Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Holiday

This child gets himself 'pretend' stuck in his coat almost every lesson. He's pretty awesome.

This class is one of the best at English. Some of the 3rd graders are extremely intelligent.

Christmas is a National Public Korean Holiday; and thus there have been many decorations around the city. The class rooms have slight decorations to them that make it feel a bit festive. From the adult perspective Christmas in Korea is looked at as more of a couple and friend holiday than a family holiday. Koreans will spend a lot of time with their significant other or friends rather than travel long distances to be with their families. (They have other family centric holidays for that.)

I'll be spending my Christmas with other English teachers. Should be a great time!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Movie Protesters

In the middle of the city I came across what I thought were a bunch of protesters, but once I walked closer I realized that people were cuing and filming them. Also another note of interest is how well lit their faces were; this is because of the reflectors that they placed at their feet to insure proper lighting. I'm curious what they were protesting though; protesting is larger part of the culture here. This was a small production; but interesting to walk by none the less.

Also in the middle of Seoul runs a nice stream. Many people jog and walk through this every day as it goes for miles; it's also well lit at night. This area of Seoul is a bit of a subway ride from my location, but its fun to visit from time to time. There is an abundance of western food (and international food in general) selection located around this area, as it is a big tourist attraction. There are western style restaurant that are completely Korean owned, even though many Koreans might not be aware of it. (Although its kind of obvious to the foreigner, because I've never seen a shrimp tofu burger in any fast food restaurant in the West.) But its kind of like in America when you go to an Asian restaurant franchise your not completely sure who its owned by. And in America the Asian food might be Americanized, but your not really sure how... It's also fascinating that forks here are as much a novelty as chop sticks are in the West. They only use forks if they were at a nice western restaurant for the most part; as we would at an Asian restaurant. After living in Korea you become quite used to using chopsticks; and its just as natural as a knife and fork. (well at least most of the time.) It's amazing how much skill goes into using a knife and fork properly that we forget about. It's as hard as using chopsticks, if not harder, for a new learner.

Each Asian country uses different types of chopsticks. In Korea they are long, thin, and made of metal. Also in Korea you always use a spoon along with your chop sticks, because soup is always served with every meal. So if you don't feel like picking up tiny pieces of rice with your long narrow chopsticks, no problem, just use a spoon. :)

I got sick all last week with a pretty bad cold. But I'm starting to feel better. I think it was that -11C weather... My body is starting to get used to the colder weather; and I imagine by January I'll be fine.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter is Near

It continues to get colder. Today it snowed for a few hours. Last night the low was -11 C. Went to the market to buy some more warm clothes and tea.

Men in South Korea are required to give at least two years of service. So this means they can either serve in the military or do some other type of social service. Thus, it is not uncommon to see about 20 young police men with gear standing post outside a mall.

Public transportation is wonderful in Seoul; and is one of the most impressive features of the city. Seoul has an extensive bus system, which you can tell from the picture. (How many buses can you count?) There are also free transfers from bus to subway; which can be convenient. And taxi's are relatively cheap when compared to a NYC taxi; it costs about maybe 4,000 won to go around 9 miles, and about 25,000 won if you needed to get across city in hurry. And there of course is no tipping in Korea; it would be considered rude if you tried to tip in most cases.