a list of restaurants I've visited and it topped 90 different establishments as of a week ago. My favorites being Vietnamese and well.. I'm not sure what that place is supposed to be, but the veal is amazing. I won't lie, I don't like kimchee on everything. Sometimes I just want a normal meal.
I can't say I dislike being in Korea however, I've had quite a good time and made some very good friends but I need a change of venue for work and meals. I need to figure out a way to land a university position so I can take advantage of the month and a half of vacation time they get every year. Yes, this is what I need to do.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Andover School

I've been lurking, waiting in the surreal polluted fumes of my Daegu studio apartment tempting fate by convalescing with chicken based dishes and soju. Two new teachers have finally arrived to fill the capacious void left by Cyndi's abrupt departure to Busan, so my hours have finally been reduced from the third-world horror I was subjected to for months earlier.
I actually considered accepting a job offer to teach English in Japan for far less money, but I eventually declined and am now considering a move to Seoul for the remainder of my stint in Korea.
I've found Korea quite interesting both for reasons of leisure and maternal curiosity, but I definitely need to find a new school. Andover has been less than enjoyable, and tomorrow marks my 6 month anniversary of arriving. It also marks the date in which I can quit my job without having to reimburse my plane ticket.
In any case, i've spent the last few nights updating my kubuntu packages in Parallels and adding arbitrary code to my z80 assembler from a terminal to give myself some semblance of a connection to the computer world.
My shoulders hurt from walking down the street and being inevitably bumped by Koreans who apparently never learned how to walk, and my soul hurts from intellectual stagnancy. Somebody needs to come correct with an egregiously glamorous job offer, or I might just end up grabbing an F-4 visa and spending the rest of my days living on the streets of Seoul, unemployed.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Well..

I've finally broken down and inquired about having my Playstation 2 sent from America to officially acquiesce to the dense mind-screw known as Daegu, South Korea. My job is horrible, I haven't learned any Korean, and every Korean friend i've made has either been interested solely in practicing their Japanese, or practicing their English which is insufferable on both accounts.
Two of my better friends have given up on Korea and are now moving back to Japan in March, which will leave me with a considerably boring existence here studying Korean and working. I've cut back on the drinking and going out mostly due to... well... I believe Matt said it best: "I don't go out anymore, it just makes me mad."
Koreans are dirty, I hate to say it but it's true. They spit, piss and otherwise cough freely in public (and sometimes on innocent bystanders) and they're a force to be reckoned with after a couple too many drinks. Every single one of my bosses has puked inside a building at some point during my 3 months here as a result of excessive drinking.
In any case, despite the soul drenching filth of Daegu, I still really enjoy being in Korea. I would rather be enjoying a Korean barbecue with a few friends in Korea than enjoying one, again, in Michigan. I must say however, the prospect of breaking my contract and moving to Japan is so tempting. I was very used to being fluent in the native language, and it's been a difficult adjustment moving to Korea.
I went out last night and my friend Cyndi walked out on a tab at another bar a Korean friend of ours had to pay the bill. This prompted him to call me instead of Cyndi, I haven't the faintest idea why, and ended with a verbal encounter in front of a club downtown. Somehow I was responsible for the fact that he had covered one of my friend's tabs even though I had never even set foot in the aforementioned establishment. I attribute this tussle to Korean men drinking too much soju and instantly becoming crazy. You would think I would be inured to it by now, after going to clubs or bars 3 or 4 nights a week, but I guess it's hard to get accustomed to sloppy drunks and this country appears to be sloppy drunk Mecca.