Tuesday, April 29, 2008

happiness comes and goes

Happiness came today in the form of a new camera and getting extra pills for my trip. But it could have been a really swell day if my roommate took her butt over to the housing office and picked up the lease take over application. She might have, for I haven't seen her today. But seriously I hope she gets this done before I take off. So for full happiness I hope to get the lease take over done. Sigh.... I hate worrying. Bo Kwan had some good luck too today with his school so I guess it was nice for us both to have happy times.


Studying Hard

A few relatives of mine sent me this article from the New York Times, so I thought I would make a post about it.

This article highlights about how some high school students in Korea attend private high schools where the emphasis is on getting into American Ivy League schools.
But what it also touched on is the amount of rigorous studying these students go through.Reading this article I feel grateful for my highschool experience where I think I didn't start studying until Senior year.
Bo Kwan and I have had a discussion about this topic and has told me about how during high school no one has time for relationships or dating.
After graduation I can imagine a lot of people hooking up.
Well, I guess I am curious what kind of reality I will see of this when I am in Korea.
Hopefully I will see some kids having a good time out of class, and think there is hope for these youngins'.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Seperation Anxiety

This will be a thoughtful and reflective blog about the feelings one faces when they approach a very big change in their life.

Despite all the careful planning and keeping yourself up to date on everything there still remains the feeling inside that something big is about to happen to your life. I could be exaggerating here, and when I am settled in Korea I might look back and think "Ah, that wasn't too bad." But underneath everything I know I am going to become separated from my existing life, family and country. I will leave behind my daily work routine (wake up 6:30---come home at 6pm) to a new routine I don't even know what it will be like. Family and friends will be far away.

Yet what will be the most distant is that which is familiar.
  • Hearing English spoken in the streets.
  • Being able to see English on signs.
  • Going to the grocery store and knowing what kind of vegetable or fruit I am buying.
  • Easily finding my way to a public toilet.
  • Knowing the customs of the land.
That which is familiar to us is what makes are lives seem homely. I think it is the moments when we are out of our most familiar surroundings that we become vulnerable to the world of the other.

Let me though remind you that this is exactly what I want. I want to be the FOB (Fresh of the Boat). I want to experience what it is like for the millions that come to America to start their lives fresh. With only their money and suitcases. I want to know what it is like to be split apart from all that you know is familiar and to be put in a land that is unfamiliar. Certainly I am no fool to think that Korea is any less modern than America. I will find all the comforts of home there: Internet, hot water, shelter, TV, music...). But what won't be familiar is the same cultural code.

So if you have read this far...I guess I am just trying to say that with about 26 or so days left to go ....... I can't wait!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Drama, Drama, Drama! Part II: Formula


Any story has a beginning and an end. Usually something happens in between, like falling in love, breaking up, death, birth and so on. For Korean TV dramas there seems to be a very familiar formula.
Here it is:
Take a guy and a girl:

1. Make sure that when they first meet it is under unbearable conditions.

For Example: You are this young lady in the picture and you happen to run a tour guide business. The tour is over and your job is to make sure the people on your bus get to their airplane on time. But for some reason you are late. So then you run up to the gate terminal and beg to get inside the plane to save it from taking off. You pretend to cry as if your boyfriend is on the plane. Once you made your way inside you find this guy (pictured on the left) and pretend he is your boyfriend. You emberass him and yourself in the process of pretending to be lovers. Meaning that from now on you two will be enemies because of meeting in an unpleasant way.

2. Make sure this "couple" has to be, for some reason, around each other all the time.

For Example: This guy has a serious family issue. His Grandfather's Granddaughter has been missing for a long time. It is this guy's mission to find the missing Granddaughter and bring his ailing Grandfather back to health. What do you do? Well you make this girl (the one who knows how to fake circumstances, pretty well) pretend to be the Granddaughter. Now the two must live with each other in the same house, despite the fact that they hate each other's guts.

3. Despite their initial feelings for each other they start to fall in love.
For example: At some point they start to like each other. Usually the guy starts to think the girl is cute in her devilish ways or the girl thinks the guy is cute when he is angry or frustrated. Either way the story gets built up this way. Here you can see that the guy is overcome with his feelings for her after seeing her in the hospital.

4. Throw in another guy who loves the girl too, but he can't have her.
For example: This guy is either related to the main guy or is an outsider. Try as he might the storyline formula just won't let them be together.

5. Make sure that there is either an ex-girlfriend or main girlfriend for the main guy, so that the storyline has a bit of jealousy.
6. Sh*T Happens: Maybe someone dies, maybe someone becomes on the verge of death, maybe something really controversial is revealed...whatever it is make sure it has such a big impact that it makes the two love-birds split apart.
7. Happy Endings: Because that is what life is really about, right? I mean they build the whole story to leave you feeling happy in the end, right?
Well I haven't watched every single Korean Drama out there but I can say this is pretty much it for them. Heck, it even worked for the drama The First Shop of Coffee Prince, where a girl acts so un-girly that a guy believes her to be a guy and makes her part of his coffee shop staff. And yes they do fall in love, and he thinks he is falling in love with a man...but he figures out she is a girl in the end.
So there you would have it. The Formula for Korean dramas...the same can be extended to some Korean movies that follow this kind of fluff fan-fair.
Bo Kwan even tells me he sometimes can't stand this canned kind of formula and finds American drama to be more refreshing and interesting than the stuff he sees back home.

Although ultimately cheesy and predictable you either end up enjoying watching Korean drama or just want to skip to the ending so to save yourself the agony of whether these two will ever kiss or be together.
This ends Part II of my Drama analysis post. I will create Drama Part III when the time comes.
So folks....
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Drama, Drama, Drama! Part I: The Beginning

Real life drama is not the same as TV-drama. Nor is American drama and Korean drama the same. Actually Korean dramas are more close to what we call "soap operas" but with way more sexy guys and gals in it, and perhaps more optimism.

Korean TV drama by now has its own history filled with some flops and classics. I for one have only started to hit the iceberg on this behemoth of entertainment. Not only are there TV dramas but movies that accompany an actor's profile.
This post will be meant to point out to you how I got started into my Love-Hate relationship with Korean dramas and how I am on the constant search for a drama that satisfies my American tastes.
Where did it all start?
About a year and a half ago I started watching the Korean drama "Jewel in the Palace" (Dae Jang Geum). I managed to find this show on one of the free channels I get through my television. It was in subtitles and sometimes since it was free the picture didn't come in as clear and so I had to guess the storyline.

For a TV show this one is quite impressive. It is considered an historical drama and captures a love, socio-political and power struggle story that is cast through the character Jang-geum. We see her as a child and up to adulthood as she strives to become the Head Lady of the Royal Kitchen. Unfortunately I didn't watch this from start to finish but read up on the whole story online. The parts I did see and that I enjoyed most were when there were cooking contests going on.

It is here that I discovered that Korea has a rich culinary history. Not that it is really any kind of secret that ancient cultures like Korea, Japan and China have a deep history with their cuisine, anyways. I found it amazing how the producers took the time to show how each dish was prepared and also put a lot of historical context into them.

Sometimes I thought I was watching a cooking show. The costumes and scenery were also lovely. It seems people loved the scenery so much that there is now a Theme Park where you can go visit the sets.

What Dramas do you watch now and what is your reaction to them?
In Drama, Drama, Drama! Part II I will cover which dramas I have watched and ones I am currently working on. Also I will analyze the differences between Korean Drama and American Drama, and highlight what Bo Kwan has to say about his impression of both.
Stay tuned....

Monday, April 21, 2008

Day with the Family

Today my Dad came up to the city and visited with me and my brother Jon. The weather today in SF was still cold and windy but went out exploring anyways.

We went to Golden Gate Park and walked around the gardens for a bit and then we went up to Twin Peeks.
Dad and Jon at Golden Gate Park

View from Twin Peeks Dad and Me with San Francisco in the background.

Being with my family is always a wonderful feeling. But now that I know I will be going far-far-away I know that I am going to miss being this close to everyone. Yet I am sure home-sickness is a part of this journey and it is one mountain I want to get past.

Packing up

Packing, I think, is almost a therapeutic exercise. You get to go through all the stuff you have accumulated and saved over the years. Doing so you run across things you wonder why you are holding onto. For example plates and bowls that don't match you have packed into a box, miss matching socks. In my living room I have two piles forming. One pile is for donation, the other is what I am keeping at my Dad's house. Thankfully the donation pile is larger than the 'keep' pile.

During packing you can experience some genuine moments of mania.

Here I am inside my old stereo's box. If you recall those huge stereos that were popular in the late 90's than you know what is going on here. I thought I would pack it up inside this box but Bo Kwan politely suggested to me that I shouldn't waste my energy. So I ended up chucking the box.

Well I am getting down to the bare bones here. Trying to make sure I don't take oo much with me to Korea, which is hard because I am a natural pack-rat.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Everyone wants to be an aspiring Geologist...right?

One secret you may not know about me is that I tend to become really excited about Geology. If you happen to be the lucky one to accompany me to an outdoor setting in the mountains you may hear me spout out what kind of bedrock is lying about. Actually you don't even need to catch me in the mountains sometimes I tend to tell whoever is with me what kind of marble or granite someone plastered onto a wall. (That picture is of granite, in fact you can find it in the mall near my house.) Therefore, I am a bit excited to be going to a new land where I will have the opportunity to see geology in a different part of the world. But before I go I think it would be wise to do my homework.

The website Korea.net informs in their geology section "that Korea is a mountainous peninsula" and "The east coast shows typical features of an uplifted topography, chiefly a relatively straight shoreline, whereas the west coast has the features of a submerging shoreline."

Unless you are a geological enthusiast like I am, I bet you are probably beginning to nod off at this post.

So let me just say what I think will be points of interest for my geological tastes.

  • Jeju Island: Was created by volcanic activity. Therefore it will have lava tubes, caves and a lot of black rocks.

  • Osaek Hot Springs: The only springs I have been to were in Florida and they were not hot, but rather cool...which is okay...it was Florida. Going to this place is said to be good for "...stomach-ailments, anemia, and neuralgia." I think I will want to go there...but I have not clue how close it is to Seoul

In general, it looks like Korea offers up mountainous terrain with granite and gniess rock, lava tubes, caves and hot springs.

I look forward to making it out to some of these places and reporting back on the geology I see.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Extra photos from hair cut

Bo Kwan made me this montage of my hair cut experience.
Fun times!

Teach English in Korean Countryside?

Apparently the Korean administration has plans to offer foreign teachers the opportunity to teach English in the rural parts of Korea. The Korea Times article Recruitment Starts for English Teachers for Rural Areas mentions the new program TaLK.

This looks as if it is a government scholarship program and is executed in a different manner than how private schools hire teachers.

After reading through the article my impression is that this program is meant to implement a greater impact of English in the rural areas of Korea, due to that most English-expat Teachers prefer to teach near modern society (i.e. Seoul). Since teaching in rural areas is an unpopular choice for some, it seems they have made the benefits of the job the major selling point.

  • You teach after school classes. Working hours are Monday to Friday (5 days a week/ 3 hours per day) and are not required to work on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays of the Republic of Korea. Wow! Hmmm now giving up a flushing toilet is starting to sound more plausible.

  • Not only do you work just 3hrs a day but you still get paid for it. 1.5 Won per month or about $1400 USD. On top of which you get housing allowance and a free plane ride.

  • Extras like 'Korean Government Scholarship' certificate will be presented to each participant. Fancy paperwork that you can pin up inside your free-rent shack

But seriously people I don't know what rural Korea looks like. From the Korean Dramas and Movies I have seen I am sure it offers beautiful scenery and that back-to-nature goodness.

I think that if I had a choice for this program while I was searching for schools to teach in Korea, I would have hesitated at the opportunity. Mostly because I need to be near modern hospitals that supply my modern medicine. Therefore, visiting the Korean countryside will be more of my way of getting a taste of rural South Korea.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hair cut + beach

Saturday was spent getting a hair cut and venturing off to the beach.
Hi! I am a new women! Just kidding.

And on to the beach. We had a heat wave here in SF so why not take advantage of it and go to the beach?

Saturday, April 12, 2008


After reading a lot of Korean expat blogs today....I feel like I can't wait to be there and experience it all!

I think I am going to have a lot of fun. Especially when Bo Kwan comes in July and he can show me so many things and explain to me what it all means!


The End is Near!


Perhaps this will be a frequent series on this blog. Because lately and I don't know if you have noticed, there have been a lot of news about how this and that is going to become instinct or scarce.

Take for example today's news on the BBC News. Rice is becoming a precious commodity along with wheat and soy. Take a moment to think about what is in your pantry. Maybe you don't have a sack of rice sitting in there but I bet a lot of the products that are sitting on your shelves have ingredients that include: wheat, soy or rice. I for one am guilty of this too. But really we are not to blame for buying such products. The finger should be pointed towards what is happening to our world's food supply on the global scale.

For example, the BBC article states:

"Land for producing rice and irrigation water is being lost to industrialisation and urbanisation. "

"The growing appetite among Asia's burgeoning urban middle class, especially in India and China, for meat and dairy products is also leading to less land for rice production."

"Factors such as the flooding in Indonesia and Bangladesh and recent cold weather in Vietnam and China have also hurt production, it said. "


When I come upon articles like these I can't help but see that image of the old man holding a sign on the street that says "The End is Near!" If you are an Evangelist than maybe this is good news for you. But really what am I to do about the running out of our precious food resources? Should I buy less? Should I buy from only companies that support its communities in its Asian Countries? Heck, will this mean that when I go to Korea and need to buy a sack of rice it is going to cost me $$$? Not that a sack of rice is cheap here...maybe $12-$18 for a 10lb bag. (I don't know really).

Here's my opinion:

Humans are a species that knows how to survive. Heck we are surviving in the face of AIDS and the Bird Virus. (well not everyone, I guess). But in essence no matter how much we f***k up the planet we will learn and adapt so that in the end we can keep on having babies and investing in stock.

Seriously it isn't the planet we should be considering saving it should be ourselves. Look I know this sounds cynical. But sometimes that is the kind of mood I get in when I start hear about all this. Especially living in the Bay Area you can't help but be thwarted by the onslaught of "Save-this" "stop-that". Of course, I also feel it is important to stop buying a ton of plastic products that are just thrown away. I guess it is the part where these do-gooders tell me I am a wrong-doer for buying my food at Safeway and not Whole Foods.

Okay, okay...

(Deep breath). Enjoy your rice tonight or tomorrow because eventually someone down the line is going to look back at this time period and think "Ah those 21st Century people didn't know what was coming."

And now your moment of Zen:

*Love me*

Friday, April 11, 2008

Getting the Job (Part 3 - Choose your country -Examine Korea)

Let's Examine Korea!

First let me recap: China and Japan were both great contenders as a choice for teaching English abroad. Each unique with their own culture and benefits for foreigners. However, China was shot down because of its poor attitudes towards environmental cleanliness and Japan was given the thumbs down due to its level of competitiveness. Also I feel that because most foreigners go to Japan as their top choice, I kind of wanted to be different and go to Korea.

When did I first discover Korea?

It would seem that during my public education days before college I did not pay attention enough to understand that there are more Asian countries out there besides China and Japan. Of course I knew about Korea but the country, at that time, never really struck me as a place to think twice about. My general knowledge of Korea was based upon the news presented to me about the conflict with North Korea. How it is part of the "Axis of Evil" and so on and so forth.

But then came high school graduation and maturation into adulthood. During which time, I made a Korean friend online via Yahoo Chat. Because of the time difference I would be up at 1am chatting with this guy. Because of him I began to acknowledge the country of Korea, its pop culture and cuisine. Do you remember Mom when we went to that Korean place in Sacramento?

Since that time 5 years have passed and in between my knowledge of Korea matured more and more. During my last college years at SFSU I took courses in Asian Art History. One of which was Korean Art History.

I won't go into an art lesson here but basically sum up that when compared to China and Japan Korea is distinctive in their traditions in pottery and Buddhist statues.

The way to think about this is that Korea was kind of in the middle of the path of the Silk Road . By middle I mean the middle between China and Japan. Therefore, and it is evident in their artworks, Korea was influenced by China. Whether or not influence bounced back from Japan is uncertain. Yet, Japanese art during that period does reference Korean art.

OK! OK! I promised not to give an art lesson I guess I couldn't help myself.
It is evident that I became very much interested in Korean art and its people and culture.
Let's consider that the art and culture of Korea are the underlying factors that made me desire to go live in the country.
However the real reasons I have chosen Korea are mostly for its wealth of better living conditions.

  1. Location: Seoul offers a plethora of hospitals. One of which is Yang hospital that specializes in internal medicine (i.e. bowl disease.). Their infrastructure is very modern and includes speedy bus service (as confirmed by Bo Kwan). There is a large expat community.

  2. Salary: This, as I found out, varies depending on what age you want to teach and what hours you are willing to commit to. For example, teaching adults and working from 4pm to 10pm will earn a salary of about $2400 USD a month. Teaching youngsters from 9am to 7pm will earn a salary of $2000 USD a month. So it just depends upon what kind of daily work life you are willing to commit to.

  3. Benefits: Free airfare, free housing, partial health care, pension and one month salary compensation after working a whole year. To me that is more than just getting the icing on the cake!

There you have it folks! I am going to Korea because I am enthralled with their culture and in love with their benefits.

But maybe the real reason I am going to Korea is because of one person. Who...oh who could that be?

Thanks for reading my series!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Olympic impressions

Update here on the buzz of the Olympic Torch.

I didn't go out and see it all for myself but I have to say the whole thing is quite impressive. I did see a bit of it from the office window. For those who don't know my office is on Sansome and Jackson street. My building is right in front of the Pyramid building. I believe when at the time when the route was drastically altered there were a large amount of protestors disoriented. At that time they spread out amongst the streets. I saw a large group of protestors go down Jackson street. Some went left and others went right. But it seemed most were lost.

Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of my own of this event. The ones posted here are taken from SF Chronicle online. As we all know there were a lot of protestors. I have been watching it Live on CNN without audio in my cubicle.

Yes, a big part of me wishes I were out there capturing it all. I will try not to fail on the next big event.


Historical mind bending torched


So I am still working Part III of my series of choosing a ESL teaching job abroad (Korea). In the meantime just wanted to mention how today is the day when the Olympic torch passes through San Francisco.

I have to say the weather outside today looks really nice for the relay. However there is a storm brewing elsewhere that may cause a ruckus. Of course, we all know what that is, why it is the protestors.

On the frontpage of the San Francisco Chronicle today the Torch protest is top news. I have been kind of shamefully too busy to pay attention and digest properly why people are protesting the Beijing Olympics. But from what I understand it has to do with China's treatment of Tibetans both in the past, present and future. From my perspective I feel that these protestors are using the Olympics as a way to gain support for their cause.
I think it is a just cause and that these people should use the lime-light for the purpose of finally getting some justice.
I work with a Chinese American 40 something and two 60 yr-old Phillipino women. The buzz between them about this protest is that they are for it, but they contend to stay in their cubicles and type away their lives. Basically hearing the 40 something chatter away about Tibet and what-not is better office chatter than her usual "my-children-blah blah blah, and did you know that soy can kill you!?"
Anyways I wish I had brought my camera to work because I could have taken some snapshots during my lunch break. Ah well!
I would like to add that I think it will be more interesting and perhaps more educational for me to see protests going on in Korea. Which, by the way has its own history of protests. I too was kind of shamefully suprised when I learned that other countries protest wrong-doing. Of course this was just another moment in my life when I became less ignorant.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Getting the Job (Part 2 - Choose your country -Examine Japan)

Part II: Japan

The fact of the matter is that I know more about Japan than I do China and especially Korea. I learned about anime and sushi while in high school and soon fell in love with the country. But I consider that this interest in Japan was more like a tunnel that led to my fondness of all the other Asian countries. In essence I would say that it is a challenge to compare these three countries against one another without ending up praising one over the other. Yet, Japan will always stick out to me as a country where the girls are over the top girly.

This ends up causing me to despise my White American roots. In fact, throughout my whole love affair with Asia I often wondered what American traditions I have to hold onto?

Anyways, back to what we are here for.
Japan may just be a bunch of islands out there in the Pacific but it is jam packed with a history of geisha's and courtesans and a people who praise cleanliness and order pretty well. When I was living in the dorms I lived with a Japanese roommate. She was in her 30's and was engaged to some guy in Japan. It started off okay but we ran into a lot of cultural differences. Mainly cleanliness and having guests over in the room.

But Japan will always remain as a special place, for it was this country that introduced me to the treasures of Asia.

So why am I not working there?
Japan does offer consistently good programs for teaching English. I believe that many expats choose Japan as their destination of choice.

The reason for my steering clear of Japan wasn't due to my distaste of the country, rather I found that the recruiting companies to be too competitive and also made you go through a very extensive application process.

Take for example the JET Program which when you take a peek at their website looks like a fun and organized program. But lets get to the details shall we?

  • You have to go through an application time line. Meaning you have to apply at a certain time and go there at a certain time.
Unfortunately I can't find out about how much they pay you. Basically you end up with entry level salary if you don't have the skills.

The website Teach English Worldwide shows us a comparison of the countries.

"Japan has the most established economy and English teaching industry in the region. The extremely high wages it can offer makes the English job market there very competitive. Because of this competitiveness, you need to pay attention to school hiring cycles - the best times to arrive are late March or August. The cost of living in Japan is also very high, which you should take this into account when comparing salaries with other countries.

South Korea has a very developed TESOL market and it is easier to find work here than in Japan. The pay is generally lower than in Japan, but still substantial. Teaching English to children and adolescents is the most common type of position in South Korea.

As China’s economic and political clout has grown, so has its TESOL market. In the past, most English teaching jobs were part of the public school system. With free market reforms stimulating rapid economic growth in certain parts of China, there are now a huge number of private language schools – some of which are prepared to pay respectable wages to native English speakers. Nevertheless, salaries, working conditions, and living conditions are still quite variable throughout the country, so do your research before committing to a job or moving to an area to look for work."

Looking at this comparison it sure sounds like Japan will bring in the dough. Maybe Korea and Japan are tied with each other on best paying. But I still think Korea is best, maybe because it offers to me a culture I am still learning about. Or maybe, just maybe....

Find out why Korea is my choice for teaching English abroad in Part 3 of this series!

Getting the Job (Part 1 - Choose your country - Examine China)

This is the start of my series Getting an expat teaching Job.

First off I think the most important aspect of this adventure is to consider closely which country you would like to go live and teach English in. This is an important factor because it will not only determine what your daily life will be like, but also the amount of salary you will earn along with the type of benefits you will receive.

I am going to examine three countries in particular; China, Japan and Korea. Let me say for the record that I am not an expert on this and can only give you my opinion, which is related to my research. Within this examination I will try to cover what I believe are important factors for choosing your home away from home.
  1. Location (resources to outsiders, infrastructure, treatment of foreigners).

  2. Salary (how much, what is deducted...)

  3. Benefits (free airfare, free housing, free or partial health care, etc)

When I first had the desire to go live abroad my initial choice was China. However due certain conditions that affect my daily life I ended up not choosing China. However, this kind of choice for you is dependent on your necessities in life.

I. Let's Examine China:

China is an amazing country and of course that is an understatement. The country has thousands of years behind it with culturally diverse cuisine and language throughout its borders. But is China a good choice for an expat? Some questions I asked myself when considering China were:
  • Does China have a good hospital system (due to I have a chronic yet stable illness)?
  • We all know China is very polluted. Therefore would I like to live in a very polluted area?

It is obvious that my questions have to do with health. And without doing any research I came to the conclusion...that China is not a healthy place to live. Nor does it seem stable.

But don't take my word for it. Here a recent teacher from China explains the ups and downs and also how to best go about getting a job in China.

During my search period I looked for legitimate recruiters from China to help me get a teaching job. But most of the companies I found charged me a fee. This was not one of my goals. Also it seemed some companies did not tell you your final destination of where you would be teaching in China until you got there. So this too was a red flag for me.

Survey Says:

  1. Location: While China does offer a unique culture, has a huge lot of cultural heritage sites to explore and also offers up fantastic cuisine it is also embedded within a society that is still drastically coming to age with the modern world. If this is your cup of tea than I say go for it! But I for one want a western toilet, a functioning infrastructure and a guarantee my lungs aren't going to collapse.
  2. Salary: Basically I am going to quote what Smitha Murthy wrote in her blog.

" Don’t be persuaded by glib claims that the average salary of the Chinese teacher is only half of yours. Maybe true, but then the average Chinese teacher hasn’t left his country. So state your price, especially if you have a fancy degree. Inquire about your living conditions. Does your apartment have heating or an air conditioner? Small matter, but considering that I nearly froze to death in winter when the school decided to switch off the heating, you would feel cozier if you know these details. "

Therefore the salary seems like it could be a mixed bag...depending on your negotiating skills.

Here is a Chinese recruiter website that details salary, which looks like about $500 USD a month with just the basic requirements. This isn't much in my opinion and may be a generalization.

3. Benefits: From using that same website here are some details. Airfare is reimbursed, which means you will pay first then get paid back later. You get holiday pay travel expense and they say the include free housing.

Conclusion on China:

Remember I have never been to China and that working in China could be a very blissful and stress less time for all I know. However when you start looking at Korea and Japan you start to realize what a better deal these other countries become. To me it seems that getting a job in China has a lot of work to go through before you are finally given something reasonable. Of course many out there may seek the kind of adventure where they want to truly immerse themselves in a whole other political, social and cultural system, which I believe China can offer 100% all the way.

Stay tuned for PART II: Let's Examine Japan!


Just writing to get your opinion of this blog.

1. Do you like the layout / style? (I am able to customize this blog but it does take a great deal of time to get it to look sleek.)

2. Do you like the content?

3. Is there too much or too little information spread out on the blog?


Monday, April 7, 2008

Bye bye iMac (Countdown day number 46)

46 Days remaining.

Today I sold my iMac. It was kind of sad to see the thing go, because it is a really nice machine and had a great widescreen. But I can't haul the thing to Korea. Plus getting some cash for it will help me pay off the debt I used to purchase it last year.Here I am willingly saying good bye to my iMac. We had some good times! Sniff--sniff.


I have been preparing myself more and more for going to Korea, especially mentally. I am reminding myself that everything is going to be a mystery and just roll with it.

I went to Bo Kwan's hotel yesterday and it was a nice little place tucked away near the Hilton. It felt really good to be somewhere else than my room for once. Also Bo Kwan had cable in his room and I spent a good deal watching Top Chef and Top Model, along with the Bridges of Madison .... which I saw the beginning and end to, not the middle...it looks good.

Okay well just winding down before I dive into another week of work at the insurance company. Working still kind of brings me down but I know I need the $, so I get by.

Allright take care,

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Start of Journey - Countdown day 48 to lift off

Welcome to my new blog. My name is Joy and I am about to embark on a journey to teach English in Korea. For me this is a dream becoming a reality. I have had the idea to live abroad for quite some time now and during the past few months I worked on making it a reality. In fact my New Year's resolution was to go and live in Korea. Ever since then I have applied to teaching positions, accepted one, and now have a plane ticket to Seoul.

Since most of my readers will be friends and family you will know already my background. That the past year of my life was definitely by far the hardest, having been stricken with a genetic disease. At that time I had hard time believing that my life would regain its usual speed.

Moving my life over to Korea is an exciting and nervous endeavour. Yet at the root of this adventure is my long-time desire to experience another culture and to be a foreigner. Here in America, especially living in San Francisco, I am witness to many immigrants who come to this country seeking better fortune or a new life. I have often wondered what this global transplantation is like for these people. Now I feel confident that I am going to experience this immigration experience yet as an expat in Korea.

It is my goal to document the images, sounds, smells and experiences that I go through while becoming a foreigner.

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