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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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  • Just one of those weekends Tuesday, January 31, 2006 |

    Well, I just came back the other day from a long weekend trip to the middle of nowhere, also known as the middle of Korea. I was asked to join a good friend of mine, a fellow teacher named Toni, on one of her final weekend treks to somewhere that she knew a lot more about than I did. Before we went, the trip seemed like it would be ideal - the weather was looking nice, and that would make for beautiful sights in the mountains of Korea.
    We started on Saturday morning, leaving on the second biggest holiday in Korea- Lunar New Year. We took a train, with only standing tickets, and were somewhat less than excited by the prospect of four hours of standing on a train by the bathrooms, no matter how fun the trip would be. We finally got there (we found seats after two hours of standing/sitting) and found out that our prospects of a ferry ride to see the eight scenic spots of Danyang were impossible- for the first time in over 20 years, the river was frozen over - so six of the eight scenic spots were out of the question. We hit up the two remaining with the help of a nice local, and then headed off to Chunju to see some other sights.
    We got to Chunju, and were hoping to see two things - their famed hot-spring hotel, and also take what was supposed to be a beautiful scenic ferry tour of their man-made lake. Unfortunately, the ferry wasn't anything close to scenic - Toni admittedly fell asleep half-way through, and I just wanted to get off the freaking boat- the rumbling of the poor boat engine was making me sick. We tried to get to the famed hot-springs, however, after being misinformed (for the 3rd time, not the last) by the tourism agent as to where we were supposed to catch our bus, we gave up and stayed in a simple hotel.
    The following day, we made off for Daejon, as a stop-between, so we didn't have to take a four hour bus-ride. We decided to stay for a bit longer than just a stop-off, and were highly recommended to see the Expo 93 site, where a world expo apparently took place....Again, the tourist agent told us that, after reminding us that we were lucky that it was Lunar New Year, that we should definitely head there and take part in a huge festival at the Expo park. So after taking a bus ride for over 45 minutes all through the whole city, we get there, to find out that there's just slighly over 30 people total at the park; not exactly what we were expecting. We knew things weren't looking good when, printed in the brochure, over half of the theme park pavilions were closed - even the guidemap had them printed as closed - not stickers, but solid proof they weren't opening soon. So after spending twice the time getting there and back, we jumped ship for our final stop, Jeonju.
    In Jeonju, we arrived at night, and after the promise in Lonely Planet of every amenity we could imagine, we packed it in for the night in the Tomato hotel. For once, they were close; not exact, but close. We woke up hoping to stop in and see either the Hanok Folk Village, or Woraksan Park, where they have a suspended cable bridge for over 50 meters. We get to the open tourism booth to find out that on every last Monday of the month, the Hanok Folk Village is CLOSED. Righto...And why wouldn't it be closed....We went anyways, stopped in the open shops, and spent some time to make the visit feel like it was worth it. Woraksan was out of the question, because we couldn't get the bus ticket salesperson to understand our request for when the bus would come back from Woraksan - we knew we could get there, but getting back would be harder if we didn't know when we would actually get back. In the end, we decided to take a bus back to Seoul, and when the bus arrived in Seoul earlier than expected, I was proud to note that for once on the whole weekend, something went right.
    All in all, it was more fun than it reads- we did get to see some nice stuff, and it felt good to get away from Seoul. The air is much better out of the city, and I felt that I gave myself another few days on earth by not living in this city.
    Well, I hope your weekends had better luck than mine - I hope and pray things are going well - I'll catch you all on the other side around.

    My little specs of dust... Thursday, January 26, 2006 |

    Well, I've got one more day of working 12 hour days this past week, and then I'm done. As many of you will notice, I've done a little upgrading to the old blog...Something that has taken me a while to do, and been somewhat of a moderate distraction. Sure, I probably should have been replying to e-mails, but I somewhat figure this to be an e-mail of sorts, so if you feel like complaining, then know I'm listening...Only because I'm technically in the future, your complaining has already happened - I feel proud knowing I care.
    Well, other than the surface details, I've inserted a new quote that I somewhat thought was quite relevant. One of the reasons that I felt I still needed to stay here in Korea, for other reasons, was that I felt that I hadn't accomplished all I had wanted to complete. In other words, I haven't built my mountain yet. When I was in Chicago, after I had left, I felt a sense of incomplete satisfaction; I had taught my students that there was more to life than just books, and that even though you might have scored lower on a state test than what a sixth grader could accomplish, there is more to life (by the way, that's true - my students could have scored better on their state tests had they answered every multiple choice question with the letter "b") - I felt assured knowing that their scores were not testing their direct historical knowledge.... As for here in Korea, I felt that I hadn't accomplished all that I had wanted to. That's one of the reasons that I decided to stay at my institute, otherwise commonly mistaken for a "school" - where there is a competent administration, organization, and most importantly, responsibility (My institute only has gossip and (dis)organization going for it. Now sure, I appreciate the (dis)organization just as much as the other guy, because it allows potential mistakes to completely fly under the radar; sometimes, I like to see mistakes as a chance for a healthy distraction to the otherwise potentially dull regular life dreariness.
    Okay, I'm digressing. I hope things are going well with all of you - and if you've actually read all of this, Happy Lunar New Year - I'll be heading out this weekend to some places in the middle of no-where, to somewhat get away from the sweet-smelling odors of Seoul (commonly mistaken as a mid-20th century industrial town, minus the smokestacks).
    take care all, and God Bless

    The dog days of January Sunday, January 15, 2006 |

    Well, I'm at the half-way point of my busy month of January - this is another one of the months where I work an extra two classes in the morning - this time around, my regular class break occurred in my favour, where instead of working my usual seven o'clock class, instead I'm finished at 6:50, which is a nice bonus. Sure, it will cut into my overall overtime bonus at the end of the month, however, I'll take the earlier finishing time, because overtime for me is 1.2 times my regular pay; not exactly motivation to bust your butt, but its more money than I'd make doing nothing. For those of you who know math, most of you who know my contract situation probably know that sometime soon, I should be finishing. However, as crazy as those who've worked with me at my school might think, I decided to stay at my school for another nine months after my first contract ends. The most major reason being that I'll only be in Korea for another nine months, and not a year; I missed one Huizinga family Christmas party, and I'd rather not miss another if possible. That, and I don't see myself sticking around here forever. I'll go home sometime around the first week of December, make the rounds and visit friends, and then start looking for a job starting after Christmas school vacation. If all else fails, I'll go on a one-month trek through the Mediterranean countries, mostly just Greece, Italy, and possibly Spain. I know, it sounds rough, but sometimes you just need a vacation. And after that vacation, I still can't find a job, if worse comes to worst, there's one of the best international school's here in Korea, and the majority of the teachers go to my present Church....And who knows, if God wants me there, then I'll be there. (and as you read this, my parents are probably praying that there will be a job opening)
    Now, I'd been intending on doing this earlier, sometime around the new year, however, if you know me best, then most of my ideas just stick to being ideas, and leave the actual grunt work to somebody else....So, now that "somebody else" has stepped up to the plate, here are the most things that I can think that I'm thankful for. (In no particular order)
    1) I'm thankful for Brooke and Kavan pushes my sarcasm to an all-time high, all the while keeping it closely confined to only them.
    2) I'm thankful to have hockey back, and for the invention of the internet, so I can listen to live feeds of audio broadcasts.
    3) I'm thankful for a job, where I can work and have friends who appreciate me, for all the times that I've let them down.
    4) I'm grateful for parents who love me for who I am, even though I'm going to be sticking around her for another nine months.
    5) I'm especially grateful that they have already bought plane tickets to come up and visit me coming up in April...I'm sure my mom's already circled the date on all the calendar's at home.
    6) I'm thankful for Korean friends who've shown me a whole new world, and that while friends might be a universal word, it does mean things in different countries (both good and bad)
    7) I'm grateful that my friends Jenni and Kim could be both experiencing something that, while I may be incredibly jealous of them, they're nice enough to let me live vicariously through them and experience grad-school life with them.
    8) I'm thankful for friends who pray for me, even when I may get far behind them in my consistency of praying for them.
    9) I'm thankful for some videos of my nephew that I got to watch when I opened my Christmas package from my family - it might have been the cheapest gift in literal value, but it's the one I appreciated the most.

    As of right now, that's all I can think of - if you feel angry that you were left out, feel free to post a reply and complain about it - and I'll be sure to lodge it with the proper authorities. Other than that, not much is new with me. I'm currently almost finished reading all of the Chronicle's of Narnia, in their original form, in one massive volume. I must say that I appreciate C.S Lewis's humour much more now than when I was a mere kid reading them, and trying to figure out what "jawing" and other classic Lewis vocabulary expressions. Well, I need to get going - I hope and pray that this finds you all doing well, and I'll write some other time.