Sound of Vitality

Blowin up Haengsin-dong. Holla!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to one and all. Classes were half empty today because of the new year. I think a lot of kids travel to see family and everything, especially since public school is off. It was a decent day of classes today (New Year's Eve). The kids were surprisingly not pissed to be in class today. In one of my classes today there was some vocab thing including the phrase 'falling off', and they didn't know what 'falling off' meant, and so I sort of mimed falling off a cliff. One of the kids (English name Hayden) mimed falling and being impaled on a spike. I took this as an educational opportunity. I drew on the chalkboard a man impaled through the back, lying prone and lifeless with chalky blood pouring down the massive thorn that skewered him.

Underneath I wrote 'Impale'. "Understand?" And they did.

Then Hayden made his own chalk drawing next to it of a man impaled by the head, with his brain pulled out and perched atop the barb, his body bisected, on half in a shark's mouth, then the barb impaling the man's head to begin with ended up being another shark's fin (when the masterpiece was complete). Hilarity ensued, though I feel pretty sure now that the whole art exhibition was borderline inappropriate.

Anyhow, here's the view from my classroom window - where I gaze when I'm sick of being in class.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One month!

I've been in Korea one month today, and I think I'm adjusting pretty well. It's been a largely solitary existence so far, but that hasn't been terrible. I remember feeling a lot lonelier after a month in Newcastle, when I studied there years ago. I think the difference is that I have something to do for 7 hours a day here, and teaching is a very social thing, so I'm quite happy for some alone time once I get off work. Perhaps I was younger and more social then, and I'm kind of older and grouchy now.

The kids are good - varying degrees of good, and annoying. There is one kid that I really can't stand in one of my younger classes. I feel horrible that I don't like him, but all he does is sleep, or whine, or scream. I'm fairly certain he's crazy - I asked another teacher what was wrong with him and she said 'He has a very strange personality.' All the kids take English names (mercifully for me) for class and his is June, which is bizarre for a boy.

Here's my jolly loner self-portrait:

Monday, December 28, 2009


It snowed here in Goyang which was pretty gorgeous. It was coming down pretty much all day yesterday. I took a nice walk to the electronics store to get some new headphones and enjoy the snow. There's something really nice about the snow in the winter that I miss. It makes everything all quiet and nice. Then it turns into filthy slush - that's today.

But here it is when it was fresh and nice. My street all snowy and an old man sweeping snow off the sidewalk. Oh and they don't plow here so the roads were dangerous.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Governor

I woke up early on Christmas day and left the apartment for the store because I was starving. On my way out, what do I see but a package for ol' 810 in my mailbox. My friend Caitlin sent me a Christmas gift of a card signed by Rod Blagojavich and a pack of Newport cigarettes! It was a Christmas miracle.

Oh I'm going to try to kick the cigs next week (New Year's). Here's the awesome signed postcard from Rod - it reads 'To Will, Hope you are enjoying South Korea. Good luck over there. I'm glad you are in the South instead of the North. -Rod Blagojevich

Thanks Caitlin - you're awesome!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Making that connection

People at home often ask me how it is I communicate with the students when I speak no Korean, and they speak very little English. Well, it's a lot of gesturing, a lot of simplifying and slowing down my speaking, and a lot of drawing pictures on the board. I think I'm getting quite good at drawing pictures on the board to get my point across. Some things are really hard, though. Like how do you draw a marble?

Today I had a class of generally exhausted, disruptive, cantankerous teens, that actually went pretty well. It didn't hurt that the unit I was teaching was on the Korean's love for online gaming. We spoke about video games, I asked which ones they like and stuff like that. I said I like GTA and they were like, 'Ohhh, bad game.' I was like 'Yeah but that's what makes it awesome.' I was vexed trying to get my point across about GTA, so I drew a helicopter chasing a stickman and lopping off his head with the rotor blade. They were very appreciative.

I wasn't able to save that drawing, but here's my Chevy Caprice chalk art that was also a hit today:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I've been watching way too much Trailer Park Boys

My brother Bri turned me onto this Canadian show called Trailer Park Boys - it's like a Canadian version of It's Always Sunny, kind of. That's the nearest thing I can liken it to. It's pretty funny, let me tell you, and what's more than that there are 8 seasons all available on Youtube, so I've been watching it pretty much nonstop. I'm through season 8 so far.

I know I've been watching a lot because I dreamed about it last night. Well, I dreamed about my own version of it, produced by me. Like how The Office franchised the British version. Anyway, it's something to do because I'm running low on the won till next month's first payday.

I did splurge on Pizza Hut this weekend because I've had a powerful yen for cheese. They gave me a bonus calender too - nice guys.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm international

I set up google analytics for my blog to monitor site traffic and see where everyone that checks the blog is from. I'm pretty pumped by the results. I have traffic from 4 continents - North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Plus New Zealand (Hi Kit and Natalie) and Kuwait (holla inshallah Andy). So I just want to give a big thanks to all my visitors, and I'll try to keep up a quality site.

Here's dawn breaking out my eastern window.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm a sick one today

I caught a cold from one of my students, I know it. They sneeze and cough and leak nose goo all over the place, and it got to me. I'm always very self-pitying when I have a cold - I hate it, and today at work was brutal. My last two classes are full of awful middle school kids who really don't give a shit about learning, which makes the end of my Friday workday tough. The last two Fridays I've found myself doing quite a bit of yelling in class.

Today I didn't have the energy - I just felt beat up by the time 6:30 rolled around. To my surprise the class was very well behaved today, relatively. I found out how to inspire fear in them. Yelling doesn't do shit - you have to not smile. I just frowned my way through class and found that it inspired fear/respect. Fantastic.

Here's my daily pic: garlic chips from the grocery. I like the '30% Fat Down' in the corner. They were surprisingly buttery, but decent.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Your mom will find a way to yell at you

Mom yelled at me over Skype today. 'HAVE YOU GOTTEN YOUR INSURANCE SORTED OUT YET?' I got my alien registration yesterday, and you need it for insurance so I'm moving as fast as I can. I punished the yelling by cutting out the Skype video feed (which might have actually been a reward, considering how I looked this morning).

Check out this awesome sandwich I had for dinner yesterday: a tuna salad sandwich with tuna, mustard, hard boiled egg and raw spinach. There's a self portrait thrown in to boot.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Alien

I'm officially a registered alien as of today. It's funny because Aliens are mentioned often by the kids at school. It's one of the English words they know well, and I can draw a pretty good alien, and when I do it always goes over well.

All the kids have cell phones - not just cell phones but AWESOME cell phones with video chat and tv built in. I was doing a lesson where I asked them what they got for their birthday and they nearly all responded 'a phone'. They asked me if I had one and when I said no the whole classroom gasped in unison. 'Get one, Teacher!'

Here is my alien registration card, my new bus card, and a magnet for Mexicana Fried Chicken that a student gave me today. I'm excited about the bus card - you can transfer right to other buses and the metro in Seoul. How about that - integrated transportation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Damn churchies

I was woken up from my pre-work nap this morning by a ring at the door. It was two Korean women jabbering at my door. I was out of it just having woken up, and they were chattering at me in Korean like I speak the language. They thrust a paper at me with English and I read 'Have you heard of the blessed Queen of Heaven?' No thank you, no thank you, I said, and shut the door.

Oh if you go to McDonald's in Asia I recommend the Shanghai Chicken Sandwich - spicy and delicious.

Here's one of my homecooked meals: grilled cheese and hard boiled eggs with kimchi. Yum.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I went out with my co-worker and her sister today. It was great time - we had coffee, then went out for Vietnamese food which they thought was shitty (it was). We then walked around the mall at Ilsan and finally settled on a traditional Korean place where we tucked in for 5 hours of rice wine and soju, and tons of mussels and kimchi. I'm not gonna lie - it was a blast. I taught them swear words, [English name] Ashley and I talked shit about the kids we don't liked, the warned me about Korean girls who just want me for a Green Card, and they told me I could be making shitloads of dough doing tutoring and they'd hook me up with how to do it.

It was a thoroughly successful day professionally and personally. Ashley's sister is a babe too (bonus). Oh, they told me I look like Jude Law. I don't, but what the hell do they know about gringos, and at least they didn't say Robin Williams.

Photo of the day: Nazi car repair shop. They repair BMWs and Porches (according to the sign).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mmmmm sushi

I went out for sushi lunch today which was delicious. One of my co-workers asked me if I minded eating alone, and I said, 'No, I think I prefer it. I can read, then concentrate on eating without having to talk at all.' She gave me a weird look.

I went to a Target-esque grocery/department store today to pick up a new coffee mug, big bowl and a glass. The place was jammed - FULL of people and not another gringo to be seen. There were people assigned to bow to you as you go in the store, then as you enter the moving walkway escalator things, then as you get off the moving escalators. The whole place rang with the creepiest music: Christmas music sung in Korean by a single child, karaoke style. It's the kind of music I would choose for the soundtrack of a Christmas themed horror movie.

Here's my delicious $7 sushi meal:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Week 2: DONE

I finished week two of teaching and I really feel I'm getting in the groove. I had a class earlier this week where I was asking the kids what they watched on TV. I asked a girl and the other kids all started shouting 'Channel 19! Channel 19!' She was mortified.

'What is Channel 19?' I inquired, and beckoned a boy up to the board. He drew a stick person watching another stick person on TV.

'He is watching bodies,' he said.

'Oh, Porn,' I replied. 'Alright, well I'm off to watch channel 19, goodnight!' The class collectively gasped. 'Just kidding!' My jokes don't translate, evidently.

One of the other teachers is setting me up with her sister this weekend. She asked today, 'Do you want Korean friends?'


'Okay, my sister is very active and always reading in English. She speaks much better than me. She doesn't have a boyfriend for 10 years because she goes to all girls high school and college, but she is very interested in foreign friend.'

So that's what's next, folks.

Here are some scary totems I passed on one of my walks last weekend. I think the guy on the right is Japanese. Or Indian.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My muli-purpose oven

My first foray into using my washing machine seems to have worked out okay. No dryer or drying rack though, so my clothes were hung up all over my place.

I improved some ramen tonight with some sauteed beef and greens. Delish.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Hagwon

The kids are having final exams in public school this week, so some of my classes have been canceled which is nice. My final class tonight only had one kid in it. Fortunately the kid, English name 'James' is a really good student. We mostly just shot the shit, talking about sports, food, his family and the like. I asked him what kind of music he likes and he said 'Pop'.

'K-pop?' I asked, referring to the strange Korean pop music.

'No, American pop.' he said. I proceeded to ask him what he liked. 'Adam Lambert,' he said.

'Oooh, he's been in some controversy in the States these days. I guess he kissed his drummer on TV,' I said.

'A girl?' he asked.

'No, a boy.' He was taken aback. I think I lost Adam Lambert one 12 year old Korean fan.

Here's my classroom after I clean it at night.

Here's my desk in the teacher's lounge.

Finally, my chalk holder. Chalk feels gross.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Delicious Snack

Extremely strange snack would be more apropos. Shrimp, meet sugar and puffed rice.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hello one, hello all

Hi guys. Welcome to my Korea blog. I'll be posting things I find interesting while over here teaching English. Let's kick things off with some shots of my school and building.

This is my apartment block in the late afternoon. Notice the 7-11 located conveniently downstairs. If you count up 8 floors to the corner nearest the picture you're looking at my apartment.

This is looking into my apartment at night from the balcony.

Here is the building where my Hagwon (private school) is located.

One more view of my school's building. Try to find the GnB logo of the school - it's tough hidden amongst this much advertising. This kind of manic writing all over buildings seem to be the norm here.

That's it for today. Any comments with feedback would be greatly appreciated. Anything you want to see? Want more writing? More photos?