Thursday, October 30, 2008

America's Last Stand

When I left America I left behind not only my home, but my country. Having lived here in South Korea for 6 months, I understand now all that I took for granted back home.

But I am not talking about things like cheese or limes, that I took for granted. I am talking about the American way of life. This is that you can live in a house with a yard surrounding it. You could walk down the street and find businesses that sell knick-knacks. The workday starts at 8am and ends at 5pm.

Thinking of my country gives me a certain feeling, and this feeling is different from the life I feel here. It is probably because I have been living in Seoul, where every space is cemented over.

In America, I felt like the landscape and the city scape all catered to an appealing eye.

Yet when I left America it seemed it was heading down a spiral towards what it is today. Gas prices were high and in general people were beginning to feel the real affect that the choices Washington made had on their lives.

That is why I am proposing that people take the time to watch Obama's insane  amazing 30 minute infomercial.

Because I think this election is not about a White guy vs. a Black guy. It is about America, and what America needs. America needs a new start.



Next week, I wish America the best in the election. I hope that my country gets what it finally deserves and that it shows the world we aren't a bunch of overweight jerks with iPods in our hands.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

HaHa

Looks like Roboseyo and Gomushin Girl will be helping me move to Sanbon.

And then they have some kind of adventure planned, afterwards!

;)

New Neighborhood

Looks like the place I have been given is planted right in downtown Sanbon, off the subway station.

It is also conveniently located near an Emart, so I can expect my bank account to dwindle.

As of now I am trying to arrange my moving day. I need someone to help me move and BK will not be available till 6pm Saturday. So far I have Roboseyo saying he can help me, but I need to confirm a time. If I don't hear from him I am going to have to give the pick up times for when my boyfriend can do it. Great more anxiety! haha~

Anyways, it is going to be interesting Saturday. Because I will move my stuff into the hallway so the cleaning Ahjumma can clean the place, and then the new teacher will move in. I already asked the new teacher if I could keep some of my stuff still in the apartment till my pick up comes. And she said no problem.

That is what is on the plate these days. Yes I feel excitement and relief to be leaving my hagwon. But a little broken hearted for seeing some of the kids go. Ah well~

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Somethings Will Never be the Same

Embracing change is like going for a ride into the unknown. While on that ride one could end up whining the whole time or be wide-eyed and ready for what is next.

The second part is what I am learning to do. First of all they found me a new home, but what kind of home?

Is it small, dirty, or situated above a bar?
My instincts are that if I don't like it I should complain and demand what I want.

But my new instincts are telling me, that it will be a free home and I should make it what I want.

I think because of my situation and that the school doesn't have time to get it perfect, that I should be open-minded.

Housing for teachers here varies greatly, and some get lucky while others are left behind.

In perspective, though, change is just around the corner.

New classes, school, management, neighborhood and so-on. I brought myself to this by my choices and actions, so I don't want to complain.

Most of all I don't want to be fearful of what is next.

Hopefully it is not "easier said than done."

Monday, October 27, 2008

It was Heart to Heart

So I was heading to the elevator to go home my supervisor (the higher level one) told me she wanted to speak with me.

I didn't see Jay around so I had a feeling this wasn't going to be so bad.

And it went okay, no shouting matches or fits of crying. Just a heart to heart talk, about my leave, behavior and what's next for me.

We both shared the feeling of a little resentment for all the happened. But we are willing to move on.

And she is giving me the release documents, but on Thursday.
Oh and I am going to be deducted for going home sick, ah well.

But now it is time to focus on packing and moving to my new gig. They found me a studio apartment already in Sanbon. So I hope it is spacious and has a nice window.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Realization

Maybe this was slow of me, which could come from a congested head.

But I have realized that I really need to stop thinking it is all my fault.

Jay had responsibility here, not just me.

As the teacher supervisor / manager, she had a situation on her hands.

One of her teachers was very sick, and asked to go get rest.

Her response was to neglect the needs of her teacher.

She could had offered to teach my first one or two classes until I had rested and felt better. But no she didn't.

Anyways, the bottom line is I really can't go in there tomorrow and give this kind of fight.
They don't have to give me the release letter and documents.

If they don't that will make it difficult to confirm to immigration that I should start at the new school.

But if they ask me what I think or if I have anything to say, I will try to say something along the lines of that I thought Jay didn't handle the situation properly.

Anyways, usually I freak out about something and it turns out to be ok.

But thanks Gomushin Girl!! I think just having had Jay teach all my classes on Friday was karmic revenge enough!

Nervous and Can't Stand It

Why I am so nervous?

Tomorrow is Monday, a work day. The day my supervisor said we should talk about what I did on Friday. (Trying to rest in class and not being "adult" enough to say "No" and go home.)

Hypothetical situation tomorrow at the meeting:

Big Boss: Why did you do that? What made you think you can write a message on the board saying, do you work and then you can play? Why do you think it was okay to put your head down and rest in class and have the kids play around?

(Yes this is true. I wrote a message on the board saying I was sick, do your work and then you can play. Honestly, I didn't know what to do. Yes, I put my head down. I could hardly keep it up. So when my supervisor saw this walking by the classroom, it is no wonder why she got mad)

Me: On Friday, I was too sick to make any kind of good judgment or have the ability to be strong enough to say No. I tried to ask to go home, but Jay told me "No." She said that everyone is sick and isn't fair that I go home. That we all have to work...it is a small office and no one can cover me.

I would have tried harder to say "No" but I found Jay too intimidating, and I understand her situation that she couldn't cover me because she had evaluate the new Korean teacher. So I couldn't say "No"

Instead I said I would work but don't expect the best teaching job.

Jay: You could have tried to say "No", but you just cried in front of me and became angry. I don't understand you. I was just doing my job, I had no choice but to say you couldn't go home.

(Yes I cried because I was so shaken by my situation, I knew I needed to be in a bed, but the odds were against me. But when I started to cry she immediately said "Don't Cry." She has a lot of spite towards me)

Me: I know and I understand, that is why I had a hard time being strong enough to say No. We already have a bad relationship and I didn't expect that if I fought to go home you would have allowed it, so really I had no hope.

Big boss: Ok, well it would have been better if you were a big person and said I have to go home. But still your actions in the classroom are unbelievable. You keep forgetting that a child could complain and make a mother upset. .....blah blah

Me: Yes I know now that my actions weren't in the best interest of the school. But it is like I said I was not able to make the best decisions that day.

After I decided to stay, I took my medicine and rested. But all I could think about was how I was going to get through the day. My mind hurt so much and it hurt to talk, so I didn't know how I was going to teach. So I decided that for the first class I would write a message on the board and try to take a rest. So that by the next class I would have more strength to teach and hopefully the medicine would have kicked in.

Big Boss: Still what you did was wrong gave a poor impression to the children.

Me: All I can say that I was incapable of making the right decisions, all I could think about was my survival and how I was going to get through the day.

Big Boss: Well, blah blah blah

*And hopefully she won't say something like:
"I see is that you are really not cut out to be a teacher and I am not going to give you any release documents, because I think it is in your best interest to go back to your country and work there."

But I told my recruiter this dilemma and she seems to think that it will be ok. Also I told Bo Kwan and he thinks it will be ok.

Maybe they just want to talk about it and get their final say in all the crap I caused at their school. Also I might imagine that they will deduct pay from this fiasco, which I don't really care about.

I really just want to get through it because, in the end it will be a situation where they won't really hear what I have to say. Instead their goal will be to chew me out and make their case that I am worthless.

I know I am a good teacher. I chose a hagwon that is small and managed with fear tactics. I have one week left before I pack up and leave. I am still going to teach and get it all done right.

*So my warning:*
If ya wanna work at a hagwon check the size of it. Number of teachers and students, because the smaller the numbers means you can't have someone cover for you.

Need a Job?

Problem:


Solution:

Come work in Korea and learn to use chopsticks and love kimchi.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stepping In

Feeling better today but have some tummy issues as leftovers of the flu. Hoping it is not a mini-flare from Crohn's / Colitis.

I think it is actually a reaction from the drugs the doc gave me.

Ah well~!

So I thought I would share my experience of visiting the Elementary School in Sanbon.

I was taken there by my recruiting agency via car. The ride there was very interesting because we got out of Seoul and I saw some mountains. As we went along he pointed out certain areas and told me what was interesting in them.

When we arrived at Sanbon / Gunpo I could see that it was slightly different from Seoul. There were mostly tall apartment complexes with tree lined streets. Of course there were the other streets with shops and businesses. But around the school it was mostly residential. It really felt like I was far away from Seoul. But all in all I got a homey kind of feeling.

We parked next to the school, which was this 6 story building made of bricks. In front of the school was this large dirt field with a playground. It was still early in the day so the kids were inside in their classes.

Walking inside I immediately caught site of the classrooms. Behind closed doors with little windows I saw rows and rows of children doing their lessons. I could here the kids laughing and crying.

We had to go up 5 flights of stairs. As we went past each floor I took a glimpse of the classrooms. It seemed as we went up each level so did the age of the students.

On one floor the students were all sitting up straight and quiet. I saw a teacher walk around the classroom and his hands was what looked like a stick. Immediately I recalled the discussions of how Korean teachers here discipline children by hitting them. But to see this kind of image face to face, was a little shocking.

Yet, I accepted it as what it was.

On the fifth floor I was taken to the English learning room, which had bright posters on the walls with English words and sayings. I met my coteacher who appeared nice. We all sat down and they went over my contract.

Next was the interview.
We all went back downstairs and entered the principles office. I didn't really expect this, but quickly realized that it made sense. Inside the room were plush cushioned chairs. We all sat around a coffee table.

To my right was the Principle and in front of me was the Vice Principle. I didn't do much talking. Instead my recruiter talked to everyone. But they did have specific questions for me. I would answer the questions and then the recruiter would translate.

It felt professinal and also very official. I was of course feeling achy because of my flu, but tried not to show this.

They were mostly concerned with these things:
  • Will I stay for a whole year.
  • Housing
  • Starting in November
I was fine with everything and said I would stay a whole year.

As of now they don't have any housing yet, because they only have a week to find it. But they said that if they can't find something decent they will let me live in a hotel or do a homestay, before I move to my permanent residence. I was okay with this, too.

After the meeting we went to a room where we went over the contract with the coteacher. I agreed and signed it.

Then we went to the fifth floor again and I was shown my office.

A real office! With a desk, computer and chair! Not the square inches I have at the hagwon, I was really excited!

Anyways, it was time to get going and so we said our goodbyes and left for Seoul.

All in all, I am still mystified by the experience and hope that when I start it goes well and I make the right impression first.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Took it~

Woke up with a sore throat.

Went to the interview anyways.

Liked what I saw.

Took the job, ironed out the details in the contract.

Went to the doctor. He said I was too sick to work.

Went to work, was told no one can cover for me.

Felt like crap...fever, sore throat, achy, the works.

Taught my first class, tried to rest and not speak.

Kids started to play.

Knock on door.

"Go Home"

"Why you couldn't have enough courage to tell us No, that you can't work, now you could have made the children complain that their teacher was resting and not working."

Pissed of the supervisors.

Went home.

Still feel like crap.

Hoping this doesn't tarnish my supervisors decision to give me the release letter.

Oh soup time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Criminal Background Check

Zen Kimchi posed an inquiry about whether I have to get a fresh criminal background check or not.

So here is the deal (so far).

I am doing a visa transfer, instead of canceling the Visa and going to Japan and getting a fresh new one.

This means you keep the same Alien Registration number but it is sponsored by a different company.

For the criminal record check I was told by my recruiter that for now they don't need a new one, but will take a copy of the one I did first.

When my new one comes in they would like to have it, but it is not critical right now.

What is critical is getting a whole bunch of documents from my current school. This takes some finessing from my supervisor, because I think she is reluctant. So I am hoping the recruiter can speak with her and get her to do it.

Basically though if I take the job, I have a week to get all these docs processed and have my visa transferred. So there isn't much time for my current supervisor to play hokey.

That is it so far in a nutshell.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Words to go By

I spend a wonderful two years at Hwassan. Actually, I was sad to leave... but I got a university job, so just like you I had to "obviously" leave it. :)

Anyways... they give you a really good contract. Your co-teacher (Jeong-mi) is awesome, a really nice woman, she will let u take almost full control of the class if you feel comfortable with that. She's often busy with paperwork, so you'll end up teaching 85% of the class. The apartment I had there was small, but I believe they are going to get a nicer apartment for you. They provide all you'll need (fridge, bed, desk, etc.) and more.

Kids are awesome there. I really miss them the most... Not much discipline to do, but you can't be "nice" to them. Treat them like students and you're fine. As for living in Sanbon, it's great. Good crew of foreigners there (I'll introduce them to you if you'd like) and Sanbon has pretty much everything in the way of food & entertainment... As for getting into Seoul, it takes about 45 minutes to get to Hongdae, and maybe 50 to Itaewon. Depending on if you take the fast express bus from Dang Dong, getting to Gangnam is possible in 29 minutes (I timed it..haha).

So, Joy! Take the job! Hehe, that's my advice. I'm surprised they don't have a foreign teacher there yet. They having trouble finding someone? It's funny, cuz I gave them notice! hehe. Poor Jeong Mi was probably just too busy...

Anyways...

You'll love it there.

As spoken from a previous teacher who worked at my prospective new job.

Sounds pretty darn good.

Friday, I will get a look for myself when I have the interview.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Timing

As I am going through this process of leaving my school there are moments when I feel like I am enjoying working at my current place. So I would feel at times a little regret for having been kicked out.

Yet this all came to a halt when we had a meeting last Thursday. It was our day off (for reasons I don't know) and we were meant to come in for a meeting and decorate the place for Halloween.

At the meeting I sat around and watched as it unfolded. It turns out the school is implementing new testing for the students. This is actually a good thing because the test up to now have been really simple and not that serious. The new tests are a complete overhaul. The way you administer it is by taking the kids one by one into the hallway, have them sit down and listen to a CD, then they give their answer. It consists of 4 parts and is broken up between the foreign and Korean teachers.

It was like a bomb had gone off. The Korean teachers pointed out how the new tests don't exactly correlate with the text books, which means that they are going to have to spend extra time teaching the children how to take the test. But there is virtually no time. We get 45 minutes for each class, most of which is spent checking homework or their workbook. They now have to squeeze in more material. Also the Korean teachers complained that the parents are going to be upset because obviously their children are going to fail the test, since it is harder.

As I listened and watch everyone sigh in disappointment, I could only feel a sense of relief at leaving. The meeting made it apparent to me that this place still doesn't have its act together. They should have known that if they were going to introduce new testing that it would affect the lesson plans.

Oh well! I am now grateful for leaving at the end of the month. For my next workplace I know it may or may not be well organized, but I think I will have the skills to approach it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Change

Blogging is a real phenomenon that takes it shape depending on the author.

I don't know.

Recently I have been trying to figure out all this blogging thing. Other people write such articulate and insightful blogs that I feel mine is minuscule in comparison.

I created this blog with the title Foreign/er because I wanted to express that I am a Foreigner but also foreign to the people around me. And that the world here is foreign.

I don't know if this concept made its way into all my blogs.

This is probably just the early stages of my blog where I work out the kinks. Also it is the early stages of me being a foreigner so in general it is going to be up and down.

With leaving a job and starting a new one, life seems to be full of weekly changes.

Last week, I was settled on living with no job till February.
This week I am hit with the prospect of starting a new job in November.
Next week I will have an interview for the job.
Following week will probably preparations to move...etc.

Change keeps my mind buzzing with so many ideas.

Living in my officetel alone I become distracted with all these thoughts, I forget the life around me.

I know I came here to work and to be an explorer. But I think while I am here I want to grow into a person who can enjoy their life without so much anxiety running through their head.

Anyways, back to laying in bed and quieting my thoughts.

New Job?

Light seems to be shining out of nowhere as I have been offered a job in Gyeongi-do.

I got an email last night from my recruiter and so had some time to think about it. At first I was apprehensive because it is in Sanbon. This is an area below Seoul kind of in the middle. By subway train it takes 30-40 minutes into Seoul, which means seeing BK will be at a disadvantage. But he told me to consider my priorities and not worry about him, that we can still see each other on weekends and other chances.School Details / Advantages:
  • Location is in the mountains, away from Seoul. Areas like these are more residential...calmer.
  • GEPIK school offering 2.0 million Won instead SMOE offer of 1.8 million Won.
  • Kuri blogger lives nearby ....friend hook up
  • Get to start in November .... offering the ability to not lose money
  • Elementary school: was shooting for higher grades, but ah well.
  • Told by recruiter that reputation of school is very good.
So I emailed the recruiter this morning saying I would like to take the offer. But she wants me to start in November. If they need a new Criminal background check that won't be here till next month.

All in all, it is still up in the air whether I can get in, but it would be a relief to know I don't have to live off pennies.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Real Fashion (Fall '08)

I am not much of a fashionable person. When I lived in America I never really had a fat paycheck to buy designer clothes. Of course, though, if a person really wants to be fashionable that doesn't mean they have to buy designer clothes. It really means they need a sense of fashion. To go beyond the basic clothing necessities and into things like color matching, style and mood.

Seoul, it seems, is all about fashion. You see it on billboards, TV and in the major clothing stores. There is a huge ideal hear to leave your house looking sharp and fashionable.

I know Korea has its fashion weeks, where designers show off their concepts in attempts to get clients. That there is a high fashion elite here who can enjoy the fruits of the designers labels.

But what about us worker bees? The ones without billions of Won in their pockets?

So there I was at Dongdaemun market last weekend realizing this kind of flip-flopped fashion ideal here in Korea.

I had just finished walking around Doota searching for some warm sweaters. The way Doota is set up is that it is not like your typical American store. Whereas in America you have a section for T-shirts, jeans, sweaters, socks...etc. Here at Doota the sellers have their little cubes to sell their clothes. At these cubes you see a mix of shirts, pants and sweaters. Sometimes a cube will be thematic and just sell a certain style of pants or shirts. Sorry didn't take pics.

So to shop at Doota you have to look at all these little stalls and determine who has the better price, quality and style.

It is mind boggling and gives me a really shoppers headache. But the myth is that Doota is cheap, but the reality is you need a Korean person with you to get the deal.

I didn't have a Korean person with me and relied on hope that people would be honest.

In the end I got two sweaters for 60,000 Won ($63.00).

With my mind swirling at what I had just been through I went outside.

Observation:
BK was going to meet me in an hour, so I had some time to kill. Outside Doota is a patio like place with seats. I sat down and looked about me. Sulked for a little bit at the cost of my two new sweaters and felt the pain of an empty wallet.

But then I looked around and started to admire how others dress here. It seems they are so creative with what they wear. In San Francisco, the youth and college students would dress in their way that was creative as well. I think it is something that comes with living in an urban city.

Anyways, I realized that it would be great to take some pics of the people walking around and show to everyone so you could see how Koreans dress.

Here is Joy's little Fashion Show:

I think this woman was going for simple. Oversize shirt with leggings. I personally can't stand wearing leggings because the spandex crushes my tummy, but I like this style.


Youth Fashion: colorful and mixed up

Men's Fashion: casual
Stylish: going for a look
Can I share a secret? I really love the way men dress here. It appears they take more time and effort than just throwing on a t-shirt. Also the way they style their hair is so darling! Sometimes I feel like I am in a fantasy land. ......anyways..

Couples & Family: are they matching colors on purpose or mistake?
"Today dear let's wear gray." "Okay, whatever" :
I think the Dad had fun dressing his kids:
Clap...clap....clap!!!

Keep in mind that this was just an image of fashion from one section of Seoul. Had I gone to the Richy-rich part of Gangman...wooo-boy! You would have seen some high fashion. Also I was trying to take pictures without people noticing me. I had my camera propped on my knee, it was tricky.

As for me?


Teal blue stripped shirt: two years old.
Purple shirt: 1 year old.


BK met up with me and we spent a little while at the creek there, which was holding some kind of concert.

Fashion goes by many moods and shades that it can be difficult to catch up to. But I think I will enjoy seeing what people wear here as the seasons change. As for those two sweaters...they better not shrink!

Currency Exchange

Money, Money, Money

Paying the bills back home is a necessary chore. Mostly because you don't want the interest to get higher and have those debt collectors down your back.

So I have to send money home to my bank in America. This means tackling the exchange rate.

Here is what I face:

A few months ago I could send home about 450,000 won and get just about $430. Obviously, not anymore.

But the bills gotta get paid and that can't wait for Mr. Sunshine to fix it all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gil-Dong Home

It occurred to me that I haven't really shown what kind of a home I will be leaving here in Gil-dong. I guess I did not really feel like sharing this with all of you because Gil dong isn't anything special.

But it has been my home for the past 5 months here in Korea and I have gotten to know the neighborhood, which consists mainly of love motels and eateries.

Anyways, before I leave this place I thought I would finally show you a glimpse of what the building I live in looks like.
What has it been like living here?
It is has been strange. The building is obviously what I am not familiar with, that is a typical apartment building with several floors for residents. It is a building that has restaurants, spas and rooms for .... whores. I live at the top of all this nestled in the corner.

When you enter the building you stand and wait for an elevator in the lobby.

It has become my home, despite its cold interior. I have always wished that someone decorate the place with some plants or what-not. But actually I have been really grateful for this home, and I am going to miss it.

Out of all the crap I endured at my hagwon having a somewhat large home that had a view was something I held dear to me.

Now, because of all the mangled stuff that happened I am leaving this place behind. When I talk about this with BK, his response is simple. He just says that this place is nothing special. This makes sense, I guess, because he has lived here his whole life and knows what the homes are like here.

In general, I have enjoyed my little home here but not exactly the Gil-dong area which caters to business men looking for a good time. And I don't really want to live in central Seoul where most of the foreigners live. My ideal hood would be a residential one with side streets and homes, perhaps a park nearby.

Yet I am throwing the dice here and where I will end up living at my next job is up to luck to decide. But it is all part of the adventure!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Falling into Place

Sometimes when everything appears to be working well, I take a step back and ponder the fragility of the moment.

I have about 2.5 more weeks left at my hagwon and have been preparing for my move. Already you can see boxes in my little house with books and other things in them. It isn't a lot, generally I just didn't want to stuff these things into my suitcase again.

But the most advancements I have made is in the area of getting a new job. A lot of paperwork has come through.

The criminal background check from the FBI came back clear, so now I am having my father to notarize it and get it apostilled.

To apply to SMOE I needed two reference letters, both of which have come in as signed documents.

And miraculously, my hagwon supervisor actually gave a good recommendation to the recruiter I am using, this will give me a somewhat good reputation.

So it seems to me that everything is ticking along at a smooth pace. Yet there is still much more to ponder. Going with SMOE I will make less money than I do now, but have more vacation. Also going with SMOE means I won't really know where I will be working until February. You do get to state your preference of placement, but that doesn't mean you get what you want.

However, staying in Seoul and being on the public school system, I feel, should end up working out. Of course, I know there are many horror stories of SMOE workers just as there are for hagwon workers.

I haven't signed any contract yet so there is still time to change my mind and wait for GEPIK or something else.

All in all, though it is a relief to know all these little things are working well.

Also, I haven't got a partner to travel with me for my tourist visa, but that is okay because it will still be an adventure.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Take a Ride with Me

As you all should know I will be going on an adventure soon to get my tourist visa.

So far my plans are to hop it on over to Busan and then ferry over to Fukuoka and then come right back to Busan. That includes maybe 1 night or two in a love motel in Busan. I am not looking to spend a hell of a lot of time in Japan because it is damn expensive. Also I need to get back to life here in Korea because I have ummm clients waiting for me.

So if you are out there and want to join me please let me know. I can go on a weekend for your convienence. We can share things like food...

*Also it would be great if you were female, seeing how BK would get jealous if you were male and single and straight.

Anyone?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Georgous Tiny Chicken

Ever feel a need to see something random and insane....here is a good dose of that:


Also plays with ESL, I think..

;)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Understanding Immigration

Well now that I am on the loose I need to figure out just what kind of Tourist visa I need to get.

At first I was under the impression that I would journey over to Japan's Korean Consulate and get the C3 Visa, or a 90 day tourist visa. But to make sure I inquired with immigration through their petition service online. The response I got was that I can't change my visa to a C3. That was not good news.

So after informing BK and having him call up immigration to get some answers, it turns out I was on the wrong track.

The actual tourist visa I need is the B2 visa which is:
Foreigner who enters Korea without visa for the purpose of tourism or transit
This is made possible by the visa waiver program. The only catch is that this kind of visa only lasts for 30 days. So to extend it all I need to do is walk into immigration and request to extend my visa and pay a small fee.

My journey now is that in order to get this lovely B2 visa I still need to leave the country and come back.

So where should I go? I don't really have all the money to spend several days somewhere, but I am starting to look into it.

Phew~!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Oh YEA!

My last day is officially October 31st.

I am actually overjoyed by the news. Now I can see the future.

Right now I am 98% going with option 2. Feeling like I want to stick it out here and go all the way while I get a new job. It means traversing my way to Japan and back but I can do it!!

I want to be here.

Although I will pinching my pennies I can still be a tourist and a visitor to this part of the world. With my free time I could paint, take photos and maybe just maybe learn Korean!

When one door closes another opens.

Naked Westerner

News of a westerner skinny dipping in a moat in Japan came to view today as I was browsing CNN.
Although the image of him is all blurred out you can kind of make out that he has tattoos on his arms.

Was he drunk? Felt like taking a bath?
But the question I wanna ask is whether this taints Japanese' view of westerners in their country.

I wonder what would happen if this sort of episode occurred here in Korea.

Camp Joy

The weather has been gradually getting cooler and cooler here in Seoul. This could only mean that it is just going to keep dropping till snow flakes start flurrying around. I think I need to get out to Dongdaemun (Doota) and buy some cheap sweaters and a coat.

But the one thing with this cool weather is that it has my brain on winter holiday mode. The cool air reminds me of a roasted Turkey coming out of the oven. They have roasted duck here, which is delicious, so maybe I will eat some of that to quiet this mood.

For update sake not much has advanced in the world of getting a new job. Other developments have taken place, and there are now a few new possibilities.

Let's have a look:
  1. BK found me an office tel which would cost me 400,000 Won a month. Also it is close to his home, which is of course a bonus.
  2. Option 1: Stay an extra month in BK's office tel to be a tourist here. Then go back home and see California family and friends. Return in February for public school start.
  3. Option 2: Stay the whole time in Seoul, living in BK's office tel. Supplement my income (won't say how...for legal purposes). Take up the new public school job in February...move to wherever that is.
These are my options for now, and what I have thought out. Both could work of course. Option 2 would mean that I could continue my place here in Korea but very frugally. Option 1 gives me the opportunity to see my California family (Mom family lives in Florida), and of course it would help bite off homesickness.

Yet, to go home means to use my credit card for a plane ticket. Staying means using my credit card for Japan visa run, and other emergencies.

I think the money won't be a huge problem because I still have my current salary to live on. Things of course would be very tight.

I am leaning towards Option 2 right now, but of course it is like a pendulum and it swings back and forth.

Also, I am still waiting to hear from my work when the new person is coming to replace me (end of this month or next). And of course I am working with recruiters on getting a job and completing my paperwork.

The winter season comes nearer and thoughts of my future linger close. BK has been really helpful and patient with my situation. I know that he is doing what he can under his own circumstances. (He is going through the process of getting a job, very time consuming)

All in all, I feel a sense of relief, especially when I am at work, that I will not have to deal with this job and its people anymore. And that I will have the opportunity to start fresh and try to get it right at the next one.

Commenting format

Due to some trolling recently I have changed the commenting settings.

Now this mostly effects Mom. So Mom to comment here you are going to have to have a gmail account okay :)

Anyways have a good day~

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Waffle Dream

Last night I had a dream that involved waffles and coins.

At first I saw myself leaving this train or waiting for another train. It was the Muni train in San Francisco, which takes a long time to arrive at the station and pick you up. So I got fed up and decided to walk. It turns out I was walking all the way from San Francisco to my Dad's house.

During this it seemed I didn't mind doing all this walking. Besides, there were some parts when I did a little flying to get me by. Eventually I somehow managed to be in this group of people who also were walking instead of taking transportation. We were walking along the freeway and chatting as we went.

Eventually we all grew tired and stopped over at a rest area. I looked around us and saw several choices for dinner. A Chili's, TGIF's and other chain restaurants. When then I looked over across the street and saw this cute little diner. I said to everyone, "Hey, why don't we eat pancakes and waffles for dinner?" as I pointed in the direction of the diner. Everyone seemed perplexed at first but then they all got excited. I was getting excited too because it seemed it had been forever since I had a waffle (since I had been in Korea). So we headed over there.

But on the way I saw something shiny on the ground and picked it up. It was an American quarter. When I saw it in my hands it felt like something foreign, but then I realized that it was a quarter. Then I felt a sense of panic because all I had in my wallet was my Korean money, I hadn't exchanged it yet. So I frantically asked my friends around me if they had any American money, which they had of course.

The dream stammered out as we entered the diner and I saw that the customers were made to wear aprons and chef hats. I was confused of course over this custom and so the dream faded with me trying to understand having to where a red apron and white chef hat, while at the same time looking at a plate of waffles with syrup.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

That Other Suitcase

One of the advantages of being an expat is that you get to leave everything behind in your home country.

I say advantage because let us just pretend that in your home country you had enemies, debt stalkers and other such negative aspects of life.

Of course leaving everything behind from your home country is also a disadvantage because you leave all your family back there and also everything that is generally familiar.

Yet there is actually a catch to all this. It may be seen that escapism is a part of being an expat. One may mentally start to believe that all their psychological issues with the world and themselves somehow stay put at the airport.

This is not so. When you travel anywhere, whether it be a two week vacation to Tiki Island or to live and work in another country, you bring with you not just your possessions but an extra suitcase.

Within this luggage is all your emotional and psychological issues. The stuff that I would say makes us human.

For some the contents of this luggage can fit in a small carry on bag. Yet for others, like myself, the contents fits into an oversized check-in bag.

When you first arrive at your destination you set this bag down and don't really unpack it for some time. But then, after the dust has settled, the contents start to emerge.

Soon you see yourself opening this bag and the contents taking over the everyday thoughts of your life. Issues such as the path of your career, family matters, past relationships and that one incident that happened back in middle school.

And again life seems to become no longer this utopia of change and escapism. Instead you feel you are back where you started.

The truth is that no matter how far away you get from the sources of your troubles, you always carry with you this luggage.

It is not something to dwell upon, but rather to realize that these are the things in your life that can change who you are, make you grow and help you become wise.

I am saying all this because of course I have this luggage. And I thought it was important to share this abstract thought of mine to other travelers. I know that many other people handle the issues in their life with positivity and grace. For others it is the kind of stuff that makes you get the blues.

In general although I leave deep personal expressions out of my blog, I am still human.

Also, I have noticed that being an outsider in another country and being an expat I can often come face to face with the stuff that has made me me.

So if you are an expat out there and from time to time you contemplate the stuff in your life, just think that it is the other piece of luggage you brought with you.

And if that luggage was carry-on size, well then be really thankful!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

They Found Someone

The hiring manager apparently has already found someone to replace me, and they are eager to start at the end of October.

But here is the catch:
This new person still has to get their documents in order. So if they don't get it all done in time that means I stay till end of November.

I told them that I consider it that I am leaving at the end of October and I will make my plans as such. But if they want me to stay till the end of November, I would be okay with that.

This puts my start date for a new gig at the beginning of December, January or February... so on.

At our meeting they also outlined in clear detail what and why they will be deducting from my final pay. It was all reasonable and the final tally isn't that high.

Oh and here is the other thing:
It turns out that I am actually quitting. In doing so I gave them my resignation letter. In some ways I feel like I was actually pushed into quitting instead of them firing me. Really that whole matter makes my head spin. So now I just say to myself...it's water under the bridge.

What's next:
  • Planning and packing
  • Where am I going to live?
  • GEPIK or SMOE (SMOE won't hire till January / GEPIK has openings in December) (Choice between staying in Seoul [SMOE] or going to the outskirts of Seoul [GEPIK]
  • Make a budget (if I have to stick it out on a tourist visa till January or February...how much will I end up spending?)
  • Have Dad mail me my winter coat instead of buying a new one.
Hmmm I think that sums it up in a nice little nutshell. The major things here are money and what job I will take next.

Again I am waiting for my paperwork to tumble in.

Another slightly little thing that crosses my mind:
If I am going to wait for a SMOE position in January should I just chuck up the money and buy a ticket home? Have a winter vacation?

I would miss BK. I would be poor. But I could see my family.

??hmmm??

In the end, it is a relief to know the culmination of this drama is coming to an end and the next phase is beginning.

Soon

Hi ya~

Well my birthday here in Korea has swept on by. But it was a lovely day nonetheless. I like to take my breaks outside, because in front of the building I work at is a little courtyard with trees. So as I sat there relaxing I noticed that on my birthday all seemed calm and peaceful around me. This gave me a really good feeling for the rest of the day as I taught my classes.

After work I met up with BK and we ate at a Chinese themed restaurant atop the Hyundai Department store in Cheonho. It was great to see him in the middle of the week.

We went back to my place and to my surprise he had already been to my home and set up a birthday cake. What a sweet guy~!

I am a bit tired today, but going to muster up the strength to pass through it.

At 2pm today I scheduled a meeting with my supervisors, so hopefully some answers will come my way.

Hmmm, the weather here is warm and cool during the day. I like this fall weather because I think it aids in making things more peaceful outside. But I know that it is just going to get colder and colder till it is snowing. * *
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