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"So I guess this is where I'm supposed to introduce myself. I'm a Canadian male teaching ESL in Seoul, Republic of Korea. This will be my second stint teaching ESL, only this time I'll be teaching at a High School, using my actual teaching experience to use. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me - no question's too small. Take care, and enjoy the ride."

Other Blogs of Note

  • Student in Korea
  • Seoul Man
  • The Daily Kimchi
  • Surviving South Korea
  • Books I'm Reading

  • "Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire" by Niall Ferguson
  • "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murakami
  • "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" by Samuel P. Huntington
  • "The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth" by Benjamin M Friedman
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  • well its about time you posted something again.... Thursday, March 24, 2005 |

    Greetings from Seoul
    Well, much to my surprise, just yesterday was my one-month anniversary of working in Seoul. And even though I'm not one to reminisce, time’s flown by. I’ve so far moved only once, and will only move once more (hopefully) before I stay there at a much larger apartment, where I’ll most likely stay until i finish out my contract. I'm now an official resident immigrant, and even though it cost me a fortune to obtain, I also have a multiple-entry visa, so I’ll be able to enter and leave the country for multiple times; I’ve got two nine-day holidays scheduled twice while I'm here, and I'm hoping to spend some time in China for my first nine days, and possibly volunteer or vacation in Thailand? for my second nine days right near the end of December. Its been an interesting first month, and now that the school has some new teachers coming in, its been weird looking at them as they do the same observing and training that I did very shortly ago; it seems like eons ago, yet, I’ve only been teaching for just shy of three weeks.
    So far, the weather’s been amazing. the mornings are a nice cool breeze, and the afternoons are just a beautiful spring feeling. there are days where the weather dramatically changes, usually to a much colder temperature, (to which all of us teachers cry “wheres the nice weather - this “cold” weathers for the birds - i know, I'm spoiled now....) but then, there are days like last Sunday, where the weather was so beautiful, it seemed like every single Korean was either walking, biking, or playing soccer and tennis outdoors. So far, i haven’t taken too many photographs; the days are still pretty short, and when I'm done work at 8:20, there's not a whole lot of ambition left to just go out and try to take some nice evening photographs.... One of my first purchases once i get paid will be to buy a bike; nothing fancy, but bikes here are surprisingly cheap. The nicest aspect of Seoul is by far their bike paths; if London, Ontario is known for their biking paths, then just increase the scale to a city of 10 million, and you have Seoul. Cutting through all sorts of busy apartment mini-cities are dozens of bike paths; and if you can find a river or stream flowing anywhere, then bike path are sure to be lining everywhere. Two coworkers of mine just spent last Sunday biking for four hours, and they were able to travel all the way outside of the entire city in a faster manner than if you were to take the subway.
    Well, true to my word, I'm going to give another glimpse into life in Seoul. this particular segment might not seem as shocking as the difference in public transportation, but i hope that it will at least offer a certain retrospect of appreciation for what we have, and how blessed we are with so much space.
    Over here in Seoul, I'm presently living in a two-bedroom apartment, with a single bath, small kitchenette, and a covered patio with an enclosed washing machine/agitator. Where I'm now living is the third-highest rent in all of Seoul. to me, I wouldn’t pay more than 650 a month for an apartment of this size (Cad). I’m sharing with one other girl, and both of the rooms are nothing to scream about. the first room is quite small, 8’ by 10’; its small and cozy, but nothing huge. the larger room is where my roommate stays (seniority based on how long you’ve been teaching here) is roughly 12’ by 17’ - its nice, but quite oddly shaped, so there’s a lot open space, especially because of where the double wide door is located. So i share with one other person, and i find it small. believe it or not, the average five person family shares a space this small - bunk-beds are a necessity here, and usually four kids will share the bigger room [and if they’re “lucky”, their grandparent(s)] while the parents will live in the small room. with a queen size or double bed, the door would just clear the bed, with a little walkway. with the rent in this area being so costly, most of the apartments are rented out to lawyers, doctors, policemen working at the local police station, etc.
    if you saw what these apartments looked like, you’d be startled when you read this - they’re nothing to scream about. this city is so starved for apartments to house all of their ever-expanding population, that entire city blocks of older-style split level apartments are being leveled in order to replace them with fifteen story apartment complexes that have already sold out- and they’re years away from completion. its somewhat discouraging, but most are so used to it, that they just can’t honestly comprehend when you try to explain something so common as a backyard - 100% of my kids live in apartments, and they most likely will their entire life. not to say theirs nothing wrong with apartments, but the true North American ideal of owning your own plot of land, with a backyard, driveway in simpleton Canada or America is something that only seems fitting in movies to most Koreans. the good thing is that they like it this way - they see bigger houses as being bigger residences to upkeep, and truth be told, when you’ve got a space so small, it truly forces the whole family to go outside more often - you could get serious boredom with such a small space.
    well, it sounds unfortunate, but there are many other living options for Koreans, and many decide to live in Seoul because of the huge profits that are to be made in the big city; and who can blame them when their economy is finally turning back around; people throw money around here as if the stuff grows on trees......
    well, I need to get going - these kids drain the energy out of you as if you're a rechargeable battery- they somehow need to understand that its just not possible. if any of the people reading this by any chance work with kids, God’s blessings on you; you’re a special person. i teach, but even the kids i have for one hour a day, four days a week at six years old drive me nuts; and they speak English just fine, so its not the language part.... if you have time, I’d love to hear how things are going in each of your lives; i can be reached via e-mail at (notanymore). I may not reply immediately, but most of the time i do.
    take care, and God Bless!!!

    theres more than the eye can see..... Saturday, March 12, 2005 |

    Greetings from Seoul

    I hope that this posting finds you all in good spirits, and that the weather is treating you fine. from my guess, i think that its spring break now? over here, spring break is just a wish - which gets thrown in with all the other wishes, namely for more time off, more polite kids, less-harassing parents....

    Things over here are doing just fine. i've adjusted to my schedule, i'm not suffering from the jet-lag anymore, and i've somewhat adjusted to the food (i still miss certain things, namely the rampant availability of junk-food, english instructions, (i'll just save the time and say "anything" in english). you can buy food here with english instructions, but the price difference is staggering; i'll try the old eye-ball method.

    today, the weather here went straight back to winter - after three/four days of really nice spring weather, it dropped right off, and became freezing cold - with the wind chill, the weather dropped to somewhere near -15C. So far, we've had only one day of snow, and it stuck around for about two hours, and then melted, making everything slushy and muddy really fast. Other than the odd cold day, the weather has been pretty nice- i'm hoping that the weather stays this way, with the nice spring-type weather, because when the muggy and humid weather comes along, its not going to be too much fun.

    Today, I visited a collection of Confucian temples located on a mountain side. It took me over an hour to get there, and after getting out at the wrong stop twice, and correcting my direction once, i finally got there. At the bottom of this blog you should see two pictures. the view of the city was amazing. aside from the rampant smog that was blanketing the city, it was breathtaking. everything is so tightly packed together, it makes the city seem so much smaller than the 10 million people that live here. with the temples and religions here, i unfortunately did not take any pictures - Koreans do not like it when you take pictures of them worshiping; quite natural - if i was sitting in church, and people just walked in to take pictures, i'd be unpleasant to. it somewhat makes things a little frustrating though, when you see so many beautiful sights, yet can't take any pictures. its too bad, because i'll remember the images, but i won't be able to convey the images back to you.

    well, i need to get going; my battery is running low, and saturday is starting to wind down. i usually have to remind myself of the time difference when i'm talking to people online. I hope that everyone is doing well - i'll try to take more pictures of different things in Korea, and when i get the chance, i'll make another addition to my running story of the different aspects of Korea.

    Take care, and God Bless


    Image hosted by Photobucket.com

    Image hosted by Photobucket.com

    public transportation or public hazard... Sunday, March 06, 2005 |

    Hello from Seoul
    greetings, and i hope that this blog finds you in good health. things are going well; the new school year at my hog-wan (after-school institution, for those who are just starting to read this now) and today was long. after four schedule changes for my own times, and finally figuring out what I'm supposed to do, the day began, and before i knew it, it was over, and the only sign that the day was so long was that my feet were sore, and my back tired.

    what I'm going to try and do is to give some sort of small glimpse into what life is like here in seoul. for those of you thinking that “what, he’s been there for what, two weeks?”, you’re right. so take my glimpses with a grain of salt; however, i don’t think that there's much difference throughout the country - all facets of what i’ve experienced have been told to be true to what everything is like here in South Korea, so i don’t think i’ll be too far off.

    The first facet that i’ll start with will be public transportation/cars.
    Here in south Korea, especially Seoul, where everything is so cramped, public transportation is a must. not only are subway’s used to get everywhere, but buses, taxis, you name it, if you can get somewhere without driving, then its highly advised. its what you learn about each form of transportation that makes things interesting. when you’re walking anywhere, you must always obey the traffic signs, such as the walk, no walk, and blinking walk signs. in most places, people rampantly jaywalk, and you can get away with it, because most people use logic when they’re crossing the road, etc. Here, everything should be “walker-beware”...
    buses here operate by their own set of rules here. there are two sets of buses, green and blue. blue are express buses, and make fewer stops. green busses are local, and do pretty much whatever they want to do. if it looks like nobody’s coming, green buses will just cross the street whenever they want, red light or not. along with buses, scooters are always hazardous; like buses, they cross the street when they want, but even more hazardous, if its more suitable for them to cross on the sidewalk, they will, with no more than a suitable honk of their horn. either one sounds dangerous, but as long as you always keep your head up, its not bad. its nice though to ride the bus if you’re in a rush....
    Subways are just packed, no matter what time of the day you’re traveling. there are nine lines (i think) and they all go pretty much anywhere. here, you pay by the distance that you travel - its nice and incredibly affordable.
    Cars here are the true hazard. watching them drive, its a wonder that anybody here got their license. prior to ten nears ago, the licensing wasn’t regulated, so if you wanted to drive, you could; you did not need to be fully trained; you just bought a car, and got your car license plate (which doesn’t need to be renewed) and then you’re all set. its scary. last weekend, the landlord of the house I'm presently staying in took us for a trip to a Bhudist temple - lets just say that it was quite the experience. either way, i don’t know what’s more surprising - the fact that so many people still drive, or that, no matter how poorly they drive, people don’t lose their cool over others poor driving habits- they just accept it as natural driving.
    not too surprising then, in closing, is that South Korea has the third highest rate of traffic fatalities involving pedestrians. i don’t know the validity of such a fact, but i would wager that its pretty high.
    well, i hope that this finds you all in good health. i’ve got to get going; lessons to prepare, places to go, people to see.
    take care and God Bless