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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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  • nails grow faster in Korea.... Wednesday, May 24, 2006 |

    So, I fought this tooth and nail - to actually update something that I really don't want to do. I don't know why, but I'm sure that I'll come around, and type something worthwhile that will make you say "thanks, I'm glad you did it.....finally".
    Okay, so maybe you probably won't say thanks. And I'm already smiling at myself in the mirror, so don't worry, I'm sure this will be worth your time.
    So the past few weeks for me have been pretty rough on me, a little mentally, moreso spiritually. I'll leave the mentally part at saying this: Love is a strange thing - just when you might think you're old enough to understand it, something goes and screws it up for you. I just wish that it could be like a sudoku puzzle - eventually, after trial and error, you get it right, and you have that sense of completion. Unfortunately, its not. not even close (and I'll leave it at this - "Love is the impossible Sudoku puzzle" - too big for me to accomplish-now....)
    Spiritually, it's been a little strange for me. I've been reading a book called "blue like jazz": good friends of my parents bought for me as a gift. At first, I was skeptical, because it seemed a little flukey: "nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality" - if you can decipher that line to begin with, you're further than I was when I started the book. But its been strangely what I needed. Since I've been here in Korea, and outside of the propaganda headquarters that is Calvin college, (or as my friend Michelle Huyser says, the "Calvin bubble"), you realize that certain things, especially religious things, are much different from when you were inside of "Calvinist Mecca". What I'm fumbling to say is this - when I was at Calvin, I sometimes felt like I was in grown-up Sunday school: "here's your serving of Calvinist (and other) Christianity, and its "truth", so don't worry, its good for body and soul". And while that might be true, there were certain things that I still didn't understand when I left Calvin; things that were "explained" to me, but no matter how much I studied it, I still didn't grasp what my professor was trying to say. Things such as the Trinity; I still didn't understand it when I left Calvin, and I still don't understand it now. And when I had my birthday, and I turned the cool age of 25 - the quarter century, I felt this overwhelming disappointment that came when I tried to explain something about Christianity, and I couldn't do it; I couldn't. And I felt like a failure. And for some reason, reading Daniel Miller's book has been somewhat of a comfort - reading it has allowed me to feel comfortable in my spirituality, and revel in the fact that myself not knowing the Trinity is okay; there's certain parts of Christianity that I will probably never understand until I get to heaven; so I may as well stop hitting myself for not understanding it...
    trust me when I say that there's more to it than just that, but that's just a sliver of the things that I've been struggling with. Another weird thing has been me being in Korea for 15 months now - I'm finally starting to get that itch to go home, see things that are (or were at some point) familiar to me; to hear people speaking English at "normal" speed, and to do things like drive a car, and finish work at a relatively sane hour (and not 7:30 and 8:30pm like I do now) Don't bother asking me what has led me to this now - who knows - it will probably pass, but I'm starting to also really miss my friends. People that I haven't seen for over a year are starting to come to mind, as me wanting to just meet up with them, have a beer (or two) and just catch up on stuff, and shoot the shit. Oh well, there will be lots of time for that when I come home.....
    well, I've got to get off - this is getting probably too long for some of you - you're presently reminding yourself: "this guy is known for his long-windedness......", "when he gets going, there's no stopping him....", and my personal favourite "zzzzzzzzz...Is he done yet....?" so I'm done. If you've got some extra prayer space, I'd love to fill that spot. And if you have any needs, please send them my way.
    take care ya'll, I'll catch up with you after I finish my sudoku...

    and you think rent's expensive... Thursday, May 04, 2006 |

    Just another reason why you would rather stay in Canada than to move to Seoul. Recently, the Korean Government finished their yearly evaluation of all properties in all of Korea, where each apartment building is rated according to 80% of what the believed value is if you were to buy or sell where you live. Its an important and slightly stressful time for Koreans, because its what you pay your property tax based on; too high for your liking, and you're going to pay a fortune, too low, and you're grinning for the short-term, or at least until you decide to sell.
    Now, I'm going to give you a quick rundown on my apartment, before I tell you the shocking statistic. My apartment is a two bedroom, one living room apartment, with one bath, a small kitchen, and backside glassed-in patio area. My apartment has been converted into a three-bedroom apartment, but it doesn't matter if you have a three bedroom or two bedroom- its what the actual space is. The two bedrooms in the apartment are small by North American standards - the smaller bedroom would be comparable to a bathroom - believe me, its small. The other fact is that my bathroom is about as old as the apartment is; it was built in the 80's; I don't know what the exact time was, but its certainly not a spring-chicken.
    Its current market value? In Canadian dollars? 287,686.00 And if you aren't shocked at that, remember that its only 80% of the actual price; and its expected that if this apartment were to be sold, it would sell for over 315,000.
    Enough said. Now I understand why the Korean men work over 12 hours a day; they need to just to afford the apartments. Oh, and lastly, when you buy an apartment, you need to pay 75% of the price upfront - usually in cash.

    Its been a long days night... Tuesday, May 02, 2006 |

    Well, its been a long time since I last posted - when I realized that I had forgotten my login information to write a new post, I knew that I had set a new record for futility. I've been kind of busy, with a nasty bout of the flu before my parents came, and then a really bad ear infection (and I thought that only children got those) which followed by my parents visiting for ten days. To make a long story short, its been a long busy month or so. However, now that all those things are done, I'm caught up at school, I thought I would just write a few notes.
    Spring has just come not too long ago (say for the unfortunate time that my parents were here, when the weather was unseasonably cold) and right now, the weather is gorgeous. The wind blows through with nice spring air, and its a nice change from the typical air pollution that sticks around because of the high-rise apartments and office buildings that dot this country. I hope that this weather last for a while, because the temperature is already starting to get warmer and more humid as the days go by. The nice thing with all this warm weather has been the amount of spring flowers that have bloomed - unfortunately, the cherry blossoms don't stick around too long, but the other flowers are just starting to take their place, so everything is smelling spring fresh; sort of like a splash of "April fresh" fabric softener... (okay, enough of that stuff)
    Well, as we just started the month of May, that means that another birthday is coming and going very soon - its hard to believe that this will be my second year here, and while part of me thinks that its been a long time that I've been here, the other part of me believes that it hasn't been all that long - what's fourteen months in a lifetime? Oh well, this weekend, I'll be going to Pusan with my roommate ( Pusan, or Busan) is my roommates hometown, so he's going to be showing me some of the sights, things to see, when he's not spending some time with his mother, grandmother and sister. Upcoming, date wise, this is the month for teachers. On May 15, its Teachers day, and while I may not believe in Confucianism, the somewhat dominant religion of most Koreans, I do agree with them when they promote teachers as the most important members of society. Last year, it was on a Saturday, and I got two pairs of socks and some cologne. However, this year, its on a Monday, and I'm hoping to cash in...and my birthday is the weekend before that, and I've been leaving my kids notes about that as well....(my first time around, I didn't mention anything about either day, and then I saw teachers all around me rack in the gifts, some as much as 100$ gift cards to the bookstore, and I realized that simply treating it as a normal day isn't what's in my best interest...
    When my parents came here, it was wonderful for me to show them my little corner of the world, with my friends, institute and country area. However, the only disheartening thing was opening the gifts and things from home. Its discouraging, only because its at time like those when I realize how much of home I miss. And while this has become my new home, its still hard to get reminders from home, because as much as its sometimes hard to believe, there are parts of Canada and home that I do miss. (but as of right now, I sorta like Seoul (minus the awful air pollution) a lot better..)
    Otherwise, things aren't that new with me. I'm presently 90% finished my new website, which I hope to get up and running within the next month or so. There are still some things that I need to get ironed out, such as my comments page, and a starter page for my Education Portfolio, and some other small things to take care of. Hopefully, the website will be user-friendly enough that most people won't complain about the new site, but think its a nice upgrade over this public site.
    Well, its time for me get going; take care all, and don't work too hard