Tuesday, September 23, 2008

treasure hunt (for sandals) and movies

Seoul has many many markets that one can get lost in. Last weekend my friend and I spent hours getting lost in different markets and shopping areas. There is everything to extremely fancy and expensive shopping malls to night street markets where you are expected to haggle for a good price. There are still quite a few markets that I have yet to check out. I'm usually not one for spending time shopping, but in Seoul it's a fun excuse to just wonder around the city and explore. It's very hard to find shoes and sandals that fit me here, so it took many days to be able to finally find a pair of work sandals; at my school you have to wear slippers/sandals once inside the building. I ended up finding a pair of nice and good priced sandals in a small store underground that was in the process of closing for the night. The rather old lady that was running the small shop pushed the deal by discounting the sandals to a very affordable and reasonable price. Usually to find western sized shoes you have to spend a pretty penny, or in this case won.

Also the food here continues to please my appetite. I feel that it is almost cheaper to eat out than to cook, which works out in my favor. (That is Korean food is a good deal, western food here is fairly expensive)

Here are my top 3 food options for a typical dinner:
1. bibimbap- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibimbap
2. tuna kimbap w/ soup- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimbap
3. any type of noodels

There are many small kimbap or noodle shops that sell these dishes at a reasonable price. Oh, and kimchi is served with basically every meal in Korea. It tastes great; especially with rice (which is also served at almost every meal). Kimchi might taste a little hot if your not used to spicy foods; Koreans in general enjoy the hot flavors. There is always red pepper paste around if any particular dish is not spicy enough for their individual taste. But it is not too hard to find non-spicy dishes if that is not your thing. You will just need someone to translate for you.

Also, I found an art cinema in Seoul that was showing late eighties and early nineties Korean movies, which was part of a retrospective. Supposedly there are a few more art cinemas around; although the one I went to I think was the 'official' one of Seoul. And since Seoul is an international city, it is not too hard to find English subtitles. It is amazing to see older Korean cinema compared to their contemporary cinema; there is a vast difference in production quality. Although the movies I saw might have had bad lighting and sound production, the stories were solid and entertaining. Contemporary Korean movies have a very polished, almost Hollywood aesthetic to them. Hollywood actually has remade a few Korean movies.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


My friends and I spent Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) at an island beach. We had to hop around on different islands to get to the one we were going to. We ended up getting a little lost here and there, but that made it more fun in the end; there was even a small mountain that we accidentally hiked over. Finally we met with the other teachers that were already on the island and we all watched the sunset then had a Korean BBQ of our own.

The tides around the island were pretty dramatic. Once the tide went down you could walk over to another smaller island. Also locals, and maybe a tourist or two, would go out into the mud and go shellfish hunting. And there is an abundance of shellfish to be had around these islands. Before crossing over to the islands a couple of my friends and I found a little restaurant in a small seaport town that served us shellfish soup. I don't remember being given a menu or a choice of what to order, but I had no complaints as it tasted great and the price was right.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This week has been the real introduction to me being a teacher. It's been fun, and I am starting to feel more comfortable teaching the more I do it. The students English levels are at such a wide range it will be hard to balance the classroom material so people are not too bored or frustrated. I always teach with a Korean co-teacher, and they have been a huge help. It truly is a team effort, and it's always nice to have them to be able to translate/clarify for me when need be. With two teachers in the classroom the more advanced students can ask me questions in English while the others can ask the Korean teacher for help.

The pictures above are from when I applied for my Alien Registration Card. The ARC is my ID card while in Korea. It allows me to be able to do basic things; like get a cell phone. So after I applied for the ARC my co-teacher and I walked around the city for a few miles, or more.

This weekend is a big family holiday, similar to the American Thanksgiving, so I will have Monday and Tuesday off from school; I'll try to see more of Seoul and beyond with some of my friends. Look for more pictures on Tuesday. The name of the holiday is Chuseok (추석) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuseok

Sunday, September 7, 2008


This last week has been really great. Everyone I work with is very kind and all of the children are very excited to have a new native speaking English teacher. When I walk through the halls all of the kids will say "Hello" and wave; my name to the children is "Steven Teacher." When I walk into the classroom they start asking all sorts of questions. Also I have been enjoying the lunches at school. They are simple, yet tasty. The other teachers are always very encouraging of my chopstick use. I am not horrible, yet there is a fine skill to using the chopsticks. Many of the Korean dishes still have the bones on/in the meat/fish; so advanced use of the chopsticks are required. But the food taste great, and I feel like I am getting an abundance of good veggies in my diet now.

This first week of living on my own has been nice, it already feels like home. It is great to be able to take the subway into town, but I always enjoy coming back to my smaller part of town. I have learned so much about Korean culture in such a short amount of time, its great. I enjoy checking out all of the different styles of restaurants around my area; by the time I come back I will be loving spicy food. At a small restraunt it is possible to get a huge meal with meat/veggies/rice/etc for under 4 US dollars or 4000 Won. There are many Korean BBQ joints where food becomes especially social because you grill your own meat and veggies. It is still hard to order food on my own, although I am starting to be able to read and write the Korean alphabet. The Korean alphabet is a rather logical and is a phonetically accurate alphabet, so people can pick it up relatively quickly. Although mastering pronunciation is a whole other ball game. There are lots of vowel sounds that are hard for a westerner to pronounce; but I have a year to practice. It's nice to have a few friends who speak Korean when I go out.

On Friday the other teachers surprised me with a birthday cake, and on Saturday I went out with some of the other teachers, whom I became friends with at orientation, to a neat part of town. It is near a large university so it has a cool vibe to it, lots of small music venues, cafes, and restaurants.

Earlier this evening I found another walking/running trail that is nice. (Thats where I took the picture above) Along the trail there are many mini parks to be found that have pull up bars or badminton courts. I still need to find a movie theater; when American movies play they use subtitles so I will be able to watch some of the bigger movies. Also I am interested in finding an art house cinema in Seoul; so I will keep you posted with that.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Area

Well my first day of school went well! Everyone was very nice, and it was great to finally meet my co-workers. Although I did not teach today, I will start teaching next week. This week I will prepare and observe, which will be nice.

Here are some pictures I took yesterday:

This is of the small street my apartment is off of.

I can jog, run, or ride a bike next to the 'stream'.