I am very saddened that it has been so long since my last entry here. It seems like only a little while ago since my last...well, anyways, I do apologize to all those interested.
So much has happened since that it hardly seems relevant to record it all here and now...most of the major stuff already known to most people. In any case, this is my third year in S. Korea. This time in Seoul (I am so bloody happy about that!) Josh and I have managed to secure ourselves public school positions and so far things have been pretty wonderful.
Some notable differences include: A definite and resounding respect that was noticably absent from the last two years. Much less time spent teaching...if you can imagine teaching 14 classes a day!!! Now I teach a maximum of six in one day sometimes as few as three. Finishing all teaching by about 2:30pm. What a signifigant difference that is. All legalities are observed...as in...I pay tax, get my pay on time, get a pay slip and National Health Insurance and every other legal concern that was previously lacking! All the teachers I work with are friendly, interesting and can speak at the least a little English. All my needs are taken care of, without hassle.
Can you imagine?? Such luxuries? Ha! Well maybe not for those living in the west, but for a foreigner living in Korea...such things seem to be a rarity. I am now living within close proximity of the Olympic Park with the World Peace Gates as entrance (please see the included links for photos) and within minutes of all local ammenities. How wonderfully fantastic.
So, anyone who may have worried about me over here in LALAland...no worries. I am doing fabulously.
I still find it difficult to get used to some things that are everyday occurences here. When I first started,the second day in, we left school at 1pm to go on a hike...all the teachers piled onto a Greyhound type bus and off we went to the mountains...to climb the mountain. Pfffttt...I need not have worried about my serious lack of fitness. After a nice little journey to the local mountain (What we would call a large hill back home) we arrived perhaps half way up and were then told to go our separate ways and to meet up for dinner at 4:30...my little group of teachers decided that it was coffee time. So we wandered about for maybe 10 mins looking for a cafe (not difficult since the entire area was covered in restaurants and cafes) where we sat for the next 3 hours waiting for dinner! All in all a rough and tumble experience. HA! However, at dinner time we were all gathered (say 70 odd teachers) in a tiny little restaurant to have Samgyopseul (A kind of bacon style grilled pork) all of us sitting knee to knee when I was abruptly called to the front of the assembled teachers and handed a mic. Well...with my resounding "Annyong Hasseyo" (Hello!) out of the way I was told with little ceremony to speak English to the group. But, what pray tell, was I supposed to say to a bunch of people, most of whom don't speak English? Well....I was told to tell them how happy I was to be here and that I was looking forward to Happy days ahead...etc. How very mortifying and terrible for all that. Truly I should know better, afterall, that happens anywhere you go.
Not three days later I came in to work and was told rather frantically that I had 10 mins to prepare a speech for the principal to say on the school speaker system and prepare something for myself to say! OMG!!! Are you joking?? This is my response of course! And no, no joke in site. I was then ushered into a tiny little studio filled with 6 graders all pointing and saying Hi and Hello...The speaker system was not where I was to give my address but rather live on TV broadcast to everyone in school. Ha...rather hurriedly I jotted down some notes of what I could possibly say...Thanks for having me, thank you for that loverly introduction...what a wonderful school...blah blah blah...I got to watch myself on TV as I spoke too! Really the highlight of my day.
There are always these little things that must be endured in order to function over here...somewhat amusing anyways.
I have moved past that, waiting for the next surprise around the next corner.
I also, for the first time since my first sojourn abroad, have been forced to bow to local custom and have had to use a squatting toilet. I can tell you firsthand that while millions of Koreans use this little beauty daily, I will never get used to it nor prefer over a standard toilet...I am quite sure that a nasty disease is around the corner for me!!! I really just don't understand their possible use or preference over a basic toilet? I mean seriously??? But, such as it is...even I, with my miraculous bladder, cannot hold it for 8 hours everyday!
Well, that is how things stand at the moment. I am happy to be back and enjoying myself immensely.
Of course, I miss everyone at home and wish you all could experience just a little of the joy I experience here.
I will try my very hardest to update this blog on a more regular basis. Please feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, concerns, and/or opinions!
Take care all,
PS. Please note that the photos to accompany this blog can be found on facebook at the links here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=49372&l=21ca9&id=554797526