Sorry for the lack of recent posts. As you might remember, January was an insanely busy month and I didn't have time to do a whole lot or to write about what I did do. Some of you might be astute enough to notice that January is now over, even here in Korea, and will thus demand a second excuse for the past 5 or so days. Well, I've been enjoying my refound freedom by reading books and going to the gym and sleeping late. It's wonderful.
So, what have you missed out on since I last wrote? The saturday before last, I went to the movies with some middle schoolers. We watched "Miss Potter" because it was the only English movie playing at the cinema. It was ok, but not the sort of thing that 14-year-old boys really enjoy. One of them just kept saying "suicide" about every 5 minutes (not because the movie made him feel bad, but because it often seemed like the main character might do herself in. And maybe because he wanted her to). I must say that I'm impressed with his English, if not with his movie-going manners.
After that I bought them all some ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Allmost all the flavors are just transliterations of English, so I had a pretty good idea what I was getting myself into. I tried papaya mango. It wasn't very good. I'd rather eat some dumplings.
Two more days of crazy work followed. On the last day (Tuesday the 30th) I felt pretty sick and drank an entire 2 liter bottle of OJ in an attempt to stave off further throat soreness. It worked, and by Weds I was feeling much better, and the bug had passed from me to the head teacher, Meg, who was still sick last time I saw her, on Friday.
Feeling slightly reborn on Thursday (due to newfound time and vigor), I went to the gym about 6 minutes walking distance from my house. Nobody could really explain to me what to do, so they gave me some clothes and showed me the locker room. Apparently they have a large stock of shirts and shorts there so that you don't have to bother bringing workout clothes and then carrying sweaty stuff around with you for the rest of the day. It's nice, but since I generally like to run to the gym to warm up, I don't think I'll need them.
This gym is not huge, but it's pretty sweet. Some treadmills, stair machines, stationary bikes (no ellipticals), lots of freeweights, a few machines, and best of all, 3 squash courts. And many squash players, all of whom, apparently, can count in English and say things like "good shot." The first day I went, there happened to be some woman there who spoke moderately good English, helped me sign up, and then promptly beat me 2-1 in three pretty even games. I later found out that she is the best woman squash player in the club. Given that I hadn't played since May (at which time I probably gave Adam L Winner a grand spanking), I wasn't too unhappy with my performance.
Saturday, I went downtown to meet some of the students in the "adult" class, which is quickly becoming my least favorite since 1) I feel that I need to teach them the most, since their parents won't force them to come if they don't like it; 2) I feel like they should be able to interact with me at a more intersting level; and 3) since their English is terrible (worse than some 5th graders) and they are very hesitant to talk to me. I don't feel right just babying them through really basic and boring sentences, but they all seem too ashamed to participate or speak up much.
Anyhow, I met one of them downtown at a bookstore and she helped me find a textbook for learning Korean. I also tried to find a lonely planet-type tour guide book, and the store had them for every country imaginable - except Korea. Totally bogus, right?
After that we went to a cafe' sort of place and she gave me a little lesson while we waited for her friend to get off work. Then we went to "Pizza mall," had some relatively lousy (but extremely cheap) spaghetti, and walked around for a while before going home. They also wanted to take some pictures. This is in that 2.28 park that I mentioned in my last post. This is also the only picture that was not terribly blurry do to cold, shaking hands. I don't know any of their names in korean, but the one to my right is Ariel in class and the one to the far left is Grace. The middle one is just a friend of theirs, and isn't a student of mine.
Other than all that stuff, I've been chugging through my anthology of "The Wisdom of India and China," have finished the section on Hinduism (selections from the Upanishads, an abridged Ramayana, and some other stuff) and am working on the Buddhism part right now. Aaaaaand I think I should go get to planning for classes.