The funny thing is, I realize that after nearly a year of living and teaching here in Korea, I've barely discussed 2 important factors that keep my own life rather interesting: 1) my teaching experiences and 2) my personal life. There are blogs on teaching. There are blogs on teacher's personal experiences. There are blogs that discuss just about anything and everything. And there are mixtures between the two. I personally try not to categorize my own blog, but make it but my own creation, an account of my experiences, observations and life here in Korea. I've tried to make it a resource for myself, my family, and others looking at teaching ~ here or elsewhere. And in the long run, I just hope that I've made it readable, somewhat interesting, and a tiny similar to a reflection of myself and how I see what's going on around me.
Strictly speaking about personal experiences, I've chosen not to discuss a whole heck of a lot mainly because this blog is public. But, seeing as there have been lots of changes lately, particulary on the teaching front, I've decided it's time to open up a bit. That, and I've really been slack on communicating with the ties back home! ~Don't worry, you won't have to skip anything or close your eyes, Mom and Dad (Roger, Debbie, Brandon, Uncle Andy, Aunt Marci, or my cousin twice removed, LOL.) In other words, I won't get that personal!
Relations. I heard good news that my Australian coworker, Mel, who had left more than one month ago already, made it safely home and is busy with the family. Like the photo Mel? We took this photo during one of the Korea verses (insert team name) games at a local pub. I believe it was against TOGO. That's right. You can check out the photos here, and (as if you hadn't gotten enough about the sport, already) check out Korea's scores at the FIFA World CUP official site.
It was a pretty fun night indeed, watching TOGO verses KOREA, and really one of the first times I had witnessed what Korean nationalism was all about: everyone within ear-shot was hooping at hollering, either when Korea made a goal, or made the attempt and missed. With the following games, it was the same all over: everyone wanted Korea to win, and the streets were literally filled with a "Go Korea" spirit that permeated every material, whether living and breathing or inanimate. You could buy Korea soccer-team support shirts at every block, or buy the Korean national flag disguised as hankies, or showed your spirt dawning red socks that told the onlooker either you're a supporter or you're just a wannabe.
There was literally so much hype. I remember vividly a sea of red walking downtown, everyone wearing "Go Corea!" "Korea Fighting!" or "Dae Han Mi Guk" (Korea) shirts during the games. You could just see the Korean pride definitely apparent during the 2006 World Cup soccer games. I was astonished and sad to see that fade fairly soon after Korea lost to Switzerland, and lost hope to participate in the finals. Now as I walk the streets, I don't see so much as a hint of that nationalism I witnessed during the games.
After Mel left, I found it difficult to get back to 'regular life.' The teaching situation changed, the Taekwondo situation changed, and so did my appeal to be here--in a way. Although Juan arrived in Korea shortly after my mother did, I really felt like I lost a good friend: someone that I could bond with, on a different level than one's significant other. I don't want to dig too deep into this, but I can definitely say I learned a thing or two from this Australian lassie.
I guess this is one case when all good things must come to an end; both for the games, and for my colleague, Mel, who is definitely missed.
Japan. Next week, it looks like I'll be heading off to Japan. I'm a bit nervous, actually! Juan is now wandering the streets of Fukuoka as I write this, walking around and experiencing Japanese culture for the first time. He just wrote me to say he made it, alright, although not without searching endlessly for hotels/hostels with rooms available. Not playing ahead certainly didn't pay off! So I'm digging into the search now, and making plans ahead of time to avoid any problems. I'm hoping to head over to Osaka to see my friend Aya. In that event, I'll stay a few days, and really dig my feet into the Japanese savoir-faire. I'll keep you updated on the plans, and how it goes!
Teacher out, teacher in. Next week, if all goes fine and dandy, JungChul should be having a new teacher in to replace me. Since Mel left, I had been exasperated in searching for new teachers; not just to replace Mel, who had left for family reasons, but to replace moi before I depart for Yeungjin College. Believe me, the search hasn't been easy. Now that I know Juan will replace Mel for at least 5 more months, I've only had to focus on one teacher who would be replacing me. I guess that's been the good thing about recruiting for your school; not leaving it to fate to find a good teacher. I get to hand-pick the teachers, and benefit from the recruitement fee the standard agencies get paid for recruiting teachers. Not to say I'll drop everything and recruit full-time (that definitely not where my passion lies), but it's a nice pocket-money maker.
In any event, I want to make a big shout out to our new teacher, Dorian, who should be starting with JungChul by the 24th of July. I'm thrilled that I found a great teacher to replace me; I wouldn't have been able to leave JungChul if I didn't think I could leave it in good hands! Now that Dorian will be in, that means I'll out. Well, not until the end of July that is. It looks like I'll be training at Yeungjin from the 26th-28th, in the morning, and working in the afternoon/evenings at JungChul, until the 28th.. training Dorian and finishing any last-minutes that need to be done. It'll be a doozy week, not just with work, but actually moving too on Monday, July 24th! Good God, give me strength!! When everything is all said and done, I'll invite everybody over for a nice little house-warming party. Stay tuned for that. Until then, I'll be going through a little phase, I'm sure, in realizing what I'll be missing at JungChul: the co-workers, to some degree, but mainly my director, and especially my students. It's been the students that I teach that have made my job there--working crazy, sometimes stressful hours, all the more worthwhile. I can go on and on about them, but I'm sure the memories with my students will be what I miss the most. Another reason why all good things must come to an end.
Rainy weather. Having that said, Pohang has been rather rainy. Myunghee, her son Sang-Su and husband, made it out here together for a family gathering during this holiday weekend. Don't ask me what the holiday is for--I just know when it's a 'red day' on the calendar, it means there's no school! Yippee! So we have Monday off, which has made this lovely, rainy weekend a 3 day stretcher! Aside from the rain, Myunghee's family (brothers, sister in law and the 3 kids) when out to eat Galbi last night. Thereafter, once the kids went to the local PC Bang (room), the adults went to 2 cha and 3 cha (2nd and 3rd places) to drink, take a bite, and eventually sing at a Noraebang (singing room). We stayed out late, and had a fun time eating various food and talking about.. well, I can't rightly say! Let's just say, there was alot of Hangul and not alot of English spoken! The 4th cha landed at Myunghee's brother's house, where we were to be staying; a nice fruit cocktail and 12 year old Whisky as a night cap!
After a rough wake up from sleeping on a hard floor (Korean-style), we've pretty much grazed the day indoors, listening to the rain, chowing down on Korean soup, and myself, reading my current book: Albert Camus' "The Myth of Sisyphus." Although it's a strange, philosophical read on the absurdity of life and suicide, it's intriguing!
Well, it's time to leave this smoke-filled PC Bang. With Myunghee's son, Sang-su at my side (I'll have to drag him from playing another computer game), we'll part to join Myunghee and her family for some sushi. I'm looking forward to that... and, perhaps, a nice, good ending to this rain!
Later ya'all :) Chelsea