Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Hangul mal mulah-yo"

Chris: Before my last entry there was a four-month gap between posts. This was probably due, in part, to the fact that my little discoveries have become littler and littler. I increasingly feel at home here. But my Dad keeps asking me to write, so....
(The movie "Meet the Spartans" is on the TV in the background. Holy shit! Aggressively unfunny. I'm so astonished by its awfulness that I just can't change the channel.)
Months ago my boss gave me a Korean name, just for a laugh really. I wanted to be called Min Gyu. I don't know why, I just like the name. Instead he gave me Gil Su. The "G" sounds a bit like the "k" sound, and the "l" is very subtle. So it kinda sounds like how my students say my English name, ie. "Chris-su" or "Chris-uh".
I'm not about to adopt this my Korean name for real any time soon but lately I do feel as though I'm blending in a little here. My Korean-style gestures have become so automatic that I do them amongst my fellow foreigners. When handing something to them I touch my right arm with my left hand. My Korean is still terrible but if the conversation is familiar and basic I can often get by. I even find myself automatically using Korean exclamations such as "assah!" and "aish!"
My Korean would improve exponentially if I put in a real effort, but being a lazy sod is not the only reason I don't know more of the language. I don't mind wandering around not knowing what is going on around me. In fact, I often prefer it that way. Things seem more wondrous and magical this way. For example, when I see my elderly landlady talking with her friend on the sidewalk whilst drying chillies or seaweed or some mysterious vegetable/herb that I can't place, I can imagine them debating the tenets of Confucianism or swapping vivid war-time stories full of pathos. I don't want to know that they're really comparing ailments or bitching about the music volume from the round-eye tenant.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Chris: Last Saturday I saw snow falling for the first time in my life. I was drinking with friends at a bar when at the time. Instead of the usual fare of Korean beer, we were downing cherry soju and makgeoli. For the uninitiated, soju is a Korean spirit made mainly from rice. It tastes kind of like a weak, sweet vodka, and it has an alcohol content of about 20%. It's sometimes mixed with flavours like kiwi, lemon, yoghurt, or in this case, cherry. Makgeoli is a Korean rice wine. It has on off-white colour and tastes a little like a sweet milk. It was served in a battered, old large metal bowl and ladeled into smaller individual serving bowls. Is your mouth watering yet? Well what if I told you that both these drinks (particularly makgeoli) provide you with a hangover whilst you're drinking? No need to wait for the next morning. But don't fret, you'll have a (monster) hangover then too. Okay, so maybe it doesn't sound all that appetizing, but you'll be sold when I tell you that I spent only 10,000 won (AUD$10, USD$9) and got all the makgeoli and flavoured soju I could drink (this price includes the relatively expensive appetizers we bought).
Aaaaaanyway was about midnight when it started snowing. It was only a light dusting, my Michigan friend assured me. Nevertheless, it was pretty cool, I thought ...even magical, dare I say. I ran outside to catch a few flakes on my tongue. Not even the nearby violent expulsion of vomit by the young lady rushing out of the bar could spoil the moment (clearly she had had a little too much of the aforementioned drinks). Incidentally, you'd think that Koreans could handle their soju/makgeoli, but no.
The obligatory snowball fight ensued. My friends, I would like to say that I won this battle. I would at least like to say that I held my own. But these would be lies. Morally speaking I have no issue with lying. My only issue is with being caught lying, and my snowball adversaries might read this blog and post nasty, truthful comments. To my more experienced snowball-fighting opponents I say this: the Korean winter is long and I'm a quick learner.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kimchi-coloured vomit...

Chris: ...this is what I see on an almost daily basis. Koreans love to drink to excess and, of course, they love kimchi. All too often the result of these twin passions is the slippery orange gunk that lays in wait for me during my short walk to work. Fortunately, I'm yet to have fallen victim to one of these land mines. Thank God for regular summer downpours.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

East/West Pt. 1

Some differences between Korea and Australia that I've noted so far (in no particluar order)...
- Convenience store fridges aren't as cold in Korea
- In Korea, beer is cheaper, food is cheaper, basically everything is a little cheaper ....except Western food
- In Korea, your boss is your boss outside of work too
- Unlike in the West, there's basically no difference between breakfast, lunch aand dinner.
- Coffee is sweeter and weaker in Korea (at least compared to Melbourne).
- Korean kids seem more knowledgable about world geography than Australian kids, and probably more again than American kids.
- Far, far less animals in Korea.
- In Korea, friendships bring (mutual) obligation.
Some similarities between Korea and Australia that I've noted so far (in no particular order)...
- Kids are the basically the same. Like in Australia, many kids are adorable, many are little shits. Abandon any notion that Korean kids are all super respectful and disciplined least before they get to high school.
- Koreans, like Australians, don't mind a drink or twelve.
- Like in Australia, most people are warm and friendly ....though the "default" or "resting" Korean facial expression is a little more frown-like.
I could write forever but I have to get ready for a Korean/Irish wedding. It should be a gold mine for trivial and important observations about cultural differences ....I'll bring a notepad

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crazy foreigners running about in Chungju

Rowena: So I guess it's been 2 months since we've been here in Chungju and it's hard to believe what close friendships we've formed within this time. We spent the weekend celebrating a combined hens and bucks day (or bacherlorette and bacherlor party), then parted ways and partied throughout the night, then rejoined in the early hours of the morning til it was literally daylight. So during the day, a scavenger hunt was organised and we were divided into gender teams. A crazy list was compiled with tasks that both teams had to complete within a time frame of an hour and a half, and these were to be done all around Chungju. Now here's a taste of some of the things we did:
- Fit as many people as you can into a taxi (we managed to fit 10 girls into a 4 seater taxi)
- Fit as many people as you can into a phone booth (again, the 10 girls fit)
- Form a human pyramid in front of Lotte Mart (a VERY public and busy shopping center. We succeeded with a huge crowd of on lookers!)
- Chat up a Korean who was working and score a phone number (success!)
- Kiss and be kissed by a Korean (thankyou to the kind gentleman who allowed me to do it!)
- Take a picture of a Korean with the biggest head
- Take a picture of a Korean with the most 'jacked up' teeth (we got big head and jacked up teeth in one shot! Gold!)
...and a whole heap of other crazy shit! I don't know what the locals now think of us foreigners running all over Chungju like crazy manics! Like we all didn't stand out already. I think some of us feared we'd be sent back to our home countries. But it was definitely worth it, running around in the ridiculous summer heat, and the fact that the girls won made it all worth while!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Minor fracas

Rowena: So far we've had nothing but great experiences in our interactions with Koreans. They have been very friendly and helpful... up until yesterday lol. We were on a bus returning from Anseong to Chungju. Chris and I were having a chat with one of our foreign friends, and I felt a kick on the back of my chair. I didn't think anything of it, maybe someone was just crossing their legs over. Then it happened again, and our friend asked me if my chair was being kicked, and I said yes, thinking that this person behind must be fidgety. Then our friend got up from his seat and was standing in the aisle having a chat to our friends who were further up the bus. Then I felt three hard kicks behind my chair and I turned around thinking wtf is going on?? The person who had been kicking my chair was an elderly man yelling at me and kicking my chair while pointing to my friend standing in the aisle. He wasn't happy that my friend was having a friendly chat on the bus, but I don't think kicking my chair and shouting at me was the most appropriate way with dealing with his 'obviously distressing situation'. Now why was he kicking my chair? Probably because like everyone else, he thought I was Korean, and expected me to tell my friend to sit down. Now I'm all for respecting the elderly, but it goes both ways... So to anyone planning to travel on a bus in Korea with an elderly person, be weary, they're violent*!

*Eldery Koreans are not violent (only the man mentioned in this post)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

New friends

Chris: Shortly after starting work in Chungju the other foreign teacher at our English academy introduced us to his friends here. They're a fun bunch of people and have all been very warm and welcoming to us right from the start. We've actually just come back from a weekend away in a nearby city with about 8-10 of our new friends. I was introduced to an American cultural phenomenon that is a drinking game called "beer pong". Needless to say, things got messy. I'm proud to say that I think I represented the Aussies well. I'll definitely be taking this game back to Australia ...and the USA's cultural imperialism continues....
So of our new friends there's like 10 Americans, 2 Koreans, and 1 Irish guy. I can honestly say that there's not one of them that I don't like. It's obviously really important to meet good people when you've suddenly transplanted yourself to a totally foreign place, so we've been very lucky to have met so many so soon.
We've even met a couple of other Koreans who run a bar nearby our old apartment. I don't know if I'd call them "friends" just yet. Mainly because the closest Korean word to "friend" apparently denotes a closer bond than that of the English word. The owner has just shut down his bar for renovations but not before supplying us with plenty of free food and alcohol! He invited Rowena and I around to his house for dinner this weekend ....but as I mentioned earlier, we were out of town. The cynic in me thinks the owner and his employee's friendliness is somewhat motivated by a desire to practice their English conversation skills and by the fact that supposedly it's good for business to have foreigners frequent your bar. Whatever the case they're nice people and, as I just mentioned, the beer is often FREE!
29 days in Korea and still swine flu free. Every day is a blessing.

Our new home sweet home

Rowena: We've finally moved into our new apartment...woohoo!!!!! For the past month we've been living in our temporary accomodation, and our new place compared to our old is a palace (ok not a palace, but let's just say we were living in a one room shit hole). So we're pretty happy, and are loving our unnecessarily spacious balcony. 2 weird things though... our fully furnished apartment doesn't have a freezer, and our bathroom doesn't have a basin... We're in a good location, conveniently close to work and no longer have to do the 1 hour gruelling trek (ok, I may be exagerating a little) that we've been doing for the past month. So I'm quite happy to call this place home for the next 11 months :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Hello handsome man!"

Chris: This will be news to anyone who knows me - apparently I'm very handsome! I've had basically the same face and body for 28 years but have only just found out about my handsomeness. Okay, okay, I know what you other foreigners in Korea are going to write in response. Yes, maybe every single young white guy is considered good looking in Korea. And yes, maybe Koreans are much more likely to comment on people's appearance. But why have you got to bring me down?!? Can't you just let me be blissfully (and purposely) naive?!?
Here in Korea I'm told on a pretty regular basis that I'm "handsome". Sometimes it's shouted at me on the street by passing school girls, sometimes women AND men in bars feel the need to tell me, even my co-workers and students let me know about it. The other day I walking down the street late one night when I passed a small group of straight-looking young men I had never met before. They stopped me so one could take a photo of me with his friend. When I left one commented on my "handsome face" and another called me "handsome-man".
Of course I'm letting my girlfriend, Rowena, know all about my newly discovered handsomeness. Apparently she didnt know either!
I write about this to highlight just how bizzare this place is. Night is day, up is down, black is white.
I think I hear a few suitcases being packed around the world by my fellow caucasions. Please remain in you respective countries. I want to remain a novelty.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bad luck

Rowena: Ok so this is a whinging post. Last night we went out for dinner with a group of friends at another traditional restaurant (the take off your shoes, sit cross-legged on the floor deal). Great food, good times, and then we get up to leave. We seem to be the last group of people at the restaurant, and we're ready to put our shoes back on. Everyone's doing just that, and I realise that my shoes (thongs really, as I call them - no not that kind of thong...) are not there! There's a similar pair left there, which happen to be the same colour and size as mine, but probably cost a tenth of what I paid for mine. My beloved Haviannas (the comfiest pair of thongs I own - AUS$25) now belong to some local, and I'm stuck with said theief's $2 dirty thongs. Boo!!! Last week someone stole my umbrella that I just bought that day! AND the week before we left for Korea, someone stole my handbag!! Karma seems to be paying me back for a crime I'm yet to commit! I'm guessing now that someone is going to steal my clothes off the communal clothes line that we're using. I shouldn't say that...I don't want to jinx it!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Korean girls

Rowena: Korean girls love to walk the streets wearing high heels, not any old high heels, I'm talking sky-high heels! And they wear these everywhere. Chris and I have been temporarily living in an area where the foothpaths are bumpy with many cracks, dusty roads, and when it rains, can get very muddy. Yet the girls continue to wear their sky high heels and effortlessly walk the streets, rain or shine. I'm constantly tripping over cracky footpaths, and that's wearing flats! Even the teachers wear their heels to work. Chris and I are yet to witness, but we've heard that girls even go hiking in their heels! It's insane!
I think I'm the only non beer drinker here in Korea. Guys obviously love the beer, but so do the girls. Chris has been trying to get me to 'learn to love beer' over the past 5 years, and I'm slowly getting there... I can now drink a bit without wanting to spit it out. Luckily though, they have nice cheap cocktails for my sweeter pallate. It's about AUS$6-7. I think I once paid AUS$18 back home for a cocktail. So yesterday I ordered a 'sex on the beach', and the bar tender repeats my order and says, 'ok, 1 sex on the machine'! I couldn't stop laughing. I ordered the same drink later that night and he said that same thing. It's my new favourite drink, but I don't think I'm brave enough to order a 'sex on the machine' the next time we go there! Might just have to learn to love the beer...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Not a pretty sight

Rowena: We went out for dinner with a group of friends last night and it was at a traditional restaurant where you have to take off your shoes and sit cross legged on the floor while you eat. The look on Chris' face when he realised we were dining this He doesn't cope well with this tradition and was doing a few stretches before we sat down. We were eating a hot pot style dish called 'shaboo shaboo' (I have no idea how to spell it, but it sounds about right!), and it was delicious! So we were having a wonderful time and I noticed that the group of elderly diners behind us were staring at us. And this isn't strange to us anymore...we were a group of foreigners and we're all used to getting stared at. But this one particular woman didn't take her eyes off me and was saying something in Korean. I just thought she assumed I was Korean and was asking me how my meal was. So I'm nodding trying to explain to her that our meal is fantastic. The group of elders finished their meal and left the restaurant and we waved goodbye. A minute later, a waitress comes up to me with an apron, ties it around my waist backwards, and I realised that she was covering my backside! I was wearing jeans, and my ass crack was apparently showing!! I was sooooooooo embarassed... the eldery woman was tring to tell me that I was disturbing her dinner with the view of my backside! Apologies elderly woman, I will remember to wear high waisted jeans the next time we dine at a traditional restaurant!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Korea: land of the freebie

Chris: Rowena may have already written about the free stuff we get ...I don't know, I couldn't be bothered reading over past posts.
Maybe everyone gets free stuff, maybe it's because I'm a round-eye, maybe it's my and Rowena's irresistable personalities. I don't know and I don't really care. Just about everywhere we go we get little perks. When we're at a bar we get ice-cream, fried eggs, and of course plenty of bar snacks. When we eat out we occasionally get little extras. For example, the other day the owner of some restaurant gave us some of his lunch. The old guy who runs the baseball batting cage thing gives me free turns sometimes and feeds me little snacks and Soju (Korean alcoholic drink) ....though I'm definitely his best customer so maybe this is just smart business practice. Maybe it's just so he can hit on Rowena. Rowena slightly injured herself while batting and he's twice asked her if she'd like a "massage" to fix it. Hey I'm not above pimping her out if it means I continue to get free batting practice and Soju.
The owner of a bar we've twice visited challenges me at pool and then gives us free pints of beer when he loses. The last time he promised to shout the whole bar if he lost. He then promptly paid up and I became a hero to the 10 or so people there!
I've been stopped on the street by university students and fed shot after shot of Soju and then had my hands forcibly filled with snacks.
I hope I'm not wearing out my welcome. I hope these people don't think I frequent their establishments just to exploit their generosity. If anything I try to avoid going too often because of the freebies. But right now I really feel like a (free) beer so I'm off to the bar with the terrible pool player for an owner....

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rowena: So after a few days of teaching, I've figured out which kids are my favourite...yes that's what teachers do lol (or I could just pretend that I love the all just the same!). I have one particular class that I look forward to. It's a group of 4 kids, and I got to name one! Each kid has their Korean name, and an English name. We went through a few different options, I even suggested 'Chris' but he didn't like that he was happy with being named Jack. They never fail to correct my attempted Korean the way I correct their English.
Chris and I went into town on the weekend and were very excited to discover that they have 'Video Pangs' which are private DVD rooms. You just choose from a reasonable selection of DVDs and get to watch it in a comfy private room with a large screen and comfy couch. Sounds great right? I think so, I like watching movies. But apparently people go there to do more than watch movies if u know what I mean. That's probably why I was getting a few weird stares when I told people at work what we did on the weekend. I was telling them we went to the movies, they were hearing we went to have 'party time fun' at the Video Pang, and we had such a great time that we went there twice! I should of figured when I saw a box of tissues on the table.
We had drinks with a group of 'foreigners' over the weekend, the majority being American. They were all English teachers as well working at different schools. It was the first time we saw non-koreans, very exciting!

The kids

Chris: We probably won't be able to upload any photos for a couple of weeks so I can't show you any pics of our students (or anything else). Instead I've searched the internet for a picture to represent something nearing the adorableness of some of our younger students. This picture still doesn't do them justice....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I'm not Korean!

Rowena: After months of preparing documents, waiting on visas, and frantically filling out more documents...we're finally here...woohoo!!! So Chris has basically covered the details of our time here so far but my experiences have been slightly different. EVERYONE here thinks I'm a local. What makes me say this? Well firstly, on our flight over here, the flight attendants were all greeting me in Korean and Chris who was right behind me was greeted in English. Secondly, at the airport, the immigration officer attempted to have a conversation with me in Korean, and realised about 5 minutes in that I didn't understand a word he was saying. Thirdly, every shop assistant expects me to translate for my obviously foreign-looking boyfriend. 5 days in, and it still doesn't get old! What we're loving so far are all the freebies we're scoring for being foreigners...when we buy a couple of beers,we get... a bowl of ice-cream, 2 fried eggs on a sizzling platter, and other snacks! We've had 2 days teaching and I have to say that I'm EXHAUSTED!! I'm finding it hard coping with a 5 minute break in between classes. No time to scratch your own ass, let alone eat!!! Most of the kids are great...but you always come across a few that can give you the shits. I have to say though, these kids know so much more than what I expected. Not only can they read, write and speak English, they can actually comprehend what they are reading. Some of these kids are more advanced than some kids I've taught back home! We've noticed that the Korean teachers use ALOT of korean in class, some only use korean! Chris and I have no choice but to only use English, but hopefully that will encourage the kids to learn english faster. Hopefully we can eventually understand and speak enough Korean to get the meantime...just smile and nod and continue to walk the streets of Chungju with my D-grade celebrity boyfriend!

We're here!

(This was written a few days ago but only posted now)

Chris: Well we're in Korea now! We arrived Saturday night and so far so good. I had 1 hour of sleep on Friday night then caught a 6:30am flight to Sydney. We just made our connecting flight in Sydney airport ....and I mean JUST. The woman at the counter told us we missed the flight but then let us board. I think she was trying to make a point and scare us. I reckon I had a total of 3 minutes sleep on the plane, despite taking an unprescribed sleeping pill. Rowena was listening to music through her headphones and still heard me snoring and woke me up. I felt a little too self-conscious to sleep after that. Once in Seoul we met some dude holding a sign with our names (just like in the movies). We were driven to a bus stop and sent on the longest 90 minute bus ride of our lives.
We were met in Chungju by our boss. He was younger than I imagined, about mid-thirties. First impressions can be misleading but he seems laid back and friendly. He showed us around the hagwon (private English academy, I think). Kinda small and very modern. I was impressed. He took us to a hotel becuase our apartment wasn't ready. Hotel was awesome ....though I would've been satisfied with just a space on the ground to pass out on. Big screen LCD, computer (all in Korean), two showers, big jakuzi, and a bunch of other unnecessary but cool stuff. The weirdest thing about the hotel was that just outside our door there was a vending machine full of ....umm ...."marital aids". Funny as hell. We'll put up the pic when we can be assed. I wonder if our boss had to pay for the room by the hour. When I thanked him for the comfortable room the next day he made a point of saying that he'd never been there.
Next day we're shown around Chungju. It bigger than I expected and quite pretty on the outskirts. We're taken to a Korean restaurant where you sit on the floor. I forgot this was going to happen. I have the flexibility of an arthritic giraffe but I tell the boss I'm fine. Rowena struggles with the super spicy food but she tells him sh'es fine. Our apartment is 5 minutes walk from our school but we're told it isn't available for 3 weeks so we're taken to our temporary accommodation 10 minutes drive away, near the university. It's very modest but it already feels like home.
I thought we were to start on Monday but instead we start Wednesday. Over the next couple of days we go out to bars, shop, eat great food. It's all good. I start to notice eyes on me though, especially from kids. In case you ddin't know, South Korea is a very homogeneous nation, in terms of culture/race. I stick out like a sore thumb ....a very sore, gangrenous thumb. Young kids especially like to stare. It doesn't bother me at all. That may change. I know it bothers some other expats. Rowena doesn't get the same looks. I tell her she dooks like a Korean with a tan. She tell me I'm like a D-grade celebrity. It's kinda weird to get so much attention for doing nothing else but existing. Now I know how Danni Minouge feels ....oooh take that Danni! No soft targets are safe when I've got my little self-indulgent blog. Watch out Paris Hilton and Peter Andre, you're next!
This has been a long post but there's still so much more to write. Every little interaction with someone is an adventure. I already feel like I've packed in so much living in such a short space of time, and that's kinda what this whole thing is about.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bye-bye Austraia

Chris: We got our Visas today! We booked our flight today! We leave tomorrow morning! Woohoo!!!
Oh crap, this suddenly became real.... wish us luck....

Monday, April 20, 2009

K-pop's finest

Chris: This is my 5th post and we're not even in Korea yet. I'm sure the novelty of this blog will wear off for me soon ....probably around the time we actually get to Korea. We can't get there soon enough! I hear the Korean siren song posted below calling me. I don't have the skills to upload this song from youtube but hopefully this link will work. At first you'll cringe but you'll be won over by the end. So don't fight it, sing it loud, sing it proud, "gee gee gee gee baby baby baby"

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I heart Korea

Q. Who would you trust alone in a classroom with your kids....

....the bright and bubbly young lady pictured above? Or.....

....this evil looking mofo?
A. If you're Korean, then BOTH. All you really need to teach English in Korea is a Bachelor's degree and a clean criminal record.
On a related note, a big thank you to Victoria Police for your ineptitude!
P.S. If you're the director of the English academy I'll be teaching at and you're reading this then I'm only kidding, honest.

My Plan

Chris: I know it seems like I'm hogging the blog but after seeing my previous entries I don't think Rowena wants to post here. Go figure.
So anyway, we should be in Korea in under 2 weeks and those of you who know me know that organisation/preparation aren't my strong points. But I'm trying to at least mentally prepare for my impending year-long out of body experience. I thought it would be helpful to flesh out my thought process a little and even create some goals. It should at least be interesting for me to look back on this post in a few months and see how naive/accurate/stupid I was.
Okay so I'm planning to just dive head first into as many opportunities and situations as I can. Up to this point I probably haven't been all that adventurous. Instead of a "dive in head first kinda guy" I'm more of a "dip the toe in, check the Ph, and then lounge by the pool with a beer kinda guy". Well that's gonna change. Think Jim Carey in "Yes Man". I haven't seen the movie but apparently he says "yes" to every opportunity that comes his way and hilarity ensues. Realistically, "Yeah Probably Man" would be a more accurate title for my movie ...or even more accurately "Yeah Probably, Right After I Finish Watching This Episode of '*Boys Over Flowers' Man".
I plan on doing my best to adapt and assimilate to the Korean culture. It's like what they say about prison - I've you're gonna survive, you've gotta forget about the outside world and get your head on the "inside". Maybe that analogy is a little unfair (hopefully). But just to torture the prison analogy a little further, I think when it comes to actually teaching the kids I'll have to, on my first day, either punch somebody out or become somebody's bitch.
I also plan on using this year as a kind of "personal development" experience. Chiefly, I'd like to develop some more discipline. Our Korean home town of Chungju has a population of around a quarter million. More than 3 1/2 million less than my Austraian home town of Melbourne and of course much less again than Seoul. While this should mean Chungju will have a certain quaintness and beauty, it will also certainly mean that it won't be the most exciting place. But this may be a positive thing because it will allow me to practice discipline. I'm picturing myself living a kind of semi-monastic existence. Like a young Budhist monk ....but with more meat eating. I guess it doesn't really matter how I practice my discipline, eg. physical exercise, ....ummm.... that's th only example I can think of right now. It's gonna be a long year.....
*'Boys Over Flowers' is an uber popular Korean soapie

Monday, April 13, 2009

Home town

Chris: I Googled our home city for the next year - Chungju - and one of the first Google blurbs that appeared indicated that one of Chungju's claims to fame is that it is South Korea's 3rd largest peach producing areas. Well you could imagine Rowena and I's excitement! I don't like peaches all that much to be honest. It's more about the bragging rights. Look, obviously we'd prefer to live in Korea's number 1 or 2 peach producing areas, but we're realistic. We're sure the competition for English teaching jobs in those areas are pretty tough. A Masters degree and some teaching experience are probably prerequisites.
Strangely, our Korean recruiter made no mention of Chungju's peachy exploits. It was instead sold as a conveniently central location. It made sense to me. It should make weekend trips around South Korea relatively quick and easy, and only 90 minutes bus ride from Seoul which isn't too bad. But I guess the real reason we chose Chungju was that it was the first job we were offered. Well the second job if you count the EPIK gig in some southern regional town that I forget the name of. But just as we finished gathering the mountains of forms together some other couple snaked us. Oh well, off to Chungju we go....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ground rules

Chris: We're not in Korea yet so I don't have much to write, though our ongoing experience of trying to get there could fill a few hundred posts. But anyway before I do a real post I want to define this blog a little (as much for myself as for the reader). I've never "blogged" before but over the last few weeks I've read a bunch of them from English teachers in Korea. I've come across some really good ones and some pretty bad ones (in my humble opinion). I'm not exactly sure how my entries will look like - in terms of content, tone, etc - but I'm pretty sure how I don't want them to look. I'm going to steer clear of soap boxy topics completely unrelated to my experiences in Korea, such as foreign politics. I'm going to try to avoid sounding pretentious and self-important, as is the tendancy of some bloggers. So in other words you're very unlikey to see the following in my posts (or Rowena's, if i know her well enough): "Gaza Strip", "postmodernism", "paradigm" get the idea. I also promise not to list my top ten movies, bands, tv shows - because who really gives a shit? Finally, I will do my best to not have our blog turn into a series of gripes about all things Korean. Neither will I use this blog to try to assert my P.C. credentials and spend my days thinking up ways in which I think Korea is superior to the West. To all those bloggers who do this (and there are a LOT) I say enough already, we get it, you're culturally sensitive, move on!