March 31, 2010

'who is your daddy and what does he do'

The past week or so has been filled with some of the most random moments i've ever encountered.. and sunday was no different..

as i am leaving the subway on sunday.. entering itaewan to meet some friends for drinks, a man behind my friend and i asks what we do.. He asked if we were teachers or if we were in the army..

i really wanted to shrug this random guy off.. i'd heard that koreans like to ask foriegners where they are from and such.. yet at this point i was not really that interested. i wanted the guy to go away.. after we answered that we were teachers he seemed to get really interested... great. was my thought.. really great..

he started saying something about being a rep who places kids in schools, and that he'd had meetings with the public schoolboard outside of seoul.. SUPER interesting stuff.. but not at a subway stop... anywho.. he pops out his business card.. hands one to each of us. and um.. well the company was 'korea connections'.. the firm that placed me in korea..

this perked me up.. and as he introduced himself i turned the card over to the english side.. and guess what.. his name is Jimmy .. it was the THE SAME guy who placed me in korea.. i think this is hilarious.. because Jimmy lives in Vancouver.. and is responsible for me being here... and at a subway stop in korea, i meet the guy... he did remember me.. and asked me how my school was.. interesting stuff like that..

alright its not really that interesting to most.. BUT!!!.. SO random.. to cap off a week of random events, i don't think you can get any better than that..

March 30, 2010

when you see yourself in a crowded room...

the other day i went to get my haircut.. i was super nervous about it, why?? mostly because of the language barrier.. its not a rational fear i mean seriously, its just hair, it grows.. yet i've become quite picky of late when it comes to my hair.. so a problem in communicating what i want really bothered me..anywho..

I asked the guys around the office where they get their haircuts.. Don told me about 'the blue club'.. he gave me directions.. pretty easy to follow.. Don also seems to have a pretty decent haircut, i mean straight forward, but i've read some horror stories, and korean's hair is different than north american hair..i could create a post about that alone, but i'm fairly sure that would not be enjoyable to read.. (nor do i really want to research it)

So saturday morning i awoke bright and early to engage in my adventure.. and what an adventure it was.. i followed the directions to a T.. i found the barber shop twirler, and a building with blue signs.. to me, this meant it was 'the blue club'!!. i went inside..

.. it was a saturday.. i don't know why i didn't expect it to be busy.. yet there was a lineup.. right as i was thinking "fuck i hate waiting" my mind went blank.. right clean, nothing going on.. the gerbil fell off the spinning wheel... all the men sitting in line were naked... stark ass naked.. staring at the waygook.. a type of panic set in at that moment.. i'm fairly sure Don would have mentioned naked when he told me about the haircut.. yet i didn't remember that detail, although its not really a minor detail.. its fucking HUGE!! i took off my jacked and sat in line.. well awkwardly sat down.. i was thinking if i should join this naked train.

i'm not some closest homophobe.. nor am i that uncomfortable around other naked men. i played hockey for many years.. and i've streaked on more than one occasion.. i realized when i sat down that i was wearing pink boxers... that made me the most uncomfortable.. all these men would see the pink boxers, and i didn't want to find out what their reaction would be to those, let alone my tattoos... i felt the best way to deal with this situation was to not partake..

so i left 'the blue club'... i just left.. i was like nope.. not worth it today.. i was originally stressed about the hair style, at this point that nervousness vanished and i was cursing at myself for choosing pink boxers..

i have decided to go to itaewan to get my haircut from someone who speaks english.. that deals with the communication barrier, and i will not wear pink boxers..

March 27, 2010

same same... just Korea (I)

Every culture does things that make you shake your head.. Korea is no different.. i'd consider this part one?

an umbrella.. a great device.. great for repelling rain.. koreans also use umbrella's when it is snowing.. it makes sense.. both are water, just in different form.. a melted snowflake looks the same on clothes as a drop of water.. yet i still think something is odd..

Masks.. we all know that masks are a pretty interesting part of asian culture.. the japanese have kabuki masks.. and the korean's have a wooden mask similar, except the mouth can move.. ANYWHO.. not talking about festive masks.. the pollution in this city is pretty bad.. and during yellow dust season its worse.. so the korean's wear masks covering their nose and mouth.. very similar to surgeon masks.. It makes walking around quite interesting.. i mean there are all these people in masks.. it makes sense.. i just feel so awkward, what do they know that i don't.. (fact: living in cities with poor air quality can take 9 years off your life expectancy...i'm wondering how long you have to live there..). ALSO the masks come in different colours, and designs.. i've been told i'm getting the 'cooter boy' mask for my birthday... i would have liked spongebob.. but i'll take it..

Garbages.. The streets in seoul are some of the cleanest i've ever seen in a major city.. litter doesn't crowd them like some cities i've been too.. although this intrigues me.. because most cities where garbage is a problem have waste bins on every street corner.. or at least within eyesight.. Seoul on the other hand, does not.. there are very VERY few trash cans in seoul.. i think it has something to do with their insane garbage programs or something (i have yet to figure out the justification)...there are only a few garbage cans..if you have garbage, you will probably partially decompose while you try to find a garbage can.. i basically walk with it all day till i get home (my clothes smell awesome.. okay lie.. but yeah.. walk with your daily trash.. not cool).. It's crazy, you'd think the streets would be littered (haha) with little piles of trash, instead they are covered in asian saliva.. apparently the koreans chew up their wrappers and spit them all over the ground i don't know.. but there is spit everywhere and not much garbage..

Costco.. The great american retailer.. well its not Wal-Mart.. but whatevs.. I went to a costco here a couple weeks ago.. very similar experience to what i would get back home.. The costco pizza.. mmm.. it was everything i wanted and more.. but the real reason for this little blurb.. the korean's love sidedishes. Kimchi accompanies every meal, as well as a myriad of other small plates.. Well costco pizza doesn't come with kimchi.. so what does a sidedish oriented culture do? They create one!!!... its a beautiful mix of onions, a little bit of relish all swimming in a sea of mustard.. if you blew up a french's mustard bottle.. thats what it might look like..

So thats all for now... there will be more, i'm sure......

March 14, 2010

a smashing good time..

Saturday was a a strange day for me.. i pulled an all nighter on friday, perhaps not the smartest choice.. but hey i'm not perfect.. i figured the best solution to cure this tired state was to simply drink more.. i somehow thought going out on saturday night would be a good idea.. i started off by chugging soju before i met the girls in itaewan..

the night was actually going quite well until the last bar we went to.. we ended up at homo hill again.. the same couple that dragged us there last time are leaving in the next couple weeks so for their last hurrah it fit.. when we arrived in the bar we were greated.. well not so much greated with but there was two girls passed out in the boothlike benches that lined the front of the bar.. one of these girls would wake up to leave and upchuck on my coat.. after that occured i decided to step outside for some fresh air.

when i was outside i heard some yelling coming from behind me.. it was some guy yelling at two gay men making out about 30 or so feet behind me.. he was spewing out religious jargon.. his favourite sentence was 'you are an abomination to the lord jesus christ'.. anywho this man was being pulled away by an indian girl with whom i believe i had talked to in the bar earlier that night.. i was looking at her trying to figure out if she was the girl i was talking to.. well the crew cut individual turned his attention to me.. (the crew cut is the fashionable hair choice for the case you didn't know.. wow. okay i didn't mean to insult anyone's intelligence).. story.. um.. so the marine dude turned his rantings to yours truly.. i yelled back 'buddy i'm straight.. shut up'.. he kept ranting.. at this point he had ventured about 60 feet and stood around 30 feet up hill from me.. there were two gay couples at the top of the hill whom i believe were taunting him..

at this point he grabbed another one of his friends beer bottles.. looked back at me.. and let er fly.. i was leaning against a wall, and well i should congratulate the guy he had pretty good aim, the bottle grazed my left hip and smashed on the wall beside me..there were many problems with this scenario... first! why the fuck did he throw it at me.. the people egging him on were in front of him!... not behind.. and why look at me.. i guess i was the closest one to him.. but even still.. NEEDLESS to say i was pretty pissed off.. as he walked away he continued to yell that i and the people around me were abominations of the lord jesus christ.. the night ended there and then.. i got outta dodge.. i was seriously at a loss for words.. and shaked with adrenaline or something the rest of the night.. this point i can't really say i'm too impressed with the military in seoul.. i've likened them to condoms.. noone really likes using them.. yet we need their protection.. because no coat hanger could remove north korea...

March 13, 2010

'hows this for muchiness'

There are a couple of minor differences between balzac and seoul.. downtown balzac consists of two churches, a 1950's relic gas station, and crossiron mills.. downtown seoul has all that in spades.. The populations of the cities aren't remotely comparable.. but balzac has crossiron mills.. Seoul has a public transit system that rivals the best in the world.. balzac has the school buses crossiron mills bought to ferry carless employees from calgary, to its existance in the middle of nowhere.. Seoul has a nightlife i can't really call nightlife because i've witnessed sunrises.. crossiron mills.. *cough* i mean balzac, doesn't have any restaurants or movie theatres. They are currently under construction.. One thing both bustling metropolis' DO have in common is that when i'm asleep i have found no difference between either!!!

There are plenty of things i love about balzac, don't get me wrong.. My parents live there, it's been my home for quite some time.. my introduction was a long winded way of saying 'there is tons of shit to do here', i don't simply teach and retire to my quiet matchbox...

I have quite the schedule ahead of me..
March 20th - St. Patrick's Day party in a park in downtown Seoul (yay green beer)
March 27th - Shipwrecked.. booze cruise down the han river
April 10/11 - Paul Oakenfold's in town on the saturday, my birthday on the sunday
April 17th - Seoul wide scavenger hunt.. i'm a proud member of team Suck it, Lick it, Pound it
May 8th - Seoul World DJ Festival (largest outdoor dance festival in Korea)
July - 9 days of vacation.. NO idea where i'm headed yet...
August - Rock Festical (Oasis headlined last year)

in July i plan on attending the mud festival.. its all waygooks.. (okay i should explain this term.. i don't think i have yet.. a waygook is what the foreigners are called here.. its our 'n' word if you will.. we can freely use it to describe ourselves, as blacks with 'n'.. but we like that its our word.. and only when we use it).. where was i.. OH YES.. mud festival!!.. its a weekend of mud.. you jump, slide, slip, and frolic in mud... if there is a win win scenario.. i believe that is it..

I have also started a free 'survival Korean' language class its an 8 week program.. Three hours every saturday, and i am learning to read, pronounce, and write korean.. i will also learn helpfull phrases, how to give directions, read a menu.. all the fun stuff!! I learned how to write my name in Korean last week.. It looks like a house.. i'm impressed..

since my intro was so long i will simply conclude with.. i'm a busy bee..

Rabbit Teacher

When i walked into each class for the first time i don't know who was more nervous. My heart was doing the mamba, but i kinda feel for the students.. This giant walked towards them and introduced himself as Sean Teacher.. all nine of my classes greated me with a similar gasp followed by an erie silence.. That is a big reason why the first week was so hard to judge.. I was trying to get a routine down, and my students were trying to figure out the waygook..

My schedule is rather strange.. the school works on a mon-wed-fri and tue-thur schedule... although i teach a treasures class.. (which is everyday)..and i also have two treasures classes that go tues-thurs i teach those for 80 mins instead of the standard 40 minute class.. My other classes also vary, i mentioned earlier how i am teaching various ages with various english levels.. and i couldn't have been more truthfull. My treasures kids are pretty good at conversing.. They also say some hilarious things.. To every class i am Sean Teacher.. although my week long treasure class has given me a new name.. Rabbit Teacher... the class exclusively calls me partner teacher informed me that Eunice started the name.. Everday at 3pm i am greated into the class by a hello rabbit teacher chant.. i have no idea why.. i'll let ya know the rationale when i find out..

One thing i can say for certain is that i am loving teaching thus far.. the second week the kids started to settle in. i think the initial shock of my size has worn off.. I am starting to see the personalities shine through, and i wish some kids still feared the giant waygook.. although for the most part I am doing pretty good at controlling the kids...

i have had some challenges though.. i find myself struggling at times to find a good flow.. some classes i nail it.. i do exactly what i planned, within my time.. i'd compare the feelig to completeing a puzzle.. others i am left lost with either not enough time, or far too much.. i'd compare that feeling to not completing a puzzle??.. wait!! no.. thats not really a feeling.. it's more like what the american hockey team must have felt.. so close to winning gold but not.. ALSO fyi i don't cry when this happens.. i'm just comparing people!!... I can happily say that i had more puzzle classes that i did silver medal ones.. but it's something i am working on, i had no expectations that i would nail it right away, but some days i feel the frustration mounting because i can't get things down the way i'd like.. but hey thats how things roll..

i can end with a conversation i had with my treasure 1 class..the ones that call me rabbit teacher...

Rabbit teacher: so what do animal parents do with their babies?
Kevin: Animal parents fight their babies!
Rabbit teacher: what! no.. kevin.. animal parents don't fight their babies..
Kevin: hmm.. animal parents beat their babies?!?
Rabbit Teacher: What! no.. NO.. kevin, animal parents don't fight or hit their babies..
Frank: Animal parents fight other animal parents!
Rabbit Teacher: ..sigh..

March 03, 2010

The difference between a tear and a yawn..

The blatent patriotism that canada demonstrated while they held the olympics was astounding.. i've said for quite a while that i appreciate canada more when i am not actually in the country.. although by the looks of it, i'm missing out on one hell of a party..

i had a very hard time watching the olympics this year... i came out with the idea i would download all the team canada men's games,and watch the rest streamed off CTV.. well when i arrived for the first two weeks i had no internet...that messed up the downloading plan.. and apparently CTV won't allow their stream of the olympics to be viewed internationally.. it was quite the blow.. I was only able to watch events in korean..

i've been asked a couple times about the figure skater.. and the answer to whatever your questions are is.. YES... that woman is revered here as a goddess...she is everywhere.. commercials.. newspapers.. magazines.. i haven't really seen any bilboards. but i'm sure she's on them too.. Korean's have tv's in their cell phones.. you see people with these little antenae's coming out of them while they silently ride the subway.. well when the short program was on.. that was playing in my classroom.. the korean teachers and one of my bosses huddled around this little tv.. every jump they would hold their breathe...only to vibrantly cheer upon her landing.. and its a jump.. so it took a second.. but there was an obvious process at work there....

As for the men's gold medal game.. it was the only hockey game i was able to watch live.. the game started at 5am in korea.. talk about a pain.. SO the plan was to go to itaewan and head to canadian bar...aptly named rocky mountain tavern... at around 10pm.. a whole 7 hours before the game started.. and try not to get too drunk that we would forget the game..

Well i can tell you that we succeeded.. we arrived at the bar around 10pm.. it didn't really start getting packed till about 2 or 3am.. Gill and i made a pact.. NO shots, NO chugging, and pace ourselves.. We both made it, although both with the aid of energy drinks.. The game however.. HORRIBLE.. the bar was using an internet feed.. the first 6 minutes or so you couldn't see because it lagged so much.. we then got kicked off the feed for the next couple minutes of the game.. i'd love to say i blacked out and missed it.. NOPE.. the bar blacked out, and made me miss it.. once the bar got a feed that didn't lag or kick us out.. good luck reading any of the names on the jerseys.. and to be truthfull you were mostly guessing where the puck was.. I SWEAR none of that was because of drinking.. i was a good boy remember...

The bar was about 75% canadian i'd say. 24% of arrogant americans (bastards)... and the remaining 1% didn't care (yet stayed in the bar till then anyways..)there was one in my group.. she got so tired of telling people she didn't care who won.. that she had 'i don't care' written on her face in red eyeliner.. neutrality has never before been so aggressive..

'the goal'... much like the interviews with sidney crosby... i never saw the puck go in (see above paragraph if you can't connect the dots).. i simply heard people screaming.. i then screamed.. jumped up and down like a 4 year old and hugged everyone in my vacinity wearing the maple leaf.. screaming 'we won..we won..we won'.. the atmosphere was electric.. that game created a moment for all canadians to remember.. mine will not be any different, although just a different soil under my feet..

i finally managed to leave the bar about 11 hours after i got there.. i fell asleep on the subway and missed my stop...i managed about four hours of sleep that day...