I may have to kill him.

Almost every time I saw Mr. ___ today he told me that it gets cold here in the winter so I should be careful not to “catch cold.” I may have to kill him. The ironic thing is, he’s the one getting sick — he’s developing quite the cough, so I gave him some of my American cough drops tonight. He called them “candy,” and asked what brand they were.

The food here is really growing on me. Not only is it healthy and delicious, but it’s also really cheap. Last night I had a huge bowl of “pibimbap” — rice with vegetables, egg, and red pepper paste — along with a bunch of side dishes (kimchi, tofu soup, etc…) delivered to my apartment for only 4000 won (about $3.50). I’ve been told by more than one Korean that “pibimbap” is Michael Jackson’s favorite food — apparently when he was in Korea it was the only thing he ordered to his hotel room, so they assume that it’s his favorite food. Now he molests children.

FOUR DOLLARS PER GALLON

Today I found out that gasoline costs almost FOUR DOLLARS PER GALLON here. Well, actually, it costs about 600 won per liter, but after a bit of conversion and simple math you arrive at FOUR DOLLARS PER GALLON. Never, ever, complain about the cost of gasoline in America again. As one might expect, there aren’t nearly as many SUV’s on the roads here. Instead — and this might sound a little crazy — there are lots of small and efficient cars. Did you hear that, America? NOT MANY SUV’S — LOTS OF SMALL EFFICIENT CARS.

I put five pictures of the field trip to the airport in the J.F.L.I. album, although I’ll be the first to admit that they aren’t terribly exciting. Airports don’t tend to be very photogenic places, even new Asian ones… the kids are still pretty cute, though.

map

Here is a map of Incheon for you to barely make out and enjoy. Bupyeong-Gu (spelled “Pupyeong-Gu” on the map) is on the upper-right side. My apartment is the lower black dot on the left side of Bupyeong-Gu, the institute is the dot above the lower dot and a bit to the right. It is big because Incheon is big, but I apologize for the long loading time this may cause some of you — if anyone has serious trouble loading this, leave me a comment and I will try and fix.

Incheon-map.jpg

I come from Mars!

It’s Wednesday already, this is hard to believe. The beginnings of every week here in Korea seem to fly by in a wash of confusion, disgruntledness, and poor teaching. I’m told by other English teachers here that one year goes by faster than one ever thought possible, and while at this point I can’t possibly believe this, I’m beginning to think that in nine months I might be able to.

Wednesday is the second best day at the institute after Friday. Most of my classes play games today, I am done by 7:00 p.m., and I have no classes that I’m overwhelmingly averse to… unlike Monday, which features my weekly “shit class.” I’m going to immigration with Mr. ___ to get my Alien Registration Card, which should be a laugh-a-minute. I should go there with green face paint and some antennae screaming “I come from Mars! Beep! Boop! Beep!” in broken Korean, see if they still give me a card.

field trip

Today I went to Incheon International Airport on a field trip with the morning kindergartners. It was fun, and (as with everything here) a little surreal and strange. It takes about fourty-five minutes to drive there from Bupyeong-Gu, and the drive there was full of more pollution than I have ever seen. Big stretches of ocean and land almost completely hidden in a haze of smoke and exaust. I thought Bupyeong-Gu was bad — I am unable to continue feeling this way.

At the airport we wandered around in a seeming aimless manner, stopping briefly at a McDonalds so the kids (and I) could all be photographed with the plastic Ronald McDonald statue, and stopping briefly at a airport golf cart to do the same. We happened upon a crew filming a Korean television drama that I am completely unfamiliar with, but Miss Che seemed to be fascinated by it, so we stood and watched them shoot the same scene about five times. Then more wandering, many photos of the kids with the Western teacher to put up at the institute, and finally back into the bus/van and back to said institute.

Going on field trips with the Kindergartners is strange primarily because they involve me walking around public places holding hands with (and, in some cases, carrying) Korean children, which is something I sincerely enjoy but that I never — not in a million years — thought I’d ever be doing a year ago.

Boston

Maybe this’ll seem like a blatant & pathetic effort to stir up interest in my site, but today I’m thinking of leaving my job. My teaching has been a fairly constant source of anxiety here, due mainly to the lack of any real curriculum and the fact that I am the only native English teacher at my school — which essentially leaves me not knowing what to do and with nobody to ask. Last night I went to a dinner party with some other local English teachers, most of whom work together at the same school, and after hearing how little they worry about their jobs and seeing how nice one of their apartments was, I’m beginning to think I might have gotten the short end of the ESL job stick. My job isn’t bad, but being the only native English speaker is much more isolating than I’d imagined, and my lack of experience and any real curriculum combines to make me quite the mess. I spoke to Mr. ___ about my concerns tonight, and he basically implied that I didn’t really need to teach much at all, that I could play games with the kids even more than I already am. I realize that anywhere I go there’s going to be people with better & worse jobs than mine, but for how long should I continue to work in a job that isolates me and stresses me out as much as this one has done thus far? I think maybe I’d be happier in Japan, but the money is apparently not as good there, and it would require me to come up with a new title for this blog.

Aside from the job situation comparison, the dinner party last night was a damn good time. It was at Amit’s place, who actually lives right down the street from me, and attending were Amit (American), Jason (Australian), Mirella (Australian, but born in Bosnia), Joe (Australian), and myself. We had spaghetti and drank beer, wine, & soju… ended up discussing whether ego is the root of all evil, if intelligence is relative to circumstantial satisfaction, and why many Koreans seem fixated on Boston (as opposed to other American cities), among many other things. It was nice to have some intelligent conversation here for a change — the Goose Goose is nice, but there’s a whole lot of nothing being talked about there.

I’m watching Letterman struggle through an interview with Jessica Lynch — what a true American hero that young woman is! It’s stories like hers that make me think this whole Iraq war was worthwhile!

one month

I arrived in South Korea one month ago today. Tonight, part of me is sitting here in my apartment thinking about how much has happened in that month and how much I’ve learned and grown in such a relatively short period of time. There’s another part of me, however, that’s thinking that I only have eleven more months to go, that I’m one-twelfth done with my contract, and that I’ve got a trip to Israel coming up in six weeks. The feeling of isolation here is overwhelming sometimes, and tonight it’s kicking me in the ass. I’m not unhappy here, and I am confident that with time I’ll find a comfortable place for myself in the expat scene, but… what is it? It’s hard to not overanalyze the nature of life when you’re forced (due primarily to language, but also to culture and etc.) to be an isolated observer of it. Does that make any sense? I’m not even sure if that’s what I mean, but it’s what came out, and I ain’t going to go back and erase it.

In the end, though — shit, I’m living in South Korea, don’t get much more alive than that. It’s easy to forget how strange my life now is as it has gotten more normal to live my day-to-day life here. (It makes perfect sense to me.)

Tomorrow I am supposed to go to Seoul with a guy I met at the Goose Goose last weekend — Amit. He wants to go to the Doc Martens store, and I’m still hoping to check out the Yongsan Electronics Market, despite the fact that I have no money to buy any toys with. We were going to go last weekend, as I may or may not have mentioned, but our mutual hangovers prevented said trip from occurring.

I’m staying home, doing laundry, cleaning my apartment, surfing the internet, and watching ambulances in Istanbul on CNN International tonight. Too broke to go out again — payday is Thursday.

‘happening’

Bupyeong.jpg
I took this last night near the Goose Goose — this is the ‘happening’ part of Bupyeong Gu, close to the train station.