Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snowboarding and enjoying Korea

Things have been really really good since my last post. The past month has FLOWN by and I have really been enjoying myself! Teaching continues to be a hilarious joke of a job.. i have taught a total of ZERO days the past 3+ weeks. One week the kids studied for finals.. I watched TV shows. The next week the kids took there finals.. I watched TV shows AND left school at noon every day. And the following two weeks we watched the Lord of the Rings for class! This job is not bad at all.

So the weeks have flown by with little to no work, and then the weekends have been great partying in Suwon and Seoul. There's a really great group of people here and we have all been really enjoying ourselves.

Last weekend I went snowboarding with Wolfish which was pretty sweet. We kinda hopped on this organized trip so we were able to use their discounts at the resort. We got to hit the mountain all day Saturday and Sunday morning and it was just a great time. Everything worked out really well and I hope to be able to go at least one more time this winter.

Now Dori, who was supposed to have arrived here yesterday, is still sitting at the airport waiting to be able to board her flight. At this point, I think her flight is supposed to take off at at like 430AM (when she was scheduled to leave at 1240 PM). That would have her arrive here Thursday morning.. or two days later what was planned. The stupid blizzard over the NE really messed things up.

And I just got word that for whatever reason my winter break starts a day early and i do not have school tomorrow. I was planning on taking a sick day to hang out with Dori anyway but I guess its nice that i dont have to pretend to be sick. It definitely feels like the day before winter break on the office with everyone running around trying to tie up any loose ends before the break. Its exciting despite the crummy mood im in due to all of the ridiculousness surrounding Dori's flight.

I can't wait for Dori's flight to actually take off.. then i can start to get excited for new years and the Badger bowl game and my trip to Cambodia and Thailand!!

I guess thats all for now.. Korea is really good. I am very happy here and hopefully Dori will get here soon!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving and 'on the brink of war'

Here's just an update of my past week and a half (or so). So last week, as I am sure that you know, N Korea fired at S Korea which was the first such attack since the Korean war ended.. I was definitely a bit scared that I was about to be in the middle of WW3.. I read every article that I could find about it.. some making me feel better and some making me feel worse. Now that things have cooled down a bit (i think/hope) i can say that i will never trust an article from CNN anymore and will only be reading BBC for news. CNN posted article after article of how the Koreas were 'on the brink of war' and how war was 'imminent' and how the US and S Korea going through with their training exercises was surely to start a war.. well the training exercises came and past and still no war! The BBC maintained a much more level headed approach to the whole thing and wasnt exaggerating anything or trying to make the issue into anything that it wasnt. So anyway, we seem to be safe.. at least for now. I mean the whole time i was never afraid for my personal safety.. i was just afraid that if something went down i would have to leave prematurely which i did not want.. especially with Dori and my's trip to SE asia less than 1 month away!! If i had to leave korea before that i would have been so pissed.

But anyway.. so last weekend me and a bunch of friends got together to celebrate thanksgiving. It was really really nice. We all met up at my friends apartment sat afternoon and hung out and played a little football and drank and ate and played games the whole afternoon evening.. It felt as much like thanksgiving as i ever could have hoped while being in a country that hardly knows what turkey is. We all ended up rallying that night and making it out into Seoul and it was, like usual, a pretty good time.

This week i picked up my (1st) fitted suit!!! It is pretty sweet, im really happy the way it turned out. The process started a few weeks ago with getting my measurements taken.. and then going in a week later to have it altered.. and then finnnaallllyyy picking it up for good last tuesday. Getting a sweet fitted suit was something that i knew i wanted to get while i was over here and i am glad that i did it!! Now i just need to find an excuse to wear it...

Also this week I went to, and am now planning on joining, a boxing gym. Ive always been interested in learning how to box and one of my students is something like one of the best in the country for his age group.. and he told me that the gym that he trains/teaches at is walking distance from where i live. So the other day i checked it out and had a pretty good time. The first day i learned a ton and i am planning on going back tomorrow to join for the month.

Well i guess thats about it for now.. i cant believe that its December already!! November FLEW by and all of the sudden Doris visit and winter break are just around the corner.. Im mid way through the 4th season of 'The Wire' which has been really really great. With all of my free time during school i have started following the news more.. all of this Wikileaks stuff is crazy!!! Alright, schools about to be out..

Hope all is well in America

Sunday, November 21, 2010

English Festival and Flaming Lips!!

Last week/weekend was pretty nice. The week was easy cause i didnt  have school on friday cause it was the day of the Korean SATs. But the Korean SATs are REALLY intense here! They only get 1 try at it and it pretty much determines the rest of their life. This test determines where they will be able to go to school.. and therefor where they will get a job.. which pretty much means for Koreans how happy they will be. The test is so serious that the country stop all air traffic during the time of the test!! But yah, no school last thursday for me. Wed night me and some friends went into Itaewon so my friend could pick up this fitted suit that he had made.. and then i started looking at the suits and well one thing led to another and then I decided to get one!!! Im REALLY excited for it :) Tomorrow i am going in to have it altered and im pretty pumped about it. Now i just need to have reasons to rock a suit... anyway after the suits we grabbed some dinner and i found out my cousin was in soul at some bar where he and some friends were gonna do some stand up.. since i didnt have school the next day i met up with them and it was a pretty fun night.

The rest of the week went by pretty easily.. fri night i just chilled cause i had to be up early for the english festival.. So the English festival ended up being really really awesome!!! We get there and the kids put on these song and dances and they were hilarious!! Little koreans are really cute and funny!!! Here are some pics from the performances.

So after their song/dance i went to my room where i was running a color/shape/body part game.. they would repeat after me and i would say the names of colors/shapes/body parts as they would come up on the screen..  and then they would listen to my instructions to color in a picture like 'color the hair blue.. color the pants green' etc.. it was a kind of nice change of pace teaching the little kids opposed to my high school kids. The little kids are cuter but are a lot more work.. so it was nice for the morning but i think i am happy that i teach high school. Heres me teaching the kids the word 'shoe'.

After a few hours of that we were finished and the school provided an AWESOME lunch for us!! Soooo much food! It was fun helping out at the festival because everyone was soooooo thankful that we were there and were like waiting on us for whatever we wanted.. the principal was so happy to have us and everyone was just really nice.. and they paid us like $100 bucks which was a great bonus!!

SO, after the festival/lunch we headed into seoul and met up with some people that we were going to the concert with.. we grabbed some food and drink and then headed into the show. I was SO excited to see the flaming lips!! I had never seen them before and i had wanted to for a long time.. They did not disappoint! They put on an awesome awesome show. They played almost all of the songs i wanted to hear and it was just wild. The lead singer came out in this big ball and was rolling around the crowd which was sweet and that had so many balloons and confetti and lights!! And it was cool cause it wasnt at a huge venue so we got to be pretty close to the action. It was a great time.

After the show we went to this hookah bar that i like and i ended up running into my cousin and his gf and ended up chillin with them for the night. Pretty solid. It was a nice, eventful weekend in Korea!

This week my kids are taking their written test so i pretty much have 0 teaching i have to do.. just sit around and grade their papers which isnt so bad.. and this weekend we are having a Thanksgiving potluck which im looking forward to. Im kinda bummed that i wont be home for thanksgiving and will miss out on seeing all of my friends.. but im glad that we get to do something here as well. And now all of the sudden ive been in Korea for almost 3 months and its almost december!!! Crazy crazy crazy. Oh yah.. MELANIE GOT INTO MADISON!!!! Fiiiinnnaaalllllyyy!!!!! Im sooooo proud of her and i am glad that i will have two more years after jeremy is gone to still have reasons to visit madison!!! AND not Dori is coming in 5 weeks!!! Its crazy that it is almost starting to get to be 'soon'. The time has been going by pretty quickly so even thought it still feels like a long ways away.. i know itll be here before i know it!! Our whole trip is pretty much planned at this point and i could not be more excited!! Another thing, i found out last week that Koreans CAN tell the difference between Koreans, Chinese and Japanese (in case you were curious). Well i think thats about it for now.. I hope you have a great thanksgiving and i wish i could be there!!! Thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yangyang Surf Festival

What a weekend! Soooo glad that I decided to make the trek up to North East Korea for the Yangyang surf festival!! It began on friday with kimball and me catching a 3 hour ish bus to some city where we transferred to another bus which took us the remaining hour to yangyang. The bus there was fine.. i just watched episodes of The Wire which is getting really AWESOME by the way.

So we get to Yangyang and call the guy that was directing the festival and find out that we are in yangyang CITY and the beach was somewhere in yangyang COUNTY. On the phone the guy made it seem like it was SUCH a big deal.. but it turned out we were only like 20 min away.. regardless we decided just to stay the night where we were and make the remainder of the trip the next day. We are starving cause we kinda skipped dinner so we sit down at this place for some soup (Koreans LOVE soup). Right after we sit down, this old, drunk Korean man starts trying to talk to us (probably the millionth time this has happened in Korea). We are being polite and nice and after a few minutes he asks us if we know where we are staying that night.. me and kimball exchange glances and answer a hesitant '...no...' Then this drink Korean tells us in broken English that he owns a motel and we can stay there FOR FREE. We werent sure if this 'motel' even existed.. or if it was a dump.. or if he was trying to kill us but we eventually decided.. what the hell. So we finish up our meal and then we follow the korean man a short walk away to his motel (which DID exist) and showed us our room (which was actually pretty sweet!).  Here's me in our FREE room :) (I won the coin flip so i got to sleep on the bed too!)

Anyway, Kimball and I get settled and are just relax for a bit while we wait for two of our friends
(Quinn and Greg) to meet us at the hotel. Once they arrive, they decide that they are hungry and want to grab some food.. so we all walk out of the motel right past the owner korean guy that we met earlier. We tried to explain to him that our friends were staying with us too.. and at first he didnt seem too pleased. But he did point us in the right direction of a restaurant and even decided that he would join us!! So we sit down the 4 of us at a table.. and the korean at a table next to us.. and Quinn and Greg order food. After a few minutes, the korean has a pizza given to him from a restaurant across the street! And then he motions for Kimball and me to join him! So we do, and the pizza actually wasnt too bad.. And then he decides that he wants to buy us beers too! So there is me and kimball getting this free beer and pizza and chillin with the drunk korean motel owner.. and greg and quinn are just eating their soup haha. (The korean eventually bought beers for them too) After beer and pizza and a lot of laughs.. we crash back at the hotel.

The next day we hop in a cab that takes us to the beach. Once we get there, we drop our stuff off in a room and attend the opening ceremony for the event.. followed by lunch. The waves dont look so great and it is pretty cold.. but we are determined to surf! We decide it would probably be a little warmer if we drank a bit before so we grab some beers and chill on the beach and watch the other surfers. While we are chilling, we meet some of the other people attending the event. They are (like almost everyone i have met in Korea) really cool! They are, of course, english teachers and were just good people. We chill with them for a bit and get realllllyyy excited to actually surf and one of the dudes we met hooks us up with wetsuits and boards and then we are off! Heres us in our wetsuits. I know.. were pretty badass.

Anyway, then we hit the water! With the wetsuits it really wasnt so cold. And it was just awesome to be out in the water!! The waved kinda sucked but i caught a few and it was still just really fun to be out there. After a bit, my toes started to get numb and i decided to get outta there.. So i had a nice loooonnngggg warm shower (probably the most amazing shower of my life) and headed back to chill on the beach. They served dinner which was LOTS of chicken skewers and there was FREE BEER! There was music and one of the dudes that we met earlier performed and it was real cool/chill. So we all chilled around bonfires and ate our chicken and drank beer until we decided to go to sleep.. overall REALLY solid day!!

Heres some Korean cooking the skewers over one of the fires.

The next day we woke up.. grabbed some breakfast (kimchi mandoo and kimbob) and then headed back to the beach to try the waves again. The waves were MUCH better on sunday.. they still werent that great but were so so much better than the day before. So we get wet suited up and go back out there and it is AWESOME! We all catch a bunch of waves and just have an awesome time winter surfing in Korea!!! When our feet started to get numb again, we decided we were done and showered up and headed home..

The 4ish hour trip there turned into like an 8 hour trip home!!! Seoul weekend traffic SUCKS!!!!! It would have been no problem but my computer died like 3 hours in so i was stuck, The Wire-less, for the majority of the trip >:( But whatever.. we eventually made it home and the trip was well worth it. We got contact info for some of the people we met there and are hopefully gonna meet up with them again and go surfing another weekend!

This weekend is the FLAMING LIPS!!! Sooooo excited for that!! I cant believe that it is the middle of november.. this month has FLOWN by.

Hope all is well and thanks for keeping up with me while im over here

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Korea Update

So its been about two weeks since I last posted.. and this weekend I am going to this surfing competition that should be worth writing about.. so I thought before that I would just update on what has been goin on the past few weeks. A few weeks ago was Halloween.. which was fun but not quite the same as Madison. We went out in a part of town that is popular for foreigners so there were a decent amount of people in costume.. but it just didnt have the same feel as Madison Halloween. Im both happy and jealous that Jeremy got to enjoy another halloween in Madison.. but hey there is always next year for me! For hallowen i 'dressed up' as a panda.. and i sad dressed up because i just bought this pretty silly panda hat and wore it with a black shirt. But what is the funniest is that the hat, in korea, is just an ordinary hat.. while i thought it was pretty hysterical. Jeremy would have loved it (kinda like his penguin hat), maybe ill send it to him...

Anyway the next weekend was fun.. it was Wolfish's birthday and he rented out a bar which was pretty cool. Before we met up with him at that bar, me and Kimball ran into a friend that we met on Jeju (this german guy who is studying at a university in Seoul) and ended up joining him and his friends for some food and a little bar hopping. It was cool hanging out with them because they were so international. In our group there were germans, and italians, and french, and dutch, and spanish and swiss... and americans (us)!  It was cool to talk with all of them and it was also cool to 'add' to the international-ness of the group by being american.. there havent been a lot of situations where me being american has added to the globalness of the group before and it was kinda cool. They were all nice people and well probably go out with them again.

Uhh.. lets see what else.. school is going fine.. teaching is easy and getting easier. I am getting better at putting together and executing lesson plans and the kids still LOVE me. I know ive said this a million times but it is really cool being an actual celebrity here. And its nice if i am ever feeling anything less than happy about teaching or anything, i just walk into class to about 45 screaming/smiling 'HI NATE-UH!' and its pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on my face. Another funny thing that i like is seeing students outside of school (which happens pretty frequently) when i am walking to/from the subway or the gym or getting groceries and they freak out! They start giggling and poking each other and always give me a BIG bow :)

I was kinda sick this week.. just a really bad cold (sucked!). And so on tuesday i went to the korean doctor.. it was fine. I was in and out of there in like 10 minutes and they gave me some unknown pills to take and now i am feeling much better. I wanted to take a day off of school but decided not too to try and score some points with the koreans who dont take off school for ANYTHING. For example, my co teacher had his wisdom teeth taken out a few weeks ago after our morning classes.. AND THEN HE CAME BACK TO SCHOOL IN THE AFTERNOON!!! I thought he was crazy.. and decided i could 'show' them that i will come to school when i am sick too!! (And i didnt want to waste a sick day cause i plan on using a bunch while Dori is here and I dont want to them give me shit for it)

Some other random funny things.. so this week part of the lesson was working on pronunciation (koreans have trouble pronouncing certain sounds that are very common in english.. such as z). So for part of this lesson.. i was working to get them to say 'ZOO' which in Korea, often is pronounced 'JEW.' It was pretty hysterical trying to get them to make this seemingly easy distinction. Individual students would stand up and i would have them repeat after me and i would say 'zzzzzzzzzzzoo' and then they would say 'zzzzzzzzz jew' haahaha some of them just could not say zoo!! I actually was cracking up in class.. and the other kids were laughing too!! Id try and have them say 'the jew went to the zoo' and it would come out 'the jew went to the jew' HA! Koreans.. so koreans also have trouble saying pizza (pija) coffee (copy) rice (lice) bee (pea) and they add certain sounds to other words like they add an extra 'y' such as fish(y) or finish(y) and they add -uh also such as nice-uh or NATE-uh. All of these things the students had SO much trouble correcting!! It was a pretty funny lesson..

Haaaa Koreans also refer to dreadlocks as 'reggae hair' and whenever they say medicine it comes out 'madison' ... that one gets me nostalgic.

So im going to this surfing competition this this weekend and it should be pretty cool. Hopefully ill be able to go surfing (they said that wetsuits are available) and there is some beach BBQ and some live music and yah.. should be a good time.

Ive started watching The Wire. I have 1 episode left in season 2.. im definitely enjoying it and im looking forward to watching a bunch of episodes on the bus ride to the surf competition (like 3ish hours away). My fantasy bball team is doin pretty well.. im pretty pumped for this year and i am so glad to have the NBA as a fun time waster during my seemingly endless hours of time on my computer here.. Dori comes in like 6 1/2 weeks and im trying hard not to get too ahead of myself but im getting REALLY excited!!! We have pretty much our whole cambodia/thailand trip booked and its going to be ridiculous. I CANT WAIT!! My fam is going to NY this weekend.. wish i could be there and see everyone.. And i cant wait for Melanie to hear back from Madison!!!

Alright i think thats most of it.. hope all is well back home and thanks for keeping up with me!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Geumsansa Temple Stay

So, I just returned from a two day, one night stay at Geumsansa Buddhist Temple. It was something that I had heard of and had wanted to do since I got here and I am glad that I can cross it off my Korean bucket list. The trip started off a little rocky with both me and Kimball arriving late to the bus that was to take our group to the Temple. We both hopped in cabs thinking that it would be quicker than the subway but traffic was HORRIBLE! The ride should have taken like 40 minutes but ended up taking almost two hours!! So our group had to wait for us for a bit but we eventually made it.. WHEW! By the way, we went on the trip through this organization in Korea called 'Adventure Korea' that organizes all kids of trips for foreigners.. it was highly recommended and ended up not disappointing at al. So we finally make it to the bus and embark on the 4ish hour ride to the temple. The ride wasnt so bad.. There were a  lot of cool people going on the Temple Stay with us so conversation + napping made the ride go by quickly.
We arrive at the temple and first the give us our monastic robes (which were AWESOME!). Honestly getting to walk around in these things for the two days almost made the trip worth it right there. After we got our gear, we had some time to explore the temple grounds. Here'e me and Kimball in our robes in the temple courtyard.  We were laughing at all of us in our Monk robes.. with our Nikes on haahaha. So anyway, after exploring the temple a bit, we all gathered in some room to learn how to bow.  Here's our Master Monk (who was HYSTERICAL by the way) teaching us how to bow correctly.

After we learned how to bow we had Lotus Lantern making time. Heres me and some friends working on our lanterns and me with my finished lantern. I enjoyed making the lanterns a lot!
Next we had dinner (which was not very good) followed by some buddhist bell ringing (kinda fun) and then a short prayer service. The prayer service was pretty interesting.. there were like 6 monks all chanting and all of us in a room bowing repeatedly to a bunch of Buddha statues.. I had never really done anything quite like it before and it was definitely an experience i will remember.. 

After our prayer session, we had tea and Q and A with our monk. People asked all the questions that you would think that they would ask (why did u become a Monk, do you ever have second thoughts, are you happy, how did your family react.. etc) and the Monk did a pretty good job answering. The monk didnt speak any english so he spoke to us through a translator. I mentioned it before but our monk was HILARIOUS! He was always smiling and giggling and trying to make little jokes and fit almost perfectly the stereotype of a happy-go-lucky monk. Following the Q and A we got ready for bed to try and get a little sleep before the 3 AM morning prayer!! 

So after a short nap, we all woke up for the morning prayer.. We all gathered in the same prayer room that we had the service the night before.. what we DIDNT know.. was that the morning prayer consisted of bowing 108 times! ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT TIMES! Man that KILLED your knees!! The number 108 has something to do with 36 (something representing your body/mind) X 3 (for your past, present, and future sins). After what seemed like forever, we finally finished our bows (at around 4). Then we had some free time before some meditation in a dark room laying down (nap time) and then breakfast. Breakfast was just not that good. The food at the temple was not very tasty at all and the breakfast was no exception. I was the designated rice server for our side of the room and heres me serving rice to the monk (see how happy he looks?!). And here is our breakfast.. rice, some korean side dishes, and some bean curd soup.. a pretty typical korean breakfast. We were encouraged by the monk to 'eat slow and enjoy'.. and breakfast took like an hour. When breakfast was FINALLY finished.. we had some more nap time (which was amazing). 

It was raining when we woke up which was kinda a bummer cause i think we were supposed to go on some walk which we ended up not doing.. but anyway when we woke up we had buddhist bead necklace making. The way we made the necklaces was place one bead on the string for every bow we did.. and of course there were 108 beads.. meaning we were supposed to do 108 bows again! BUT they gave us a little break and said one bow for 3 beads would be alright too.. and 36 bows was much more doable than another 108! So we made our necklaces which was kinda fun.. and then just kinda bummed around the temple for another hour or so before we left to go home. 

Overall the trip was cool.. it was really interesting to experience what it is like to be a monk for a few days.. but i would have personally liked to learn more about the religion. I am very glad that i did it, and now dont really feel the need to do it again! So that was my buddhist temple stay :)

Other things this week.. i had my fantasy basketball draft!! I took a sick day from school on thursday cause my draft was wed night america time and that was the only way that i could make it. It was VERY worth it and i am pretty happy with my team!! CANT WAIT for the season to start in a few days. Ive been more seriously looking into planning Dori and my trip to cambodia/thailand. Its pretty fun.. there are so many amazing 3/4 star hotels for SO CHEAP (like 20-40 dollars a night) and there are some 5 star (literally nicest hotels i have ever seen) for less than 100!! Its going to be SO FUN! Its hard to not get too far ahead of myself when thinking about/planning the trip.. when im looking at stuff sometimes it feels like its coming up so soon.. when in reality its still a good 2 months away.. by the way I have been in Korea for almost exactly 2 months now which is CRAZY! On one hand it feels like ive been here forever and on the other hand i cant believe that it has already been two months! 

Well i think thats about it for now.. hope all is well at home!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Global Gathering, Live Octopus, Lotte World, BADGERS!

So quite a bit has happened in the past week and a half or so.. Starting with Seoul Global Gathering music festival!! Last weekend a bunch of friends and I attended this music festival in Seoul. It was pretty sweet. All of our friends met before hand at this fireworks show right on the Han River.. getting there was ridiculous! IT WAS SO CROWDED! Literally we were PACKED into the subway! SO uncomfortable/many asians!!! It was a time like this that you really realize that there are 24 MILLION people in the Seoul area.. and it seemed like they all were going to the same fireworks show! This is the crazy crowded subway.. and here Kimball in a crowd of people rushing out of the station..

After we got off the subway we met our friends at the park where the fireworks were going on.. and stayed for like 10 minutes because we realized we needed to leave if we wanted to make it to the show on time. Justice was playing first and we wanted to see them.. i never really listened to them that much aside from that song 'D.A.N.C.E.' but other people were pretty excited which got me pretty excited regardless. So we all go back on the subway and end up having to walk something like two miles to the show because that was as close as we could get to the festival grounds and cabs refused to drive us (for some reason). But the walk wasnt so bad because we all got a bunch of beer and soju. So FINALLY we get to the concert and it was pretty wild. We saw Justice, Fatboy Slim, and Armin Van Buren. I never really listened to those guys that much but it was a pretty ragin party with everyone dancing and having a good time.

The next week at school was midterms.. which meant that I did not teach AT ALL and just sat at my desk until around noon when school got out and the teachers went to teacher lunches. On monday all of the teachers in my grade went to lunch at the seafood place. There was some really good/fresh sashimi (which was delicious) and other random fish that i did not recognize. Lunch was going good and was pretty uneventful until they brought out a tray of still squirming octopus tentacles!! AHHH!!! I had heard that they eat live octopus (or very freshly killed.. and freshly killed octopus tentacles STILL SQUIRM!) but had yet to encounter it.. until today. I, of course, had to try it (even though i was honestly kinda freaked out by it.. seeing that stuff squirming on the plate did not look very appetizing!) But i ate it and it wasnt SO bad.. i definitely dont feel the need to eat it again though. I had also heard at these teacher lunches/dinner the koreans would try and feed me shots.. i didnt think this applied to my school because i thought all the teachers were christian and didnt drink.. well they do. Some of them at least. Not Joseph or the teachers i was originally sitting with, but by the end of the meal a bunch of the other teachers had come over and gave me shots and it was (kinda) fun. It was fun to drink with them.. but that still didnt quite bridge the language barrier. The rest of the week was easy.. tues and wed i went out to more teachers lunches (no drinking this time) and they were nice cause it was free and the food was pretty good.. but its hard to sit for a whole lunch with these people who really dont understand me and i dont understand. Everyone TRIES to be nice and talk to me.. but they really dont speak much english and the conversations dont get too far.. most of the lunches i end up sitting quietly eating while the other teachers chat in Korean.. The lunches were ok but i was very glad on thursday when we just went home and there was no teacher lunch. Also, on Thursday night my cousin Adam (who is also teaching in Korea) had organized some open mic hip hop event in Seoul and I was going to play guitar for a part of it while he beat boxed and his other friend rapped. I was pretty nervous/excited for it. So that night me and some friends went into Seoul (Itaewan) for the show. It ended up being pretty cool.. not what i was expecting but really fun. It ended up being a few other musicians and me jamming while these other guys rapped over it. All the other musicians were SO good and i was just trying to keep up.. but at least i didnt embarrass myself (i think)! Here's me on stage

So i played on stage with them for a while.. and then took a seat and enjoyed some more of the acts before heading home.. (it WAS a school night!) It was a really cool experience and hopefully ill be able to get involved with it again.

Friday though i went to Lotte World! Here is me with Joseph (on my left) and other random teacher that wanted to be in the picture. And me, Joseph, and some girl students who wanted to be in a picture with us. Lotte world is some indoor and outdoor Korean theme park. The kids pretty much get the day off after mid-terms and one of their options was go to Lotte World. Even though the teachers went.. we drove separately and didnt have to supervise the kids at all (NICE!). In the morning we went on a few rides.. nothing too exciting (even thought Joseph would SCREAM on all of them haahahah) and then we had lunch and explored some Korean Exhibit (actually really interesting) for the afternoon before heading home. It was a pretty fun day.. but again, it gets kinda hard being the ONLY one who natively speaks english and being surrounded by people who dont speak your language.. i just am left with a lot of time to my thoughts which is fine but kinda wears on you after 8 hours of it! It was an alright day but i was definitely ready to get out of there.

Friday night a bunch of us went out in Seoul for Zoes birthday.. pretty wild night  (like most nights in seoul). Saturday me and some friends tried again (unsuccessfully) to see a movie around Suwon! We get there and they sell us tickets to one of the two 'english' movies.. and we sit down in the theater and the movie is in FRENCH! AHHH!!!! SO ANNOYING! At least they didnt give us a hard time giving us a refund.. still really annoying! Sometimes Korea can be real frustrating.. that night was one of those times!

Sunday though was AWESOME! A whole bunch of us from wisco met at this bar that was replaying the game in the afternoon AND serving american breakfast! So we all got there.. got some awesome breakfast (eggs bennedict and hash browns) and pretty much drank the entire day while watching Wisconsin beat #1 ranked OSU!!! It was really really awesome and we all had a great time. We all talked about how being with all these wisconsin fans and day drinking made us feel like we were back in college again.. and also miss madison SO much! It was fun watching the game from Korea.. but we all would have much rather been in madison (where ALL of our friends were visiting!) Jeremy hung out with some of my friends that were visiting Madison.. made me wish i was there SO much!!! It was still nice to get a little taste of being back in college though.. P.S. Hurry up acceptance letter for melanie!!!

And now i have my first normal week of teaching in 4 weeks! The past four weeks i have only really taught 3 days!! And i got paid for it!!! Im honestly happy to get back to my normal schedule again. This weekend were talking about maybe doing the DMZ which would be really sweet.. or maybe a buddhist temple stay. ALSO last week me and Dori booked our trip while she visits over winter break to go to Cambodia and Thailand!!! YYYEEEEESSSS!!!!! Its gonna be so awesome and will be so fun and exciting to plan further.. but for now we at least have our plane tickets!!! AND this week i have my fantasy bball draft.. I CANT WAIT! Itll be great to get back in touch with all those guys AND will be a great time waster during all of my free time at school. Well thats about it for now.. hope all is well at home!

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Orientation and some other good stuff

So since my last post I have had a pretty nice week(ish). Last wed-friday I attended an orientation which was pretty cool. I only had to go to school Monday and Tuesday.. and the orientation was a great way to meet other English teachers living in my area and get a few good teaching/Korea tips. We were staying at this retreat hotel place and during the day we had some speakers and classes and then at night we all hung out at the convenience store drinking and getting to know each other. Overall it was fine, albeit a little boring at times, but it was cool only to have a two day school week.
Friday night after orientation I grabbed dinner with some friends (some new that we met at orientation) and then we bar hopped around Suwon. I went home earlyish cause I had to go into school sat morning for the staff picture (LAME). So sat morning i drag myself out of bed before 8 and put my suit on and head to school for the picture. One thing that made it a bit better was the TON of compliments i received! They really do love me at my school.. and Koreans are so funny because they are super modest and are heavy on giving out compliments but often refuse compliments given to themselves.. multiple teachers came up to me and complimented how 'so handsome' i looked and when i complimented them they replied 'no.. not as good as you!' I wasnt gonna argue with them.. HA This place is a ridiculous ego boost. After the staff picture, I needed to get my individual picture taken for the school year book as well (i guess the other teachers already had theirs taken) so in front of most of the staff i had my own little photo shoot! Pretty hysterical.. i could hear all the teachers commenting about it in Korean.
Later that day i met up with a few friends and went into insedong which is a  neighborhood of Seoul. It was a cool place and has lots of traditional shops and street vendors. (If i had pictures i would post them) So we got dinner and walked around and then just headed home and called it a night. I was exhausted from having to get up so early and my friends were tired as well.
Sunday was great! I joined and played on an ultimate frisbee team! The park we play at is on the bank of the Han river in seoul and was really scenic. The game was a lot of fun too and i met some really cool people. It was great to be playing sports outside.. i havent really done that since ive been here.. Definitely made me miss James Madison park.
After the game me and some of the other players ate at this 'western' restaurant which was great! I got a bbq quicken sandwich with cheese and peppers and onions and it was pretty fantastic. Dont get me wrong, i LOVE korean food, but it was also great to switch it up a little bit.
This week at school has been a pretty big joke. My kids have speaking tests and i am the one grading them. So for class i just sit in a room and the kids come in one at a time and answer two questions and i grade them. REAL easy but a little boring. BUT out of my 12 classes, i see 7 of them twice a week.. and the 2nd time that i see each class this week they have a study hall so i dont even need to go! So today, for example, i had one class in the morning.. and now have been/will enjoy a solid 7 hours on my computer in the office. AND next week the kids have midterms so i dont need to do ANYTHING! Literally i am going to sit at my desk for 8 hours a day on my computer. AND i just found out that on friday the kids are going to some amusement park which i will be going to also! Im sure that is going to be hysterical! SO over the course of 4 weeks.. with chousouk break, orientation, speaking tests and then midterms.. i will have taught a TOTAL of 3 days of school! WHAT A JOKE! AND i am getting paid!! Not too bad..
Also, they are really starting to like me at my school. I brought gifts for some of the teachers/principals at my school from my trip to Jeju (koreans love gifts) and I really think they are paying off. My principal the other day gave me a nice ballpoint pen! And the head teacher, my korean 'mom' yesterday gave me a HUGE bag of fruit! TONS of grapes, apples, and what she called pears (but really looked like giant apples). Pretty sweet! And the kids are still hysterical. Yesterday i left school with Joseph a little early cause we had to run to the bank.. and when we were walking out all of the kids were outside because they were having a fire drill.. as we walked out.. literally past all of the students in the school, no less than HUNDREDS (yes plural) of kids were yelling out to me as i was leaving 'HI NATE' 'NATE!' 'WHERE YOU GOING NATE' 'TEACHA NATE' 'NATE HI!' "NATE NATE NATE"!!!! I legit felt like a celebrity walking down the red carpet.. it was hard not to smile :).
I am finally meeting up with my cousin Adam tonight for dinner in Seoul which will be nice.. and this weekend i am going to some Seoul Global Gatherings music festival.. im REAL excited for that. And i am staying busy during all of my free time at school researching fantasy sports and Dori and my's trip to Cambodia/Thailand over winter break! (IM SO EXCITED!) If anyone has any tips/recommendations for cambodia or thailand please let me know! With all of the exciting sports stuff going on in MN (MOSS IS BACK! TWINS PLAYOFFS) I do wish that i was closer/more able to be a part of it.. and hearing how much Jeremy is loving madison makes me miss that too.. Jeremy/Melanie have an AWESOME weekend with gab! I wish i could be there!! BUT i am feeling more and more comfortable in Korean culture/society which is nice.. Hope all is well with everyone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


AMAZING!! This was just one of those trips where you go into it without much planned and not really knowing what to expect.. and EVERYTHING just works out perfectly!!! The trip was fcking awesome! So me and Kimball met up and headed to the airport together wednesday afternoon.. we dont screw up on the trains getting there (so far so good) and arrive at the airport without any problems. A small feat itself considering that navigating this country where you dont understand anyone/anything and no one understands you can get pretty tricky.. so anyway we get to the airport and board this funny little plane with murals painted on the walls of little animals.. AND during the flight the flight attendants auctioned off (i think thats what it was.. but again kinda hard to tell cause i couldnt understand anything she was saying) what i think were free tickets for another flight! The flight attendants stood up and held two tickets in her hand, and then all the Koreans raised their hands and threw out different numbers. After a few rounds of this the attendants gave the tickets to one of the passengers who looked pretty excited! HAAAHAHA Whatever happened it was pretty hysterical to me and Kimball. So anyway after about an hour we land on Jeju (Jeju is an island off the south of Korea.. think Korean Hawaii). And we catch a bus that takes us about an hour to the south of the island where we were staying and we find out hotel no problem. So far so good! So we shower and change and meet up with Wolfish and some people he was traveling with for dinner. We didnt even plan to stay near them but.. it just worked out :)! So yah we all get dinner and then go to some bar and get drinks and hang out for a while before headin home to pass out.
We awake the next day to this:

This was the view from right outside our hotel.. not bad!! haahaha It was hot and sunny and fuking awesome! We were a little nervous about the weather because the forecast said there was a chance of rain.. but it was BEAUTIFUL! So we grab some breakfast at the coffee shop next to our hotel.. find out how to get to the beach and hop in a cab and go! We roll up to the beach at the same exact time Wolfish and crew was which was convenient cause we didnt even plan it.. 
So here it is.. Jungmoon Beach: 

No Maegans Bay.. but not too shabby. Me and Kimball REALLY wanted to surf.. but the waves were too small which was kinda disappointing but wateva. The beach was hysterical.. we get there and there are all of these signs that say 'no swimming.. beach closed after August' We didnt understand why because it was hot and sunny.. and there were plenty of westerners in the water.. but no Koreans! Koreans are so funny sometimes.. they think that because it is September it is all of the sudden not beach weather.. so they refuse to go in the water. But it was great for us.. it was so not crowded! So we chilled in the water for a bit and hung out. We met some more people that we knew were in Jeju.. one person we met was Wolfish's friend Dan.. more about him later. 
After relaxing on the beach for a bit me and Kimball decided we wanted to go ATVing.. so we did. We got some Korean to write down a place that we could go ATVing.. hopped in a cab and went. That shit was pretty sweet. Heres a pic of Kimball and me in our badass gear/masks. ATVing was really fun!! We went on this pretty intense course through jungle right by the ocean and it was just really cool. After ATVing we went back towards our hotel and checked out this waterfall. On the way to the waterfall we stopped and got a snack.. chicken kebob (which was tasty) BUT the girl selling the kebob also was selling what we have been told was cocoons.. ive seen them a bunch of times and they always kinda grossed me out.. but right after we got our kebob some korean came and ordered a big cup of these cocoons.. the lady selling them noticed me and Kimball staring and offered to let us try one.. she described it as 'between bug and butterfly' haahaha (also GROSS) so Kimball tried one.. and then i felt pressured to so i tried it too.. sure enough it was nasty. I feel no need to try those things again. This is what they look like by the way .. they are just as gross as they look.. i honestly felt sick for a few 
seconds after i ate them.. but ANYWAY we continue on to the waterfall and see so many couples in 'couple shirts.' I guess instead of kissing in public, Koreans wear hysterical matching outfits (.... @Dori???) 

SOOOO FUNNNYY!!! Me and kimball took more pictures of the couples then the waterfall (which you can notice in the back of the couple with the rainbow sweatshirts AND matching red sox hat). After some good laughs at the Koreans we headed back to the hotel to shower and change for dinner. Kimball and I grab dinner #1 at some random restaurant we found.. it was dec.. and then went and met up with wolfish and crew which now included Jack.. who is an english teacher living on Jeju and bought a motorcycle from Dan (who was introduced earlier). So Jack, as a local, brings everyone to this awesome chicken wing spot (our dinner #2). The wings were great.. REAL spicy. And they gave us plastic gloves to eat them with which i thought was pretty brilliant. 
So dinner #2 was great.. chicken wings and beer with some good people. It was at dinner that Jack told us that his hobbies on Jeju include spear fishing.. and that if we wanted to he would take us all tomorrow! SWEET! After dinner we headed back to Jacks apt and chilled and drank on his roof for a while.. and then when it got too cold we headed into his room. In his room, he had this 'hot sauce' that was CLEARLY not meant to be tasted straight.. notice the warning on the label.. 

Well the combination of the alcohol and peer pressure led most of us to try it on our tongue.. NOT A GOOD IDEA!! THAT SHIT BURNED!!! AHHH it was one of the most unpleasant things i have ever tasted/experiences.. it burned in my mouth for legit 20+ minutes.. so so stupid of us! But whatever.. now i can say that i did it :)
After chillin at Jacks for a while Kimball and I peaced back to our hotel.. we woke up the next morning.. and hit up Jack to see about the spearfishing.. Weeeellll it turned out that not only were we going spearfishing.. these dudes at the dive shop next to Jacks apt were taking us all out on a boat to some island to spearfish for the entire afternoon!!! SO COOL!!!! We were all real stoked. So we get all wet-suited up and hop on this boat that takes us to this pandoraesque island. Heres the whole crew.Yah.. it WAS pretty bad ass. So we all spear fish for the afternoon. To those who arent familiar with spearfishing.. its pretty much snorkeling (which itself was pretty spectacular) with a huge spear that you kinda hurl at fish that look big enough to eat. It took me a little while but i caught one! Most of us ended up catching something (Kimball ended up catching like 6 haaha) But at the end of the day we had a decent catch! After a few hours of fishing and chilling on the island.. we headed back to shore. Heres a pic of the sweet sunset from the island before we headed back. It really was an AWESOME AWESOME afternoon.. So we headed back.. showered up and went back to the dive shop where Jack and his buddy were cleaning/cooking the fish so we could eat it for dinner! So it was Jack's buddy Weston that was helping us clean/cook the fish.. after talking with Weston for a bit i found out he went to KU.. and played frisbee.. and knows Joey, Justin, Abe and Usem!!! WHAT A SMALL WORLD!!! Its crazy the random connections you have with people.. and how you get connected to them.. So Me -->Weston was I was in Jeju.. met up with wolfish.. who was with his friend dan.. who sold his motorcycle to jack.. who took us spearfishing.. who called his friend Weston to help us cook and clean the fish!!! SO RANDOM!!! And awesome! Weston was a cool dude.. and he is livin large in Jeju! He has like his own 3 bedroom house and is really enjoying his time there. Its so cool traveling and meeting all these people.. i really really enjoy it. But anyway.. Weston cooked up the fish and they were delicious! Then the Koreans at the dive shop took the remains o the fish and cooked up this really good fish stew with rice.. which was great also! Koreans are SO hospitable! Those dudes at the dive shop really hooked it up for us.. it was a great meal and it was free :) WHAT A DAY! Kimball and I headed home earlyish cause we had plans to hike the tallest mtn in korea the next morning..
We get up early the next day cause we were told we need to be at a certain point up the mountain by 1230 or we werent allowed to go higher (or something like that). But of course we slept later then we were planning and ended up having to book it up the mountain.. And this mountain is BIG! It was like 9 kilometers up and 9 kilometers down (about 10 miles roundtrip.. i think) But it was HARD! It took a legit 7 hours! We started hiking at 10 AM and didnt finish until 5 PM. Im in decent shape and i was dying towards the end of up.. But we did it and it was awesome! Maybe the coolest part was that towards the top of the mountain we were literally above the clouds. Here are a few other pics from the hike too.. it was pretty spectacular. And my legs are still sore! 

After the hike we travelled to Jeju City to stay the night because that is where our ferry was leaving from early the next morning. We went to this weird sex themed sculpture garden which was kinda funny and kinda just made me miss Dori.. Kimball and I were probably the only non-couples there together. We were told that place was a 'must see'.. it wasnt. The next morning we got on the ferry which was SO BUMPY for the first hour and half.. i had to take some korean motion sickness stuff cause i thought i was gonna get sick.. but then it calmed down.. then we had lunch with some friends from the ferry in the city of Mokpo while we killed time waiting for our train home.. then we got on the train and another 4 hours later we were back in suwon! 1 hour flight down.. and 12 hours of traveling to get back.. flying was definitely the right move. Overall AMAZING AMAZING trip.. i got to do everything that i wanted and everything worked out SO well!!! :) And now i leave for this orientation tomorrow and so im done with school for the week! My fantasy teams went 1-1 again this week.. both were real close! And when i get back form orientation NBA PRESEASON STARTS!! YES! I cant wait for that.. fantasy bball is starting soon!!! AHHHHH SOOOO EXCITED! AND DORI BOOKED HER FLIGHT TO COME VISIT!!! Shes coming for 3+ weeks for her/my winter break :)!!! CANT WAIT! Aight.. sorry its so long.. thanks again for reading!!! Oh yah, i FINALLY got a cell phone today! My number us 010-2298-4452. HIT ME UP FROM SKYPE/GTEXT!!! 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Korea

So im not sure if I mentioned in my last entry that i teach at a christian high school. When Joseph first told me that i was teaching at a christian high school when i arrived i was a little worried.. but its not nearly as bad as i was fearing it could be. I think i mentioned that there is a HUGE drinking culture in Korea, but not as much at my school.. which i guess means that i wont be getting wasted and going to nori bangs (ill get into more about those later) with my co workers like some other english teachers but whatever. There is a short prayer every morning before school starts.. but i dont have to participate so it doesnt really bother me. My coworkers being christian (and some pretty devout christians) has led to some interesting conversations.. I am the first jew that any have them have ever met and it seems like in Korea there arent the same taboos surrounding topics like religion that there are in America. At lunch a few weeks ago this other teacher (who seems to have taken a particular liking to me) sits down and starts to ask me what i think about... jesus! WTF?! I dont want to offend him so i try and explain that in Judiasm jesus is not the messiah but is just a respected teacher.. and so then he goes on to ask me what i think about the coming of the messiah! Not quite discussing fantasy sports (which i would much prefer!!!) .. so i go on and try to explain about doing mitsvahs and stuff.. overall REALLY hard to explain because 1. Not a topic ive honestly given much thought.. 2. I have an pretty good idea of what judiasm says about it but am not totally sure and 3. he doesnt understand half of the stuff that i am saying! I try and explain things and he just gives me this blank stare and Joseph has to translate. And then he tries to reply in this broken english that makes no sense.. and i dont wanna be talking about this stuff over lunch anyway! The conversation ended with the other teacher mumbling something about some scientist recently proving (or not proving.. i couldnt understand!) that god created the universe and hes like 'what do you think about that?' and i was just like 'uuhhh.. tough question.. i dunno.' And thus endith my lunchtime theology discussion.
But Joseph and some other teachers have asked me some other questions about Judiasm that have kinda caught me off guard.. cause most of the time they come out of no where and would otherwise be kinda offensive haaha. Like the other day i was driving with joseph and out of the blue he asks me if its true that even though the jews are small in number.. they control the government! And control hollywood! Im like.. uhhh not quite. And then hes like but isnt Steven Spielberg and Larry King jewish? haaha So i tell him yes.. but that doesnt mean jews control hollywood!  Its funny cause he asks these questions so nonchalantly, and he really is just honestly curios but they're just questions that im not quite expecting!! Also, I was showing him a picture of Dori the other day and he asks me if she is jewish.. and i say yes.. and he looks at me confused and says something like 'but she has blond hair' haaaaa So i go on and explain that not ALL jews have dark features.. and that some stereotypes about jews, while maybe having SOME truth to them.. are never a rule and are often exaggerated (like all stereotypes). I think its kinda cool being the first jew that all of these Koreans have met.. i like dispelling the stereotypes that they have and teaching about my culture.
Annnyyywwaayyy last weekend me and some friends went to a nori bang (or however its spelled) which is a karaoke room. Koreans LOVE THAT SHIT! Im beginning to understand why.. we had all drank a bunch before we went in.. and we of course brought like 5 bottles of soju with us and drank and sang our hearts out until like 4AM. With everyones lowered inhibitions it was a pretty fun and hysterical time. Here's a pic of me and Kimball rocking out!
So what else.. I got my hair cut the other day! That shit was AWESOME! I was kinda skeptical of getting it cut in this place where i was sure no one would understand me.. but i brought in a picture of me with the haircut i was hoping for.. and kinda mimed a buzzing motion while pointing at the hair buzzer thing and she got the idea. Its funny how practiced i am getting at trying to explain myself without talking :). Anyway, the hair cut was amazing! No one has ever paid so much attention to detail on a buzz before and it was just great. So she buzzed it and trimmed ANY stray hairs.. and made sure it was even like 10 times.. and shampood it.. massaged it... and blow dried it.. it felt like it was a $30 haircut from some fancy salon and turned out great! And.. the best part.. it was less than 8 dollars! Im gonna get my hair cut like every 2 weeks.. i LOVE when they shampoo and massage my head and ill keep my shit fresh! I love how cheap this place is! All the students loved my haircut by the way.. all day i kept getting 'ooooo teacha nate! Hair cut! so good!' haaha teaching here is SUCH a confidence boost :) Another funny thing that happened in school the other day was a group of girl students came up to me and were giggling and when i said hello they put their hands over their face (koreans get shy easily haaha) and then one of them reached out her hand and gave me a handful of some korean chips.. and then they ran away giggling haahah. I feel like there is something that i just have to laugh at that happens every single day.
The other day me and Kimball checked out the fortress in Suwon. Again, not sure if i mentioned this but Suwon used to be a walled city.. it has since expanded a lot but the wall is still here. And there is some cool stuff inside the fortress too. So me and kimball went to check it out last saturday.. which also happened to be yom kippur so i was fasting.. which didnt make the hike up the walls and all the walking around easy! But it was fine.. the fortress was pretty cool.. it all felt SO asian (which i guess it to be expected). Some parts felt like i was in crouching tiger hidden dragon haaha Here are some pics:  

So yah.. that was pretty cool. Even though i got to be pretty starving by the end it was sweet. After exploring the walls/fortress me and kimball got some Korean fried chicken!! Such a traditional break fast! Surprisingly.. they LOVE that here.. We went to this restaurant that Kimballs co teacher took him too and it was hysterical.. one of like 5 other very similar fried chicken places all in a row.. one thing i am learning about Korea is they LOVE to have the same stuff in the same place.. fried chicken, cell phones, clothes.. so yah it was a cool afternoon of exploring.
Other things i am realizing about being here is that things that you THINK would be very simply.. rarely are.. like seeing a movie. So me and kimball first tried to catch a movie after the fortress and fried chicken. We went to the theater and THOUGHT we bought tickets for the 10ish show that we told them.. well we get to the theater and it turns out that she gave us the wrong ticket.. then we go and try and talk to her and get it corrected and it turns out the movie we thought we wanted to see wasnt even in english! So then we just decided to try and return the tickets.. BAD IDEA! We tried to explain we wanted or money back.. and she SEEMED to understand and we walked away feeling like the charge on the cc would be canceled.. only to see the next day that it wasnt.. shocker. So the next day we thought wed try our luck at another movie.. we thought we were so smart and figured out (with the help of a few friendly koreans) how to purchase the ticket at an automated machine.. we were going to see Despicable Me ( :)@Dori@Melanie ) and we sit down in the theater and are getting excited for it cause that movie is so funny and of course it starts and THEY ARE SPEAKING KOREAN! UUGGGHHH maybe we just werent meant to see a movie! So we get up.. find some korean guy that is working there that speaks a bit of english and he helps us exchange the ticket for the only english movie showing, resident evil, which we were interested in seeing anyway. So then we got dinner and killed a little more time till the movie and FINALLY succeeded in seeing and enjoying the movie in korea! 
Its so funny going out in public here too cause it seems like everywhere i go, me or someone i am with gets recognized by one of their students.. or gets attention just for being american. When me and kimball were walking around the fortress, some completely random old korean guy came up to us and started mumbling something in really broken english and wanted to shake our hands.. he actually really wanted to have a conversation, which is difficult because he couldnt understand us/we couldnt understand him, so after shaking hands we continued walking.. but this guy was SO excited to see/touch us! And Kimball ran into some students the other day who giggled and were like 'hello! nice to meet you' Which is funny cause these korean kids ALWAYS say 'nice to meet you'.. i dont think they understand that nice to meet you DOES NOT = hello. And we were in the elevator the other day with a student of mine and she says hello.. and i try and make small talk a little and she gets so shy and covers her face with her hands and giggled.. which was pretty funny cause we still had another minute left in the elevator together. Another one of the many random little funny things that happen here every day.

Then i only had school on monday and now am on break for the week! Im going to the Korean island of Jeju tomorrow and im really excited! Its like the Korean Hawaii! And then next week i only have two days of school before this orientation thing.. and then i get back and its already october 4th! WOW! AND the NBA preseason starts then!! CANT WAIT! Also, my fantasy football teams went 1-1 this week.. watup CP/pollock!! Vikings get your shit together!! AND GO TWINS!!!! Im meeting up with a bunch of people from wisco tonight for dinner/drinks/maybe go out in Suwon tonight which will be fun.. And yah.. i guess thats it for now. THANKS FOR READING!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Welcome to Korea!!

Sorry it has taken me so long to get this started! And this first post is really long cause i have a lot of catching up to do.. But anyway, if you didn't know, I am currently living in Suwon (a suburb of Seoul), South Korea teaching english for the year! I've been here for about 3 weeks now and am really starting to enjoy myself.
Fist arriving here was SO CRAZY! I came with a group of about 50 other kids from wisconsin and we all flew over together after a brief orientation at a hotel in Chicago the day before.. so we are all excited together in Chicago and on the plane.. and then we arrive in Korea and get picked up by our co teacher (the person who we teach class with/ is pretty much responsible for us while we are here) and separated from anything that we have ever known or is familiar to us. My co teacher's name is Dai-Hyun (like hyundai but switched) or his english name which I also call him is Joseph. Joseph is the fucking man! Hes kinda quiet and doesnt really like to go out or drink like some other co teachers do.. but as far as helping me with things that i need and teaching, i could not have asked for a better guy. Any time i need ANYTHING he is so on top of it which a lot of co teachers arent. And he is great to teach with.. a lot of other co teachers just sit in the classroom and let the native speaker do all the teaching, but Joseph likes to be involved and so me and him pretty much split the teaching load 50/50.. which is real nice so I only have to teach half the time and the other half i can just chill at my desk and relax while Joseph handles the class. The teaching here is REAL easy anyway.. having experience working with kids at camp definitely has made it easier to be patient with the Korean students. And i only have 4 classes a day with 3 off periods and an hour for lunch which is way more then enough time to prepare my 1 lesson plan that i need to each week. Plus, i've found/people have told me about a ton of resources for teaching english that make lesson planning so much easier. When i am not teaching i can pretty much do whatever i want on my computer which is pretty sweet. So yah.. teaching is not bad and Joseph is great. And everyone at the school treats me like a celebrity!! All of the kids love me and tell me how i am so handsome and sexy (both the guys and girls).. its a pretty nice ego boost. And everyone bows to me which i am kinda enjoying. And all of the teachers tell me how they like me which is nice.. but honestly kinda annoying at times when they keep trying to talk to me and they dont understand anything i am saying and i dont understand anything that they are saying.. but i guess better then them not liking me. But its funny I can not walk anywhere around the school without some kid trying to say hello or yelling my name! I am mostly called 'Nate teacha' or 'teacha nate' which i think is kinda funny.
Anyway, i get picked up by Joseph and he brings me to my apt. My place is pretty small.. just a room with a bed, small table, small closet, shelves.. a porch like room where i have my washing machine.. a small kitchen and a bathroom. The place is small but i like it. I really dont need much space and my place is cozy. The first few days here were really overwhelming.. my apt really have internet.. i could pick up on some random wireless sometimes.. but that shotty signal was almost as frustrating as not being able to get any internet at all.. i had no phone.. no way of contacting my friends i came over with.. i was in this reallllyyyyyyy strange place where no one understands me and it was kinda hard.. the first few days there were moments that i was pretty homesick missing my life back in madison, my family and Dori.. but as i got settled things have really started to get better.
I am happy to say that i think i have about as good of a situation that i could ask for in Korea.. my city, Suwon is great! There are some cool restaurants and bars and some pretty lively areas to chill around at night. I live around the corner from my school and a short walk to a train station that can take me all over the region.. there is a crew of about 7 people from wisconsin that live within like 15 min of me which is great! A lot of people that i came with are not close to anyone that they know.. and i am close to a group which is really nice and has made adjusting to life here so much easier. The Suwon crew gets dinner/drinks a few nights a week and it is always a good time. Food/drinks here are SO cheap.. we can usually get a huge delicious korean meal (korean food is pretty great by the way) and a few drinks for around 10 dollars.. and sometimes even cheaper. The weekdays here are usually really nice.. school is easy.. then after school ill work out on some days (i joined a gym here which is always a funny experience to go to), then meet up for dinner/drinks on most nights with some of the people that also live with in suwon.. enjoy the meal with friends, have a few drinks.. and then come home around 10 and go to sleep for school the next day. Its a pretty nice life.. VERY low stress.. very easy AND we are getting paid!!
The first weekend here me and like 30+ of the other wisco kids that i came over with all stayed at a hostel in seoul together. That was a pretty good time.. it was great to be around english speaking people. We stayed in a pretty cool area of seoul and explored the city a bit and went out at night. Last weekend was fun too.. friday night we just chilled around in Suwon and went to a few bars. And then Saturday we went into seoul for dinner (tacos!) and went to this reallllllyyyy cool hookah bar that had a live band. The hookah bar also had a handful of drums that they said any of the guests can use!! I CANT WAIT to go back to that place and play with the drums! I really miss the drum circles we used to do in madison.. after the hookah bar we went and drank on the street for a while (which is perfectly legal and VERY cheap). Soju, the korean alcohol, costs like 1 dollar for a small bottle and the korean beer, which is not good but is tolerable, is cheap too. So we were trying to find a place to chill and drink before we went to a bar or club and we met these american guys who were playing guitar for money. One thing that is really cool about being here is that i feel like i have an instant connection with any other non-korean that i meet.. its cool cause pretty much  every non-korean here is either teaching english or in the army. Its really easy to get along with other teachers cause everyone here is doing pretty much the same stuff.. for similar reasons.. and having similar experiences so its really easy to start conversations and you can relate to people easily. So after meeting up with some more friends and chilling drinking for a little bit we went to this hysterical club with koreans dressed up in chef costumes.. but they kept feeding  us free drinks so we stayed! It was a pretty fun night and at the end we just took a cab back to suwon (took like half hour and was only like 10 a person) and passed out. The next day i went to cotsco! Yes, they have costcos here and my american membership works! Thanks mom!! Costco was pretty funny too.. it was PACKED! All the koreans were there stocking up on stuff for chousouk (korean thanksgiving) that is happening next week. I got a ton of food and it was nice to be in a somewhat familiar feeling place. And because of chousouk, i only have school monday next week and so me and kimbal are going to the island of Jeju (Korean Hawaii)! Im pretty pumped.. and then i found out that the week that i get back i have an orientation from wed-friday which i miss school for! I also heard the orientation is just a way to meet and get drunk with the other foreign teachers in your areas.. im definitely looking forward to it. So i only have to teach 4 days over the next almost 3 weeks!! See, i told you this job was pretty easy!! Another note on that, today the kids all have national testing so no class.. so ive been sitting on my computer for the entire day and havent had to teach anything! Not too bad..
So yah.. overall Korea is pretty fun.. and i havent even gotten my cellphone yet (which i will hopefully get right when i get back from chousouk)! I am getting settled and starting to really enjoy my time here. I do miss Madison and my life there.. but this is getting pretty cool.. i am kinda enjoying being a 'real' person with normal person hours..  And I really miss Dori, but weve been e-mailing and videochatting a good amount which has made it a little easier.. she is so great! and Kimbal who i chill with almost ever day is in a similar situation as me with having a girl at home so its really good to have him to talk to and relate to about that stuff. And ive been able to skype with my family pretty regularly which has been REALLY nice.. and ive been able to text through gmail for free which is pretty sweet too. Give me your numbers so i can text you/skype call you!!! Aight i guess thats about it for now from korea. Im glad that i got all of that out of the way so i can now more focus on the hysterical shit that happens pretty much every day here. More to come soon.. THANKS FOR READING!!!