Thursday, August 31, 2006

Classroom Teacher

I haven't posted any pictures of the classroom, so here's the first of many more to come. I'll try and get some pictures of the students and the staff that I work with. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to get pictures. For some reason, everyone is scared of the camera. They HATE it! I really have to go for the candid shots in order to get anything worthwhile which is difficult to do during class.

This picture is kind of a crappy picture, but it gives you the overall idea of a standard class of mine. These kids are middle school aged and have already taken English lessons for 5 to 7 years, but their skills are still fairly rudimentary.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Humble Abode

Forgive me if this post doesn't quite work yet. I'm experimenting with putting pictures in through the html feature.

Through these pictures, I hope to take you through a fun little tour of my small apartment. I guess it's actually called an officetel, but I'm not sure. At first glance at the pictures, it might seem a wee bit....small, but I'm just happy to have anything bigger than the 9' x 12' shared rooms in the Buckhorn at Alta.


Welcome to my house. Marchenhouse Room 807. It's funny first of all that it's spelled Marchenhouse, even though it's pronounced marianhouse. Who Knows? Take off your shoes and stay awhile. If you don't know anything about Koreans, I'll tell you one thing, they absolutely flip out when you don't take your shoes off. Even in your own place. Once, a maintenence guy helped me carry some stuff up and he freaked out. Michelle's mom freaked out. Everyone goes nuts on you, so basically, even though I don't care much, you should still take off your shoes.

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Welcome to my living room/bedroom/ Notice the wonderful view of the "small" city of Jeju. Plenty of high rise apartments back there. You can't tell in this picture, but you can actually see the ocean from my apartment. It's probably 5km away as the bird flies. From Ryan's penthouse apartment on the 15th floor, you can see the airport and watch the planes take off and land. Also take note of the pink pillow. You should see the matching pink blanket. Wow!

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I forgot to take a picture of the den, so we'll move on to the kitchen/laundry room. No, that is not an oven, that is my washer. If anyone has any suggestions on how to make my clothes come out soft and not feel like canvas, PLEASE let me know. I've got some fabric softener (i think), but it only works a little. My little stovetop espresso maker is a lifesaver out here. I've been making a killer iced coffee lately! I feel pretty fortunate to have a full sized refrigerator. It seems a lot of people I talk to have only a mini fridge. Bummer for them...

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Wow, these two pictures next to each other almost make my bathroom look big! Hey, where's the shower? Do you see it? It's the whole bathroom! Hah! How clever!

Well thank you for coming on this tour of my modest mansion on Jeju. I can't wait to show you what I'm getting tomorrow!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Picture for Mama

This was a pretty random picture. I was just walking down the street in downtown Ku-Jeju (Old Jeju) and saw these flower boxes. I thought they were pretty slick looking. I think my mom would like them.

I'm excited for the weekend. We just got our schedule for the next term (13 weeks) and I have to work on Saturdays, which initially sounds bad, but 4 out of the 6 days a week I work only from 7-10pm. That means 5 out of 7 days a week, I have the entire day to play. Those other two days are from 4-10pm, which isn't so bad either. To put it simply, I'm very happy with my job. I'll be scheduled for 24 hrs a week for which I get paid. Prepping only takes about an hour a day right now, and I get faster at it by the week. The kids are great and getting more comfortable and less shy and when pay-day comes it'll be fantastic.

So the goal this weekend and next week is to find the local climbing gym and get a membership.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Red Bean Flavored Popsicle

I just bought a bunch of popsicles from the supermarket. One of them happened to be red bean flavored. It was really gross. So that reminds me that oftentimes when I go to a restaurant, or buy something at the supermarket, it's pretty much a crap shoot on what I get. It could be really really good like it is most of the time, but sometimes you don't get what you expected and it can be really gross.

I bought a new pair of glasses today too. $40 for the whole thing, lenses and frames. They're pretty slick if you ask me. The weird thing is that you don't need a prescription to get them, they give you a quick test right there. Hopefully they don't give me headaches!

Galbi (Korean Barbecued Ribs)

Here's a little rib action for you, Korean style. This is what a typical barbecue place is kinda like around here. We're lucky sitting here in a booth rather than the floor like you do at a lot of Korean restaurants. At the center of the table is the ribs. They give them to you completly rare and you pretty much cook them yourself right there. Then they procede to give you 10,000 million side dishes all filled with some crazy stuff. There were side dishes ranging from the standard kimchi, radishes, and cabbage with thousand island to crazy weird things like mini raw crabs that you suck out of the shell. Whenever you finish one side dish, the waitress brings more. So there's a constant flow of stuff going around. In addition to the ribs, you also cook some garlic cloves and onions on the grill. Now to eat the ribs, you first grab one of those leaves in the metal dish. There were a couple of different ones, and I'll stress the fact that they are LEAVES. They kind of reminded me of the shape, texture, and taste of a fuzzy basswood leaf. Or maybe a big leaf know, the kind you use when you run out of TP. So you grab a leaf in your hand, use your chopsticks to grab a piece of rib, dip it, put it on the leaf, grab an onion, garlic, maybe throw something from a sidedish into the mix, wrap it up and shove it in your mouth, repeat. To be honest, the whole process is a lot of work. There's always something to do, make your leaf wrap, eat a side dish, turn the ribs. Plus the whole thing is hot. Not only spicy, but combine the charcoal grill with the summer heat and you've got a sweaty mess. After all that though, I love it. It's really really good. I just can't imagine washing all those little dishes!

The characters in the photo are our 'bus/van' driver and the two secretary/computer gurus.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Voltage Regulator

I've been kind of hurting for new pictures to post. I haven't been able to use my camera because I thought my voltage converter didn't work to charge my batteries. Well, it does work and I'm now able to take more pictures. I'll try and get some pictures of work and my apartment up soon.

For now, I guess you're stuck with this picture of an....ox?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lazy Sunday

It was a pretty lazy sunday today, we were going to go to the beach and waterfalls at Seogwipo, the city on the south side of the island, but Ryan had a bit of a medical emergency. He's doing okay, but he's had a little bit of bathroom trouble.

I've spent the day finding out about some indoor climbing places around town and it's looking promising. There's a public outdoor artificial wall in the sports center area, and a private indoor bouldering gym. Unfortunately the boudering gym has the same hours as my working hours so that won't work out. I'd still like to check it out and maybe meet some climbers.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Month one, check!

I successfully finished week three of teaching. It's hard to believe that I've been in Korea for nearly a month now. Its going very well so far. I feel like I'm finally starting to get settled in now and into a good teaching routine. After this week we start a new 'term' for school and will be done with the summer classes. This will mean only evening classes, so I'll work 4:00 - 10:00. We'll see what the actual schedule turns out to be.

Ryan and I went out to look for a bar last night and found a bar where some foreigners were hanging out. It was good to be able to meet and talk with other teachers. So far, our only way of finding things out about the island is from Michelle, who is a local. It's good to get a different perspective on things. They know things like where a good bike shop is, good climbing gyms, and just other places in general. A couple of them are in a band, so we'll go out again tonight and see them play.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Frisbee in a foreign land

During work and throughout the day I keep thinking of things to write about, but when I sit at the computer nothing comes to mind. The picture is from when we went to the beach and played some frisbee. Lots of little things surprise me about the way the Koreans act. A lot of the time, I think especially since I'm on this Island and not in Seoul, a lot of people are surprised to see Americans, or just white people in general. Korea is a very homogeneous country, there aren't any minorities, except maybe Japanese and a few Chinese, still, it's all Asian. I get a good feeling from the people though, like they're glad to see me. It's pretty cute when a little kid comes up to you and says "hello" and runs away. I bring this up because the picture above was taken while Ryan and I were playing a little frisbee. It seemed like most of the Koreans had never seen a frisbee before! I don't believe it, I thought that there are some Ultimate Frisbee clubs around here, and also that there are some disc golf courses. I must be wrong. Or maybe it hasn't caught on to the masses yet. I still think it's funny too when somebody pulls you to the side, asks you where you're from and asks to take a picture with you. I should've said to that guy, "It should be me who wants my picture with you! You're the one riding your bicycle around this whole island for your vacation!" Anyway, I'm curious to find out what other forigners think. Ryan and I are going to try to find the 'foreigner's bar' this weekend.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Learning Korean

The picture is another one from the band festival last weekend. The kids came up and played a couple of numbers with the band. It was pretty cute.

Ryan and I spent the weekend going to the free Korean Language class at the bookstore here. It's pretty nice to be able to do a class where we can learn and ask questions rather than just reading off the book. My trouble right now though is that Ryan is so much further ahead than me that it's starting to frustrate me. Learning the language is a lot slower process than I imagined, and it's taking a LOT of work. I'm trying to postpone trying to do things like climbing and whatnot and spend time studying. You can check out one of the online classes I'm trying to take down at the blogroll on the left side of the screen. It's pretty tough!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jeju Summer Band Festival

So now I'm settled in back home in Jeju. I've got my internet connection set up at home and will finally be able to post some pictures.

Last night I went to go check out the International Band Festival over at the Seaside Concert Hall and was treated to a fantastic show. Starting out, the Georg Solti Brass Ensemble from Hungary played. They were very good and played some obscure stuff but ended with some sweet jazz numbers. Afterwards, the Incheon Wind Ensemble played in combination with the Seogwipo Municipal band. They played some fantastic songs including some of my favorites, including the Overture to Candide and the 1812 Overture. They also played a couple of Korean pieces with a vocalist. Unfortunately, they killed the mood by playing the 'Titanic' song with a cheesy sax soloist. It was a great show overall though and I was glad I went. The picture above is from last weekend when I went and saw the Halla Wind Ensemble play at the same place.

Back from Japan

I'm back in Jeju from Japan, officially legal in Korea with my visa for a year to teach English. The whole trip to Japan really wasn't bad, but not great either. Honestly, it was mostly a lot of sitting around waiting and flying. The flying was tough because when I flew it was either early in the morning or late at night, usually back to back. I'm not good at figuring out what to do in a city so that was tough, especially walking around in the 90 degree heat. After I got my visa from the embassy, I had a whole day to burn so I spent the time at the beach trying to learn a little Korean. It was pretty much too hot to do too much walking around, so I didn't do much but I did manage to learn something.

Staying in the capsule hotel was the best part. The saunas and tubs were pretty sweet. It was kinda like a modern version of the roman baths. There were a 7 or 8 hot tubs, all different temperatures, not chlorinated, and not smelly like normal hot tubs. There were two saunas, one cooler and one hotter. Afterwards, you took a shower sitting on a bucket, pretty crazy. Its hard to explain, but just imagine taking a shower sitting on a bucket and you've got it. I have to say that overall I liked the experience. The picture above is of the cool robe that you and everyone else has to wear when you stay there.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

At Fukuoka on the Visa Run

I cannot find the apostraphe key on this Japanese keyboard. I was having enough troubles because the enter key is further over, now this. Oh, there it is, above the 7 key. Hah!

I made it to Japan alright and I also made it to the Korean Embassy to drop off my passport for visa processing. I'll go there tomorrow to pick it up, then back to Seoul. I was pretty excited to do see some cool stuff here in Japan, but so far it's the same as Korea except for 3 things. It's hotter, everything is written in Japanese instead of Korean, and they drive on the other side of the road. Nothing too exciting. Mostly I think I'll just hang out at the hotel....Oh! that's exciting! I can't wait until I get a picture of my 'capsule hotel' up. This is pretty much one of the craziest things ever. First of all, you take your shoes off in the main lobby and put them in a locker. Then, I decided for the single room capsule. This room is like the size of a closet, with this thing that looks like a refrigerator laying on it's side, which is your bed. I chose this over the single large room with many rows of chambers that you can sleep in. It'll make more sense with the pictures. So there's supposed to be a sweet sauna at the top floor, so I think I'll go check that out now.

(edit) Here's a pic of my room at the capsule hotel. Pretty much a closet with a refrigerator turned on it's side for a bed. It was pretty sweet actually. Just make sure you have earplugs so you don't hear the next guy snoring. I chose the single room, but I could've chosen the regular capsule variety. Take a look at the hotel's website here at The top pic is the room that I had, but check out the rows and rows of capsules. Crazy!!!! Here's a pic of the sweet saunas.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Visa Run to Japan

I get my internet connection at home tomorrow for real, so hopefully after I get back from Japan I'll post some pictures. I can't write much right now, I've gotta prep for classes.

I'm headed for Japan for my visa run since you can't get a teaching visa while inside the country. It seems pretty strange for me, especially since I've already started teaching. Maybe you could consider me an illegal alien. It should be a whirlwind trip, I fly to Seoul tonight, stay overnight, go to Fukuoka, Japan tomorrow, give them my visa, pick it up the next day, fly to Seoul, then fly back to Jeju. The only scary part is that I still don't have a flight back to Jeju!!! Hopefully Michelle will get that sorted out! Anyway, I've gotta prep for the Michelle and Ryan who will be covering my classes while I'm away. Later!

Monday, August 07, 2006

First weekend!

Hopefully by tomorrow I'll have an internet connection in my apartment, so I'll be able to post pictures and do this from home instead of at work.

Saturday was Michelle, the branch manager's birthday. Everyone from work, the three computer gurus/secretarys, Daebu the bus driver, Ryan, myself, and Michelle all went to Kwakji beach. The beach was pretty nice, not too far from the city. It had a nice little kiddy pool area that was spring fed with fresh water, then you could climb over some rocks to get to the main water. The rocks were volcanic, so they really hurt to step on. Jinny, one of the secretaries, asked me if I like to tan, and I told her no, thinking that she was asking if I like to lay out and tan. Well, Ryan and I get into the water and I realized what she meant. 95% of the people in the water had long sleeve shirts on! I just then figured out that opposite Americans, Koreans hate to get tan. They like their skin to be white. Apparently, skin whitening cosmetics are big business. Anyway, other than being practically the only people in the water without shirts on, it was great. It's been a couple of years since I've been swimming in the ocean and it was very nice. The sand was great and the water was warm.

After the beach, Michelle took us to a barbecued ribs joint. It was yet another wonderful experience in Korean eating. The seven of us sat at a round table with a grill in the middle. Then they serve you all your standard crazy side dishes (seemingly hundreds of little plates), give you a couple of slabs of raw ribs, and you cook them yourselves right then and there. It was interesting to eat because you pick them off the grill when they're done cooking, set them on a piece of lettuce or some other leafy things, put some sauce on them, add a couple veggies, wrap the leaf up, and shove it all in your mouth. It seemed like they just kept coming with more and more food, replentishing the side dishes. One of the side dishes was raw crabs that you just sucked out of the shell. It was a really good meal, you felt like you were putting a lot of effort into eating it too.

I'll talk about Sunday night's time at the Band Festival a little later.

(edit) Here's a pic from the beach with most of the people I work with. On the left is Ryan, my only co-teacher so far. He's a great guy, fun to work and hang out with. He spent 2 years in Tanzania in the Peace Corps. He's from Milwawkee, Wisconsin. Next, doing apparently the thing about every girl does in every picture, the 'V for Victory' is Jinny, our main secretary, administrator, computer guru. Next is Michelle, the Branch Manager, or "Principal" if you prefer, she's the boss. Last is "Daebu." He's the bus driver. He takes the kids to and from the school. I'm not sure what else he does, but "Daebu" means "Godfather" in Korean. He wanted to be called that I guess. I can't wait 'till I learn some more Korean so I can actually talk to him.

Friday, August 04, 2006

First week of teaching almost over!

I'm almost done with my first week of teaching. It's going pretty well so far, I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy my time teaching here. The work is really intense and tough right now since I have to spend so much time prepping for every class. It takes me about an hour and a half to prep for a 3 hour class right now, and I have two 3 hour classes, 5 days a week. Theoretically I should get better at prepping as I get more comfortable with the classes and more experience, but takes a while right now. Also, since the students are on summer break from their regular school, 2 of my 10 classes are summer intensive classes. Hopefully....cross your fingers....after the summer, I'll only have 8 classes a week. Speaking of work overload, I just realized in the nearly 2 weeks I've been here, I haven't had a day off yet!!! I can't wait for Sunday!

Exciting news, next week I have to go to Japan to get my visa, so I can officially get paid. It'll just be a quick overnight trip, so I'll have to miss a couple of classes, but thankfully Ryan and Michelle will help cover them. I also have to do a make-up class on Saturday...Bleh. After the make-up class though, Michelle is going to take us to the beach! Woohoo!

(edit) Above is a pretty crappy picture of the city I live in, Jeju City (or in Korean, Jeju-si) It's divided into two parts, an old town and a new town. I live in the new town, known as "Shin-Jeju."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Arrived at Jeju and started teaching the next day!

I arrived at Jeju Island on Saturday night, July 30th and had to come straight to work for some more training on Sunday! Michelle, the Branch Manager picked me up from the airport that night, and brought me to my apartment. It's a nice studio apartment on the 8th floor. I've got a great view of the ocean!

So a little background before I go further. When I arrived on Jeju, I just now learned that the school I'm working at opens for its very first day of class ever on Monday, August 1st! AAAHH!!!!! That's less than two days! Not only that, the head instructor is having visa problems and can't get here. So the teachers at the school are myself, Ryan (another new teacher to Korea) and Michelle who will be filling in for a couple of classes until Brad, the Head Instructor can make it. That's it. So, to make a long story short, life is a little hectic right now.

Like I said, we started classes on Monday, so as of this writing, I've had three days of classes. So far, teaching has been a combination of ups and downs. I'm not used to teaching in a classroom, so that takes a little adjustment on my part. I'm happy that I don't get nervous like I was in training. My bigger classes consist of kids who are middle school age and unlike middle schoolers back home, these kids don't say a word. It's like I'm talking to a brick wall! I really try to stop lecturing and involve the class, but they just seem to sit there. I've only had each class once now, so I think a lot of it could be attributed to the first day jitters/shyness. Hopefully...

I haven't really had much time to do much exploring on my own. I've spent all my time prepping for classes. The only things I've done is to go out and get some housewares for the apartment. Michelle took us out to the E-mart, which is like Wal-Mart. She helped me buy and truck home some bigger stuff. She also took us on a great tour of the grocery store. The grocery stores are cool here because there's 10 times as many people giving free samples out. She told us about all the foods and what they were. We were also there with her parents who are super awesome. They are really helping her out a lot getting the school up and running.

(edit) The picture above is of this building I pass by on the 10 minute walk to work. The second day I was here, someone decided to paint this entire massive building...PINK. Hah! It's now known as "the pink building." The building is actually a supermarket and department store which is a pretty handy thing to have as a 3 minute walk from your apartment!