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Friday, December 08, 2006


I saw the above while walking around this morning in search of a plug-adapter thing. Now, the Korean language, as mentioned in my first post, is an alphabet just like ours, so each letter has a sound, meaning that they can pretty easily transfer our words to their script without changing too much (the same way that we can take the sounds of, say, 김치, and rewrite them with our letters, kimchi). The word was written on an apartment building under construction, I think, and is meant to be read, "city vista," as in having a view of the city. However, you only read it like that if you already know what it's meant to say, because usually, the 시 makes a "she" sound. So, reading it for the first time, trying to pronounce it in Korean instead of in English, you get "shitty vista." Great name for an apartment complex.

What else...I spent around 2 hours wandering around trying to discern which stores might possibly have electronics. Every once in a while, I would enter ones and say things like "저는 미국사람이라서 고 필요 있어요", which is "cho-nun miguk-saram-iraso ko p'iryo issoyo", or "i american person-since-i-am thing needed is." Then I pointed to my computer cable, explained that I didn't speak korean well, and then repeated the same point every time they tried to say something to me other than "없어요", opsoyo, we don't have it. After about four failed attempts (though I guess they were relatively successful in terms of managing to communicate), I was hungry and either more linguistically confident or simply unable to worry about it, and so I went to a lady in a little plastic stall and tried to ask how much the corndog looking think was. It was only 50 cents, so I sprung for it. She then picked it up and coated it with granulated sugar for me. That was my first hint that maybe it wasn't a corndog. Then I bet into it and got only dough, so I started thinking it was just a larger version of those chinese doughnuts you can get at buffets. Completely wrong. On the next bite I hit gold and discovered that it was indeed a corndog, but with an absurdly thick/fatty/delicious layer of batter surrounding a miniscule dog. I'm willing to bet that any diarrhea I experience this trip will probably be due to this sort of American-style food and not to the dainty little 김밥 (kimbap, sushi) that I talked about last post.

Anyhow the dog has now settled and I've regained some energy, so I think I'll resume my meanderings.

If you can see this, I didn't delete the blog a second time.

A small victory, but a crucial one.

It's now about 9:08 or 9:12 depending on whether you go by the computer clock or the one in the school lobby. That means that I just finished my 8th class of the day - normally I'd have another, but since this is exam week, the middle schoolers (as I may already have mentioned) are taking it easy for the time being, so I don't have the advanced night class that would normally go from now till 10pm. The MWF Friday schedule has grown even more intense/ludicrous, since a new girl signed up for class and got herself inserted right smack dab into my break period. Now I work 3-4, have a break from 4-4h30, and then work again from 4h30-9h15 or 10. I feel like this schedule is insane - only about 5 minutes between most classes to prep - especially given that my T/Th schedule is 4h50-5h20, 6h35-7h05, and then 8h25-10. Unfortunately, I realized today that my contract is for up to 30 hours of teaching a week, 6 hours a day, and so I'm more spoiled by easy T/Ths than I am ripped off by grueling MWFs. If the business manages to blossom as it should (that is, given its excellent staff), most days will probably be like my current MWFs. Except without that 30 minute break.

Even if that never happens, though, my fate is sealed for next month. I've agreed to teach during the intensive session, which is when all of the kiddies are on break from school - which of course means that they can be made to work harder at all their private academies. Thus, there will be another class coming my way, on MWF it seems, but for some sweet sweet overtime pay. I don't have anything else to do in the mornings, anyway.

As for this past week, nothing terribly noteworthy has happened. Today I saw two people walk straight into different transparent doors. I don't want to say that this should reflect poorly on the Korean populus, but honestly, what are the odds?

In the area of food, I've been exposed to a bit of mall-food, some of my own cooking, some back-home favorites, and, most recently, some home cooked goodness. At the mall, about a week ago, I discovered a disch called 불고기 오무 라이스, "bulgogi omu raisu." I'm not sure what it means, but here's the proverbial skinny: for 5000 원 (a little over $5) you get a wonderful battered and fried pork cutlet of reasonable proportions, a little shredded cabbage salad with a limey dressing, a bowl of bbq sauce, a bowl of soup (chives and broth), a bowl of 김치 (kimchi), a little shot of liquidy yogurt for desert, and, oh yeah, a huge was of rice, meat, and sauce all held together inside of some sort of egg souffle. For a few days I was enamored with it and brought tupperware to the mall food court so that I could save the leftovers (IE about 1/2 of the meal) for the following meal. I've eased up on it now, mostly because during the week I haven't had the time to go do it.

As for as my own cooking goes, it's been spicy noodles (think Ramen) and a medley of the usual suspects - carrots, onions, shrooms. Unexpectedly, the ramen here costs about 50 cents a packet, far more than in the US.

By back-home favorites above, I meant PBJs. That's right, the grocery store here has PB. And milk. Makes for a wonderful breakfast. I would buy this box of green cornflakes that they have, but it's about 6 bucks. Way not worth it.

Today for lunch was the home-cooked meal. It was called 김밥 (kimbap, which means seaweed rice) and is pretty sushi-like. Actually, this was called nude kimbap because the rice was on the outside, and inside was a bunch of seaweed, radish, egg, cucumber, and fake crab meat. Pretty good, way healthy, and apparently about the cheapest food source here. I think it costs a dollar for a stick about a foot long.

I haven't yet approached the street vendors, mostly because I'm not confident enough in my ability to buy anything. I think, though, that I'll probably stop at one for lunch while I'm out and wandering tomorrow. I can ask 올마에요(olmaeyo, how much is it?) and I can count to 99,999 (구 막 구 척 구 백 구 십 구, ku man ku chon ku baek ku ship ku), so I think I should be OK. The biggest problem will be of course that the best things - I mean the fried ones - have a layer of breading so I won't know ahead of time what's inside. Whether I'm adventurous enough to risk biting into an octopus-corndog or whether I'll stick with a skewered hunk of meat, only tomorrow will tell.

Oh, yeah, the school has also already offered to renew my contract for a 2nd year. I guess they are pretty sure that their business will continue to grow, and are also pretty sure that I won't have a total meltdown at some point. Anyway I told them that we could discuss it later, that I wasn't sure a year from now what I'd want. Ah, and they're also planning to hire a 2nd native teacher, perhaps in February, and I'll probably wind up helping them recruit. So, if you need a job, let me know.

School closing, gotta go. bye bye.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Just about 2 minutes ago I realized I had a bit of downtime here at work (middleschoolers are taking normal exams, so aren't coming to the academy) and decided to do a bit of blogging. While I was browing through the interface, which of course shows up in Korean here, I apparently managed to delete all of the posts and comments that we have so far come up with. Sorry about that, I'll try not to do it again. If any of you either have the pages in your browser cache or, for odd stalker reasons, have copied them all down and saved them in a slightly more foolproof format, please send them to me so that I can put them back up.

My apologies and condolences, once again.

In other news, a 4th or 5th grader put his hands in the little but pockets of my pants today and followed me around for a minute saying "Teacher, teacher!" I have no clue what that was about.

I also caused massive chaos in the school by giving a 50-cent piece to a kid who happened to say "Teacher, give me your money" while practicing with possessive adjectives. The whole place went buckwild, and I think it's safe to say that I'm probably the favorite teacher here. Too bad my bribe supply will run out within a few weeks.