Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Phone Home

I will have a phone by the end of this week.

If I was able to sign a multi-year contract, I could benefit from all sorts of great deals. Unfortunately, my Visa is year-to-year; I can only sign a one-year deal. Whereas my monthly bill is tiny in comparison to US telecoms, my initial start-up fee is kind of high as is the kind of cheap phone I can purchase.

At least I can call: for help, for directions, for conversation. And I can use a nifty software that will help me learn to translate all of the Hangul I see everywhere and am learning to read, but still cannot understand.

My feet are killing me from Sunday's football matches. I played too much on Sunday--3 games. Moreover, I am breaking in new shoes. Ouch.

New photos to come.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Boston Hardcore in Seoul

Yes. Internet is working fine. Enjoyed baseball last night. Pictures to come.

I will head out to Hongdae tonight to see some great Boston hardcore! Can't believe an act like this is coming to Seoul. They are even playing a show outside of Seoul--from what I can tell, very rare.

Say hi to me if you're there. I'll be the bald guy in the St Pauli tshirt with a big smile.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

limited internet access

If you've been attempting to read about my Seoul adventures, I apologize for the lack of posting during my first ten days here.  I have little to no Internet access at the moment, and for another week to ten days.

Until then, here's a quick summary:
  • I have 2o sections of English classes at Samsung High School.  800 students.  They all think I am swell; they're shy; they're wonderful.  I love the school I am at.  I am the first foreign teacher and they are treating me extremely well.
  • The recruiting agency that brought me to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (which brought me to Seoul) screwed me and I am being paid 50% less than I should be paid this first month.  Not worth bitching too much about it since I am well paid and will only suffer this first paycheck.  Some teachers come to Korea and end up in far worse situations than partial pay for their first month in town.
  • I play soccer with my students and have played with a local club team.  Games are played on hard-packed sandlots.  Very challenging.  But I am a skilled player at my position and it appears I am welcome to play for many of the clubs in my district.
  • Because I can hike, play soccer, and teach in Gwanak-gu, I have yet to really explore Seoul.  On the other hand (unlike many foreign teachers,) I have been able to fully immerse myself in Korean culture.  Not that most teachers don't want to be here, but most teachers do spend much free time with other English-speaking foreigners and in the foreigner-centered districts in Seoul.  My teaching and sports schedule has me hanging with Koreans almost everyday and evening.  I am hoping this will help me excel at Korean language study.
  • I like the neighborhood I live in.  Sillim-dong is filled with students both university and those studying at law school prep academies.  Plenty of young, active people.
  • A good sauna (sow-na, is how the Koreans pronounce it) is just down the street.  Nothing like a Korean public bath after a hard day working.
just a few notes.  i am leaving for home.  soon i will be posting daily and uploading photos.

until then...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gwanak-gu, Sillim-dong

I am sitting in my favorite cafe--"Caffe Good," appropriately enough--and reflecting on my first week in Seoul.

I have enjoyed my time at the public high school.  Samsung High School is a co-ed school with almost 1,000 students.  First through Third grade--equivalent to 10-12 grade in the U.S.  I will be teaching many, many 50 minute sections for all First and Second Graders.  I believe that I have something like 22 sections and 800 students.  I am busy, but I really wouldn't have it any other way.  My life has revolved around teaching and writing, and studying, since 1999.  I don't see why my time in Seoul should be any different.

My co-teachers--5 Korean, English teachers--are very accommodating.  My students are very affectionate.  I am the first foreign teacher to work at Samsung High School; I am sure this fact explains my (at times, spectacularly) warm reception. 

Because I experienced two months of consistent delays in my Visa application process, I arrived two weeks late and missed both orientation weeks that the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) scheduled for new teachers.  Consequently, I am in Seoul with no native English-speaking acquaintances to speak of.  Though, I do have three friends in Seoul working for hagwons.  I am independent enough to handle the awkward realities involving my temporary illiteracy and more than tenacious enough to insist I get what I need from impatient cab drivers and annoyed clerks, but I do wish I had the opportunity to meet others working in public schools, if for nothing more than acquiring an instant social community within which to share my inevitable frustrations.

I am off to meet a new friend.  Only my second social engagement since arriving.  I'll be watching rugby in Itaewon with Kevin and an unknown, sarcastic Australian.  My kind of Saturday afternoon.

Koreans are celebrating Chusok this weekend.  I don't teach again until Wedensday.  I am going to explore Seoul as much as posisble.

I feel great about my choice to come to Seoul, and happy to finally get this blog going.  I will post often.  Enjoy and comment and, if in Seoul, let's meet.