Sunday, October 31, 2004

Busan, Beers and the Flinstones

Yesterday, I took a day trip with Ryan to Busan. His purpose was to pick up his plane ticket for Thailand, while I wanted to see the beach. The bus ride down was beautiful. The ride took us through little towns, past markets and over mountains. Once in Busan, Ryan got his ticket, I bought a phone card (I am told this one is the best around) and we headed to Haeundae Beach for some mandu and beer. The beach is spectacular! The sun was hot, the beer was cold and the mandu delicious!
What more could a girl ask for?
No shopping today, Ryan and I decided we wanted time to get ready for the Halloween party later that night.
Unlike in Canada, it is not illegal to drink on buses in Korea - so for the road we grabbed a few cold ones and settled in for our ride home to Ulsan.
Unfortunately, my plans to make a costume were hindered by the fact that I fell asleep when I got home for a few hours. When I awoke I had 20 minutes to get ready and meet Ryan. However, crafty that I am, I whipped a costume together in a matter of minutes - I was going to be a Canadian! (Original...hmmm)
Ryan was playing "Barnie" from the flinstones- and his group won the best costume prize.
(See photos below).
The Koreans don't celebrate Halloween, so there were mostly foriegners dressed up - although I did see a few Koreans getting into the spirit of the holiday.
All in all it was a great night - got home around 7am, slept the entire day. Ahhhhh Korea.

Tomorrow is my first day teaching the kids alone - cross your fingers for me - I promise to write about it tomorrow.

Ciao for now

Halloween - Ryan and Myself  Posted by Hello

Halloween at Benchwarmers- The flinstones won best costume of the night : Ryan, Mandy. Nicole, Gino, Jeanie, and Jason (Clockwise) Posted by Hello

Haeundae Beach in Busan Posted by Hello

Haeundae Beach in Busan - Beautiful! Posted by Hello

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Breaking the Language Barrier

The last couple of days have proved challenging, and at times frustrating, for me when trying to accomplish simple tasks. For example, purchasing a phone card was a three hour event yesterday. Finally today, with some guidance from Gareth I have found a phone card that will work for more then 5 minutes to Canada.
A friend of mine told me last night that she considers her motto in Korea to be "three times a charm" takes her three times before she can get anything done....give directions to the taxi driver, find something specific, or in my case, purchase an international phone card.
Anyways, I had lunch with my director today, Mr. Lee. He seems like a very patient man with a good sense of humor...especially when I dropped some pumpkin pancake into the soup (damn chopsticks!).
Gareth, Andy, Julie and Anna were also there for lunch. Looks like my cell phone will be ready next week.Horray!
After lunch., I attempted (for the second time) to locate a temple called Jeonggwangsa. Not surprisingly, since it was only my second attempt, I did not find the temple. I had a tourist map, which seems to be not so accurate with its distances, and no one I asked could understand me well enough to know what I was talking about.
So I wandered down along the river for the second day in a row, meandering through side streets, getting a better feel for the city.
Tomorrow is Gareth's last day, I will be going with him to classes. Not really any teaching going on, it is Market Day at the school. The children get to cash in the stickers they receive for good work in exchange for pencils, candy etc. Should be a fun day - I will keep you posted.

My Neighborhood, Yaem Sam Dong, Ulsan Posted by Hello

View of Ulsan and Taehwa River Posted by Hello

View of Ulsan and Taehwa River Posted by Hello

Walled garden, near Taehwa River, Ulsan Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Children

If anyone can make me wish to steal a child and take it with me back home to Canada, it would be the kidegarden class I had this morning. There are no words to describe how cute they are. They are tiny like babies and sing songs, and laugh all the time. Fantastic! They love Old MacDonald and Twinkle is really the perfect way to start ones' day.
The rest of my day was almost as good (the kids still cute but bigger). I had mostly older children today - higher levels of English . I received my first gift today from a cute little girl named Cindy....check out the photo below.

All in all it was a great day - Feeling slightly emotional tonight...slightly tearful in a 'I can't beleive I feel so happy' kind of way...not just becuase of the great day I have had, but because it has been a great couple of days. Life is so different here and everyone has made such an effort to make me feel like I belong here. My boss has given me an English Newspaper the last 2 days in a row. He orders it for the school but has given me the copy specifically - really thoughtful.
Anyways, I am done work for the rest of the week ...I will try to do some lesson plans (although Gareth said it is unessessary, I would like to make sure my first week runs smoothly). As far as that, I am just buming around the city etc. Next big day will be my first class Monday afternoon.

Ciao for now friends and family
I love you all

My first gift from one of my students, named Cindy Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Work Party

Even without the copious amounts of Soju consumed - Koreans know how to have a good time.
Tonight after work my Manager Andy treated all of us to a Japanese dinner.
Mostly raw fish, cooked fish, fish made into soup and just about any type of seafood you can imagine (or can't imagine for that matter) was served over the evening. I think there must have been at least 6 bottles of Soju and many bottles of beer to compliment our meal.
Skeptical at first if I could physically stomach such delectables, I managed to try most things - well or at least have a good sniff at them. The mekju (that is Korean for beer) helped to wash most of it down.
Honestly, I can stomach the raw fish better then the Soju- when given the choice pass me the squid.

All in all we had an amazing dinner - a huge 'thank you' to my coworkers for showing me a fabulous night.
(After having my first day with the kids I was in need of a little celebration).
Although, I must admit - the celebration was shared by Gareth as his going away party. One chapter closes as another opens.

Tomorrow I meet the kindegarden children - can't wait.
Although it all seem a little scary, I feel I will be a good replacement for Gareth - although he is a hard act to follow.
This coming weekend I am hoping to take a drive along the sea coast with Ryan's Korean friend Luke.
He promised to take me on a road trip ! Hooray!
The following weekend we are planning to go Busan (south of where I live) and visit Korea's largest Buddhist temple which is called 'Bemosa'.

Will keep you posted.

My First Work Party - Anna, Julie, Gareth and Andy (Clockwise)
Posted by Hello

Julie and Myself Posted by Hello

Gareth and Andy Posted by Hello

Monday, October 25, 2004

First Full Day in Korea

My first full day in Korea was good. Ryan came over at 1:30pm to wake me up - he bought me breakfast (some stuffed dumpling thing - called Mandu- good) and we went to a soccer game- the league is a bunch of foriegners - our team, Ulsan was playing a team from Busan. We lost, but it was a good match. Everyone (well all the foreignrs) drink ALL the time - it is a little shocking- everyone drinks Soju and many straight from the bottle -UGH!I was pretty tired and hung over- so no soju for me!
After the game we went to this restaurant that had bamboo all around and had "gogi" which is Korean BBQ. We had pork and veggies, kimchi (that cabbage stuff) and what seemed like a million unidentifiable side dishes - I forgot my camera but some night I will take a photo- when you order food they bring a ton of free sidedishes- aparently if you order it you will pay for it- so if they bring a ton of other stuff it is free. Cool!

The only hard part was the chopsticks- they are all that crazy flat metal kind- hard for me to get used to - but it definately means I won't be pigging out on food - it gets a little exausting to keep dropping your food every time- eventually your just not hungry anymore.
The restaurants are fun- most you take your shoes off and eat sitting on the floor on pillows - comfy and it seems very social. Dinners are cheap cheap - we had tons of meat (probobly like 20 steaks - there were 15 of us- plus beers, soju - plus all the free dishes- and the bill cost less then 10,000won each- that is like less then $10 nd it was a HUGE feast. The best thing is that I have not spent any money here yet- all my friends are refusing to let me pay for anything the last 2 days - everyone is soooo nice here.

My apartment is nice- I have 3 bedrooms- they are small but I think I am going to use one as a reading room- try to get some furiture once I make some $$$...Maybe some mats and pillows. It is cool sleeping under a mosiquo net - I kind of feel like a princess when I am in bed. It is a little cool this morning - aparently the only heating I have is the heated tiles in my bedroom and kitchen...but evryone has told me it doesn't get that cold for too long.

Yesterday was warm during the day - people were in shorts and t-shirts. At night it gets pretty cold - you need pants and a jacket. Clothes here are REALLY cheap - the girls I met told me if I pay more then 15000 won (approx $25) for a shirt I am being ripped off, jeans cost about 25000-30000won ($25-30).....all the clothes are reall trendy- the shops are all neon and play loud English hiphop/rap music - so funny.

The bars that I have been to are both foreigner bar - one called Mackenzies, it reminds me of Mikes at Carleton - they serve popcorn for free when you buy a drink - and it is the best popcorn I have tasted. The other bar is called "bench warmers" - owned and run by a Canadian guy who has been living here for a long time - sot of a college sports bar atmophere. The only thing I don't like is those toilets in the bathroom that are in the floor - it is pretty gross. But if that is my only complaint, I am doing ok.

I am a little nervous since they don't speak English- it is really intimidating to even say Hello in Korean. I know that I know how to say it but I am afraid I won't say it properly- funny eh? Anyways, I am going to practice this morning over coffee and go for a walk around my neighborhood- I start work at 2:30pm today - Gareth is going to introduce me to the kids etc.
Anyways, I should go - life here i good and I know it will get easier-
I wish I could tell you what it feels like to be here - all this is so hard to explain - happy, scared, excited, sad, nevous ....whew! Anyways I promise to take it all in stride.
Ciao for now


My kitchen in Ulsan Posted by Hello
As you can tell, my apartment is small...through those doors is my bedroom.

My bed in Ulsan - note the princess style netting !
Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 24, 2004

In The Land of Morning Calm

So I am finally here ! I am having to remind myself every couple of minutes - I am here!
It's pretty, there are mountains and the sun is shining. Hooray!
My friend Ryan, my Manager Andy and the guy I am replacing, Gareth, met me at the airport (they even had a sign "Colleen" for me- so fun).
My friends took me out to a couple of bars to meet all the foreigners and it was really fun and everyone seems soooo nice here. The drinking is a little crazy here - we were out until 6am - and apparently that is early- we left because I was tired- everyone wanted to stay - truly crazy.
Ryan is off getting some food now- I took a shower (truly an experience- as everything seems to be here in Korea)- all one room- shower,toilet,sink etc. Funny but very functional and lots of hot water (which felt amazing). Also had a pee in my first Korean toilet last night - like a urinal in the floor that you squat over - not the funnest thing I have done here - my toliet at home is western style. - Kinda weird to email about - but it gives you a good idea of how different everything is here.
My area seems full of apartments- mine a 4 or 5 floor buliding - only my level has my apartment and my directors apartment - the rest is the school. It seems really loud in the day here - lots of cars and people yelling at eachother in Korean. There is a little shop just down from my buliding that sells most things - Gareth introudced me to the shopkeeper last night - she was really nice - hardly anyone here speaks English- but I am sure I will get by. Ryan is going to set me up with a Korean class that his friend is taking - he says its pretty good- and I won't have to buy the book since he has one already.
We are going to a soccer game at 2:30 today, hould be fun. I haven't been outside in the day yet- it is sunny and feels pretty warm.
Sorry for the blab- I am very jetlagged, but really wanted to post something.
I have to go- I promise to write again soon - no phone in my apartemnt yet- maybe later this week. Will send details later.


From Seoul Airport - waiting for my flight to Ulsan Posted by Hello

Map of South Korea - I live in Ulsan ( South East Coast) Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Adventure Begins....

In a few short days my South Korean Adventure will begin.

I plan to arrive in Ulsan, South Korea (my new stomping grounds) on Saturday 23 October.
The idea is that I will begin teaching on 01 November, so that I have a full week to meet the kids, the other staff at the school, get settled into my new pad and hopefully become a little adjusted to the culture, before I begin teaching.

All my bags are packed and I think I have everything (thanks to some insightful friends who provided me with a can of Tim Horton's Coffee).
Thanks again to all my amazing friends and family who have supported me and made all the stress of the last couple of months bearable- thanks for putting up with me.

The next couple of days will likely be busy - so I promise to make my next entry once I arrive in Korea.
Please forgive me now if it makes little sense, as I assume I will be jet lagged from my 25 hour trip across the Pacific.
Take Care to all of you - stay in touch and please visit if you get the chance.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Just Me