Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Check out http://www.addongbu.es.kr


update April 3rd:

Make sure you have popups enabled for this site, otherwise, you'll have no idea what I'm talking about.

Orientation and Andong

The last day of orientation was wonderful. We were taken to the National Museum of Korea, which is quite literally the largest building I think I've ever been in. (For such a small country, they sure like big stuff.) Then, we went to the oldest palace in Seoul, where the kings of the Joseon Dynasty ruled from inside guarded walls and with a venerable city around them inside the larger area. We then got to see a contemporary performance called Cookin' Nanta, where Sara was brought on stage to help the cooks prepare dumplings. She was pitted against someone from the other side of the theater, and lost, but it was certainly a photo finish. Plus, she got to keep the chef's hat. Bitchin'.

I could talk for ages about that last day, but only pictures can do much of it justice, and right now I'm more focused on what's going on now. Yesterday, Sara and I were shipped off to Andong. After a 3 hour bus ride (during which Sara thought she was going to wet herself for the last 2.8 hours), we met our co-teachers in Gumi. As expected, they were all wonderful people, even if Sara's spoke far more fluent English than mine. I will admit that I nearly had a heart attack when my teacher slammed on his brakes in the middle of the highway and started backing up into oncoming traffic, then later asked me if I "had any way of contacting your girlfriend." But my fears were put to rest when Sara showed up safe and sound at my school, from where we were taken out to a delicious dinner.

After dinner (for details, see http://anythingbutsquid.blogspot.com/) we were told our housing was not ready yet, and were instead taken to a swanky hotel in downtown Andong. Regardless of the hooker postcards by the elevator in the parking garage and the complimentary condoms by the bed (not to mention the glowing red light emanating from below and above our bed), the hotel was actually very nice.

And of course, I've seen even more White Sox hats. I'm not sure if they know who the White Sox are or if they just like the logo. Honestly, I don't really care. I'm breaking my Crede jersey out tomorrow. I'll be a superstar.

Come back later for impressions on my first day at school.

What the Crede?

I have seen no fewer than 9 White Sox caps on the heads of full-blooded Koreans since I have been here .

I think I belong here.

note: I realize the irony in the entry heading here since Crede is now on the Twinkies.

Sunday, March 29, 2009



That doesn't mean anything. I'm just using a Korean keyboard and thought it would be cool to use a few Hangeul sumbols. Aren't they neato?

Orientation has been fantastic. When we got here, even though I was ready to barf, I was shocked and happily surprised by how organized and friendly the orientation was. The process was smooth. After 20 minutes we had all of our orientation materials (including sandwich, bottled water, orientation guide, tourism guidebook, and free hoodie and embroidered towels!!!) and a quaint but clean room on the first floor of the dormitory. The next morning, we awoke to smells of scrambled eggs and fresh kimchi. Ok, there wasn't actually any kimchi at breakfast. But there is at every other meal. The food has been great, for the most part. I think I will survive here well, though I fear for Sara and her crusade against meat. Vegitarian food is rare and abnormal here.

As for preparing me to be am EFL teacher, I think they've done a fine job. We learned on the first day that the main reason for this program (besides English being a major economical language) is that people were having to send their children overseas to English schools in order to truly learn the language. Here they learned grammar and punctuation, but not pronounciation or communication skills. Koreans were devastated by this process of having their families torn apart in the pursuit of language learning. The solution? Tear the Westerners away from their families and bring them here!

What we've learned about the classroom themselves is encouraging. I won't be required to produce grades, nor am I put under an immense ammount of pressure. There are dozens of websites chocked full of EFL lesson plans that I can draw from, and I have 18 hours a week (minimum) of "free time" to lesson plan for the other 22. Since lesson planning can't possibly take 22 hours, many people end up on Facebook and Youtube for a large part of their day.

In addition, though I don't know how my specific school will be, many EPIK teachers are not required to come to school during the students' breaks (July/August and January/February). Essentially, this extends my vacation time to 4 months, assuming my school works under these rules. If not, I will be there diligently, on Facebook, every day.

Today we depart for downtown Seoul, the Korean National Museum, an old Korean palace, an internationally renowned Korean show called "Nanta Cooking" where chefs perform and cook for you, and a fabulous dinner at a seafood restaurant called Marisco. Then, we finally get an oppurtunity to walk around for a bit and experience the city. Of course, there are plenty of frat boys and sorority girls here who have been--ahem--"experiencing" the city nightly. I'm not sure how they got into this program, but I hope they act more like teachers when they get to their schools. Teachers have a wonderful reputation in Korea. I'd prefer it not be my countrymen who ruin that.

But I can't be too sour, because this place is magical so far (as is any new place), and I'd like my honeymoon with it to last as long as possible. I hope the charm doesn't wear off any time soon, but if it does, I want to remember these first weeks exactly as they were--fresh, exciting, foreign, and filled with new chances to explore the world and myself.

Now it's off for a quick shower and a healthy breakfast. Good morning to me and good afternoon to all of you. The sun is finally rising over the mountain tops that are mere city blocks from my window.

I think I'm really beginning to like it here.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Yesterday I experienced sunlight for 21 straight hours. In case my point isn't obvious, that can really screw you up. I expected to be prepared for this journey because I'd been to Europe several times and had survived pretty well. But for anyone who might be in my same mindset, be aware that traveling to Asia is much much different.

Somewhere around hour 15 of daylight, my insomnia began to set in. I don't know if it's because I can't sleep in airplane seats, or because I just really wanted to see the thrilling conclusion to Eagle Eye on my seat-back entertainment center, or if it was the gentleman behind me who opened his window every 3 minutes, supposedly to check and see if the Pacific really was still out there, consequently flooding the entire cabin with blinding light. But whatever the cause, I think I gathered myself about one full half hour of sleep during the flight(s). By the time we got to Incheon International Airport, it was starting to seem to me that we had just gotten on that plane. Somehow, time had just bent itself and propped us right up in the future. I was definitely going a little stir crazy.

And then I saw the airport. And the people. And the mountains rising everywhere out of the giant panes of glass windows. I think it was finally the slogan on a restaurant called Kraze Burger in the airport that finally snapped me back into reality--"It's my burger more than a burger!" And somehow my weariness and hunger just faded away because I was finally here.

The ride to the University where our orientation is being held was not pretty since I was in a constant state of pre-barfing (my first ever motion sickness!), but after making it here with no major problems, with all of our luggage, I was finally consumed by this whole experience.

So I guess it was all worth it, and I guess this really was the right decision since I am finding it impossible to stifle my enthusiasm. I was actually up (and fully rested) at 6:30am Korean time today because I was so excited. Now here we go, Sara and I, into our first day of orientation in this new world. I'll tell you more about it as soon as I know.

The Beatles said it best:

I don't know why you say, "goodbye." I say, "annyonghaseyo."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Welcome everyone!

Hello and welcome to my attempt at witty and interesting banter. This will be a spot for me to communicate about my travels and life with my friends and any strangers that find my blog on Google.

I won't bore you now with my uninteresting life in Crete, IL, but please check back around midday on Wednesday (Mar. 25th) for my impressions on leaving the US from O'Hare Intl Airport.

Scott G