Sunday, August 31, 2008

Open Spaces

Ahh the clean fresh summer air with its cool breezes and ... oh wait what was that? The smell of someone's garbage rotting in the corner on the street? It seems that living in Seoul is like living in a really urbanized section of New York City, where the presence of green open spaces was an afterthought in urban planning. And so it would seem the same in Seoul, except that if you are keen you can spot the green spaces here and take the time to enjoy them too.

The place I live (G
il-dong) is an area that is just buildings and streets, there are trees here and there but generally it is the kind of place that won't leave a memorable mark on your mind. But take a look at this, the subway line that I live on does this sort of fork like action. I live on the Sangil-dong fork but there is also the Macheon fork. Anyways the point I am trying to make is that on the other side of the fork, the Macheon side the planning and spaces are more attractive and memorable.

With that said BK, his friends and I went to a really wondrouss open space yesterday called Olympic Park. As we all can see now when a country receives the gift of hosting the summer Olympics they go nuts and build a space full of architectural and artistic wonders. But when the games are over all that is left is the remains of what was built and vast spaces of grass to mow.

When we first got there and exited the subway station I was immedietly greated by the hot burning sunshine, but also the sight of tree-lined streets and cafes with chairs outside.
As we walked further on I almost felt for a moment that I wasn't in Seoul, rather I was in some park back home in the city. This is because the spaces were open and wide and the site of cars whizzing by were further away. But when I put the two together that I was in a park and in Seoul I immediately felt a sense of homeliness. These are the pictures from the entrance area we came into, take into mind that there are several entrances into the park all featuring a unique sculpture.

After we stopped for a snack and ice tea we picked up our feet and explored the area. We all had never been here before but knew there had to be a section where it was indeed like a park (green grass...trees...) so we were on the hunt for this. Of course a map would be handy but we didn't find one till the end of our journey.

So on our way here are some of the sites we saw.
Some of the landscaping included bamboo trees:

Also you can find these acupuncture walk paths that are meant to be walked on barefoot so to get this kind of therapeutic massage. BK walked on it for a little bit, yet found it somewhat painful.
For me it was no challenge at all and I really enjoyed it.
Another visually important aspect to the Olympic park is that it also doubles as a sculpture park with architectural wonders.
The Olympic Sculpture Park is one of the five internationally renowned sculpture parks. The park was constructed for the 1988 Seoul Olympics and has about 200 works by world's artists. The displayed works were first shown during the "International Symposium of Outdoor Formative Arts" and "International Outdoor Sculpture Contest," the cultural & artistic events during the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988.
There are about 200 sculptures there and it is considered as one of the best five sculpture sites worldwide. 155 artists from 66 different countries contributed to it by donating some of their work. Some 36 of the sculptures were actually created within the two International outdoor Sculpture Symposiums. source
If we are going to talk about the sculptures in the park we have to consider that when you walk through the park and see the artworks you are actually walking through a slice of time in Korea's art history.
The 1980s were a turbulent period in South Korean politics, with society rebelling against the military government and demanding democratic reform. But the pro-democracy movement wasn't limited to politics. South Korea in the 1980s also saw the rise of the minjung (grassroots) movement in the arts.

Throughout the decade, and into the early ‘90s, leading minjungi> artists worked around the theme of hani> (a uniquely Korean sense of lingering grievance) to create pieces which critically examined deep, often unpleasant, cultural realities and echoed the political calls for change. source

What this translates to is works of art that are large, geometrical and poignant in their shapes. Yet not all the sculptures are from Korean artists but international artists as well.
Artists from 85 countries represented, including Charles Simofont>nds and Dennis Oppenheim, from the United States; Dani Karavan of Israel; Frans Krajcebergfont> of Brazil; Mohand Amara from Algeria; Alexander Arghira of Rumania; and Lee Seung-teak of Korea. source

So without further ado let me show you just a few of the many sculptures that I saw at the Olympic Park. As I walked past the artworks I read the labels and got a sense that most of the artworks were about world peace, communication and odd ideas about sense of space and time. Although I kept myself quiet and didn't lecture my companions on the artwork I was able to feel a sense of awe at seeing large public works of art in Seoul.

Of course though are journey through the park was to find a clear open green space with trees and indeed we did find it.

Green space:


Our feet were tired so we found the nearest bench and sat down for, what I think was, a couple of hours. We watched the ants crawl up a tree, pigeons fly in and out, children play on the field and nearby. It felt good and it felt like a relief to see a space that makes people amble about amongst the trees and stop for a picnic.

After our rest on the bench the weather seemed to have cooled down a slight bit and so we got back on our feet and decided to take a walk around the park. Some of the features we ran into were an historical mound, an architectural dig site and an ample view of the park. Here for you are the rest of my pictures from this journey.

We came upon a little archeological museum:
BK did a little workout on the training machines spread out throughout the park.

There was a dance performance going on, these are some of the performers and spectators.
We left Olympic Park feeling full of wonderment and peace, but also left feeling really hungry. So we hopped in a cab and made our way to the lake area in Jamsil. Had a nice noodle dinner at a Noodle house and then finished our day with a little walk around the lake.

And so another Saturday came to a close and I was possessed by the wonderment that Seoul had to offer me. Although I am still in a state of unknown about the future prospects of what job I will be teaching here, I felt somewhat more comfortable at home in these neck of the woods.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Humboldt County

There are two cities out there in America called Eureka and Arcata and I spent about 3 years of my life there growing from an high school graduate to a college student. This was where I spent my time at a community college. It was also where I formed a relationship with someone that lasted 4.5 years.

It was also a place where I saw a lot of beauty in the landscape.

Humboldt County is in the northern (true northern) part of California. It is famous for its Redwood trees but also its pot growing. Let me just say that during my whole time there I never once smoked the ganja. That was taken care of in high school. However the culture and the people there accept this kind of pot life as normal.

Mom linked me to a new movie that is out called Humboldt County. It looks like an independent film about life's struggles and growing. But it is shot in Humboldt where there are beautiful seascapes and forest views.

Seeing the preview made my heart ache and realize how much I took the California landscape for granted.

Anyways I hope to download this next month and catch it for myself.

Korean Women's Roles

Roboseyo posted another topic on his blog that I too often think about. He put a video showing Korean men who work for night clubs prowling the streets trying to pick up hot women so to make the night club they work for more beautiful and gain more business.

What is depicted in the video shows that these men (known as bikkis) go about their business in an aggressive and I suppose sexually harassing manner.


My response to this video was this:
I have to say I am not really sympathetic to these women or their situation.

I think in large part that we are trained in America to think about social issues like this from a feminist perspective. And tend to lean in that direction instead of the objective or cultural.

I see this over and over again, that why are women in other parts of the world subjecting their selves to sexism?

It is as if we westerners think we hold the power and golden answer to all women's troubles in the world without first considering just what it is we are witnessing and disregarding the history and culture.

Again I see this as kind of a feminist manifest destiny...like watching these bikkis is like watching savages and we westerners must swoop in and be heroes to the women.

I feel we shouldn't just jump to the conclusion that feminism hasn't arrived in this country. For one think that these women who are being targeted are walking the streets freely and dressed nicely. Perhaps in a country where women have less power she would be dressed more conservatively.

I am just saying that perhaps feminism is in this country just not being shown in the shapes and sizes that we recognize. Simply due to that it is a different culture taking on the globalized idea of feminism.

A point I want to leave with is one about safety. I am a woman and I understand that I can be targeted by men for any reason, one of which is rape.

I come from San Francisco, where I feared walking the streets at night. And ever since I have come here I feel safe walking alone at night in the streets here. I am saying that feminism is good and all but it still doesn't mean that the world has been cured of bad men.

Anyways this video was very thought provoking and begs the need that we as foreigners need to better understand the role of women in Korean society. Including the brothels and business-su's where men go. And please don't think this is a modern aspect of society. Sex and women's roles have been around since the dawn of time.

ok ok ... ;)
As you can see my point of view is a little different. I for one just feel that as feminist mind trained westerners we tend to see the world from this point of view first and forget about the rest.

Do I think women in this country could use more strength in their defences = yes. But I am not everywhere all the time and for all we know women are strong here.

Anyways, good thought provoking topic.

Friday, August 29, 2008

apologies

Sorry everyone for being such a wimp lately and only blogging about this work drama.

I too want to see more exciting and memorable posts on my blog.

I usually have a lot of thoughts of what to write about but don't put them up.

I suppose this is life and the blog revolves around that.

;)

~Thanks for all your support anyways!

What if?

So there I was Wednesday settled with my decision to stay at my current school. Mostly because an opportunity to work at a public school seemed very risky. So I was ready to take on the challenges at my current school and wait it out till March when public school jobs become more available.

But then yesterday evening (Thursday) I got an email from the public school recruiter for Gyeonggi-do saying that he knows of a school in Guri that may have an opening in November. And immediately I thought "OH shi*t!".

No I am back in the tailspin of what to do. But now I feel that if my school will release me and if this guy will guarantee me a spot in Guri....there is a good chance I will make the change.

Yet if I do change there are the battles ahead:
  • Getting a fresh Background check from America (takes weeks)
  • Japan Visa run
  • Moving
  • Change
BK tells me to just not take it too seriously (he means sensitively) and think clearly. I am trying!

Anyways we will see what happens. In the meantime still gotta work at my current place.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stay or Go?

These first two days back at the job have been well - calm. I guess after any kind of torrential storm there is a calm wake afterwards.

This should make a good atmosphere for decision making but it really isn't. I feel because it is wise to give a 2 month notice at the start of a month that I have till the beginning of September to decide whether to stay or go.

But I feel I am torn between my decision to go or stay. So for your reading pleasure is a list of reasons to stay or go.

Stay:
  • Something can be said for those who stick something out and work on the problems they have in their current place.
  • My house: it is a nice size, pest free, the washer doubles as a dryer, has a nice view.
  • I do feel like I am welcomed at my school, except for the two coworkers I soured our relationship with.
  • My supervisors do care about me and want me to do well.
  • I am familiar with kids and teaching materials.
Go:
  • Choice would be a public school in Gyeonggi-do (not Seoul).
  • Area of choice would be about 10 minutes from Bo Kwan's house.
  • Schedule of 8:30 - 4:30 would allow me to have an actual afternoon - evening for play or relax time.
  • More vacation.
  • Will have to deal with the management and supervision that comes with a public school (good and bad?)
  • Japan Visa Run (get to spend a day in Japan)
  • New adventure
  • New set of coworkers to make friendlier relationships with.
  • New start
So as you can see I am caught between all this in my head. Some moments I want to leave the school and start anew. Another part of me feels I am just heading into a whole other bag of stress and hell.

The thing though that in life when you are faced with these kinds of decisions it is that you will never know the outcome. The only sure thing is that you need to know yourself.

I know that I am wobbling pile of jello under stress and worry, and that it effects the people close to me.

Sigh~

I just want to be sure of what is the right decision.

No matter which one I chose I have many things to work on and many things to learn. So it is to me that either way I am not really escaping just choosing a certain set of cards to deal with.

Let me just say that I do not regret my decision to come and teach here. Although difficult and that I am now going through this dilemma I feel it is somehow all part of the adventure. And also a part of becoming an adult.

Tomorrow when I go to work, although scared and nervous, I am going to say "Hi, how are you today?" to the coworkers who I had a spat with. Whether they take it sincerely or not, it is at least my attempt to start anew with them. The slate has been wiped clean and so I should consider not making it all bad again. Just for the sake of my own growing as a person.

Still though do I stay or do I go?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Three, Two, One, Zero

Blogging here from the bedroom of BK. Today he had me fly on over to his neck of the woods for a roasted duck lunch with the family. It was very nice and I enjoyed seeing them again.

So anyways, just wanted to say I am feeling better and will return to work tomorrow at my usual schedule.

I really want to mention that although I have this battle going on at my school life here in Seoul, Korea is really not so bad. Sometimes I am still very pleased with what I see, smell and hear.

I am really somewhat saddened that things took this turn at my work and feel some regret that I am now considering changing jobs. You know you kind of grow fond of your first time memories. For example, my supervisors were the people who took care of me when I first arrived here so I will feel somewhat strange if I leave them. Yet in reality I really took care of myself and am doing the same thing now.

I just don't want to believe that I am a lousy teacher or bad worker. I just know that I walked into a teaching position with very little training on how to teach. You are given a few days to look and see how it is all done and then plunked into it. I think this goes for any teaching job here in Korea, well most of them. So I am saying that I chose this fate and should accept it right?

Ah well enough ramblin'

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Week from Hell

*What you are about to read is an account of how things have gone rotten at my job. Understand that it is not entirely the school's fault nor is it entirely mine. These are the events that took place which highlight why I am in my current situation. Albeit very dramatic I am still here and still teaching. Thank you *

You know life is giving you all the wrong turns when everything bad that could happen starts to pile on top of each other.

So where do I begin?

This last week was the end of the intensive schedule. I have been so overworked that my mind and body were beginning to resent everything in front of me. I was stressed out and tired and was worrying about the littlest of things. And so within all this my emotions ran high and several events took place.

Here is the back story:

Two of my coworkers who I sit next to have been friendly to me. But after a few mistakes on my part things turned sour. One day I threw a teaching material onto their desk and they saw it and took it personally. Also on occasion I would respond to them coldly.

In general let me just say that I wanted to be their friends and work it out with them, but didn't know how. I wanted to understand their thinking and get to know them better.

But I was too tired and stressed to talk to them. I am not good with conflict and need to seriously work on this. But during the intensive week was not the time.

Wednesday:
My friend from the front desk returned from her trip to Canada. I like to talk with her at lunch time and so I talked with her about my feelings towards these two coworkers. Yea, I got out some thoughts to someone and got some feedback! I didn't do it in a catty way, just more of a venting way.

Wednesday night:
My supervisors and I had a meeting about my performance. They pretty much told me everything that I had been making mistakes on.
  • Not being friendly to the coworkers (cold attitude)
  • Forgetting to hand out the materials to students (extra papers for study, parent complaint)
  • Not making the class fun enough for the little ones (parent complaint)
There may have been more but that sums it up. I know it is wrong to get angry and emotional when you are sitting in a room with your bosses. But that is exactly what happened to me.

Again let me tell you that the timing of the meeting was really awful. It was 20 minutes before my last class of the day, the 10th class. I had been at the school since 9am and it was 6:30pm.

I was tired, run down, emotionally unstable, worried and not at all confident in myself.

So I reacted with anger and spite! I told them everything that I was upset with about the school and about my coworkers.

To my surprise they listened and gave me a response that was genuinely professional and also caring.

But they did tell me that if I receive more complaints that are too serious then I can be given written notice. Meaning Fired, leaving me two months to find another job or leave the country.

I left Wednesday night more tired than ever before, mentally shattered and feeling very down trodden. Yet I had to go back the next day and teach yet another 10 classes, this time with more of the young rowdy children.

Thursday afternoon:
The day was moving along and I felt like a numb puppet going about the daily exercises of teaching. I figured just get through the week and think about all that has happened on Saturday when you can relax.

Yet as anyone who is familiar with gossip knows when it finally gets to the people who were being exposed it comes out very badly.

The two coworkers I talked about with my friend found out that I was talking about them behind their back.

While I was sitting in the teacher's room waiting to teach my next class I was confronted by both them and it was ugly. They were really angry (I don't blame them actually) and said things to me that were nasty.

Being in my state of numbness and pain from Wednesday night's experience with my supervisors I was not at all capable of dealing with this confrontation.

A professional normal person (I suppose) would have said "Ok, lets please take this to another room?"

A crazed Joy who was emotional unstable, insecure and stressed out did this instead: She ran off crying.

I tried to exit out the stairwell only to be stopped by my friend at the front desk. After talking with her and my teacher supervisor I was convinced not to leave.

I told my teacher supervisor that I wanted to quit, that I was now very uncomfortable here and feel I have screwed things up beyond repair. To my surprise she actually understood me and accepted that that is how I feel.

For the rest of the day I didn't go into the teacher's room and went home.

Friday afternoon (meeting with coworkers):
It was arranged that I would meet in a room with my supervisors and with the coworkers who were angry at me.

Let me just say I was scared. It went like all death matches go...some dueling and then a quick blow to the head and your out.

No..no.. we had some spats and then finally came to a resolution. This being that I need to change myself and my attitude. To be more professional at a job like this and not let me emotions carry me through the day. In other words don't be so cold and don't think that others know how you feel all the time.

I actually agree with them that I did screw up in those ways and need to change myself. Although there is a side of me that understands that I am innocent to some degree.

They also made the point that running away back to America or to another job here in Korea would be that I am not willing to change but rather just run away from problems. They said I need to change myself at this school and with everyone in it.

So here lies the final conundrum.

  1. Do I stay or do I go?
  2. Do I stay and change myself at this school?
  3. Do I change companies while changing myself at a new school? Get a fresh start and do everything right with a new set of coworkers.
The answer is I don't know. In fact I don't really even know how to feel about being told that I need to change myself.

The realization is that so far I am not satisfied with my job, the hours and the work environment are all to unpleasant. Remember I work in a small school with only 8 coworkers, 3 of which are foreign teachers (not including myself).

For now I don't have to be hasty and make a switch just yet. I have time to look out there and see what is available.

The intensive period has finished and so I just want to bounce back to a regular schedule while at the same time explore my options.

Please note that I don't feel this reflects that working in Korea is a bad idea. It is just one that is challenging to me for so many reasons. I am not going to run away but rather seek to understand my weaknesses and strengths. Thank you

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bundang and Sunset

After I recollected myself and figured better worry about future stuff later, I went out bought a toaster and then relaxed. I tried to do some painting but it seemed the focus didn't come out as much and my result was work unsatisfying. Yet just having a moment to relax and paint and listen to favorite NPR radio show This American Life, is a treasured time in life.

Well then what is a girl to do with her time after all? Blogging of course!

The weather here is changing into Fall, yet very slowly and very gradually. I can tell this because the sky is filled with more clouds and the air is moist and cool. Sometimes cool enough to put on a long sleeve shirt but still warm enough to wear sandals. Noticing that summer is going by-by makes me realize how fast time is slipping past. This is life and well, its the way it works.

So onto the picture show.

Friday I visited Cynthia (blogging pal) at her home in Bundang. This would mark my first trip out of Seoul because this is a city outside the Seoul area. However it is close enough to take the subway and arrive there unscathed by travel. In fact if I could figure out the bus system I could make there even quicker. Here is a subway map to illustrate the adventure: (click for a bigger picture). I must say it was a delightful treat to travel outside of Seoul and see a lovely section of South Korea. Bundang seems to have been developed and expanded in a way where on the skyline you see tall fanciful apartment buildings. What I liked most in the area I visited was how the apartment buildings seemed like little nests nestled next to each other with tree lined low-traffic streets in between. It was definitely a residential area with the commercial business closer to the main roads.

Cynthia took me to a water park where her two boys could play in shallow pools while we chatted about living in Korea and having Korean men close in our lives. The pool scenery was quite interesting too. Did you catch the naked baby???

Anyways, I found it attractively peculiar how they have nestled next to this truly metropolitan skyline a children's water park. The juxtaposition of wailing children and splashing water next to the site of these obviously expensive homes was quite a site. Something similar to sites seen in NYC. However, the naked baby trumps it all.

Reading about the Bundang area there are more places that would be interesting to see, for example:
Bundang is chiefly residential, so it is well off the tourist track. There are few ancient relics, sights or buildings of note. There are, however, two pleasant parks which have been established for residents' pleasure. Bundang Central Park, east of the road between Seohyeon and Sunae Stations, has a lake, fountain and several old houses, while Yuldong Park, to the east, has a larger reservoir and a bungee jumping platform, 45 m high.
Well, thank you Cynthia for showing me a lovely time!

Saturday was spent with BK lounging inside my home and then catching a bite for eat atop the Hyundai Department store in Cheonho. This is an are just two subway stops from my home and is right next to the EMart I frequent often.

It was such a beautifully romantic place to go and eat, mostly because you had a great view of the city and the Han river. Here are the pictures from our lovely time spent atop the Hyundai Department store.

At first we found a Chinese Restaurant to eat at, but the dish I wanted was sold out. So we moved out and found a Korean restaurant to eat instead.

At the Korean place BK ordered us a mushroom soup/stew dish. I love mushrooms and he knew that, so he did a good job finding a very healthy and delicious item.


And now the view:

Been there:
And now for the a sunset that was all too romantic! (Yes, I thought of you Mom watching the sun go down.)
And so continues the wonder and amazement of life abroad. Here comes one more week of the intensive schedule, but at least I have a toaster!

Public vs. Private / Hakwon Dave's Esl chatter

So within my research I thought I would just see if the chatter over at Dave's ESL cafe would provide any legitimate information. Here for you are the responses I found reasonably suitable for contemplation.

Get into a public school. Work your way up. Use your extra office time to get a TESOL cert. and move up a level.

Public schools now start at 2.0 for 22 classes and move up at 200k per level till you reach the top then add 100k per year after that.

Add in 20k per extra afternoon class and even a newbie can pull in 2.4-2.5 + full benefits and not have the stress of a burnout hakwon.

I teach 28 classes of 40 minutes per week. (22 regular and 6 extra curricular).
I get 3 mil per month.
I (officially) get 6 weeks of annual paid holiday. Standard GEPIK contract - 14 WORKING days for the base + 5 working days because I work at a rural designated school). (as compared to 14 calender days in a hakwon).
(The reality was closer to 9 weeks last year).

I get return airfare paid out each year.
I get my severance paid out yearly.
I AM enrolled in the national pension plan. (gonna be a nice golden parachute next year when I leave).

I have medical (NHIC) coverage for myself AND my family (with a monthly premium of 2.54% of my salary).
I have a 60m2 furnished officetel.

Officially I have only ever presented my BA and TESOL cert. to my school.

BE CAREFUL when you only look at the salary as a number and not the whole remuneration package as a whole.

6.7 TEACHING hours per day (33.5 teaching hours per week) could end up being as high as 50 classes of 40 minutes per week and that would be a year in hakwon hell and you still make less than I do.

If you think my job is too good to be true then you can apply for it. I will be retiring (early) next March - there are 2 hectares of white sand beach front with my name on it calling to me.
My thoughts too! Definitely now that I am here and am building up the experience I can understand how there can be a difference.

bassexpander writes:

I taught at a "private" high school.

They are pretty similar to public schools, as 98% of their funding comes from the gov't (just a guess on that number, but I hear it's close). Private schools are able to follow a different set of rules regarding hiring/firing, nepotism (private schools are/were rife with it), etc..

The best advice I can give you is this: In the private school, the principal is KING. If the principal is good, the school is good. If the principal is difficult, then the school will be difficult.
I am definitely seeing this kind of attitude, the principal is well Queen at my school and we are her worker bees. But I wonder if it is any different at a public school, besides a boss is a boss.

I found another answer about public school details here:
2. You get much more holiday in public schools. However, you may still be asked to work during the school vacation; camps, developing teaching materials etc. In a private school you will have to work extra hours during school holidays as they run intensive courses. I hated intensives, but you can make overtime pay. Also the typical working hours will be different - public schools will be teaching in the morning, private in the afternoon and evening - depends on what time you personally prefer (I'm not a morning person).
This comparison seems pretty much my whole reason why I am thinking of trying a public school next. That is because of the intensives and that the teaching hours are mostly in the afternoon and evening.

Well that does it for me, I think I need to just let it all soak in.

This Week's Thoughts

Hello,
So I am enjoying my Sunday here at home without BK, because it is visit Grandpa day for him. And while I am cleaning up and organizing on the back of my mind has been some thoughts about my future. I have been trying to figure how to go about finding another teaching job for after my current contract ends.

Now I know it is pretty darn early and there is a lot of time till I truly have to face what to do with myself after my year here is up. The fact is I do feel like I want to continue living here after one year, mostly because I love BK and don't want to be in a long distance relationship and two I feel that if I work hard enough I can find a job where the hours aren't so intense.

With that said I know there are several options before me to live and work in South Korea.
  • Teach at another YBM school. (Familiarity, possibility to chose better schedule and location)
  • Teach at a public school. (Set schedule, higher salary, longer vacation)
  • Dream job at a University (Need certifications or a Master's degree...)
Right now I am leaning towards a public school gig, mostly because I don't like the way a private academy is run. For example, our schedules shift throughout the season.

What I know is that no matter which one I end up I am still going to have to deal with Korean management, meaning that your own personal feelings and worth DO NOT come first.

Some other basic concerns for my second year are:
  • Nice living and hospitable space
  • Nice area to live around (more residential - family like, or more cute and cafe - type)
  • Rent free living
  • Higher salary
  • Still live in Seoul
  • Standard schedule (perhaps 8am to 5pm, basically not till 8pm at night)
Now, my plans are to take advantage of the free airfare home and to visit family in the states, after my current contract ends. In the meantime I could gather myself for another year in Seoul. Also I get a chunk of cash at the end of this contract, which would help me with the traveling.

So I have been starting to do some research with public school programs such as EPIK and SMOE. Also I am asking around to other teachers out there who work at a public school or any other system just how they got the job and whether they like it or not.

If you happen to come upon my blog then please answer these questions about your experience :)
  • How did you get your position at where you work here in South Korea?
  • Do you find your job good or bad? (both maybe?)
  • Would you consider a hagwon or a public school to be better?
  • If you know of any web forums out there where the school's themselves post job openings - -- Please Share!
Well thanks and I hope my mind doesn't get wrapped up in this, I know that there is no perfect job, but I know with enough research you can at least find an ideal situation.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fresh Air

Today is a Korean holiday called their Independence Day, a day in history when South Korea celebrates it freedom from Japanese rule. But for a working citizen this also means a day off, something which is highly welcomed.

So I get to relax and get back into enjoying the small pleasures of life. BK is out with his pals at a creek, so I am left to my own devices. Later today I am going to meet Cynthia and have a go in a wading pool near her home, I look forward to a relaxing moment or too!
Well, what can I say about my life here so far in the great land of Asia?
I have to say despite being tired, angry and frustrated at times it is still a great place to be and live. Lately I have managed to somehow get use to the antics at work and not stress myself out silly about the little things. This leaves room for feeling refreshed instead of worn out, despite I am still going through the intensive period.

But all in all I still wake up and walk out of my house to see I am in a foreign land. To some this may seem discombobulating, which it is, but to me I find it quite a great pleasure. Everyday can be its own little adventure, even in the smallest of ways.

As I explore more and more the areas of Seoul I am beginning to see that there are some nice corners to live in here. I begin to think that if I decide to extend my life here it would be great to be able to choose the area of Seoul to live that I find most hospitable.

Yet, one step at a time and there is still plenty of places to get around to.

For now let me show you some pictures of last weekend's trip to the Ewha Women's University area where I got a haircut and found some awesome new shoes.

View of one of the Entrances to the University


A pretty building
And without further ado: the results of my haircut

The hairdresser did some fancy styling with my hair. In general it wasn't much of a dramatic change more like a trim and fresh cut.
If you are in Seoul and have hair like mine you may be interested in visiting this salon called Eunha BNC. It wasn't too expensive as far as foreigner money goes. ;)

Anyways, after my haircut we got some lunch then I was on the hunt for some new shoes. This led us around the area to one place with a water fountain and sculpture area, where children enjoyed themselves.

There was a Manga (comic) shop with loads of manga in stacks sitting out front:

And well I found a wonderful pair of shoes! I should have you know that most of the kind of women shoes you find here have heels, and I believe that most Korean women don't feel pain in their feet. I have never grown accustomed to wearing heels, and I really wanted a great walking and working shoe that would be comfortable but also pretty. I found these little gems and was oh so delighted.
They are from the brand El Naturalista and were the most expensive shoes I have ever bought. They now are the most coveted shoes in my collection and the only downside is I don't want to see them get all mucked up so I am cautious about wearing them.

So as you can see I have been enjoying myself with the time I get to myself here. I really loved the Ewha area, mostly because it had this youthful vibe with that chilled University area setting. Hopefully I can get back to that area and see the art museum at the university.

Well, its another hot day here. Maybe on my way to Cynthia's I will see some kind of traditional ceremony in regards to today's holiday.
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