Saturday, May 31, 2008
So yea I found a wireless connection!!!! I don't know how long I can stay connected but there hasn't been a problem so far :)!
Ah it has been a whirlwind lately. I went for my health check yesterday and kind of got lost and had difficulty getting person to help me but it finally worked out. The experience of feeling lost in a foreign country is certainly not the best feeling but also exhilarating.
I like new place and there are few areas that need improvement (bed) but all in all I bet I have more than most people. One thing though that is missing from all of this...is my Bo Kwan. I now can't wait for his return.
But school will keep me busy. Well I am off for sleep my first night in my new home.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
So training at the YBM head office finished today. And again I am really grateful to have this training but still don't know quite yet whether it will come in handy. The first month is going to rough because I will be going through all the steps of figuring out what works while at the same time still adjusting to my foreigner life.
Today's training was not as intense as the last few days and highlighted some important aspects of teaching. Such as always have a plan and to remember that your kids are a lot smarter than you think they are. I already kind of know that second part from being around kids at camp so I hope I remember that in class. Also our teacher took us out for a lunch treat at a place in the Insadong area. Insadong looked like what China Town looks like if you have ever been to one in New York or San Francisco, mostly because the streets are lined with shops selling basically the same tourist trap stuff. Peppered amongst these stores were some places selling art and pottery. I really want to go back there and spend more time checking it out. While I was there I saw an art supply store...so woo hoo!
I think being around other foreigners helped me understand that I have a dual role here in Korea. One I am a foreigner to Koreans and two I am a foreigner to other foreigners. Sometimes I see random other foreigners on the subway or street and I smile at them but I tend to not get a smile back. I don't know if that is intentional or just coincidence.
So I am still resistant to walk into a Korean restaurant by myself and order food. I think it is a taboo here to sit in a place and eat alone, so there is that problem first off. Next, I don't know what to order and also I am still getting use to what I feel is the "Korean" taste that Korean food has, and that really isn't the spiciness. Just in general Korean food has a certain taste that when you aren't in the mood can be not appetizing.
So what do I do instead?
Well I go buy a sandwhich in the "Family Mart" and eat some cheese and crackers. I know not a meal right? But satisfying enough...till I get a grasp on food. My schedule for when I start teaching will have me coming home around 8pm so that really isn't the time I am use to eating dinner. These adjustments will certain take some time to accept but I will try my best not to let get me down.
Anyways, tomorrow I go back to my company and observe more classes. Afterwards I will be heading off to a hospital for my health check. Yea finally some paperwork is getting done! But that doesn't leave much time for lesson planning for my classes on Monday...maybe I can get it done this weekend.
Speaking of which Saturday I will move into my Office Tel and I don't think it has Internet. So unless I have time to go to a PC Bang updating and email will be slowwwww.
Ok well :)
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Fortunately, I was able to go home and rest.
Training has been really comprehensive, and from what I have read from other blogs and Dave's ESL cafe that training can either be existent or non-existent. So I am happy to have this training, despite how intense it is. You know a company cares about you if they take the time to train you and give you booklets with information about teaching. I know from my experience as a camp counselor that some companies will just do a really shitty job of training and still call it training.
But we won't really know if any of this will pay off till my first day of teaching which is next Monday. (By the way any 'day' references are always going to be from the Korea perspective.)
Ooo some good news. I am going to be moving into an Office Tel, which for me has a lot of romantic notions of better space and provisions. My supervisor did tell me it is bigger than most Office Tels so that is great. Again, though we won't really know till I step foot in it. But moving out of my Love Motel will be a nice change.
Ahhh well I am just adjusting to this foreigner life here. I think I am doing a good job of getting by despite I have little speaking ability in Korean. Some things I would like to get done such as....
- Getting a cellphone.
- Getting a bank account.
- Getting my health insurance.
- Buying a better pillow.
And so on...
Till then I will grateful for what I do have and how far I have come from just last year.
Today is pretty much the same where I have to go down there and back, but afterwards I have to stop off at my company... I am not looking forward to that.
Sorry short post here need to get ready and eat breakfast.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Yesterday's training went well. I spent the whole time visiting and observing classes, during which I diligently took notes so that I can recall what it is I saw. During which when I entered a class the students became really suprised to see a new teacher...maybe because I was American? Basically all the classes start and end in the same format. The material is modified for the theme of the class and the age level. When training is complete I will be working on lesson development so that I am prepared for my first batch of classes. They require me to come in 2hrs early for my first month so to get this kind of preparation done.
In the meantime, I have been enjoying looking out my window and taking in the world around me. I am still figuring out what to eat and feel that once I have my kitchen eating will be a lot more comfortable.
All right just thought I post a little info on what's been going on. I still can't get pictures onto my computer in my room so lovely media like that may take a while. Plus when I finally move into my new diggs I don't the Internet will be hooked up so that too may take a while.
Monday, May 26, 2008
The only thing now, is that this idea and this dream are becoming a reality. Teaching to some may seem like an easy task, for you get up in front of a classroom of students and talk all day, then go home. Well my friends there is much more to it than that. I know from my experience as a camp counselor for three years that being around youngsters is exhausting both mentally and physically. They drain all their energy into you and you have to always be one step ahead of them. Now, I don't want to sound like I am complaining because for one this job is going to be way better than the job I had back in San Francisco. Indeed, when I find myself with moments at my new job here feeling tired and upset I know I am going to remind myself that this is way better than being stuck in a cubicle in a boring office.
My training schedule is that during Tues-Thurs I will be attending seminars in another part of Seoul. The topics range from:
- Classroom management.
- Lesson planning.
- Effective lessons.
- Culture shock and workplace conduct.
I find the culture shock topic especially enticing. The handout I was given about it so far displays a graph with a 'u' shaped curve. First there is the "Honey-moon stage", next is the "culture shock" stage and finally you come to a "Bi-cultural stage." I guess I am in the honey moon stage where you feel amazed and awe struck by your surroundings. They say the culture shock stage is when you can't stand your surroundings and feel home sick. Hmmm I hope I don't become too bitter when I get to that stage. I do look forward to the Bi-cultural stage...:)
The one thing I am scared the most about this job is my first day. Usually when I meet a pack of kids for the first time I tend to be really soft and warm. But they say it is really important that in my first month I establish myself with my students seriously so they don't run all over me for the rest of my time here.
I hope that some of my training will give me insight into accomplishing this.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Anyways, the plane ride was okay. But I do have a little story to tell about it. I got there on time and everything, said goodbye to Bo Kwan :(. Yet, when I went through the security check point everything was chaotic. They had you go into lines and then place your stuff in bins. There were no signs telling you what to place in each bin, but I followed the crowd and separated my shoes, bag and purse into different bins. When I went through the security gate that checks for metal everything was okay and I collected my items and went on. But apparently not everything was ok. Right as I was going to enter the gate to board the plane a worker for Korean Air looked at my ticket and pulled me aside. It turned out that they did not check me off at the security gate and so they had to send someone to do a check on me before I went on the plane.
The following minutes seemed like hours, as I watched everyone board the plane and I was the last person in the lobby. As I saw them close the gate doors I felt a panic attack coming on. But finally someone showed up, got the job done and I boarded the plane. Once on the plane I had enough time to shove my carry on in the over-head compartment and buckle up for the ride. My seat was in the middle and I wondered to myself...how I am going to fall asleep?
But the flight wasn't all bad...it was just a plane ride excessively long. The great thing that made it work out was a video panel right in front of you that had free movies. I watched The Kite Runner, and 2 Korean movies. Along with movies there was a screen that showed you a map of the world with the plane's path on it. I checked this often and was excited when the plane was clearly far-far away from America.
I managed to get a few doses of sleep on the plane. In between I thought about things and missed Bo Kwan. They served us two meals, the first was the Korean dish Bi Bim Bop and the second was a noodle thing which had as a side dish some cake.
Sorry I can't put up pictures, I am using the hotels computer in my room and will have to figure out if I can plug my camera into it. :)
The only bad thing right now is that my tummy is adjusting to all this change by being grumpy with me. So I am going to try my best and eat simple and lightly.
I am excited to be here and now a bit nervous to walk out on the streets to get a bite to eat before my day. But that is why I am here...to explore.
Friday, May 23, 2008
They are shacking me up in a hotel which to me resembles what a love hotel could be. But it is right near the school so maybe this is why they put me here.
Anyways, flight was long....I am very tired...
I met Bo Kwan's brother and he is so nice and also shy!
But I am happy to be here and feel actually great despite that I don't know the last time I got proper sleep.
Will write more when time comes.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
- All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each container must be three ounces or smaller.
- All liquids, gels and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. Each traveler can use only one, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.
- Each traveler must remove their quart-sized plastic, zip-top bag from their carry-on and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening. X-raying separately will allow TSA security officers to more easily examine the declared items.
I think if most of my stuff isn't airline safe than I can just purchase some in flight necessities in the Duty Free area. For example I would like to have some toothpaste with me to keep myself fresh.
In addition to just the normal line of stuff someone carries with them on a plane I am also packing all my prescription meds (for my Crohn's) in my carry on. TSA has just a part of their site dedicated to this.
- You may bring all prescription and over-the-counter medications (liquids, gels, and aerosols) including KY jelly, eye drops, and saline solution for medical purposes.
- You are not limited in the amount or volume of these items you may bring in your carry-on baggage. BUT if the medically necessary items exceed 3 ounces or are not contained in a one-quart, zip-top plastic bag, you MUST declare to one of our Security Officers at the checkpoint for further inspection.
I will see if they all fit in a zippy.
Looks like they do but it is really ugly!
Okay, so I think that takes care of that. Now I am taking all my meds as carry on because I am too paranoid to let them fly under the plane. Now, I wonder if I can have one ziplock bag for my meds and one ziplock bag for liquids? I think the safe thing would to just have one ziplock bag and few liquids, and just rely on the Duty Free area for the rest.
Wait a minute I just read further that:
Non-liquid or gel medications of all kinds such as solid pills, or inhalers are allowed through the security checkpoint once they have been screened. We recommend, but do not require, that your medications be labeled to assist with the screening process.Further more there is a section called Hidden Disabilities which highlights my condition. To sum up what is important to me here are the highlights:
- Medications must be labeled so they are identifiable. Check!
- Medications in daily dosage containers are allowed through the checkpoint once they been screened. Check!
If I do get slowed down I hope that gives me enough time to find my gate and also do a little shopping for necessities before I go. :) Also I think I may need to find a seat to collect myself, as I know my emotions will be running high.
Monday, May 19, 2008
From what I know Rain is a pop star that has a controversial background in South Korea. Mostly because, I guess, he didn't go to military service. But the boy seems to be getting more popular over here in the States. He is in Speed Racer and even sings in English.
Anyways, I think most of you on the blogosphere know about the Rain controversy and so I don't really need to mention more.
But I will examine one thing I find interesting and that is Rain's English. I have to say it isn't too bad. However, he does say "um" a lot and pauses here and there. But overall there is a quite a good flow to his speech. Maybe this is because of the amount of time he has spent here in America.
From what I have seen when Bo Kwan watches Rain whenever he pops up on Youtube is that he gets that face of disapproval.
Anyways, back to what I was saying. Perhaps for Koreans learning English can end up being a pretty competitive endeavour. This could be so because to get a really good job in Seoul, it sounds like you need high scores on your English tests. So I guess when someone like Bo Kwan sees Rain speak English pretty well, he may feel a little anger. Because he has been working his ass off to learn English but Rain just parties and becomes a pop star. Not that Rain doesn't work hard (I don't know).
Anyways, all I can say is that having Rain's popular presence in America may actually be good for Korea. But I don't know if every Korean would agree with me on that. So I guess it will be just fun to watch and see if Rain's popularity will just ring in America as another "Exotic" thing from Asia or actually prove to be a foundational start to a wider view of Asia's stars.
- Large enough to fit a notebook for note taking.
- Had a wide enough strap to go across my shoulder (born with sloping shoulders)
- Also cute and fits my 'flowery style'
It doesn't stop there folks! Yesterday I marched out of my house and bought myself: Yep an iPod Touch. Now I really feel materialistic and evil. But I swear these are the last high-priced things I am going to buy before I take off. However there is the Duty Free area at SFO I have to worry about.
All in all it kind feels refreshing to buy myself some lovely things, considering how frugal I have been in the past. I wonder if this new trend of mine will carry over into Korea. I guess there is only one way to find out! ;)
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Perhaps, though knowing there is a warm home out there for myself gives me the confidence to live wherever I want. Hmmm
Well there are a lot more pictures and some videos but I am kinda beat with driving back to San Francisco today. I leave next Thursday and before I go there is a list of stuff to get done.
- Switch the internet into my roommates name.
- Change cell phone plan into "travel cheap-o plan". (I won't actually use my American cell phone in Korea but keep the plan going because I can't break my contract)
- Last minute banking stuff.
- Repack / get rid of more stuff.
- Clean up what's left in the house.
- Change my address.
- Hug and kiss Bo Kwan ...a lot.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
First of all a WARNING: I cannot say whether or not going with a recruiter or getting the Teaching job by yourself is better than the other. I went the recruiter route because it fit my desire to have less anxiety when finding a teaching job. So please use this blog as just a reference and not the absolute truth.
When I first started my search for a job in Korea I googled and also went to a few websites I knew about like the EPIK program. What I ended up with was a list of several programs and recruiters that I contacted for a job. The list is as followed:
When you visit their websites they all outline how to apply, get an interview and so-on. I tried to make sure there was a fluidity between all of these sites and companies. So I started to email and apply online to these places. I made some mistakes of my own along the way. Here is a review of these recruiters.
They were very nice and welcoming. However, I made the mistake that when I emailed them early on I mentioned my concern for health care and that I have Crohn's Disease which is a genetic disease that can be debilitating but when taken care of properly doesn't disrupt daily life. Anyways eventually I heard back from them and they told me they would have to not accept me due to risk I could get sick on the job. I understand that they had a liability issue on their hands, but it was really devastating to hear my disease was like a disability preventing me from my dreams.
However I picked myself up and continued my quest.
They were all right. I got an interview by them but I applied really early and was told to wait about a month or so before I wish to leave. My goal was to find something 2 - 3 months early. Anyways, as I emailed other recruiters and got more activity from them, I noticed Park English didn't keep up with the game.
At this point I didn't tell any recruiters about my disease. So Park English kind of just didn't pan out for me.
These guys were really professional and also very sincere in trying to get me placed where I wanted. Again though I ran into the problem that they wanted me to apply closer to a month before I left, but I couldn't handle such anxiety.
I did get a few interviews out of them and it was at some schools on the outer edges of Seoul. I really wanted placement in Seoul...so I was holding out. In the end if I didn't go with YBM I would have gone with Footprints.
These guys didn't have a problem with my applying early on. However the interviews I got were really sketchy and sometimes strange. One interview I had a with a women whose English was so-so and I tried hard to speak clearly and slowly. Yet it turned out I failed the interview. What I didn't like about Korea Connections is that I received a lot of pressure from the recruiter to make a swift decision and mail him my paperwork. I am somewhat relieved that I didn't go with them because I could have taken the risk that they would have held my paperwork as ransom till I took a certain job. Phew!
I think on the positive side these guys are really persistent and will work for you. But be cautious with their pushy attitude.
Let me just say now that this is the one that I signed a contract with. I know that if you go around Dave's ESL that you will find a lot of negativity about YBM. But I ignored all that and did what I wanted. (By the way does Dave even know that his cafe is kind of useless??)
I contacted YBM a year before I actually even took looking for a job in Korea seriously. So I had already a relationship with them. They kept on asking me to gather my paperwork and then they will consider a position for me. So after I had gathered my paperwork I let them know and they gave me several options in Seoul. Interviews came and I started to feel like I was being treated professionally and seriously.
The YBM recruiter was very point-blank about his company and told me honestly what to expect. He said that some recruiters take your paperwork and hold on to it till you take a position they like.
Needless to say I felt like YBM was the right choice. They said they guarantee you a job even if your school goes bankrupt..that sounds nice...right?
So which one is the best?
Again this is really subjective and should be based upon your own logical understanding of the process. I for one am the kind of person who bases a lot of their decisions on feelings. I think YBM was really professional along with Footprints.
I would recommend staying away from Dave's ESL cafe because it is like a swamp of negativity that can suck you into it.
All in all remember that you have the upper hand and advantage. You are the one they want to so you should make sure to be strong and bold in your choices.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
So the trip started out with a drive past Napa Valley. It was really beautiful, seeing the vineyards and open fields. Bo Kwan was impressed, I think, with all the open space along the way. We stopped for a bite to eat in downtown Napa Valley. After that we walked around a little bit.
We have been enjoying the time here at my father's home. Nevada City is a small town and therefore has less people and less noise. You can wake up, literally, to the sound of birds chirping at your window.
Last night we went for a walk and in the park across the street there was a little league baseball game going on. We stopped and watched it for a while. Bo Kwan realized that he was seeing a glimpse of American Life...kind of like that Apple Pie sweetness that America could have. He told me that if he first arrived to my town than he would have felt much better coming to America, instead of first living in Oakland.
Well the trip isn't over yet. Tomorrow we are going to a carne asada BBQ at Erika's house.
Maybe a stop to the river a few times in the next few days. But generally just relaxing out here is really great.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Sorry the credits roll pretty fast in the end.
Here are the books:
The Global Soul by Pico Iyer
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Korean At a Glance (published in 1988...go 80's)~!
Here I am with my Korean dough: Bo Kwan holding some too:
Now don't go spending that in one place!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
It turns it to be too much, because I need room for all the stuff I am going to take. (Toiletries, folders, books, trinkets, mementos, shoes, external hard drive...you get the picture.) So after a session of going through it all and deciding what not to keep along with a trek to Ross for another suitcase the end results are thus: As you can see I have chosen to go with the squarish type luggage. These two vary in size. I kinda wish I had just gotten the smaller one at a bigger size, but after more consolidation I have room in both for more things. Here are some tips on packing:
- Get rid of as much clothing as possible. This one is obvious. For me the thought was that I could find it in Korea and if so I would be able to pick up on the latest fashions. There were a few clothing items I had a hard time saying no to because they have been with me for a while and had memories attached to them. But I said to myself, that this trip is about putting things in the past...and to the donate bin it went.
- Pack and repack that suitcase as much as possible. Curl up thin clothes into a kind of jelly roll fashion, so to squeeze it in there tight. Fold up jeans into square like fashion. I put my socks and undies in the zipper flap attached to the 'door' of the suitcase, so to save room in the box part. Shoes can be placed in a plastic bag and stuffed between clothing.
During this process I created two piles, a giveaway and a store pile.
Well I still have the kitchen to go through and to clean up what is left hanging on the walls in my room.
- Pick up Korean Won from Bank.
- Clean up (see above mentioning)
- And whatever else.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
As I will become an immigrant in Korea, I hope that my stay there will be greeted with a welcoming gesture, unlike the kind you see here in this video:
For now I can only answer this question based upon my own opinion, knowledge and with some observations from Bo Kwan.
Perhaps lets talk about geographic size. China is obviously larger than both Korea and Japan. Yet Japan is larger than Korea.
As we all know these three countries have centuries of history behind them. During this time their borders were sometimes closed and open, there has been war and peace, but what I am interested in is how the modern day Chinese, Korean or Japanese views each other.
I think when searching for this answer there will likely be a difference of opinion between the old and the young generations.
For today's tidbit of exploration into this subject matter I am going to give an example of a recent observation I saw by Bo Kwan.
The other day we were lounging in my room and he was searching on YouTube. In the search criteria field he entered Ugly Korean and came up with a number of results.
This video shows that during the 2002 FIFA WorldCup series Korea got away with fouls and wasn't flagged for them. Bo Kwan expressed how they were able to do this because they were playing at home. He also nodded and agreed with the video that indeed Korea played unfairly.
This just goes to show that as I start to explore the opinions Koreans and other peoples of Asia's opinion of each other that neither one country is innocent of possessing good and bad traits.
As Bo Kwan continued his search he found videos of how Chinese soccer players are more brutal than Korean soccer players.
The Chinese players here are playing against Japanese and it seems they seem not to hold back on being brutal. However, I don't have much experience in watching or understanding the game of soccer so I can't really say which country amongst this sport plays more bloodier than the other.
What was interesting was Bo Kwan's reaction and agreement that the Chinese played too rough.
The point of this post is not to delve into Bo Kwan's opinion but see the overall idea of one's perception of other people and cultures.
For now I can only understand this from my placement in America. Living in San Francisco I have become accustomed to hearing many different languages on the bus and around town. But diversity in America is not a new thing and has been around for ages, only depends on where you are in this country.
I am curious to know how Koreans embrace others from different cultural backgrounds. For now I believe that I am sure it is of no real big deal over there. That they coexist in a peaceful and sometimes hostile way. But I can't help but think that underneath the surface that some people may still feel some kind of historical and cultural opinion towards an outsider.
I hope I get the time to not just be an observer of this phenomenon abroad but get the chance to research it and understand it from all sides.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
It has been an interesting past 9 months at this job. For those unaware I have been working at an Insurance brokerage company downtown. It is a small office with just about 6 other employees. To give you a picture of the environment here is an idea: I am the only young worker there in their 20's, they still use typewriters, the computers all run on old PC's and I am often asked to solve a very simple computer problem.
I have my ups and downs at this place. When I first started the job I didn't imagine that 9 months down the road I would be saying goodbye. Last year when I was looking for a job it took a lot of work and was very difficult. I would apply to about 10-15 job postings a day and get about 3-4 interviews a week. The interviews weren't encouraging either. Often I was seen by more than one interviewer at once. In my darkest hour of this time in my life I went to the mall across the street and sought employment at one of the shops. But instead going through with the interview I went back home in tears. I couldn't believe that after 6 years of college and graduating after beingg sseriously ill that I was going to take a sales job at minimum wage. That same day I posted my resume on Craigslist, and a day latter my current boss emailed me. To sum up I obviously got the job. At that time I thought there was some kind of universal magic going on.
So now when I think about my last day, I feel somewhat regretful. My boss had a lot of faith in me that I would strive to become an insurance agent and help his company out. But my heart and soul have their eyes set on a more adventurous future.
All in all this job allowed me to grow and mature. I learned not to take things personally and that when you work hard the reward is a satisfied feeling.
Well time to say goodbye: