Monday, 14 November 2011

Likes and Dislkes

OK so I haven't blogged in about 2 months...oops. So for my latest instalment I'm gonna share with you some of my likes and dislikes about Korea. Things that rock and things that make me want to jump on a plane tomorrow...Top 10's are quite popular so here goes. Let's start with the Likes

10 things I like about no particular order

1: I'm tall. I am a giant amongst men here. An odd one I know but it really has it's perks. I can see over 97% of people here. I never get an armpit in the face on a bus. On the contrary, some poor little Korean gets my stinky Western pit.
People can just about always find me. So getting split up from a group in busy street situations is handy cause i'm always in sight.

2: Teaching. I love it. It's great over here to be a guest teacher. The kids love you just because you're slightly different. They're so open and sometimes a little too forward, but that's part of the charm. They make me feel like a rockstar somedays and tell me i'm handsome about 50 times a day. I mean who wouldn't want to hear that??!!

3: The people. I've met some awesome people all over the country now. Mainly other foreign teachers but from all over. There's a good little family growing over here that you can depend on. Plus they all love a beer so it's all good.
Koreans though, are some of the nicest people I've come across. They just want to help you all the time and nothing is too much trouble. They have made my stay here so much easier to deal with. Thanks guys!!

4: Norebang. This one surprised me. Singing and me don't get on too famously, but these little karaoke booths are just an absolute laugh. Doesn't matter if you can't one can. But your pissed so you just get involved....and you're always going to be better than the locals. They can't sing for beans.

5: Soju. The local tipple. Russia meets the east. Vodka meets casual drinking any time working lunch or not. Potent as cobra venom yet rather easy on the pallet. All in all dangerous but rather fantastic. Gives you one heck of a headache the next day though.

6: Cheap transportation. Yup it costs about 70p to travel anywhere. Awesome. They have a great bus policy. If the bus can hold say 100 people, at rush hour your likely to see about 750 people on any one bus. Another plus point for being tall...cause a bus full of that many people aint so fresh.

7: The Food. I've had some great food here. Ok I'm going to start with my favourite restaurant Saloon B. This place is just round the corner from my flat, and it sells burgers. But they are no normal McD's or anything. hand made, special sauce, seasoned chips fantasticness. I just made that up. I know it's not an Asian restaurant but so what. Those burgers kick ass. Korean food is also pretty good. They have restaurants where they bbq food right in front of you, good sushi restaurants and basically all the good stuff you can do with rice they can rock it out.

8: The View. Korea is beautiful. Mountains everywhere. I wasn't sure what to expect, and i thought it'd be more south east asiany, but it's more japanesey. Especially now we are heading into spring and winter. The colours are changing and the weather is bearable. One of my favourite things to do during my lunch break is to go onto the roof of my school with a book, cup of tea and sit and read and admire the view.

9: The keyless society....where we're going we don;t need keys. All, or most of the apartments in korea all have pin code door locks. No more lost keys, no more having to take your keys running. Noone can pick your lock. Hands full of shopping, no worries just beep beep beep beep and you're in. Thanks.

and if i had to pick one more....
10: Taxi Drivers!!!! These guys are hilarious. They all have 10inch sat nav screens that are permanently tuned into tv channels. Even when driving they'll have an episode of korean Emerdale on or something. At night they can be a pain, but if you get a cool one that will get you home 'speedy'...had a chap drive 180km and hour through red lights and all to drive me home....Jesus Christ handles at the ready..and the best part is that they are dirt cheap. sometimes there;s no point using public transport.

OK so there's my top 10 likes....stay tuned for the dislikes!

Chubb out

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Holidays, water parks, rugby, beer-bowling and BBQ's....and that's just one long weekend

Hello folks

Been a while since I was on here so thought I would let you all know about Chuseok. Can't pronounce it welcome to my world. OK here goes CHOO-SUCK...It's the Korean version of Thanksgiving and is a pretty big deal. It also means that I get 5 straight days off work....Thanks very much!!!! I should point out that this was from the 3rd - 4th September....(sorry for my tardiness)

A bunch of us oegug-in (yeah I'm gonna bust out some Korean every now and again....WAY-GOOK means foreigner) decided to go to a water park and about an hour away and then go on to a place called Pohang to go watch the rugby and party.
Water park would have been great had it not been freezing and raining....we're water park ninja's though and battle through it....It's here that I get my first experience of Korean changing room culture....these guys are not shy....and well to be honest a lot of them should be!!!!

Water Park in the Rain
A fun day had by all at the freezing rainy water park leads on to go and watch the rugby (ENG VS ARG) in Pohang. "Where do we stay" I think to myself.....Korean experience number 2 Love Motels...You can rent these out by the hour should you so wish and purchase "bedroom" items all along the corridor. Didn't think I'd be sharing my firsgt night in a love motel with two dudes but there we way to not feel weird about this....lets get mullered...."what's that Jaeger?....Oh you know how to screw with me....thanks" I'd fill in the blanks but my family might be reading this....well actually I can;t remember a whole lot.
Scene of the Crime
Sunday started off rather slowly....bacon bagel and a starbucks coffee and I'm ready to fall asleep on the bus home....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Then into town for more beer and rugby!!!! A whole bunch of Safa's here so I had to support Wales....a lose lose situation for me.

Hangover food....Egg and Potato???

Weather turns out great the next day....shame that water park has now closed what better way to remember the day before yesterday.....BEER BOWLING!!! Rules are simple....after your second throw however many pins are left standing.....that's the number of shots of beer you have to do. Being the bowling expert I was pretty rubbish but poor Paul...his last round had to do 10 shots! Ouch....I reckon I could get Sky Sports into it....

Well it was game over after that as well I think....fill in the blanks as you see fit...

"BBQ and cricket in a park?" Yes PLEASE!!!!
So the plan is to try and not drink so started off so well....the main result was finding beef in a supermarket...couldn't help myself...
me to supermarket employee...."cut me off somma that there cow please sir"
employee to me "wha?"
me: "moooooooooooooo" (hand slicing gesture)
employee: "oh you mean beef..sure thing"

ok so some Koreans can speak English....

Please Note the Large Bottle of Maegju (BEER) in Paul's Hand!! 

BBQ and beer and cricket all go down well until the fuzz show up....a friend brought with her a hookah with some funny smelly tobacco. Passers by were convinced we were all puffing the reefer...Koreans aren't too happy about marijuana in these here parts. One way ticket back home if they catch you. So they obviously didn't think too highly of us...After a few words and offering the pipe to the copper he realised we weren't stoners. Until they left and we brought out the crack pipe!!!
After that it gets a little blurry....a couple of beers perchance???

Back to work on Thursday and Friday and then off for the weekend....when I rule the World 2 day working weeks is where it's at!

 More to come folks....Rugby World Cup going on...birthdays coming this space....

Chubb saying good bye

Sunday, 4 September 2011

First month done...

So I have been in Korea for one month now and it's been a brilliant experience. What a good decision to come over here....the people are super friendly, the kids, for the most part, are great and keep me laughing through the day and I've met some great Western friends who are showing me the ropes so I don't end up either lost or eating something I shouldn't. 

I'm finally getting into a routine at my school and have started teaching the English Town sections. There are different students from elementary and middle schools everyday. They're all pretty excited because it's a break from their normal routine. Korean kids work and study just about all day. They're in school from about 0830 and when the finish school they all go to English classes or music lessons and all sorts. Most of them don't get home until 10pm. Mental!!! So I try and make it as much fun as possible for them. But it's pretty repetitive so I look forward to my normal teaching lesson with my Gifted Students.
 My view on the way to work...

Out of school I've been lucky enough to meet some pretty cool people. Which means that I get to have the traditional meet and greet drinks/piss up. Although every weekend people are going out. They party hard over here. Go Hard or Go Home...
I have also had my first norebang, which for all you lot means kareoke...and for those of you who have been privileged enough to here me sing will not be surprised that I butchered Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody...sorry Freddy. My Bad!
I've also been initiated into the Makeoli Drinking Membership Association, which is held on the first Thursday of every month..."Makeoli?" I hear you say..."Oh, it sounds so exotic"Well you'd be wrong. The best way I would describe Makeoli is that it is a combination of milk, white wine and sprite and is served in bowls and is strong enough to stop a rhino on acid. Potent bloody stuff and gives you a hangover that pisses on any Stella hangover I've ever had. Let's just say it's an acquired taste. 
Throw in a good ol pub quiz and it's a good night. Didn't win the quiz though!!! Balls!

Some of my new Korean family...well they're not Korean but you know what I mean.
Gen and Shaun at Jeep

We have also had the IAAF athletics here and is actually just finishing up today. The stadium is pretty close to where I live so I had to go. It's an awesome venue and didn't think I'd get in to it as much as I did, but the ladies pole vault final was very exciting...I'm sure there's a joke about women handling poles but I'm not going to be drawn into such vulgarity. 

So life is pretty good. I like my job, I have met some great people, I've seen great athletes at work, I've taken part in my first norebang, I've eaten some interesting food, and some pretty gross food so I am very excited about the next 11 months. 

Bring on next week, Korean Thanksgiving. 5 day weekend bring it on!!!

Adios folks

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Have I eaten dog yet.......could have?

I thought I had a good idea the other day and thought I would try some street food. I was walking around my little town and there was a pretty big queue at one of the street vendors so you think 'those locals must know a thing or two...right?' I get to the front of the line and I'm confronted by a massive vat of what looks like noodles (i thought they were noodles) and then next to it was a some 'meat' (I thought it was pork) and everyone was mixing the two together....monkey see monkey cost about £1.50 and I got my monies worth. So to the taste....well I couldn't identify a  thing really, and then the chili kicks in BOOM!!! The meat was like nothing I've ever had before. Dog you say??? Well I hope not. Didn't see many walking around the area though. Might try something different next time....

I've been lucky enough to have been taken out for lunch twice since starting work here. On both occasions I was taken to fairly traditional Korean establishments. Apparently most restaurants don't really have names, they just call themselves what the sell. So one place was called 'Duck' so duck was on the menu. 
Eating out in Korea is a big deal, with the host needing to make a fuss. My principal took all the teachers and staff to this restaurant when I first he was being really generous. At this point I need to add that he doesn't speak a word of English so we didn't really say a whole lot, but I appreciated it nonetheless...

Right here are some rules:

  • you sit crossed legged on a little cushion and it's rude to uncross your legs until the meal has come to an end
  • you get metal chopsticks and a metal're not supposed to hold both in the same hand
  • when someone pours you a drink you have to hold your cup with two hands
  • when you pour someone a drink you have to use both hands
  • if someone offers you something it's rude to say 'no' 
  • you can't start eating until the oldest person starts tucking in
Those are the main rules and well the only ones that I can remember...OK so at this place there are no menus (even if there were it's not like I could understand anything anyway) the food kind of just comes....In this restaurant you actually cook the duck yourself on a grill right in front of you in the middle of the table. (No tipping here either...bloody hope so if I cook the thing myself..they should tip me) They then bring all little side dishes that sit in the middle of the table and you help yourselves. You don't get your own plate, just grab your chopsticks and tuck in....kind of an Asian Tapas. 
All throughout lunch the principal is tucking into straight Soju shots..which is Korean Vodka ( lunch on a school day) and at the same time the vice-principal is making sure everyone has a beer (yes at lunch) Massive booze hounds here. 
The food was awesome. I can't even begin to try and tell you what the names of the side dishes were but it was all pretty amazing. 
Now the problem came when the principal kept asking me if I wanted more food...I'm about to pop and all I can think about is whether or not I've lost the circulation in my legs from sitting crossed legged for so long, and if I say no I'm going to cause a massive scene and ruin my relationship with the principal. So I suck it up and eat and eat and eat.....never really a problem for me in the past.

I'm enjoying the food here, but in the restaurants that do have menus I have no idea what I'm ordering, so I need a local to help me out...I might just grow a pair get into a restaurant and just point at something on the menu and hope it isn't a 7 course set menu for 10 people.....or dog...and hope it all works out for the best. 

Happy eating folks

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Classroom Time

Hi everyone,
So it's been a slightly calmer week this week and I thought i'd show you some photos....

Here are just a couple of pictures of some of the kids I we made volcanos!!!! OOOHHHH!!!!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

My Apartment

My First Week

I've finished my first week in South Korea...what an experience. They said from day one they really want to get me involved. So my first day in the office, after the meet and greet, I'm told that i'll be in the classroom teaching tomorrow afternoon with my co-teacher Jun. Right...errrr OK...immediately i've got that stomach churning feeling of "holy crap...what am I doing here again?" 
To "ease me in" there is a summer camp going on at the moment, September is when school starts again. So I'm not on my normal schedule yet so I've been helping in a few different areas. 

Anyway, so here's what I'll be doing whilst I'm in Korea. My school is called Gyeongsan English Town, and is actually joined to but not really part of another school called Imdang School. I'll have three main roles....Firstly and my main bread and butter is to be a part of the English Town lessons. Rooms are split into a number of different sections; the Bank, the coffee shop, department store etc....Each day a different school brings a number of students to the school. They get sorted into varying levels of English speaking ability, and then they have a certain amount of time in each section of the "English Town" where we teach them conversational English. This lasts until lunch, then they have a "mission game" set for them where they have to use the English that they've learnt from the day to use in the different sections. Then there's a closing ceremony, certificates are handed out and there are prizes for the best performers. I'll be doing this every day. The pro's of this is that you get to meet different students everyday and they are mostly excited about being out of their regular programme. I'll get to work with students of varying levels from 'great' to me trying to learn Spanish....The cons I guess are that it might get pretty monotonous. All the teachers here though say that with every class comes something new. we'll see I guess. 

I'm also involved in the schools "gifted programme"...students go through interviews and a number of tests to get into the programme. From September I'll be seeing them for twice a week. For this I can pretty much make up my own lesson plans, I don't need to follow any curriculum. At the moment I have a co-teacher with me but that might change...freedom to mould the minds of young Korean children. First Geoyongsan next the World!!!!
The kids are cute and pretty well behaved, but they're still getting used to me. I've joined mid-year so they had another teacher for the last 6 months. This is what I'm interested in most and is going to be the best insight into actual teaching. 

Lastly I'm involved with the Teacher Training programme. I'll be working with Korean English teachers who want to try and improve their English. I've been working on a one to one basis with teacher Jun and at the moment we go through Newspaper articles and discuss vocabulary, pronunciation and discuss the content to make sure it's all understood. 

And that's what i'll be doing for the next year....

So outside of school I've been scoping my local area and trying to get to grips with the cultural differences. You know the funniest thing about Korea??? It's the little differences. They still got the same shit over here as they have over there, it's just a little different.
Actually it's very different....I imagine Korea to be more like how Japan and China (two places I haven't been) are, culturally speaking, rather than Thailand and Indonesia (places I have been). 
There are a lot of rules like you have to use two hands when you give or receive anything to someone your own age or older, or it's considered rude; the older you are the more authority you have, even if you are in a lower position at work....and loads more. I just don't want to offend anyone without even realising it.
My main problem is not knowing what i'm buying at the market. It looks like soy sauce right???'s some crazy thing i've never heard of. Dictionary...should have brought one. I've got "hello" and "thank you" figured out at the moment and as long as I smile, point and nod my head I'll get by for a while.
Tattoos are a bit of a no no. Well big tattoos. Apparently Korean skin isn't your own, it's passed onto you from your ancestors. So by getting tattoos you are insulting your ancestry. Well I must have a lot of ancestry because I have more skin than I'd like at the moment, and I guess my ancestors must be pretty mad at me. So I have to cover up the fish at work. 
I had one woman stop me and touch me and jibber-jabbered at me about whether or not I could wash it off. Needless to say that she was a little shocked when I told her it was real. 

Money being a little tight as it is, my first weekend really hasn't gone off with a bang! It was great to get some free time.I needed to unpack and get the flat in some kind of order. Get some good sleep,  finally get the internet sorted in my flat, and to do some housework because this place is pretty filthy....needs a good clean. Rock and Roll!!! 
It's a long weekend next week with Monday being Liberation Day so I'm sure there'll be things going on.

Although I've been rambling on there is still so much to say, but I'm sure you've read enough and I'm sure I've written enough. 

Be in touch soon, take care peeps.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Anyeong haseyo Korea!

After the best part of 21 hours, about 12 hours in the sky, 3 in the waiting room at Amsterdam International Airport, and hour at Seoul International Airport and a 5 hour bus journey down to Daegu (which actually pissed on KLM for seat comfort and leg room) i'm pretty pooped....and hearing "let's go meet your boss" when i'm met by Liz (who works at the school and has a Korean name but I can't remember it yet, so we call her Liz) so it's another half hour in the car....after all that i'm just hoping I don't get the sack for smelling as bad as I did.

It's all good though, my manager is called Jun and he's a dude! The headmaster of my department of the school, Dave, is also there to say hello and i'm very pleased that they tell me we are all off to my new flat. It's about 1730 by the time we get into the flat, which is a stones throw away from the school....anxious isn't the word I would use to describe how I felt about the place I was going to be living for the next year and to my surprise it's not a studio...thank the gods, i'm way to large and clumsy to live in a studio, I get a bedroom, a separate living room and a hallway/kitchen. I even get partial views of the rice paddies, who needs seaviews! Beat that Brighton!!  photos and videos to follow when it's looking nice(ish) I get the impression i'm pretty lucky, although we now have to go out and buy stuff for my new digs....bedding and food really is the order of the evening...oh and slippers. NO shoes allowed almost anywhere here except for when you're outside. Slippers needed for work...ok i'll go with it.
They have E-Mart here...(hmmm ring any bells). 5 floors of of hell really after the day i've had, but you can buy everything here...Everyone is super friendly and there's a nod here and a bow there and I immediately feel the culture shock and i'm thinking "oh god how am I going to survive here? I can't read or understand a thing?!!" I'm assured that everything will be ok by Dave as he grins every time a Korean sales assistant comes and asks me a question and I give her that quintessential English look of "huh? ...Right let's go get some slippers....this i'm sure in England might take a minute or two but big Chubb Western feet meant that my choice was fairly limited and took a matter of seconds....there was only one pair that fit.
I pick up just about half the shop including the two key things in South Korean food society...chopsticks and a spoon. These are now my culinary weapons of choice. If you're good to them then they're good to you....because they don't use anything else when you go out to eat in a Korean restaurant.
We get back to the flat and unload the stuff and i'm wobbly on my feet with lack of sleep and an empty Chubb stomach that'd been grumbling for a good long while. Dave takes me to a little pasta joint just round the corner and I get a lay of the land...."Pasta??!!" I hear you say...well yes, it was his choice and he was paying so I didn't object. Plus there's some talk of a Korean banquet in my honour on Thursday...well I never! But I had already dipped into some Korean fast food at a stop on my way down to Daegu. Couldn't tell you what it was, but it was hot and spicy and tasted pretty good. So a little familiar pasta went down well. It's at this point that i'm told "oh by the way you can't eat anything tomorrow until after your medical exam which is at about 1400.....BALLS!...Blood tests and a ball tickle here I come...lovely.
My apartment is in an area that has a load of bars, restaurants and I discover that there is a University here so it can get pretty lively. I can't wait to get into Daegu centre and do some exploring, but it's probably not going to be until the weekend, where I can hopefully get my internet router sorted and finish buying stuff for the flat to make it my home for the next year.

It's up tomorrow and into school for 0830 and i'm told it's all guns blazing and i'll actually be teaching in a classroom to actual small people in a couple of days....what?!..ease me in gently? Nope sink or swim time.....welcome to South Korea.

ps. Anyeong haseyo means hello in Korean...the one word I know...

pps...damn forgot clothes hangers!