2007년 10월 27일 토요일

Korean version of my roomate, Mike

I came into one of my classes at work and the kids had a big picture of my roomate on the marker board. It was so funny I decided to take a picture. It's Korean-Mike! hahahahaha... it's like a little Korean version of Mike - it's so hilarious. If they ever draw one like this of me... I will definately take a picture and post it here!


I work at Shim's Language Academy, known as "SLA". It's a chain in Korea. I don't work at a Public school, I work at a Hogwon. Hogwon's are private schools that only teach English.

Kids here always go to school. I work from 1pm until 8:30 or 9pm, Monday - Friday. I teach elementry aged kids through middle school. That's ABOUT age 8-13. The kids here are SO cute. It's a lot of fun teaching them - MOST of the time. Some classes are very hard. The first week - it's VERY hard to imagine being here for 12 months teaching... but after the first week, you start to get to know the kids and the classes and you get into a routine. That makes it much easier to teach and know what to do - and it makes it easier to write lesson plans.

Many kids here go to school from 7:30am until around 3pm. Then they go to a Hogwon to learn English. Then they go home and do homework... and they don't finish everything until 9pm. In addition to that... they go to school every other Saturday (the first and the third Saturday of every month). Because of this... I try hard to make my classes fun AND do everything I can to teach them English. Their parents pay a lot for them to learn English - and it will help them get a good job.

I work with one other American, my roomate Mike. And I work with two other Korean ladies that speak English fluently. My boss also teaches some classes and his English is very good. All in all - I really like work. The kids are great most of the time - the co workers are very helpful and nice, and my boss and his wife are both very nice, honest, and generous. They really do a lot to take care of us here.

The teachers all share a big office/room for making lesson plans. The windows at our school are partially private windows, but there's a little clear strip so you can see in the rooms. Anyway, there's one of those windows in our office - and the kids ALWAYS walk by and put their faces up against it to peek in on the teachers. It's pretty funny. My friend Peggy (in the USA) calls things like this "creepy"... so I named it the creepy window. You never know when you turn around if there will be a little kid peeking in. hahahahahaha

The first two pictures you can see the creepy window - my roomate Mike - and my desk is that empty one. Here are my two other co workers. I'll put up a picture of my boss and his family soon.

The first class picture is one of my favorite classes. They're so good! They do what they're supposed to, so I am happy to reward them by doing fun things, too.

The second picture is another one of my classes. We're reading a book about sports. Every day, at the end of class, we play the game Simon Says. It's great for them! They learn the words head, shoulders, chest, hands, knees, elbows, mouth, hair, eyes, nose, ears, toes, heel... and some other ones like jump, turn in a circle, sit, stand... they have a lot of fun and it's perfect to go along with what we're learning. Each time, I make the game a little more tricky. I've started saying "Simon Says touch your knees!" but then I'll touch my elbows! So the kids get tricked if they just copy me instead of listening to the words and knowing what to do. Anyway, it's really good for them.

This is a picture of the first class in the day. I don't teach it, but it's such a cute class! hahaha- I hear they're a little wild sometimes. Three of the boys in the class wear their martial arts uniforms to class. That spells trouble from the start! But... I don't have to teach that class so I just get to have fun with those kids. :)

Korean TV

Korean TV? Interesting that you ask...

well, it's not as crazy as Japanese TV. Mike and I get about 76 channels or so. Maybe about 10 of them have things in English either all the time or some of the time. Two of those channels are dedicated to the computer video game called Starcraft - 24 hours a day, every day. Once in a while, you'll catch them playing some other game... but it's very, very, very rare.

Another channel is dedicated to a traditional board game... gosh I forget the name! I'll post the name when I think of it. It starts with the letter "B". Basically there are circular checker-like pieces. Half of them are black and half of them are white. The board is big and light brown with a grid on it (like graph paper). You place the pieces on the grid intersections. I wish I could explain how to play - but I have no idea! And trust me... you CAN'T learn JUST by watching. I've tried.

I'm going to learn how to play it, eventually. It's a big part of the culture. So are video games.

There's a channel here called ACTION - and pretty much all the time it's playing an action movie. MOST of them are English - so we've seen cool movies like Alien Ressurection and Predator and Dawn of the Dead and several others. It's pretty cool.

Another channel here is broadcast by the US Military - and it's for the soldiers that are stationed here in Korea. So what they do is they take all the good TV shows from America and play them all on this one channel. :) It's pretty cool. They play Leno and Letterman and that other Irish guy... The Office, Lost, Heroes, and several other shows. It's a good fix.

Korea is 13 hours ahead of US Eastern Time. So... when it's night time in the US... it's "tomorrow morning" for me here. As a terrible, terrible consequence - it's VERY hard to catch NFL games on TV!!!

BUT! One thing Mike and I have found out is that they ALWAYS have "Monday Night Football" on TV! But to us, it's "Tuesday morning football" - which is a LITTLE less exciting, but still awesome they play it here. Unfortunately the announcers are speaking Korean.

Sometimes I watch Korean channels and it's interesting. They play Tom and Jerry in Korean, and music channels, nature channels... and sometimes a funny drama. I watch too much TV here... but I hope to get out of that habit when I start learning the language more and getting set into things such as Taegwando or Okido.

Our Apartment

I hear that the apartment Mike and I are sharing is much better than each of us having our own place - bigger, more expensive, more room... it's nice.

Here are some pictures of our apartment, inside and outside. The second-to-last picture, we're in the building on the very right side of the picture. The last picture is actually just looking down the street from our building, about 3 blocks down. Mike and I teach in one of those buildings on the left, on the 3rd and 4th floors. There are a lot of Hogwons around here (Hogwon is a private English Academy/school).

We work at Shim's Language Academy - SLA for short. It's a chain, but we work at the one in our area - I can't spell the name of our area, but I'll put it up here when I can.

Mike, my roomate

When I got here, I found out I had a roomate. My contract says I might have a roomate, but before I came, I asked about it and they told me I would be living in my own place. So that's what I was expecting and I was really looking forward to it! When I arrived, my roomate was out having fun, so I went to sleep in the apartment not knowing who the heck I would wake up and see. I was a little angry because I really wanted to live on my own.

As it turns out, my roomate is really cool. His name is Mike and he's from Pittsburg. He has a few flaws... you know... like, for one, he's a Steeler's fan - not a Bears fan. :) That was a joke. hahaha - no we get along great. We have very similar habits (good and bad, and we work together to find creative ways to get around our bad habits). We have similar taste in food and a lot of other things - so really we get along great. We both like to talk (too much). When we do laundry, we have to hang our clothes out to dry on the little balcony - and we both leave our clothes out drying for a week before taking them in - out of pure laziness, even though they dry after about one night.

We have trouble finding motivation to do dishes... so we made a pact that we would get rid of all our dishes except ONE plate and bowl and spoon/knife/fork/cup for each of us. That way, we use our own stuff when we eat and we HAVE to wash it if we want to use it again. hahahaha - hey, it'll work!

But we have fun, so I look forward to a good first year, here.

Some Korean Food

The most well known Korean food is kimchi - a side dish. Basically...it's aged lettuce smothered in hot juice and sauce. It ranges fromokay to excellent, depending on the quality.

Rice soup. It... doesn't taste like anything, to me...

Water with radishes floating in it. This is like another type of very spicy. Then eat the radishes (only about 3 small strips of radish in a wide tea cup). You're supposed to use a spoon and sip the water, which isvery hot/spicy. Then eat the radishes (only about 3 small strips ofradish in a wide tea cup).
Lettuce with chunky strawberry yogurt on it. It's surprisingly pretty darn good.VERY spicy soup with tofu and various veggies in it. I loved this!

Beef/pork/chicken cooked on an "upside-down metal bowl" or somethinglike it so the juice drips to the rim. Usually it's marinated, andsoooo good! One way of eating it is to wrap it in lettuce leaves(always on the table), put some chili sauce on it, a snippet ofgarlic, and maybe a few onions as you like - then wrap it up and eatit in one bite. This is good... but my opinion is those leaves ruin the taste. I don't know why but I don't like the way the leaves taste.
Seafood is really big here... and I've eaten shrimp and mussel... butnothing too exotic. They like to cook whole crabs, half the size ofyour fist, smother them in hot sauce, and you just take one and eatthe inside... but they couldn't get me to do that. :D hahaha - youknow me. Sooorrrryyyyyyyy - no thanks!
I tried to pick some pictures here that showed the food. I've eaten out several times at traditional Korean restaurants. This is one of those times. The first picture is myself and my roomate Mike (by the way, I have a roomate). The second picture is my friend Ellie and her mom. The third picture is just of Ellie (just in case you didn't know which was which in the previous picture), and the last is just me - mmmmmmm!
Oh! By the way, there's lots of pizza here! There's probably a pizza place every 2 blocks at LEAST! YAY! I love pizza! Also, I learned from the kids I teach that they eat Kimchi for BREAKFAST here!!! Yikes! I can't imagine... but that's the culture! They eat Kimchi for every meal. Other breakfast items you might see are rice (every meal), hot soup, or fish. I told the kids what I eat for breakfast. When I mentioned Orange Juice... they all gagged. :)

McDonalds: Located

I've located a McDonalds... haven't eaten there YET. I'm going to holdoff as long as I can - until I start missing American food. But theKorean food here is good as long as I Americanize it. Let me tell youabout some of the things I've eaten. First of all... I have NOT eatendog, and I haven't encountered it yet. I have eaten out several timesat traditional Korean restaurants.

Phone and Address

If you know me and you want my address here, e-mail me. If you don't know me or haven't been in touch much, e-mail me at chrispalasz@yahoo.com - I'll try to get it to you. But the addresses here are pretty confusing. It's hard to get clear address information even from Koreans because of the system they have set up. Numbers and addresses don't always go in a sequencial order...

My phone number here is: 010 4000 0594
If you are dialing from another country, you will not use the numbers 010, you will only use the last 8 digits and you will need to dial the international code first, which I think is 001 10 then my 8 digits.

I have an awesome phone. I'll put a picture of it on this post very soon. It's the SKY IM-U140. It only cost me 10,000 Won (about $10). It gets TV (free for the first 6 months, after that who knows if I'll keep the service, but I figured out how to get CNN! So that's one English channel I have). It does internet, e-mail, text messages, movies, mp3s, 3 megapixel camera, camcorder, expandable SD card slot, games... and other features that are normal like voice recording and alarm clock... it's an awesome device. I just need to figure out how to use the darn thing. And realistically - I won't use half of the features - but I couldn't pass it up! I thought "why not get an AWESOME phone for once in my life if it's that cheap?!? Oh, and it has a large, wide touchscreen and comes with a stylus! hahaha

Hey, if you HAPPEN to know how to use some of this stuff - PLEASE tell me! My friend is going to sit down with me and help me figure out how to put music on it when she has time. The instruction book is 90% in Korean! At least it does provide 10% of the most important instructions in English.

How I came to Korea

I was thinking about where my life is going. For a long time, I knew I wanted to travel and go to East Asia, but there were a few things on my mind. Back home in Illinois, there were a few things I thought I should take care of... but my life was going astray pretty consistently and I wasn't being very faithful or obedient. I kept making the same selfish choices and as a result my relationship with Jesus was suffering - but I always looked to God to bail me out. I always expected that I could keep making choices for myself and being disobedient and He would just fix things for me - but that's not how it works. It wasn't until I realized this that things turned around. After reading Phillipians chapter 1 with a very good friend of mine and really having that accountability to sit and consider what God was saying to me, I understood what the right thing to do was.

So I started making choices for Jesus again, and immediately, it's like the gates of opportunity opened up and prayers that I had been saying to God all started to be answered at the same time. It was as if God was just waiting for me to take those steps of devotion towards Him again. I listened to some good advice from one of my other friends. I asked her, "how do you make important decisions in your life?" And she said that if a good opportunity is there, she usually takes it. So I thought more seriously about my ambitions to go across seas and decided I would look and see if there was opportunity.

I went online and searched several jobs in Taiwan. That's where I wanted to go. But none of those jobs seemed to work out for me. It didn't seem like there was opportunity. I was also searching for jobs in the USA on Careerbuilder.com. I came across a job listed for South Korea, and the offer was VERY good! So I thought, it's a good opportunity. I never thought I would go to Korea, but I decided I should apply and see if there is an opportunity for me. It was such a good deal that I thought if there is opportunity I might take it.

The very next day after applying, I got a phone call from the company: G'Day Korea. They asked me several questions and I seemed to be in the perfect position to go to Korea and I already had all the documents I needed. So they told me I would have a short phone interview with one of the schools. I asked them if I could have any influence about where to work in Korea. I have a very good friend there, Ellie Kang. She and I did our YWAM DTS together in January 2007 in Nicosia, Cyprus. She happened to be one of my best friends while I was there, so I wanted to be close by if I lived in Korea. I called her and we talked and she was very, very helpful - she still is.

So I asked G'Day Korea if I could work in Incheon, near Dohwa Dong. They said they just happened to have a school that needed a teacher near there. And that was it - that was what I was praying about. I asked God, if He wants me to go, then let everything work out and give me accountability and fellowship in Korea. Everything worked out - and much more.

It took longer than I expected for me to get my work visa, but that gave me extra time to say goodbye to my friends and it all turned out fine.

I flew here on October 11th and arrived on October 12th at night.

2007년 10월 23일 화요일

Coming Soon

Check back on Saturday, October 27th - and see pictures and stuff I've been up to!