Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mountain, here I am.

Yesterday all of the teachers at my school, about 40 of them, went hiking on a mountain. I thought this would be nice leisure time for a peaceful walk; I was wrong. A healthy middle aged teacher suggested that I and some other younger teachers reach the summit of the mountain. I thought this sounded like a good idea at the bottom of the mountain; but after the first hour and a half of hiking I began to get rather tired. Hiking in Korea is a really popular sport for the older generations, and thus I happened to be the youngest person on the mountain that I saw. So while I am having trouble hiking this mountain there are 50-65 year olds climbing the mountain with no problem. Once we got to the top it became really steep and slippery with a long drop; thus I did not get any good picture from the very top of the mountain due to personal safety constraints. The pictures I posted of the cityscape was about maybe 3/4th up the mountain. And by the time I actually got down from the mountain I was extremely exhausted. Although I would like to go hiking in Korea again at some point, I feel like I should probably work my way back up to that level of a hike. Next time I plan to start with something a little less extreme, where I'm not climbing up a slippery rock 750 meters above the ground after being already exhausted from a steep and hard hike. All in all, it was a great adventure, and I'm glad that I had the opportunity to do it. I needed a good work out, and that's what I got. Plus there was a great meal waiting for us by the time we got back to the bottom of the mountain.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It is starting to get colder here in Seoul. Living in the South East of America all my life has left me inexperienced to deal with a real winter. So on one hand I am really excited about living through a real winter, and on the other hand, I'm kind of scared about catching colds etc. So I'm trying to be more conscious about eating more fruit. My co-teachers laughed when I told them in Georgia schools close if it snows more than a couple of centimeters or if there is icing on the roads.

The first picture is the view from the top of my apartment building, and the second is from inside an underground mall. This week I will be going hiking with all the teachers at my school, so I'm looking forward to that.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Teacher, Teacher

I've been continuing to enjoy teaching. It's been a fun and rewarding job teaching English at an elementary level while still having time to discover a new city and country.

The lesson planning is a serious part of the job, and its nice to have my co-teachers help out on that. We will usually put our ideas together and create the lesson plans as a team. As for the students; there are so many different unique personalities that the children have. It's been great getting to know them all as best as I can. There is a third grade class that will always follow me back to my office and just hang around saying 'goodbye, goodbye'; its too cute. And one fourth grader will always tell me how smart she in a very funny and light manner. "I'm very smart, don't you think so, don't you?" Of course I just kindly laugh and agree.

The sixth graders are about to graduate elementary school in December; they will move on to middle school in January. I asked one sixth grader if he was excited about moving on and he told me he was not looking forward to the extra homework. Anyways, they are not as excited about English as the third graders are, needless to say. But Korea is a country who places an extremely high value on quality education, so many students will spend many hours after public school in private institutions studying various subjects. One third grader I know is taking about 5 different after school classes. Korea has one of the strongest economies in the world despite its relatively small size and population because of their focus on finding quality education.

So the moral: study hard.
On my free time I am starting to pick up some of my older hobbies along with making some new ones. I've been spending some time at Seoul's biggest electronic market, Yongsan, trying to find cheap, but quality, parts to upgrade my computer along with trying to make some music. Also, I plan by late March to have a website of my own up, but I will still have a link to this blog on it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pusan: Film and Art

This last weekend we had Friday off; so some of my friends and I traveled to Pusan. One of the main reasons why we did this is because Pusan was hosting its 13th international film festival: aka PIFF. PIFF is becoming one of the strongest film festivals in Asia, so there was alot excitement surrounding the city. It was hard to buy tickets to the movies, as they sold out extremely quickly, yet I still managed to watch about 3 films.

Pusan is a port city and has a much different vibe than Seoul. Pusan maintains the more laid back vibe while Seoul is the city that never sleeps. You could try and compare NYC to ATL to give yourself a ruff comparison of the two cities: also the population of Pusan is relative to Atlanta and Pusan still maintains some of its 'southern/country' culture in a big city environment. When my friends and I asked directions to an art museum an elder man walked about a 1/2 mile to show us it was just around the corner instead of just pointing where to go. The museum we saw was for modern art and it was rather impressive, there were many large and innovative installations from artist around the world.

On another random note the food was noticeably different which was fun; it would just be a little ingredient here and there that made a subtle difference in each dish. For example the kimchi had a little more kick to it and the bibimbap had different ingredients in it, such as cucumbers, etc.

Although there were many movies to watch I only saw a few, I saw an interesting German film called "Northface" and a dreamy Japanese animation movie called "Skycrawlers". Most of the Korean films sold out the fastest as you might expect.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This week included "Sports Day", which is a very large event here at my elementary school. It is put on every other year since it is such a big production. There was a full rehearsal day early in the week and then the real "Sports Day" that all of the parents come out to watch for the entire school day. Each grade puts on a choreographed Korean dance, either traditional or modern; some really neat stuff. And then there are a whole bunch of other competitions and games. Some teachers think that "Sports Day" takes too much time away from the students studies, and that it can be rather stressful for everyone to put on such a large event. I thought it was very impressive and I am sure the children learned a lot about practical team work, etc. But either way, I was glad that I was able to participate in it; I even ended up becoming a participant in an event or two. But for most of the day I helped with the score board and other odd jobs. I had a really good time, then after the day all of the teachers went out for Korean BBQ and drinks. It was fun to be able to socialize with all of the teachers and a few of the parents.