Monday, February 22, 2010

The Very Very Very Very Very Very Brutally Fun Story of Arthur the Spaceman

Once again... it is time for more corrections.

Correction #1I think I am very health But many people sick and died. And I will protect from disease. This book show people can see listen tell feel. So very trivial. Colored people pupil is different to yellow race pupil. And caucasion pupil is different to yellow race pupil. But I won't be race distinction. But many people race distinction. So I can't understand that people. If I take care my children, I didn't teach about race distinction to they, because I not teacher.
My Comment: Tim, this is much better than your last homework and you were very creative. You should never use the words 'colored people' or 'yellow race' in reference to a race of people. This is offensive and many people will be very angry. You should also never start a sentence with the word 'and'.

Correction #2
Arthur is not D.W. right Arthur. This story is on television but now book. His friends are animal buit Arthur is not man and not animal... <--- a space man, I think. It's story... Arthur is looks like many the Simpsons. Arthur is then like make and good make. His sister D.W. is somethings but this what? I don't know.

Correction #3
I don't believe ghosts. This book appear ghost. There is little green bottle story. Kate is bully. She like harass to joe Because joe is so small. Suddenly Kate is die. When Kate die feel happy. Because kate harassed to Joe. And Kate became a ghost. And she said scare storytohim. One day joe said become big to Kate. And became small and he put it in the bottle. And throw river. This story is very brutality and fun.

Correction #4
I read the Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. It began Ali Baba poor man talk listen cave going. Forty thieves order My story was very fun. in the beginning Ali Baba money take get out. Later 40 theives discover Ali Baba Jar buy jar in the 40 Thieves at last 40 theives take in the end Ali Baba marry and rich become. I later baby grow grow grow become rich wish.

Correction #5
herculs is very very very very very very very strong and herculs is very very very very very very very brave. Herculs is ride in the pegasus and neighboring country princess herculs is maze in the minotaur kill, and herculs is maze in the very very very very very very very big lizard and very very very very very very very fast lizard kill. People is herculs called hero. herculs is inside valley hydra kill. Lucifer is kill hercules and gets many money. necklace ruby sapphire is give neighbor country.
My Comment: Jack. You wrote 90 words. 28 of them were 'very'. This means that over 30% of your essay is the word 'very'. This is not ok. This was supposed to be 150 words. Not only did you not write 150 words, but you wrote the same word over and over again. Teacher is not stupid. You can't do this again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Best Outing of a Dick Since Watergate

I have been here for over two months now and I can safely say that I have sunk into a nice groove, both in teaching and in my lifestyle. A few big things have happened in the recent past that have shaken things up a bit. It is said that we all come here with an expiration date. When you meet a fellow Westerner, one of the first questions asked is the date of their year mark, and if they plan on extending their contract. This question is not only a way to initiate small talk with a stranger, but is also a test to see just how much should be invested in a deep friendship with this person.

Since coming here in December I have seen many people reach their expiration date, but it wasn't until recently that a friend leaving really changed my life here in Korea. Tara, a good friend and coworker, reached her year point in December and decided to head back home to Ireland in late January. Not only did this mean that I was losing one of my first close friends in Korea, but that I would soon be introduced to a new person who I would be sharing my work lunch breaks with for the remainder of my time here. Tara left on a Saturday, which was the same day that her replacement, an older gentlemen (by older, I mean 34, which IS older considering that the average age of someone teaching in Korea is 23) by the name of Richard, would be arriving.

During the last supper with Tara and a few other friends, we determined that the chance that the charming older gentlemen would be a complete freak was 60/40, in favor of freak. The reasoning behind this decided ratio comes from a long line of freaks who have come to Korea, made their mark, and in their wake left bizarre tales that are so odd they couldn't be made up. One such example was a man named Steve and a situation involving a fight over an apple. I will save this story in full for another time, but lets just say that the fight culminated in Steve excusing himself for the restroom. When he returned to the Teacher's Lounge with a new found calm, spectators, Tara included, noticed blood gushing out of Steve's freaky face. While in the restroom, Steve had taken a razor to his rosy cheeks and made several large gashes. The school, not being accustomed to the self mutilating habits of Westerners, thought the best way to handle this dilemma was to let him then go and teach his remaining classes for the day. The gashes were excused with a fictionalized tale of a new, feisty little kitten with sharp razor blades for claws.

The next day I made my way to Tara's old apartment, now inhabited by Richard, her replacement. I met this man and instantly knew that we were not match made in English Teacher Heaven. The fact that the one book he brought with him was The Study Man's Bible combined with him showing me his "I Carry A Concealed Weapon" card at least three times in the first hour we were together were an early sign that our original 60/40 bet was now much closer to a 94/6 ratio. (On a side note, I am not saying that if you are a man studying the Bible you are a freak, I am just indicating that we did not seem to have much in common.)

I will leave out the many details in order to save time, but let me just say that Rich proceeded to provide me with more and more examples that were a freak red alert. His whiny nasally voice, unwillingness to try any of the food here (he kept saying that the "Chinese food was messing with his tummy"... to this day I am not sure if he realized that we were not, in fact, in China) and experiences like overhearing him asking the clerk at homeplus for some "Aryan shampoo" sunk me into a pit of despair as to the outcome of my remaining year in Korea. When you get a new crappy coworker here you can't dismiss it as simply as you would in the West. At home you can tolerate a freak at work and move on, but a job here comes with a dependency level that is, at times, unbearable.

I decided to excuse these initial impressions and give Richard a chance. What can I say? I am a giver. I took Richard to lunch to the one place serving a dish he was willing to eat that was not a bag of cheetos. During this time I sat in awe as I was told some of the most off color stories I have ever heard. When I told him that plastic surgery is almost more popular of a trend in Korea than it is in the states, he replied by saying, "Well, I just don't understand why they aren't getting boob jobs. I am looking at the chests of my students (keep in mind they are aged 9-15) they are as flat as a board! This is a huge turn off for me!"

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When we returned to the school he made a phone call to his father to request that he send him some books. "Dad. These people don't have anything to read out here." (Maybe you should have brought something other than the bible to a non English speaking country?) "Could you go to Borders and ask the lady at the desk for some Star Wars books and everything by Glenn Beck."

Glenn Beck.

This guy had to go.

When the weekend finally arrived and he asked me to show him around on his first real weekend in Korea, I lied and said that I would be leaving town. I could not let this guy ruin my weekend too. Though it was difficult living in such a small neighborhood to avoid one of the only other foreigners, I was able to hide in doorways and not get caught in my lie. Monday rolled around and I prepared myself for another week with my new, horrible coworker. I sat in the teachers lounge dreading seeing his big, perverted Aryan face. It was 5 minutes past our 3 PM start time and there was still no sign of Richard. 3:30? No Richard. 4:00? NO RICHARD! At 4:15 my manager went to his apartment to inquire as to why he was nearly an hour and a half late to work. She returned several minutes later, crying. Richard had fled the country leaving nothing behind but several empty beer bottles and piss stains on the toilet seat. During moments like this I almost question my atheist upbringing. Almost.

I learned an important lesson this week. This is that it takes nothing but a small glimpse into a horrible future to truly appreciate everything that you have. I now have a new, better coworker, and my year in Korea is looking pretty damn great. Richard provided me with a pretty crappy week, but he also gave me a great gift. I now am blessed with an amazing context through which I can compare every remaining bad experience I will have in my next 9 and a half months living in Korea. Though he left on a Monday, I spent that night celebrating as if it were New Years Eve, because for me, it really was a whole new year.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Alive and Kickin' in my XXXXL Jacket

This past weekend was perhaps the biggest weekend I have experienced thus far in my 2+ months in Korea. Lunar New Years, according to Wikipedia and the mixed stories I have gotten from my Korean friends, is also known as Seollal, and is the most important of the Korean traditional holidays. This, combined with the fact that we had an extra day off of work, combined with the fact that our dear Korean friend Donna is incredibly motivated, inspired myself and two other teacher friends to head to Busan, "The San Francisco of Korea" to ring in the Korean New Year.

This whirlwind weekend was only topped by the amazing scenery of Busan. The jagged cliffs rising out of the bright blue ocean were a perfect scenic compliment to the Buddhist Temples set high in the mountains above Busan. But before I go any further into a description of this amazing weekend, let me give you some background information on exactly how it all came to be.

I have found that I am very good at planning vacations with friends that never seem to transpire. The Western mindset seems all too accepting of letting plans slip by the wayside until it is too late to logically book the necessary tickets and accommodations to make these fantasy plans a reality. This is where our friend Donna comes in. A simple facebook message was sent a few weeks back asking if we would be interested in spending the Lunar New Years with her and her family in Busan. We sent messages back that said something along the lines of "sure!". The next message we received, sent minutes later, was that our bus tickets had already been purchased and a hotel reservation had been made.

Three weeks later, we find ourselves hungover and stumbling off of a 5+ hour bus ride that started at 7 AM. The jam packed Busan schedule did not allow us any time to rest up before the adventures began, and we made our way to the hotel to shower up and hit the road. Our hotel room was amazing, but seemed to be missing one key thing a person would hope to find in a hotel. Beds. Instead we quickly came to terms with the fact that at the day's end, we would be curling up in blankets on the floor, enjoying the amazing ocean view from the giant picture window.

We made our way through beaches, museums and hills. We saw crying mermaid statues, extension bridges, live in prostitutes lounging in coffee shops enjoying cigarette after cigarette waiting for their Korean sugar daddy to find time to sneak away from his wife and show them some attention. We collected sea glass, took hundreds of pictures, and eventually made our way to Donna's home. At this point in time, the hangover level had reached its climax, and both Blake and myself were beginning to realize the consequences of forgetting to pack our deodorant in a country where you really can't find this product in most stores. What a classy way to meet a friend's family.

We met her grandmother, mother and sister, and were warmly welcomed into their home. They did not speak much English so the communication was relatively limited, but this did not stop them from teaching us how to make Mondu (dumplings) from scratch and preparing a really amazing meal. We finished the food, watched as Donna's talented artist sister gave Stephanie a two hour manicure, and eventually made our way back to the floor of our hotel room.

The next day we went to a Buddhist Temple in the cliffs, which is probably the most amazing thing I have ever seen. (Pictures will be posted ASAP). I finally found the courage to be a creepy tourist, and was comfortable taking pictures of the really adorable kids dressed in their traditional clothing, bowing before giant Buddha statues.

From here we went to a giant market to do some shopping. We made our way through shops and carts selling a mixture of designer knock off goods and really trendy Asian clothing. Let me preface the rest of the market story by saying that it is nearly impossible to find clothes that fit in Korea, but that I generally wear a size L or XL in the States. After trying on clothes at countless stores, I finally found a jacket that fit, which was pretty damn exciting for me seeing as I have been braving the winter weather in nothing but a sweatshirt for the past few months. I went into the store to ask about jackets, and the woman looked at me and said, "Fat Size?" "Yes," I told her, "fat size." She gave me a really great fat sized jacket, and I was honestly thrilled with my consumer participation in the Busan marketplace.

From here we made our way to the biggest fish market I have ever seen, not that I have seen that many, but seriously this place was huge. We passed hundreds of carts selling a bizarre array of seafood, things I could not have dreamed existed. We passed carts selling fresh whale meat and giant octopus, and then made our way to Donna's favorite place to get some nice, fresh eel. The three of us Americans and Donna ate the eel with varying levels of excitement. The meal is one of Donna's favorites, and Blake honestly seemed to agree with her, I attempted to be polite and took a few gracious bites, and Stephanie screamed and made vomit faces as she choked down a single, chewey bite. After we ate the meal, they brought over some of the eel they had not yet killed so we could see what it was we had just eaten. The living writhing eels had been skinned alive and were covered in spicy sauce and their own blood. Let me tell you, that this is not exactly the prettiest picture, especially when being viewed in the context of of a meal you have just eaten.

We made our way to the university area where we participated in some good old fashioned Norebang (singing room) and drinking, and prepared to make our way back to Suwon at 6 AM the next morning. We arrived in Suwon at noon on Monday, hungover, once again, and happy to have had such a satisfying weekend with great friends. I seriously have 200 pictures to document these two days, which I will upload asap. To close out my first blog post in a really damn long time, I will tell you a little bit more about my fat jacket. Yesterday, upon closer inspection, I found a tag on the new jacket that listed the size as XXXL. The people at the store seem to have thought that this was not nearly a big enough representation, as they drew on an extra X with a pen. I am now nice and warm, and slightly insecure, in my quadruple XL Jacket. Thank you Korea.