Archive for October, 2010

Long Time, No Post

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 31, 2010 by kingcal

I’m writing this from work. Monday morning after Halloween weekend. It was a real good one.  Friday, I stayed in Cheonan, and went to the costume party at Dolce. I had initially planned on not going in a costume, because being as busy as I was, and in all honesty, not really giving a shit about Halloween, I just couldn’t be arsed to buy a costume. However, Friday evening when I was warming up for hapkido, I looked down and realized that I already had a costume, so after class I went home, showered, and put my uniform back on, then headed out. It actually got like a surprisingly positive reaction. People, Korean and foreign a-like, were coming up to me and asking me about it.

Also, on the hapkido front, things are going well. My master said on Wednesday that I could have another belt test soon, for my green belt, so I’m improving. I’m the only person in my class that isn’t a black belt, so sometimes I feel a little left behind. All the black belts will do one thing, and he has to make sure to tell me to do it slowly, not worry about kicking really high yet, or just plain do something else easier. Still, more and more, I’m watching the black belts and it’s easier to see what they’re doing. At first, everything moved so fast that it was really hard to do anything but copy the basic order of which foot where, lead with which shoulder, etc… but now I’m seeing all the motions, so the master spends less time correcting me.

Plus, Friday, I accomplished something none of the black belts could. It was mostly a kicking and tumbling day, and the master set up some gymnastic pads for us to jump over. They were probably about four and a half feet high all together. A couple black belts tried jumping over it, but kept knocking over the pads. When my turn came, he took the top pad off so it would’ve been considerably lower for me, but I told him to put it back on. Better believed I jumped over that damn thing. Also, I can feel myself making progress ever so slowly on handsprings. Still can’t land one, but I’m almost positive I’m getting closer. I can do a respectable handstand now. I just landed my first one handed cartwheel and can actually do a legit pull up, probably for the first time in my life. Feels good.

Anyway, the party at Dolce was huge. I’ve definitely never seen so many foreigners in one place in Cheonan. At least a hundred people in the bar. There were even people from out of town that came to Cheonan just for that party. Seems strange people coming here to party, but most said it was just a pit stop for Seoul on Saturday night. Later in the night it was such a hassle getting beer from the bar we just went across the street, bought beer and brought it in. I felt a little like the douche bag since the owner is always so nice to me, but the place was packed, and he had been using smaller paper cups instead of the usual glass mugs for the same price, so I’m sure he didn’t miss a couple thousand won from me.

Saturday, I got up early (11 AM) and headed to Seoul to meet Josh. A friend of his from OSU was in a play, so we went up and caught the dress rehersal. It was pretty decent. It was funny enough. Just a series of ten monologues. It was called Ten Good Reasons Not to Go Home. I thought it would be like a sitcom type thing with kimchi jokes, but it was just a series of monologues that represented the different types of people and situations that you may necessarily not miss from home. Though, honestly, I don’t know that the same people and situations don’t exist here to, perhaps just to a lesser extent. Lesser evil, I suppose.

Afterward, we bummed it around Itaewon for awhile. Had good Mexican and Indian food. Checked out Hooker and Homo Hill. Both incredibly disappointing, though we did see them while it was still light out. We waited for his friend to finish with his show for the night to come back to Itaewon and start drinking. We met some older career army guys in a bar and struck up a conversation about Big 10 football. They were pretty decent guys. Met up with the play people. Met a military guy who was on his last night in Korea before going home, and he also happened to be a huge OSU fan. Good luck for me I was wearing my OSU t-shirt and he ended up buying me a couple beers and a shot. I take back everything bad about the military I may have said. Almost.

Started heading to Hongdae just too late to catch the subway, but it ended up only being a $10 ride from Itaewon, which isn’t a bad deal. Hongdae was just… a blur. Not because I got especially drunk. I did a fair amount of drinking, but it was spaced out and I left enough time in between drinks that I almost never really felt anything more than a little tipsy. We just were all over the place in Hongdae. We met some girl Josh was in his orientation group with and caught a Korean punk show at some dive bar. That was interesting. They played mostly covers, but in Korean, and being punk bands, sometimes it was honestly really hard to tell what the fuck they were playing. Still pretty interesting. Almost saw some douchebags get in a fight, mostly because some dude on the edge of the pit got salty after he was run into. What a bitch.

After that we split out, headed to Exit bar for a drink, then went to the park. There was a huge drum circle/b-boy (break dancer) crew group that tons of people were watching. Josh struck up a strange friendship with some Korean guy and they ended up dancing with a lit cigarette between their forearms to see who would chicken first. Some really cute, sexy girls came up and were somewhat concerned (one of them was either dating or related to the Korean guy) but I just ended up talking to one of them for a good while.

I got her number and she wants me to teach her English because she’s planning on going to Australia, but I don’t think it will really happen. I’m too busy during the week to go to Seoul, and she’s busy on the weekend because of her boyfriend (just another good reason not to waste my time and energy), so meeting at all would be hard to work out. It really sucks. Seems nearly impossible to meet a young Korean chick that is single. I think, off the top of my head, I only know three. And honestly, only one for sure. I just think the other two are single, but I can’t be sure. I’m just making an inference from conversations we’ve had.

The end of the night was probably the only bad part. The taxi drivers in Hongdae can be incredible dicks. If you just want to go somewhere nearby, they just ignore you. They only want to take large fares. And this is not just for foreigners either. I saw plenty of pretty Korean girls get turned away from cabs. It was the worst I’d ever seen, though. Josh and I spent about half an hour at 5 AM trying to get a cab. We only wanted to go to Seoul station, which is only a $5 from Hongdae, so we probably tried 30 cabs before we got one that would take us. Utter ridiculousness.

Of course, having stayed up all night, I was wicked tired. My train left around 6:25 AM, and I ended up falling asleep. Wake up in Daejon, the stop 20 minutes past mine. Ugh. I got out, bought another $10 ticket and waited half an hour for the train to go the other way, then damn near missed my stop again because I was nodding off. I ended up getting home around 8:30 AM, and immediately passed out and woke up at 1 PM for lunch, a Korean movie, and my study group later in the evening.

Anyway, next weekend should be eventful. Someone mentioned they were going bungee jumping, and when I seemed excited, they invited me along. The details are still a little sketchy, but it should be sometime this Saturday afternoon, not too far from Seoul. I hear tell it’s only 25,000 won ($20), so there’s no reason not to do it. I’m pretty excited. Bungee jumping is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’ll definitely be cool to cross something off the bucket list.

Lastly, I’ll try to update a little more often. I’m generally super busy, pretty much all the time, but I do have free time in the morning that I could use to write here more, so I’ll try doing that.

Korean Word of the Day:
맛 축이네요 – mat chugi-neyo – This isn’t necessarily a curse, but it is slang for “It’s fucking delicious.” It literally means “the flavor kills me”.

First Post in Awhile

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 18, 2010 by kingcal

Sorry for the long gap between posts. I find myself somehow increasingly busy. I’ve also been mega-stressed. The worst is gone. I was probably over-reacting, and to a large extent, the main problem is completely out of my control, so I may as well not worry about it and just do anything I can to stay positive about it.

Anyway, nothing terribly exciting has been going on. I’m in the second week of the unit, so it’s still not terribly taxing to be at school. Also, today is one of my short days, so I can get out of here at 4 PM. Though, I’ll be going to the bank and sending home money to pay back loans, which is incredibly depressing. I mean, it’s good that I can afford to do it, but I just got paid, and I’m sending a quarter of my check away. Not that I’ll really miss it. A lot of the reason I want to stay is because I have the ability to pay my loans back in 3-4 years if I’m pretty diligent about. I wouldn’t even really have to sacrifice the lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to, since Korea is so damned cheap.

I don’t want to bore with the minutia of my day to day life, since nothing really interesting has happened lately. It’s weird. Yes, living in Korea is an adventure of it’s own, but it’s startling how quickly it becomes kind of… pedestrian. I mean, I’ve completely made a normal life for myself here. I’ve got almost the same number of friends I had back in college (though none so close — I was talking with someone and we both agreed the friends made in college tend to be the closest, though honestly, what do a couple of recent graduates really know?), I’ve got study groups, and martial arts classes and a group for just eating out and trying new restaurants, a group for playing pool with, etc…

Still, Saturday and Sunday afternoons in Cheonan are wicked boring. I suppose I should maybe see if people want to hang out during the day, but the weird thing is while I have tons of friends, I don’t know which/if any of them would be down for just hanging out one-on-one during the day, and not for something specific like lunch, drinking, etc… Even so, once night rolls around, there’s always tons of things to do, so I suppose it’s a push.

Korean Word of the Day:

존나 춥다 – jon-na chubda – I learned this one just last night. Recently I’ve been asking all my Korean friends how to say “It’s fucking __________!” Though I’ve been here seven months, I’m just now coming to miss the magic of the word fuck. Truly, it is the King amongst kings when it comes to word. Noun? Check. Verb? Check. Adjective? Check. Adverb? Check. Infix? Check. (English Word of the Day: Infix. An infix is like a prefix or suffix, except instead of preceeding or following a word, it comes in the middle. Many people will insist that the English language has no infixes, they are incorrect. In-fucking-correct. Yes, –fucking– is the only native infix in the English language.) Anyway, Google Translate tells me that 존나 means “juicy”, but altogether, the Korean phrase means “It’s fucking cold!” This is 욕 – yok – a curse. Unfortunately, this phrase cannot be applied to everything. Different situations require different Korean fucks. For everyone in America, be thankful for what you have.

A Pretty Good Friday

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 9, 2010 by kingcal

As the title would imply, I had a pretty good day at work on Friday. I was kind of dreading it when I woke up, up until about the last half hour before classes. Friday is a bit of a dualistic day. It’s one of my long days, 9 AM – 6 PM, and I have the most classes of any day, seven. Conversely, the first four classes are only half hour classes, so it’s pretty easy to get through those, even when you don’t really have anything left to do in the book and you’ve already done your normal outside of book work. My first class, I played a Who Wants to be a Millionaire PowerPoint game, which is generally pretty popular with the kids. Second class I don’t even really remember what we did. Just bullshitted around for half an hour.

My third class, one that’s generally a bit more rowdy and hard to keep under control was really well behaved. The reason being a photographer had come in to take pictures for the company website or something, which made the kids really self conscious, so they really settled down. They all raised their hands and kept themselves under control. You have to love that about kids. The moment they know they’re being watched their behavior changes drastically. Fourth class had their end of the month vocabulary test. One of my favorite students got 100% on it, and ended up winning the end of the month prize for points on a tie-breaker. Actually, earlier this week I was told I could no longer give 5,000 won as a prize, because parents had complained, so I gave out 5,000 gift certificate type things. I expected there to be a mutiny. I imagined the ground running red with the blood of innocents, but most kids were still quite happy to receive it, and the worst reaction I got was a simply surprised reaction because they didn’t know what it was. Anyway, I digress. I had kind of been rooting against my favorite student in the class. Not really against him, but for another student. Up until this point he’s been a much more reluctant student. However, this month he really turned it around, and was tied for the lead in points. I really wanted to reward him. Maybe Monday I’ll give him something to encourage him to keep trying.

My first two hour long classes I played a Jeopardy themed PowerPoint game. That was a hit. The five categories were Vocabulary, Spelling, Grammar, Comprehension, and Bonus. The kids were really curious about the Bonus section, but I wouldn’t tell them what the questions were about. They were about me. Just common knowledge type stuff. The questions ranged from ten to fifty points, and were as follows: How do you spell my name? What country am I from? How old am I? How long have I been in Korea? What color are my eyes? For whatever reason, the kids thought this was awesome. I had just put it in because there were five categories in the slideshow, and I felt obligated to fill them, but I couldn’t think of anything else to put in from the story. The eye color one was especially fun. Being Korean, they don’t really pay attention to eye color, because everyone’s eyes are the same color. So the first couple guesses were brown, black, and then blue – the token foreigner eye color. Eventually, they got to green.  Age was also pretty funny. I got everything from 21 to 34 years old. I know for a fact I’ve told my students my age, because when I first got here, that was one of the first questions all my classes asked. Anyway, the game was a lot of fun, so I’ll definitely be playing that again.

My last class wasn’t awful, but it isn’t a real fun class either. It’s like 16 kids in an advanced class, though there are plainly several students who don’t deserve to be there. Friday was a pretty simple day though. I gave them their vocabulary list for their next test and then we read a story out of the book. Nothing terribly taxing. I have a lot of trouble keeping the kids from talking and ignoring the reading, so this time instead of reading in a row, I picked kids randomly to keep them on their toes. It worked for awhile, but towards the end of class they were definitely drifting.

No matter how good the day was, the best part of Friday is the end. I went to Dolce, as usual, and it was Country-Western night. I went mainly because the bar recently got beer pong tables. I only played one game and narrowly lost after a successful rebuttal. Oh well. Such is the game. I enjoyed fucking with people. I kept putting Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” into the playlist in random places. For some reason, this really bothered people. Despite the fact that the same people are there a lot and never put on country music, so it’s not like they’re huge fans. I guess they were just into the theme. I had a good conversation with Conner, this Irish guy who’s been here for nine years. I can’t say how long I’ll be here, but I wouldn’t rule out ten years. It just depends on what happens.

Oh, there were a couple weird things about Friday. I got a package from home from my mom. On the front, on the US customs label, it read: Deodorant – 1, Q-tips – 1, Dinosaur Toys – 1. Ugh. Fantastic. Now every postal worker between the US and Korea thinks I’m some smelly, waxy person in desparate need of dinosaur toys. I had asked for the deodorant and Q-tips because they’re harder to find than you’d think, especially deodorant now that the weather is cooling off. Still, the dinosaur toys were weird. Obviously for the kids. They’re actually those little pills you put in hot water and they open and expand into dinosaur shapes. Maybe that’s what I’ll give the student who came in a close second in my one class.

The only other thing of note was a strange religious comic book I found in one of my classrooms when I was cleaning up before class. Glancing through it, it was immediately obvious that it was a religious tract aimed at kids, but I was curious, so I started translating it. It’s really weird. I don’t want to give it away. It’s only 14 pages, and I’m already halfway through. When I’m done, I’ll take pictures and post a page or two with each blog along with translations. It’s pretty funny.

Later today, I’m going to Daejon to meet a friend from OSU. It’s kind of surreal. I’ve met a couple Buckeyes in Korea already, but having someone I knew from home coming to Korea and seeing them is a bit weird. We weren’t exactly bosom buddies or anything, but we had a couple classes together and we went to a couple parties together. It’ll definitely be a lot of fun.

Korean Word of the Day:

진정하다 –  jin-jeong-hada – Pretty simple word. It’s not any weird cultural slang or anything. Just means: relax, be calm, etc… I use this constantly at school. I tell the kids to relax, chill out, etc… then repeat myself in Korean.

Letters from Buldang

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 4, 2010 by kingcal

Who needs Letters from Iwo Jima when you’ve got these to read? Yesterday I told my advanced class they had to write a letter to a friend about something new they have gotten recently, clothes, game, toy, etc… These are a couple of the best. All grammar and spelling mistakes have been preserved for the purpose of hilarity:

Letter 1

Dear Michine,

Hi I have a knife. It’s very dengerous. That’s have use to cut a beef stake. Um… It’s very delicious and knife is I think useful because cut the stake, cut the cheese, ham, sausage, kimbob. If I am a man, knife is very useful. See you,

Your friend
Butch

Letter 2

To Danny

Hello I’m a Johnson. My mom give me a corpse. It was a very good experience. I’m play with a corpse. Because I’m a very boring. It was very fun. The corpse was Myeong Bak’s corpse. I tread the corpse, and I cut the corpse. It was very fun! Good bye!

From Johnson

Letter 3 (Extra info, many kids said they had nothing new, so I told them to lie)

It’s a lie: I got a new book. It’s very so so.

It’s a lie: I hate you. You are very yark.

It’s real: I got a new phone game. It’s very bored.

It’s lie: I have a new cell. It’s very useful.

It’s real: I have a new clothes. It’s very warm.

It’s lie: I watch new reflection. It’s very fun.

Its lie: I taste new food. It’s very delicious.

Jong Rock

Letter 4

Dear Jinsan

My frend had baught dog. My frend dog is very cute. My frend dog name is NaNa. But NaNa is crazy. Because NaNa is love the cat. The cat is no name. And cat is thief cat. And NaNa is had a very important thing. This is a kill the baby chicken. I’m very sad. ㅠㅠ (Korean sad face).

Nick by

Letter 5

Dear Ssela (Hamster’s name)

Hello~! You are so cute! (But not better than my hamsters~) But you are not mine. You are my friend’s hamster. So I sad. But I have a hamsters. HaHaHa~! Do you know my hamsters? If you don’t know, I’ll bring my hamster to show you my hamster. Then you like them! Bye~ See you next time~

-Jenny~

And finally, my personal favorite:

Letter 6

Dear Jonsen,

Hello, I’m Danny. I met you before 2 years. That time, we felt so awkward. But now, we are so friendly. So we killed people together. But we go to the hell. So we killed hell’s people. But we go the heaven. So we killed heaven’s people. So we became god. So earth is our nation.

Talk about a laugh riot. Anyway, this last thing wasn’t a letter, but an interesting moment from yesterday.

Tony (In Korean) My arm hurts.
Me: Your arm hurts? Why?
Steve (In Korean): My heart hurts.
Me: Your mom hurts? You hurt your mom? (In Korean, “heart” sounds dangerously close to “mom”.)
Tony: No, “heart”.
Me: Oh, your heart hurts?
Steve: Yes.
Me (Clasping hands over heart and batting eyelashes): Because of a girl?
Steve and Tony: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…

Korean Word of the Day:

주당 – ju-dang – When you look up ju-dang in your phone dictionary, the result is: a drinker; a bacchant, a votary of Bacchus. Now, that kind of sounds like an alcoholic. However, ju-dang is far from an insult or something with a negative connotation. Quite the contrary. It’s actually a compliment. Ju-dangs are people that have an adept skill for drinking. Not only do they drink in large quanities, but they don’t let it go to their head. My Korean friends all consider me a ju-dang.