Archive for December, 2007

There / Trip : The Sequal

December 14, 2007 Leave a comment

So it’s now official. I’m coming back. I’ll go back to America on the 17th, as originally planned, but I’ll only be there a week. Then I’m coming back to Korea on the 2nd of January and staying until the 15th of May (a second semester).

This is excellent news. I’m really blessed to be able to come back. Again, ESU is helping me, and in return, I’m going to be working at the Emporia University/Sunlin College English Camp. This will be my second time though, and I hope (and expect) that I’ll be a lot more of a help now than I was the first time. For one thing, I understand a lot more Korean (and even though my friend scoffs when I tell her I understand a little bit of Korean, I understand a lot more than most random Americans). I also know the campus, the people, some of the students, and the city itself. So I’ll be doing what I can to be an asset. Then, hopefully, things will go much as they went this last semester.

With a few notable exceptions. This time, I’m living with Jared, another Sunlin English Teacher and the guy who set up a lot of my contacts here. He’s a great guy, and I look forward to it. Living in a dormitory was both highly redeeming and highly frustrating. It was probably the most frustrating thing about living in Korea (aside from not being able to speak Korean), and it wasn’t even that Korean. It was just hard being an adult, but having a set time I could eat, a set time I could sleep, a highly communal bathroom with set times you could take a shower, and a set time you had to be back. This should be different, and even though I’m not expecting roses and sunshine, it should be a lot more what I’m used to. But I’ll probably be bored more.

David, my Cambodian Roommate, left for home yesterday. Unless he can eventually fulfill his dream of going to the US, I probably won’t see him again.

Chulwon, my other roommate, is going to California, and I don’t know if I’ll see him again, either.

Several of my favorite students are going away to study or joining (being drafted into) the military. So, even though I’ll only be gone a few weeks, I’ll be coming back to something a lot different.

The trip is a bit scary. Last time the whole affair ended up lasting something like 26 hours. This time, I can expect no less. I bought a ticket (5:30 AM) to Inchon, by bus. Should take between 4 and 7 hours. Then a 11ish hour flight to LA, a 4 hour wait in LAX (during the Christmas season) which I’m dreading the most, then back to KC. And from there it’s a paltry 2-ish hour drive home. At least I lose less time to the time zone switch this direction. Then, in a couple of weeks, it’s back again, but this time I’ll be stopping over in Japan and Chicago; two places I’ve not been yet. Should be fun, in a long an dreadfully boring way.

So that’s the updates so far. I’ll be busy when I’m home, but I’m sure I’ll have lots to write up on the trip, and I’m sure they’ll be at least a few minor revelations of the “I forgot that was different” sort when I get back to America.

Categories: Being There, The Trip

There : Plans and Random Stuff

December 3, 2007 Leave a comment

Sorry for the long delay. I’ve been trying to firm up my plans. For those of you who have been keeping track at home, it’s nearly time for me to come home. One one hand, that’s great. I get to see my family for Christmas. I get to eat Mexican food. I get to watch TV that doesn’t revolve around random people being mildly forced to do vaguely exciting things and TV dramas.
On the other hand, I’m leaving behind my studies, my classes and many friends, some of whom I am now quite close with. I’m going back to studies that frankly seem much less useful to me, at this point (or at least less enticing). It seems like I’m just going back because I ran out of time, not because I’m done.
So with my university doing another English Camp next semester, and the willingness to sacrifice a semester, I’m planning to come back shortly after I get home. The whys and hows are neither firm not simple, but suffice to say that nothing here ever is, and sometimes you have to just move forward and pray the rest falls into place. My plan now is to head home on the 17th, stay until some time in very early January, and try to be back before the start of English camp on the 7th of January. The people at Sunlin and ESU have all been really good about helping things happen, though sometimes the 15 hour time difference and US/Korean holidays have been brutal when it comes to communication.
The short of it is, it looks like I’m getting an extended play for another semester. I’m very happy about that.

I’ll also add some random things to make this appeal to the general public:

In Korea, men wear pink often. They wear matching T-shirts with their girlfriends. They carry honest-to-goodness purses by known designers. They sometimes hold hands. A few will take your hand on occasion. They aren’t gay. That’s just the way things are.

People seem to spit everywhere. They seem to have no regard for it. I don’t know how to spin that neutrally. It’s gross.

No smoking signs mean “sort of don’t smoke, maybe, if you are ok with that…”. There seems to be no enforcement.

The food, at least for me, has been an inverse parabola, with it being easy to eat when I got here, then hard in the middle, now easy again. I don’t know how much is physical and how much is mental.

Being a foreigner in Pohang makes you more special than a foreigner in Seoul. That can be good or bad. They always seem to want to send you to Seoul, though. Just because most of the foreigners are there. I guess they think that makes it better. Kind of makes me thing of visiting Chinese wanting to spend all their time in Chinatown. What’s the point? Sure it’s more comfortable, but it’s hardly the real deal.

Learning Korean is hard. Pick an easier language if you can.

Learning English is hard. Pick an easier language if you can.

Categories: Being There