Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bye Bye Christina and So Hee!!!

The life of working in a language academy involves seeing many students come and go. I've only been teaching about 5 months now, but already I've had a nearly 90% turnover rate. Some of that turnover is due to changing classes and leveling-up, so Ryan has many of my students and I have many of his. However, a significant portion of that is due to students leaving. I've been a little sad when I lose some students, but I'm particularly disheartened this weekend, since I'm losing 2 of my favorite students, Christina and So Hee. These two provide enormous amounts of energy and enthusiasm to the class that I cannot provide myself. They are amazing people and will be greatly missed! Bye Bye!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

John's Christmas Party

I forgot to mention in my last post that last Friday, John had a party last weekend at his house. It was sort of a Christmas Party and a birthday party for Luke. John's really fortunate since he actually lives in a house, which is pretty rare here. Most people, like myself, live in apartments. It's quite a nice place and it was a good party. Here's my first attempts at some indoor pictures with my new camera. It's tough to get people to stay still, so forgive the blurriness.

John and Luke

Sam and So Young

Jin and John

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!!!

It's been a good Christmas here in Korea away from the family and friends from home. Thanks to the Internet, I've been able to keep touch with everybody.

The night before Christmas Eve, Brad invited Ryan and I over to his house to sign a card for Michelle, the boss. Before we left, he offered a shot of Russian Vodka that his Russian Mother-In-Law brought over when she came to visit. We happily drank the shots and went home for the night. I was ready to go to bed early since we had plans to hike Mt. Halla, but I took some medicine without eating any food. Combined with the nice Russian Vodka, my body went into purge mode and I stayed up all night by the toilet. Christmas Eve no longer spent hiking, but laying around, watching movies, and feeling overall miserable. That night we went to a buffet/party at one of the local hotels (KAL Hotel). It was good to get out and get some food, and it was a nice buffet at that. I wish I would've felt better to really enjoy the sushi offerings.

Christmas day was good. I had to work which wasn't too bad. Not having a break over Christmas isn't as bad as not having a break at Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). Koreans have just getting into celebrating Christmas over the past couple of years, so it seems the people as a whole still don't get as into it. On Chuseok though, everything is closed, so it feels weird working that week. Also, I've pretty much grown accustomed to the fact that I won't have any holidays. So it's okay that I had to work. I've worked Christmas day every year I worked at Alta and Loveland Ski Areas, so it's not so different!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Vietnamese Restaurant

I went out for lunch today to a Vietnamese restaurant with the folks from work. It was the first time I've had Vietnamese food and it certainly lived up to the hype that Brad has been giving it these past couple of weeks. I two dishes I liked the most were the rice paper wraps and the pineapple fried rice. They even served the pineapple fried rice in a carved out pineapple! I didn't even think to bring my camera but I wish I did. The restaurant was on the coast and the waves are huge today. This morning there was snow on the ground. I think it's the first snow in the city for the season!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mandarin Oranges!

Ryan and I were walking back home from Korean class and there was this guy sitting on the sidewalk selling mandarin oranges. Oranges are everywhere right now, so it seems like there's no need to buy them since everyone's always giving you some for free. Well, I heard that you could buy a bunch of them for dirt cheap so Ryan and I thought we'd buy some oranges from this guy. We ended up getting this massive sack full of them for $10 bucks! I swear that sack was at least 20lbs! There's no way I can eat all of these! The picture is of Ryan giving me my share.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bouldering Comp

My super sweet holiday weekend is coming to a close and man oh man was it a good 3 day weekend. Friday night we had a team bouldering competition at the climbing gym. It turned out to be a super fun contest for the members of the gym. We split into three random teams, each with about 6 people. There were three problems and everyone had one chance to do each of them. You got points based on how far you got. Everyone from the team's scores were added together and the team with the most points won. So who won? We did! But we didn't know this until the next day! They added the scores up wrong! It didn't matter though, the entry fee was to buy a present for less than $10. At the end, we just had a random grab at the prizes with the winning team to choose first.

After the comp, we had a nice galbi dinner. There was plenty of soju passed around, and by the end of dinner, there were quite a few people getting tipsy, so we went to the noraebong. This was my first experience at the noraebong, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. You see, it's basically a small room with a karaoke machine. You rent out the room and sing songs. It sounds lame, but the Koreans really get into it, and it turns out to be fun. We went to the kind where they serve alcohol which added to the fun.

Saturday was a calm, chill day where I just went on a walk around the old town shoppping district looking for camera stores. I didn't find any good ones but I did make it to the Natural History Museum which was a great deal at 500 Won (about $0.50) No pictures of the museum though, maybe sometime else. That night I had a good dinner with Sam, Darren, and Elliot. We traded stories about the comp night and then went to E-Mart where I bought a sweet coffee grinder. After E-mart, I met up with John and Jin and Jin's friend who I'm going to start a Language Exchange with. I'll teach her English and she'll help me with my Korean. It should be great, I'll talk about it more later though.

Afterwards, I went with John and Jin to the sauna! This was my first time to the saunas in Korea. It turned out awesome! I love it! It was pretty much like the one at the capsule in Japan. They give you some clothes to wear, but in the men's section, you have to go in the birthday suit. There's all different types and temperatures of hot tubs, sauna rooms, and even a steam room. In the co-ed section downstairs, there was a fire-kiln room. It was awesome! It was stone room with a fire underneath the floor. It's hard to describe, but it was a small room made of stone. It kinda looked something like the hobbit houses in the Lord Of The Rings. It was a mini door and cone shaped. Anyway, it was really hot, and then we'd go to the fridge room to cool off! All around the co-ed section is a big TV and tons of mats to sleep on too. You could probably use it as a cheap place to stay for traveling. The whole thing is pretty cool. Its too bad that there's nothing like these back home.

Here's pics from the night of the bouldering competition:

Everyone with all their prizes!

Me climbing on the final problem.

The group having dinner afterwards.

This is the only picture that turned out semi-clear from the Noraebong.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Horse for Dinner

"I'm so hungry I can eat a horse!"

Ryan and I have a long weekend from school thanks to school exams and Michelle being out of town for training. We decided to celebrate our holiday by going to the Horse Restaurant that we always pass by on the way to E-Mart (sort of a Korean Wal-Mart). I guess horse is a relatively popular meal here, so we thought we'd try it out. It turned out to be by far the most expensive meal (25,000W per person or $25) I've had in Korea so far, and I have to say it turned out to be pretty good. We ordered the sampler which gave us all different types of horse. We had two different types of horse soup, minced raw horse, and barbecued horse. I probably won't be going back anytime soon, but it was certainly a nice treat!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Climbing Gym

I've been spending a lot of my time at the climbing gym lately. Since I work at night, I usually go by myself during the daytime. There's usually no one there except for the owner and maybe one other lady, Hae Mi. She's a math hagwon teacher and can speak English relatively well. She asks me silly English questions and helps me with my Korean. She isn't a very good climber, but really likes it and is a really nice person.

This weekned was a rare treat and I was able to climb with Darren, Elliott, and Ou Jin. Its fun to be able to climb with these guys since they show me new problems and push me a lot. Climbing is a very social sport and this brings back the social aspect of it for me. It's also fun to climb with the good Korean climbers like Ou Jin. He's just a little above my level, so he can really push me. Darren is also improving fast and I think in many ways he's surpassed my bouldering abilities. He and Elliott are always fun to hang around and climb with.

Here's some crappy photos from our little session:

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I try to keep this blog pretty positive since for the most part, since I'm loving living in Korea. However, this morning was very frustrating for me. I feel like I'm spending a significant portion of my time studying Korean. I'm sure anyone that has studied a language can relate to the fact that it is a very slow process and frustrating at times. I'm enrolled in two classes to help me out, but one is too difficult and the teacher is horrible in the other one. Those difficulties make it frustrating enough, but now to add on top of it all, the American and Canadian students in the class with the terrible teacher are starting to get on my nerves. They always seem to ask all these random stupid questions that completely sidetrack the teacher into horrible tangents. I wish the teacher was smart enough to recognize their questions and continue on, but sometimes we spend 10-15 minutes on things like whether or not to spell "cola" with a "k" (like 'kola'). Come on guys! It doesn't matter! I want to know how to spell it in Korean!!! I don't spend 2 hours, three mornings a week to teach this guy English!

It just makes me frustrated that I'm not happy with many of the foreigners here in Korea. They're not the type of people I expected. They're not positive people here to learn and enjoy living in a foreign culture. I don't know exactly what it is about them and I don't know their motivations for being here, but it makes me wonder why someone asks me a question like, "Why are you taking a Korean Language Class?" I guess I'm not content with knowing only how to say "Please give me two more beers." Why are you content with that?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about all foreigners. I really like the guys at the climbing gym, my co-workers Ryan and Brad, and a couple of the guys in the morning class. It just seems like I haven't found foreigners I enjoy hanging around anywhere else. I don't want to be reclusive, but they just aren't fun people to hang around.