Monday, April 6, 2009

Long overdue

My apologies once again for ignoring my fellow readers. Hard to imagine, but it's been a month and a half since my arrival in Korea. As my days are getting fuller, and going by rather quickly, I find myself in a situation where my free time will be rather limited very soon.

Recently, I am taking up a Korean language class that meets every Monday and Thursday nights, and I will be teaching English Conversation classes every other Saturday mornings. This will keep me rather occupied for the most part. However, I am excited to take on both of these responsibilities. I can't tell you how vital learning the Korean language is to my daily survival in this country. The city of Busan, despite being the 2nd largest city in Korea, has far fewer Korean-English speakers, compared to, say, Seoul. Despite the obvious language barrier, I've managed to survive fairly well, and utilize my Charlie Chaplin-like body language to communicate with many Koreans. So, I am definitely hoping that this class will allow me to expand my Korean vocabulary. As of now, I am picking up the language very slowly, but surely. Just the other day, I got a haircut, and was able to communicate to the stylist what I wanted. It went something like this, "Eebahl...Choguum mahn kah-hah juseyo." Translation: Haircut. Just a trim, please." I couldn't have felt any better when she completely understood what I was saying. The feeling you get when you are able to use the native language to a native speaker ia inexplicable.

With my Saturday morning classes, many people thought I was crazy to add this onto my list of responsibilities. There are obvious benefits to this: I am getting paid overtime, I love working with my students and school. I will get to use the brand new English-Only Zone classroom which is state-of-the art, and a change of pace from my standard classrooms, and I wanted to show my appreciation towards my school for being very helpful and supportive to me since Day 1. I am definitely looking forward to this new challenge. I will work with 15 students; thus giving me more leverage and creative freedom to work with my students in a greater capacity.

The other weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Seoul. I took the KTX bullet train which only took less than 3 hours, whereas, it would have taken 6-8 hours by bus or regular train. The train ride was incredibly smooth. It felt like being on an airplane. There was plenty of space for your bags, the bathrooms were clean, and the ride was fairly quiet for the most part.

Seoul is quite an intense, but rewarding experience. I experienced culture shock like nothing before. I had never seen so many foreigners since arriving in Korea. It's a utopia of Western paradise; there are many Western shops and restaurants all over Seoul, specifically in Itaewon, affectionately known as "Little America." There, you can find Bennigans (it's still in business in Korea), Burger King (they do have one in Busan), Subway, Quiznos, and plenty of Western bars and Hofs. There are plenty of international markets, as well as flea markets which carries Western imports for dirt cheap. There are international stores like Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein in the Myongdong area. I can go on and on about the craziness that is Seoul. However, I will say this, their subway map is like looking at a bowl of spaghetti. There are about 12-14 subway lines all scattered around Seoul. Google Seoul Subway map and you'll understand why. Luckily, Busan only has 3 major subway lines and is much easier to navigate around. All in all, I would go back to Seoul in a heartbeat, but in the end, I would prefer to have my bed in Busan any day. A place like Seoul can be quite stressful on the soul (no pun intended). It's a great place to visit, but I can never assimilate into the intense city life there.

Well I will try to post some links to my Facebook videos if I can. This will be a little tricky. I hope you get to see what I've been experiencing the last month and a half. Thank you again for your support and for keeping me in touch.

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you are doing so well! Your videos work better for me on the blog than on facebook, I discovered the hard way that if the vid hasn't fully buffered it will cut off and act as if it is over but in reality it wasn't. I am highly amused with your apartment, I would not be too happy living in such a tiny space, my banana plant would take over the entire room! Love the hello kitty feel of your wall and bedding, haha! Another thought, it is actually socially acceptable to pee in the shower there. Keep posting on here and facebook, I am enjoying following your journey and living your adventures vicariously =)!