Monday, June 30, 2008
Also in my eye's sight is another sexy looking Korean creation a movie called "The Good, The Bad, and The Weird" Although if I watched this movie here in Seoul I wouldn't be able to catch it with subtitles, but I think it would be fun anyways.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Medium: Pencil on Paper.
Don't get me wrong, I still find myself feeling excited and proud to be over here. But I am starting to miss the American way of life. Basically I think it just comes from the fact that when you are the outsider, well you feel like an outsider. People look at you when you walk down the street, they stare and gawk. Everyone around you speaks but you can't understand what they say.
However, between all this there are some things I can control. For example, the more I learn Korean the more I will understand what people say around me. Also the more I find places I like to go in Seoul the less alienated I will feel.
Anyways, what have I been up to?
Lately it has been a lot of school planning. The first of July is coming up and that means new syllabus'. It feels nuts to plan out my weeks in advance, but I keep it up anyways. Yet, most of the teachers around me at the office just plan it the day they get there. So I feel somewhat foolish for being the goody-goody.
Besides school dominating most of my activities, Bo Kwan and I lounged around yesterday (Saturday) and then went to an area near Insadong and met his friends for beer and chicken. I didn't drink any beer but ate some chicken. It was nice to meet his friends, who come in packs of 10. They were curious about my life here and some of their questions I had a hard time answering. Hopefully after more thought I will think what to say better to a question like: "What is different in living in Korean than in living in America?" Honestly, I knew the answers but froze at how to congeal it all into sentences.
Today it is Emart again and then house stuff. It is raining and I think it helps my mood out a little.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Having BK there meant an extra pair of arms to carry my crap home, so I invested in an frying pan, cutting board and few more extra items. After Emart we got my stuff home and ate a little lunch. Then it was off to Kyobo bookstore and Gwanghwamun palace area.
Octopus in its tank outside a restaurant near my home, which will let you chose which animal you want to eat.
The train ride took about 30-40 minutes, which allows enough time to converse about life here in Seoul
Kyobo bookstore was a very large bookstore, that has within it books in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English. We went to the English section in search of some textbook quality Learn Korean Books. I took a few snapshots of the books I was interested in, apparently you can buy them off the website's online store and get a discount. I liked this book because, inside the layout is like you are in a classroom, with drilling and tests. It is only 15,000 won, so not that bad considering it also comes with a CD. Other books I found were more about Korean culture, but some of which were a little too tourist-y for my blood. It would be great to get my hands on a book that details Korea's fauna and flora background as well as its geological history. Ah well, maybe someday (hmm perhaps the Internet will prove to be worthwhile for this cause).
We were running on a clock so with just a few more hours before BK needed to visit friends for a game of basketball, so we were off to the Gwanghwamun gate and palace area.
On our way we passed through a little courtyard that was well landscaped and designed.
When we got to the palace area it felt like I was walking into my Korean Art History textbook and seeing it all come alive. The position of the buildings and their location near the mountains was all planned to face in a certain direction of each other. You could definitely feel this sense of planning of this site that the people of Korea about 800 years ago chose as specific to what would bring them safety and also luck. But how about you just see for yourself. The colors were so vibrant, and lovely. I now really want to buy that book that discusses the symbols that overlay these wooden architectures. To go deeper inside you had to have bought a ticket, but we were running out of time so I was only allowed a taste of this historical site. That's okay, because next time I can skip being awestruck and take more time exploring the inner areas of this site. A lovely mountainous picture: Can you see the temple on top of the mountain? I really want to go see it! I also really enjoyed walking on the dirt path you see in front you. It felt extremely reassuring and exhilarating to see dirt (soil), considering most of Seoul is paved over. Ah more geological enthusiasm, pardon me.
This ends my Sunday trip with BK, which was very lovely and pleasant. I look forward to my future trips and days where I don't go anywhere too. :)
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I showed him my studio apartment we talked a bit, but then we went out to get me a cell phone. This time I was off with BK on a bus, because apparently it was a lot faster than taking the subway. Our Destination was TechnoMart.Imagine if you will a mall, now most malls (especially those in America) are laid out architecturally amongst a horizontal plan. Think about this for a moment, building a structure like this can fit a lot of stores in one space but it also consumes a lot of land. This precious commodity is something to be bargained for here in Seoul, so department stores that promise many stores in one area are packed into a structure that functions vertically. Horizontal space becomes Vertical.
The Escalator (google images)
and The Elevator
Each floor promises something different, for instance in Emart:
- Floor 1 is packaged food
- Floor 2 is kitchen and bathroom items
- Floor 3 is clothing
- Floor 4 is more clothing and jewelry
- Floor 5 has Electronics and school supplies (my fav)
- Sub-floor has the vegetables, fruit, cheese and other perishables.
Total cost: Purchase of the Sky phone was about $30 USD, Deposit about $30 and monthly service fee is approximately $12.
It has been a lot of fun being connected to a cell phone again. Yet the only person I have been contacting has been BK. Yet, I am sure my contact list will grow as time passes.
After the purchase we explored the building and found a grocery store below (Lotte Mart), which was a bit more expensive than Emart, so I only a bought a few things. Well TechnoMart you were pretty cool and I hope to come back someday when I fancy myself a large Plasma Screen Tv. ;)
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
"As a president, I did not want to miss this golden opportunity," he said of the trade agreement with Washington.
Mr Lee said he had realised his mistake while watching lines of candles filling city streets after dark during one of the protests.
He said he would ensure no US beef from cattle more than 30 months old would reach South Korean plates - a voluntary additional guarantee which Seoul's top trade official is currently attempting to secure in Washington.
Older beef is thought to be at greater risk of BSE.
So will this mean no more protests? Or that the issue is resolved, my guessing is probably not. I also wonder if those who were against the beef thing, find this apology sincere or not.
Anyways, just a short post...don't want to delve into it too much.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
- I listed who I was and my ambitions to teach in Korea. My age and sex and that I was a college graduate.
Needless to say I was hooked into his email. So we set up a time to meet on a Saturday at a Starbucks near my house. Keep in mind that we were also meeting another Korean (an woman) and he lived about 45 - 50 minutes away from my area.
HI, Joy. ..... I have been in oakland for 2 months to learn English.
I`m majoring in business when I was in Korea, And I attended many institute to study English for a long time, I`ve had good relationships with many foreign teachers in Korea. This caught my eye right away, because it showed he had experience helping foreigner learn Korean.
......... I will go back to Korea in August. So I can help you when you go to Korea. OOOooo another good selling point!
......... I have books to teach Korean and learn English also. So if we use that book we can help each other. If you are intersted in let me know. Wow! You even have books to help me!! Great!........
The day of our meeting:
I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited to meet up with a Korean guy on this day. From all the Korean dramas I had been watching my mind was bursting with images of cute Korean men. So that day I tried to put on the sexiest outfit I could muster without coming off too sleazy. The weather was still cold out so it was one of my snug fitting sweaters and nice jeans.
We arranged to meet first at the BART (subway) station near my house. I got there a bit early and waited for him. At the meeting time I called him and what do you know? He was standing right near me! It was cute, I have to say.
This was when we first laid eyes on each other. After which my heart was pounding and my mind was spinning. At first sight all I saw was that he was tall, had long hair and was oh so cute! But being a lady I pulled myself together, said hello and guided him to the Starbucks.
At the Starbucks we met with K, the other language partner. We all ordered drinks and sat down. Next was a session of learning Korean and questions and answers about each other.
During this time my eyes kept on floating to BK and I think I was blushing a lot. But the real problem was that when I am confounded with feeling attracted to someone I end up being very flirty and also goofy. Yes, I did flirt with him. I wonder if he was flirting back.
Anyways, afterwards it was about 6pm so we left the Starbucks and went for a bite to eat. Yet during the dinner talk wasn't very much and it seemed everyone was more shy now. I thought that maybe everyone was tired.
It was time to go home and K gave us a ride home. First she dropped me off at my place and then took BK to the BART station.
Later, BK told me that K said it is okay for him to meet without her, hinting on that she picked up we liked each other and wanted to give us an opportunity to meet up again. Indeed, I didn't hear from her again.
Our next few meetings:
We met again the following weekend for language exchange (BK and I). This time downtown in SF at a library.
The whole time he was helping me pronounce the Korean words, I couldn't help but stare at his lips! I was beginning to wonder if he was attracted to me, and I started to pick up on certain hints he was. That night for dinner we went to a quiet pub and had some pub food. But the whole time we talked it seemed he was really interested in getting to know me closer.
It was getting late and he had to take the BART back to Oakland, which is dangerous at night. Instead of just parting ways, he walked me to my bus station. So sweet!
Anyways, our next meeting was more for site seeing. We met at Golden Gate park and had a picnic, next we walked around the lake. The whole time we talked and laughed with each other.
Needless to say sparks flew on this day and ever since we have been a couple.
Well that is my love story with BK and I have to say it is a pretty sweet one that I cherish in my memory.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
- A Korean Man is a Man first before he is Korean. Like any man in the world of course he would want to date a foreigner because simple she is a woman (if the Korean man swings that way).
Yet, after reading this a few questions came upon me.
- What does a Korean man think is different when he dates a foreign woman?
- In other words, what is it like to date an American woman?
- Is a Korean man just another man or are there cultural inclinations for his actions and desires?
My answer to #3, is yes! Most definitely yes! Now this all depends on what kind of people you date. For example some guys are bastards and some are sweethearts. In general not all of them are going to be bastards and sweethearts all of the time, you are going to get a mix. Unless of course you can see a bastard before you get to know them or sweetheart before you get to know them.
Anyways, culture does influence the person you date. There is just no way around it; however, you can avoid putting stereotypes onto the foreign man that you date. For example, the size of their !!!! or that they are good or not good in bed. That sort of thing is better left out the window okay.
So here from my experience are a list of particular attributes to dating a non-American man, especially East Asian, that I find worth noting.
- There is going to be a language barrier. Unless he is fluent you are going to run into communication issues. And I don't just mean short misunderstandings, but situations where you are in an argument and the conversation doesn't get resolved. This is because he needs time to come to an answer in his head, or what he feels inside is hard to translate into English.
- More caring. Yes I hate to tack this on and sound stereotypical, but in general I have felt more cared for than my American partners. Yet keep in mind the American men I dated tended to be lazy duds. By caring I mean they will worry about your health, food intake and other necessities of life instead of just whether you are happy or not. I don't want to speculate incorrectly what cultural reason there is for an Asian man to be more caring, but I am going to pin it on the fact that family and infidelity is taken much more seriously, which perhaps causes someone to be respectful and mindful of an others situation.
- Love is something more serious. Saying I love you or expressing it is a feeling that is taken more seriously instead of just saying it all the time on the whim. Again, culturally speaking I would think that using this phrase is somewhat not spoken often at home and around school. Causing the expression to be reserved for more serious of times.
I just couldn't help but think about writing about how there has to be cultural inputs into the people you date, if they are from another country.
As I continue my relationship with BK and make friends with other Koreans, I believe that I will be mindful of both our differences and similarities and the cause for them.
Yet more importantly I want to address what it is like from the other's perspective. What does BK think of me? Am I different from a Korean woman because of my American ways? Or is it just that I am a different woman...no matter my country of origin?
It is these questions I hope to answer with a follow up post someday.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The mattress is well not that cushiony...so I will be on the hunt for some kind of foam overlay.
Other than this my 3rd week of teaching hasn't been so bad. I think my supervisors understand me now because they are still friendly and kind. But maybe I should check in with them personally.
Classes are still what they are but little by little I am getting out the kinks with each class. Yes this class load is very busy but I just remember back to when I was at camp. There I had to be with the kids till morning to nightfall, and with just a 2hr break. So I think I can manage.
Hmmm I hope sleeping on the new bed tonight will be pleasant.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Well, I hope you enjoyed that. :)
Now onto some more serious matters.
Examining my contract:
It saddens me to think I have to take a close look at my contract and not have 100% trust in the people I work for. But having a knowledge base of the rules can help one understand what happens in the workplace.
First I want to make sure that I am working the proper hours and if I am making overtime then I should be rewarded. So far from my calculations I have not been working overtime.
Below are quotes from my contract:
Teaching days will be Monday to Friday, with a maximum 8-hour block teaching schedule excluding lunch breaks. The 8-hour block will be an average calculated based on the 5 day workweek schedule, consisting of approximately 26.25 teaching hours per week.Further more:
In the event employee receives overtime payment or during the annually scheduled intensive months (coming up next month) consisting of one month in the summer and one month in the winter, the maximum 8-hour block workday may not apply.And.....
Total teaching hours per session in excess of the base requirement listed above is calculated as overtime payment according to the overtime payment rate... Employee may be required up to a maximum of 5 overtime teaching hours per week.My impression and digestion of this information is that during the "intensive" month period next month those extra working hours will not be considered as overtime, due to that it mentions in the contract as being "scheduled" and makes the base rate moot.
One of the main points my supervisor made to me last Friday was that my teaching schedule right now is not that intense compared to what it could be, for example during the intensive summer period. When she spoke about this her tone was kind of like it was offensive for me to think that my current schedule is too much when in fact it isn't.
After looking over my schedule and doing the appropriate calculations, she ends up being right. I teach about 6-7 classes each day, which are 45 min long except for two 50 min classes. During the intensive period I could expect to teach 9-10 classes in a day, the increase being in the morning classes with the youngest kids.
To get a better understanding I will outline my current schedule:
Monday, Wednesday and Friday:
*Symbols: Y = youngest M = 9-12 yrs old O = oldest, teens
- 1:20 - 2:00 Y
- 3:00-3:45 M
- 3:45-4:30 Y
- 4:30 - 5:15 M
- 5:15 - 6:00 M
- 6:00 - 6:55 M
- 6:55 - 7:45 M
- 10:40 - 11:20 Y
- 11:20 - 12:00 Y
- 3:00 - 3:45 Y
- 3:45 - 4:30 M
- 4:30 - 5:15 M
- 5:15 -6:00 M
- 6:00 - 6:50 O
- Phone teaching = 20 minutes
- 10:40 - 11:20 Y
- 11:20 - 12:00 Y
- 2:00 - 2:40 Y
- 3:00 - 3:45 Y
- 3:45 - 4:30 M
- 4:30 - 5:15 M
- 5:15 -6:00 M
- 6:00 - 6:50 M
- Phone teaching = 20 minutes (not sure if calculated into total hrs)
Monday = 5.41
Wednesday = 5.41
Thursday = 6 hrs
Friday = 5.41
Total weekly hours = 27.56
*Now I don't know if that means overtime...because when you go back and read the contract it says something about
The 8-hour block will be an average calculated based on the 5 day workweek schedule, consisting of approximately 26.25 teaching hours per week.I know I am weak in math, but it boggles my mind what the average is based on and how you calculate it.
So if anyone can figure this out for me that would be great.
I am about 60% giving a crap right now whether my work hours are actually an issue. I know it is going to suck a lot when they increase but I have been forewarned and it is not like on the day of they tell me about it. I expect for my July schedule to have the increased number of classes listed on it. Then I can PLAN appropriately. Since you kind of never know when information is going to be given to you I am going to make sure I ask questions about the schedule ...etc.
Well back to work tomorrow.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
An informational stone, there was after this a board with English describing the site. From what I recall this location had an anthropological importance to it due that remnants of something (I can't remember) was found here. I think though that most people just walk by this place, maybe sit down to relax and then move on. Some flora for you! I think some of what you are seeing is bamboo. I am not sure if the plants and shrubbery here was planted and landscaped or natural...its natural anyways right!? Ok some lovely flowers and greenery. I think I need twiddle around with my camera settings because the white is to strong in this picture. There was a fence around a mound along this park, which I think was the historical artifact, an old tomb because tombs in Korea are mounds, much like the ancient tombs in Japan are (the keyhole tombs). Or it was the remnant of a gate or levee...not sure actually. sigh. Anyways along the mound was this metal fence that wasn't very high about oh knee length high and here and there were these symbols. I came to a part at the park where it cuts off, but if you go left you can walk on the backside of the mound. Here it was more of just an alleyway with houses and parked cars, but also some flowers. Also along the alley were some mundane yet interesting sites. For example, here is a shot of someones door or gate into their home. I found it very decorative. A lot of the homes had pots out front with plants inside them, so it is humbling to see city people growing plants and keeping up with the green parts of life. Finally, a viewpoint of the back alley I walked around. As I was walking there were two teenage boys in front playing around. They must of been neighborhood kids. They found an old computer rolling chair and pushed each other on it, I felt like I was watching a scene out of National Geographic or something. Sorry didn't capture it on camera because I didn't want to scare them.
After my visit to the park I headed back to the Hyundai dept area in search of food. I found two pizza places and tried to order pizza but failed. It seems that going to a place like that is meant for two people and the waitress said something to me in Korean and made a big 'x' gesture with her arms. So I left. Sigh...I think I need to start picking up necessary Korean so that I can at least get a slice of pizza. But its okay I survived and went home. Tomorrow its another trip for me to Emart to get my groceries. This is my final weekend before Bo Kwan comes back and I am excited.
As for my job, well I know it isn't exactly the best life to be busy and stressed out at work. But I have faith that I can do it and also just try to tell myself to make it through this year and see what my options are afterwards.
Friday, June 13, 2008
It was the usual meeting where your boss overlooks all the good things you have done and focusing solely on the bad: complaining you have to work while sick, not talking enough with coworkers and my health. (They don't know I have Crohn's).
So after a full day of teaching, feeling more sick off the drugs they gave me and coming out of it I came home and cried my eyes out. Yes I am mentioning it to all of you out there..including you ... Mom.
Within the history of my life change has always been difficult. My parent's got divorced, at 15 yrs old I moved to California to live with my Dad, at 25 yrs old I became sick with Crohn's disease or colitis....whichever way you slide and now I am living in a whole other country.
Yet this last change is a change I chose based upon direct forces in my life. So after sobbing for several hours, only eating sliced peaches for dinner and going to bed I came to the realization that hey...this isn't entirely my fault!
For one, they overlooked all the hard work I have been doing. Two it is only my 2nd week of teaching of for Christ's sake (sorry) I am not going to get all perfect. Three I know myself!!!!!
By now in my life I know that I give people the cold shoulder before making a perfect relationship with them because I am a cautious person. I know by now that I focus on organization and planning before I do relationships with other people. And two my body isn't all that strong.
So with these thoughts I now have ammunitation to defend myself instead of becoming insecure and feeling like the world is going to end. I can answer questions about my behaviour that my boss raises with confidence. I can also offer to them that I am good worker and can survive the job, yet would like their support in doing so.
I do not blame what happened today on it being a 'Korean' thing of the bosses being too harsh and cruel. I blame myself. I knew this crap was going to happen yet naively hoped it wouldn't. So I look at the mirror wipe away my tears and shape my fear into something formidable.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I am somewhat shocked by the high prices. My reason for this is because I can recall that when I started driving gas was inching towards $2.00 and at that time I thought "Oh my god! Gas is getting too high!" But now that has doubled.
We all have been watching this happen and if you live in America and own a car you can really feel it affect you. When I left America I didn't have a car so it didn't concern me much. But now that I am away from America I can see these changes at more of a distance, unlike before.
From this point of view to me it seems America is spinning off into a new oblivion, where things aren't going to be as reassuring as they were before. That is why I think this election will have an important outcome for the future of not only America but also the world.
Well I will stay away from political banter tonight...
Anyways we are having an electrical storm here, which reminds me of Florida. Yes, I find myself counting the seconds between lighting and thunder!