Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This is Ryan, my 'co-teacher' who's in the same boat as I am. Ryan, also a midwesterner, comes from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He arrived in Korea only a week earlier than I did. Korea however, is not his first international destination. He spent nearly two years in Tanzinia in the Peace Corps teaching Chemistry to local kids there. He's had some great experiences and some great stories. We've been having a good time hanging out together learning about Korea and Koreans through a bit of trial and error these past couple of months.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Brad Teacher

Here's another installment of the people in my work life here in Korea which pretty much seems like most of my life right now.

This is Brad. He's from Los Angeles originally but has been in Korea now for 5 years teaching English. He's our Head Instructor, so he's the guy that Ryan and I go to when we have some teaching questions. He'll help us out and give us pointers periodically. We have CCTV cameras in our classrooms so all of our classes are monitored. It sounds a little creepy at first, but you kinda forget about it. Anyway Brad gets to take a look at that video and give some teaching tips.

Brad is about my age, has been married for 3 years and has a 6 month old baby. Their baby is about the cutest thing ever and I don't think I've ever heard it cry...ever. We've been out to eat with her at least 3 times so far and not a peep!

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I finally got some route climbing in this weekend! I went to Musucheon this afternoon, with an American, Jon and his Korean girlfriend Jin. Jon's a great guy, he works at the same hagwon as Darren and Sam. He's even got some Indiana connections too. He's from Kansas, but he went to college in Goshen, IN.

The climbing was great, it was in a mostly dry river bed so the climbs weren't tall, I think the longest was maybe 50 ft. There's a good mix of easy and difficult lines there too, anywhere from 5.8 to a 5.13 project. The weather was beautiful this weekend too, 70's and clear. Can't ask for much better!

Jin took all the pictures today on my camera. The picture above is of a couple of local guys working on the tough climbs.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

About the Job

I've recieved a few emails from friends asking me how's work, so I'll give a little explanation on what I'm doing here in Jeju-do.

I work for a privately owned, though part of a franchise, private language school, called a hagwon, or academy. The hagwon is relatively small, though after talking to a few people, it seems to be kind of a standard size. There are two other teachers, Brad and Ryan, two front desk girls, Jinni and Eun Ju, and Michelle, the boss.

The classes I teach are 3 hours long with two 5 minute breaks. Classes are either from 4-7pm or 7-10pm. Right now I'm teaching 24 hrs a week which is pretty nice, but that may change to 30 soon. Prepping doesn't take long, I'll bet the total time I spend outside of class nowadays working on class materials is about 30mins per class. My classes right now have a minimum of 10 students and a max of 15. I have one Elementary class (4th-6th grades) and 3 Middle School classes (7th-9th grades).

Basically the main theory behind Korean language education is immersion with a native speaker. These kids have me for 3 hours a day, twice a week. In class, we only speak English, 100% of the time. All of the kids already speak English relatively well, they can read simple books and understand me fairly well. The class is structured down to the minute for the entire 3 hours and is centered around Reading Comprehension. We do a little vocabulary and listening with a CD, then spend the next hour reading a chapter in a book. At the end, for every class they have to memorize a paragraph.

The job is going pretty well so far. I'm enjoying it. There are many frustrating parts about it, but overall, I think I'll make it through a year here just fine.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Typhoon is a bust...

After all that excitement about the typhoon, all it meant was a ton of rain. How boring. No winds so strong you can't walk, no tornados at at sea, no crazy thunderstorms, just rain, lots of it, for 5 straight days. I have to say it was all good in the end because it sure makes you appreciate the sun. Today was the clearest, sunniest day since I've been here. It was so nice, there weren't even any clouds around the mountain. I guess all that rain wasn't so bad after all.

Edit: I feel bad after posting this and being all excited about the typhoon, when I found out that it hit Japan fairly hard, killed 9 people and injured nearly 300. I just hope there's no more major typhoons coming in the near future now! I could do without rain and disaster!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Typhoon Coming!


I'm pretty excited that I'm going to experience my first ever typhoon this weekend. Typhoon Shanshan is going to sneak by between here and Japan. It won't "land" here, but we'll still be in the range of greater than 55mph winds. So far all it really seems to mean is a lot more rain. It's already rained for the past 4 days and I'm starting to get tired of sitting in my room. I guess it's a good thing it's coming on a weekend so I won't have to walk to work in the middle of it!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Michelle, the Boss

This is Michelle on the left talking with a parent. She's the Boss, Principal, and owner of the school, or hagwon. If you had any questions before, the school is a privately owned language institute, owned by Michelle. It is a franchise of the parent company CDI. I taught on day one of our school's opening, a month and a half ago now.

Michelle is from Seoul originally, and went to college at the University of Utah. She spent 3 1/2 years there and got not one but TWO bachelors degrees! One in Biology and one in Linguistics. She has lived on Jeju-do for 4 years teaching English before deciding to start her own business. Her English itself is impeccable. She is a fantastic woman, always willing to help anyone out, loves kids, and works very hard. I feel very fortunate to be in Korea with such a great boss.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Red Bean Desserts

I mentioned before about a crazy red bean popsicle that I had. Well, I went to a restaurant and the lady gave me a free dessert. I was excited to get it and well, I guess I've finally succumbed to the fact that I should now consider beans a dessert item. This one was actually really good. It was crushed ice, kinda like a snow cone with pineapple, gumdrops, and the beans on it. I have to say that I enjoyed my awesome cheap meal AND the red bean dessert.

Another Weekend at the Beach

The weather feels like it has been cooling down fast here even though the temperature has only dropped a couple of degrees. It changed from shorts all day and all night to sweatshirt weather. I think it has to do with the amount of humidity in the air as much as the temperature. It just doesn't feel as humid.

To take advantage of the nice weather, all of us from the school went out to the beach again. Michelle, the boss can't drive a stick shift, so she recruited me since I got my international drivers license before I came here. I didn't think that thing would come in handy at all, but I guess it was worth it. We had a grand old time at the beach, the waves were pretty big and now that the summer is over, the crowds have left. Its really nice actually, but they don't clean up so there's quite a lot of trash laying around. I forgot my camera so this picture is from when I went to the same beach a couple of days ago.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Cheonwangsa Buddist Temple

There's quite a few Buddist Temples around the island so here's one that I just happened to stop by. As I've been riding around the island, I stop periodically and I've been enjoying stopping at the temples. They're usually on very well kept grounds and the people are extrememly friendly. I love looking at the architecture and art. They always smell like very nice incense too. I really liked the setting of this one, in the mountains with the rock pillars all around. I'm still never sure if i can take pictures of the people inside. I don't speak Korean well enough to ask so I haven't tried to push my luck yet.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Beach Bum

The last couple of days have had some excellent weather, so I've been taking advantage of getting used to driving the motorcycle by going to the beach! I only work in the evenings which allows me to spend all day doing other things. Lately I've been spending most of my time riding my bike on the back roads, playing guitar, going to the climbing gym, and trying to learn Korean. Again, I'll say that I'm having a difficult time learning Korean, mostly because I don't have much of a chance to practice it except when I go to the grocery store or a restaurant. I think the climbing will help me a lot since that'll be the time when I actually get to hang out with Koreans.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Perfect Weather / Small Island

The weather has finally changed from "ridiculously hot and humid" to "perfect" in the course of just one day. I woke up this morning and it was pouring rain, then it cleared. Just as the rain was clearing, you could see further out the horizon than I ever have before. Ryan claims he saw the mainland, I couldn't see it, but I definitely could see some islands pretty close to it. After the rain cleared, it turned into the most beautiful, mid 70's day ever. I took the bike for a cruise down the coast, took some pictures, and ate some good food. On my way to work I thought I'd take a couple of pictures to illustrate the point that I'm learning how small this island really is. I've learned after living here for over a month that from nearly everywhere, you can see either the ocean or Mt. Hallasan (the volcano in the middle of the island). Here's my point in pictures:

Walking South down the road towards the building I work in (you can see the CDI banner on the right), you can see the mountain. Believe it or not, the top of the mountain is the center of the island.


Now, turn around 180 degrees to face North and you can see the ocean! Pretty sweet, eh? Isn't Jeju Beautiful?


Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I just found my new favorite thing in the whole world last week and that's my new transportation. Armed with my health insurance, I got this 125cc Hyosung motorcycle for 500,000 won (about $500) and I'm the happiest guy on Jeju-do! Jessie, the girl who sold it to me, taught me how to ride it and I loved it instantly. She took me out on some back roads of the island, towards the mountain then back. It feels like you just have so much freedom. Part of that feeling is that I finally do have freedom now to travel around the island without taking buses or taxis. It's a very groovy time! I can't wait to explore every little nook and cranny of this place.

A motorcycle is kind of a must here in Korea, they're everywhere! Scooters especially, but there's a lot of motorcycles too. I'm so much more excited about having this than a car. The roads are so small and parking is so difficult. Koreans I swear are the craziest drivers, by far, that I've ever seen. Brad even says they're even crazier on Jeju-do than in Seoul. They're also masters at parallel parking. I don't know how they do it, but the small spaces they fit into is amazing. Anyway though, the scooters and motorcycles really flourish well here. They kind of fly by their own rules and slip in between the cracks. I'll just say that I'm going to have a great time with this bike!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Finally Bouldering!

I finally got some climbing in this weekend! Woohoo!! Last weekend I found the local climbing gym, Movezone, and was able to meet a lot of the people who climb there. This weekend, a couple of kiwi blokes took me out bouldering in a riverbed just outside of town. This place is pretty sweet really, and seems like it has a fair amount of potential for problems. The climbing we did was inside a natural bridge/cave. The picture is pretty crappy, but if you look really close, there's some Chinese letters etched in that boulder behind Darren. I can't remember the name of this place, but apparently some fellows stayed here during the Japanese occupation and left all sorts of writing all over the cave. They wrote in Chinese, since Hangul was not officially adopted and standardized until after WWII.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

New Favorite Drinking Hole

On the way back home from work on Saturday, Brad the head instructor wanted to go out for a beer. I said "Let's go to the Family Mart at the base of my apartment." As a result of this evening, I have to say that I've found my new favorite place to have a beer or two and that is right in front of the convenience stores. You can just walk in and get a beer from the fridge, the girl will give you a few dixie cups, maybe crack open the beer with a bottle opener, and you can just sit there in front of the store with their lawn chairs! It's awesome! The beers are 1/4 the cost of the bars and you're right close to home! You can do this at any convenience store, 7-11, whatever. Amen to no open container laws!