I would like to take a shower

The year of the monkey has started off with no hot water. I am displeased with this development, moreso because Mr. ___ is unable to repair it or get it repaired because of the holiday. I would like to take a shower, but am unable to — this displeases me, as I am very dirty. Perhaps you are thinking that I could take a cold shower if I really wanted to — your thinking is flawed. This development has removed much of the guilt I have been feeling about leaving my job, as it has become another item on my list of reasons for doing so.

Israel photos

I finally uploaded all the Israel photos, for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing. Some of them are good, and some of them are not-so-good… mostly I wish there were more, but I was often too sick to think about shooting. Click here, or down a bit (more than before) and to the left.

sollal

A front came through here last night, leaving a few inches of snow and bitter cold in its wake. Today I’m hiding from the cold in my apartment, watching the American president on CNN, listening to the wind rattle the windows.

Yesterday morning I told Mr. ___ that I’m leaving my job, it went about the same as I think I expected it to. He was more upset than angry, and he tried to talk me out of it from several different angles. In the end, he agreed to give me a release letter if I help him find a new teacher and stay until he/she arrives. The rub is, Mr. ___ insists this’ll take about two months, which is far longer than the month I’m planning on staying (and that is indicated in the contract). So, I’m going to start looking for a replacement teacher and continue looking for jobs, deal with things as they come up.

Correction: I announced the beginning of the year of the monkey prematurely — the year of the monkey doesn’t officially begin until tonight at midnight — the beginning of the new lunar year, aka “sollal“. What does this mean for me? It means I get a five day weekend. Yet another reason for me to like monkeys. As with many traditional Korean holidays, sollal is celebrated by travelling home to be with one’s family, which results in the inevitable massive traffic jams. My students have told me that it can often take eight hours to drive what would normally take only two, which seems crazy to me, but which is apparently normal in a country as small and crowded as Korea. The traditional sollal food is called “tteokguk” — I’ve never had the opportunity to try it, but I’m told it’s basically a rice cake soup. More sollal traditions? Lookie here.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow I am going to tell Mr. ___ that I’ll be leaving my job at the institute. I’m not sure how he’s going to react. When I was sick earlier this month and I told him that I wouldn’t be able to teach two of my night classes, he lectured me for about fifteen minutes. I realize he won’t be happy, I’m just hoping for a bit of understanding. His reaction wouldn’t matter nearly so much if I didn’t need to get this “letter of release” from him, which will allow me to legally change jobs without having to leave the country. Not that I’m unconcerned with the effect my leaving may have on him personally, but in order to follow through with this decision I’ve made I have to continue to think of myself first.

Christianity

It is Sunday, so…
neon-cross.jpg
These red neon crosses are everywhere in Korea, sometimes you can see three or four while standing in one place, and they just serve to remind you just how popular Christianity is in South Korea. Many people estimate that fifty percent of South Koreans are Christian, but if my current students are any indication, that is a low estimate. Christianity is still relatively “fresh” here, so it is seen without the spiritual cynicism that accompanies it in the States. Rather refreshing, actually, as it allows one to see the religion for what it actually is, as opposed to the way the secular community has made it appear.

different answers to this question

I’ve spent all day looking for a new job on the internet, and have come to the conclusion that finding another job (probably in Seoul) won’t be a problem. The problem will be with my Korean work visa, which is sponsored by my current school, and which will require a letter of release from Mr. ___ in order for me to legally go to work at another school. At this point, I can’t think of a good reason that he wouldn’t give me a release letter, but I’m not sure how upset he’ll be that I’m breaking my contract. I have a relatively valid legal reason to break my contract — the failure of the school to provide me with national health insurance as indicated — and there’s a clause in my contract that allows me to get out of it, but I still think that the hassle it will cause Mr. ___ may make him hesitant to provide me with a letter. If he won’t give me one, I’m not sure exactly what that would mean for me — my research on the internet has turned up about ten different answers to this question. I could just fly to Japan or Taiwan and start teaching there, but I’d really prefer to start another job here instead of having to assimilate into a whole new country again. Wait and see, at this point, or something like.

anniversary

Today is the three-month anniversary of my arrival in South Korea. I wish I could mark this anniversary with a long and informative post about all things Korean, but I’ve got a more pressing issue to address tonight.

Due to a variety of reasons, some of which I have discussed in here and some of which I haven’t, I have decided to leave ____’s Foreign Language Institute and find another teaching position in Korea. After finally coming to terms this past week with my position here and the amount of time I had left, I had a talk with Mr. ___ after work tonight that made it clear to me that working with him at that school for nine more months is simply not an option for me. Fortunately, I am looking for a position that starts in late-February or early-March, which is when the Korean school year begins, so I shouldn’t have much trouble finding something new.

I’ll keep you updated, and I’ll be back to writing about shit needles soon.

hair

I decided to cut most of my hair off last weekend, I’m not exactly sure why. I have wanted to cut most of my hair off for a long time now, and here in Korea seemed like the opportune time to do it — nobody to impress, plenty of time for it to grow back, and I get stared at anyway. I’m wondering how much it will grow back in nine months — any wagers?
hair.jpg
Strangely enough, or perhaps not, Mr. ___ seems to like my new haircut — yesterday he told me that it made me look “strong and healthy,” although he also told me that it looked like it would be very cold. “I have a winter hat,” I responded.