Thursday, December 20, 2007
Which I did.
I went in and through hand gestures and Konglish (Korean+English slang) managed to make it known that I want them. The woman managed to get my address (it takes a bit for them to understand my verbal instructions because my accent is so terrible), charge $20 (transportation fee) and establish that I do not have a one-room apartment and can actually fit them in my place. She then plopped me down in a comfy chair in front of a tv and handed me her half-empty cup of hot tea to drink while her man put them in the back of the truck. I was elated.
Wait, AM elated!
It JUST HAPPENED!
The man was unsure when we finally got here because they really don't fit well, but he followed directions and I shoved a table or two upstairs to make more space. I'll post the double one online and sell it for the $20 it took to get them here (my co-worker may take the two smaller ones), and that'll be that. Chris is going to take pictures tonight.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Here it is:
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Alright, so I saw the movie Black Hawk Down and read the book (partly) and felt horror and sadness for the people living in Somalia, but I never did follow-up research on the country. I assumed that, since I saw the movie years after it had been made, that the unrest had most likely been solved. Or, if not solved, I assumed someone important was working on some way to help the people living there to establish peace.
I was wrong.
On my igoogle I get BBC and CBC headlines which pop up and the other say one which popped up was UN Says Somalia Needs More Help. I read it and moved on to the next article, then the next one, the next, the next, and finally, the last one.
How is this country not receiving more attention? How can this country have been going through so much turmoil and chaos with barely a peep out of the media? Maybe I've blind and deaf; maybe I've been an ostridge with my head in the sand. I hope so because if that's the case then something has been done and I've simply not noticed. Does anyone know of some way I can help? Some way I can influence change? Anything?
I feel helpless and useless; knowing something HAS to be done but doing nothing about it myself.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The quality of the public education system here (in Korea) is slowly deteriorating, and this is mainly due to increased quality and attention in the 'cram' schools. As attention is focussed on the more elite schools, it is removed from the public system, causing problems there to multiply. Public schools are jammed with 25-40 children in the classroom with one teacher. It is impossible for the teacher of a class this large to cover the same material as a class with 13 students or fewer (which is the class size maximum allowed at my school). Many classes may even have as few as 4 or 5 students. Thus, these classes can cover a volume of material not possible in the public domain. It makes me sad that wealthy parents will put their money into a 'cram' school instead of the public schools. With the amount they are paying me they could pay two more public school teachers and divide the class in half.
That's the fairy tale.
Everything here is about status, education and appearance. The first questions a Korean will ask me will be my place of birth (obviously), age, education, and marital status, and then they will comment on my clothes and looks. The reality is that here, having a child in cram school covers the issue of status and education. If the public school system deteriorates then the gap will be larger and thus the status of the wealthy higher. This is the culture, and has been for thousands of years.
Unfortunately, I have come to realise that I am an accessory to it. I teach wealthy children at a prestegious academy and make more money/year from this job than many Koreans will see... ever.
I am in a moral quandry.
I can't just tutor public school children for cheap or free because it's illegal here. You have to be careful who you tutor because if they wish to increase their status and tell the wrong person, you're out with a kick in the ass and a black mark on your travelling record. I am contracted to work here, and I will be here for a while. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do?
I was thinking how when I talked to a bunch of third graders a while back and I said to them, "How many of you know the feeling of really wanting something and then when your parents finally get it for you, instead of feeling excited, you feel kind of disappointed and sad?" Three-quarters of the kids raised their hands.
I was also thinking how most of my stuff has the effect of pulling me away from my friends and family--because I use it alone--when joking around and having fun with them actually is really effective at making that wanting feeling go away.
I was thinking how all this stuff that doesn't really make me happy also has the effect of hurting the planet as clouds of carbon are produced as the stuff is manufactured, delivered, used and finally disposed of. I was thinking, on top of that, how so many people get stressed out by the debt and high costs of a Christmas full of presents.
Wow. He said it and I love it. It's true; the wanting feeling never fully goes away no matter what you get for Christmas. He is also right that new things separate you from people instead of bringing you closer together (generally speaking). I am very far away from many of the people I love, so time spent with the ones here is that much more important. If I don't spend time with the ones I can, then I spend time alone. While that can be good... nobody wants to be alone for Christmas.
I guess what I'm saying is, have a Merry Christmas season guys. To those far away, I miss you. To those close by, I treasure you.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Anyone who has been to Malaysia (as I did with SSU), especially KL, most likely remembers one thing beyond the amazing architecture that sets it apart...
the "Night Bazaah!"
Anyway, I'm not in Malaysia, and there isn't a "night bazaah" here in Korea (that I know of), but there is an awesome market that totally reminds me of one! Sure it's much colder and daylight... and the wrong country. That's ok though, the Nampo market here is SO much fun! Chris and I went this weekend and walking through all the shops and stalls I was brought back in memory to bartering with Ben and Miah ... and Amber playing air guitar with a street musician while we all had beers and snacks. Great memories. The market here is huge, and you can get nearly everything you could want, as long as you're willing to walk around in the chilly weather and look for it. There's food vendors, restaurants, hand-made pottery, trinkets, clothes (both new and not-as-new), weapons, wood-burning, statues, shoes, bags...watches.... well. You get the picture!
So... excitement on weekends and drab rut on weekdays. Sometimes I feel like my week days are a waste of time (except that it's getting me money to pay off loans). A waste of life. Work is fun, but routine and ... usually the same. I follow a curriculum that repeats every weak, just with a higher level of difficulty every Monday. What to do... what to do.
I love when I get to see Chris and everyone on weekends!
During the week... I'm BORED!
Monday, November 5, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Chris and I got to hang out with these two a bit this weekend, and despite the fact that we're both sick with bad colds, I had an awesome time. We hung out in Busan a bit on Friday night and then Chris and I went to Gimhae (where they live) and hung out with them there. Those two are SUCH great hosts! They pulled out Sangria, wine, soju (voldka-like Korean alcohol), crackers, tuna, cheese (very expensive here), and bread sticks. Visiting them showed me just how rusty my host skills have become! We went out for dinner and saw a bit of the city too. It was awesome to see them. Really nice. I think we'll end up trying to hang out every weekend or so, for at least a day. Especially while the weather is so nice (a little chilly for my tastes, but I'm not going to really complain. I've also figured out most of my Christmas presents for my family and even have gotten a few! Woo hoo!
Monday, October 29, 2007
Ok... so lets just say that I found a similar one to this online and made my own personal one (the original one was a boy). I love it and wanted to share it with all you people who know me. I essentially started this blog when I moved away from st. Stephen to keep in touch with friends and, in a way different from Facebook, interact with them. I miss you all and wish I could have these discussions (and sometimes rants) in person, but that's just not gonna happen. Anyway, if you've read anything I've said and agreed or disagreed, or really just anything, please drop a comment. I don't live for them... but I do love them!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
A friend of mine got married this past month and I missed the wedding because I've been here. To be honest though, I have only kept in touch on and off with him for years. I saw him during the summer and it felt so strange. I don't really know his wife very well either, which makes me uncomfortable. Some women just can't handle their men having close friendships with other women, and I didn't know what to do. Do I hug him after not seeing him for a few years or not? I hugged. He wasn't married when I saw him, but when I left I felt like I was saying goodbye to our friendship. This guy used to be like a big brother to me and got me through some pretty tough times before university and during my first year. Unfortunately, I move around a lot and our friendship kind of went on hold. Now he's married and living on a ranch and I'm in Korea, teaching English. I haven't kept in touch with his life and he hasn't kept in touch with mine. We've lost that common ground that keeps a good friendship. It makes me sad.
Too bad I feel that way about most of my older friendships. I have one or two friends that I've had for more than a decade, but I'm a notorious friend-abandoner and none of them are close friendships anymore. Soon, I would like to stay in one place and build a community of close friends. Maybe that's really my problem. I really and truly just need a long-term place in a community.
Korea is awesome, but I kinda just want to go home, wherever that is.
it can mean a struggle against a power which is far bigger, stronger, and faster. A hopeless battle in life where you just can't keep up. despairing. overwhelming. defeating.
it can represent that struggle in a more positive manner. Struggling against that far bigger, stronger, and faster power, but also never giving up. refusing to give an inch. Personal strength and resolve. Perserverence. Challenge.
It can represent a playful game. running with a close friend. cavorting and enjoying the simplicity of being together.
It can represent freedom. Wind blowing in your hair. tears streaming from your eyes because you're running so fast. making a breakaway from where you have been. flying across the ground. refreshing. exilerating.
It can be all of these. Life changes and we change with it, whether we want to or not. There are times when I am fired for a challenge and have the strength to face life's problems head on. And there are times when I feel dragged along. I feel weak. Defeated and hopless. I don't know why sometimes the same wind can make me defeated when yesterday I was strong enough to run faster. There are times when I don't know where my strengths and weaknesses originate. And I don't know why I feel differently today than yesterday. I have the same life now as then. This morning even. I really and truly just don't know.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
...We arrive at Andong and it instantly looks fantastic. There are totem-like poles around with faces carved into them and amazing masks all over the place. Chris and I find a place we can stay once we make sure we can catch a bus back in time for both of us to get to our respective apartments to get ready for work the next day (Monday) in Busan. it's only 15 000 wan each to stay the night (rough equilivant $15)! Then we wandered, saw some amazing sights, checked out masks, and eventually entered a theatre area to sit and watch the mask performance. It's a completely circular room with a roof covering the spectators, but with the rof above the dirt floor in the center open to light the actors. A small group of us sat directly in the front and "center" (ie: opposite the door). There was obviously a script, however, just as obvious was the allowance for improve around that script. Which meant the actors addressed the audience a fair amount and even spoke to a few people individually (click here and go to "Hahoe Maskdance" for more information about the festival and the importance of the dance in Hahoe). At one point the "Fool" pulls some poor Korean girl from the crowd and makes her come and get Chris and I! She pulls us out to the middle of the floor and interprets for the actor, who says we have to dance with him! So the "band" of musical drums and cymbals which have been playing quietly in the background get louder and we all dance in the middle of the floor with everyone watching! It was hilarious! I'm pretty sure some people got pictures of us, and when I find out who I'm gonna post them on my own facebook and add alink here, it was so much fun!
Friday, October 19, 2007
From there we headed to Andong village!
PS> all these bus excursions have fantastic scenery, but after the trip in Europe, I seem to have no resistance to sleep when on a bus so I missed most of it.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
C'est la vie où j'ai choisie.
Budget. Even worse.
I've had times where I lived in fun and exciting places and didn't have a budget. I didn't have to. I never spent money. I worked insane hours, went out infrequently, and had the time of my life. I loved those times. I remember how great they were and, although I know I spent a lot of time doing nothing but working, being with people, and saving for school.
Somehow Korea is different.
I work shorter hours and I have people here to do things with.
I think that's the clincher as to why I seem to be UNABLE to save the way I want to. I didn't have anyone to DO stuff with before; and now I have much more free time too. My money is leaking through my fingers and I can't seem to make it stop.
SO. Ash is going to help me draw up a budget and I'm going to stick to it. I've never had a problem saving before because I'm perfectly happy not DOING stuff, but just getting by and not spending a cent. HOWEVER, when am I going to be in Korea again? I'm here for a YEAR. It's my HOME for now. I can't just pass time sitting in my apartment and either chatting online or painting. It's a waste because I can do thise things anywhere in the world!
So, Chris and I went to a movie at the Pusan International Film Festival! It was AWESOME! There were people everywhere and the movie was great! We're definitely going to have to go to the one in Toronto when we go back to Canada. And that's not all! We're going hiking next weekend with a bunch of people (including Ash and Dan), staying in a village, and checking out a traditional mask market! That's going to be fun!
However, I've been working at my job for a month, which means I get paid soon and also means I will get my first month's bills soon. Then... budget time.
Back to money. And budgeting. And both of them sucking. Because they do.
I mean, why can't we live naturally? Trade? Barter goods? Live free and peacefully with one another? Honestly! Who needs money? I vote we burn it all!
Too bad I don't have any to burn...
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I was wrong.
I'm not comfortable at all.
And although I want to go home,
The most I can do is calculate the time change and call my parents when my mama comes home. This is life, and despite my sadness and frustrated helplessness, I am in Korea, possibly not to return for a long time. I'm not sure what the best course for me is. Hindsight is perfect and foresight unpredictable. Therefore I will cry, stay, appreciate Korea to the fullest I can, and call home. Maybe cry a bit more.
And then enjoy my short time in Korea with my friends.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Then there's Rae and Joy. My sisters. Oh man. We're a family of contradictions!
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Truely, there are shitty sides in life. Not just moments or days or weeks, but sometimes there are entire sides of life that can make you feel like you're being ripped off. However, such is LIFE, and although I am a true whiner to those who know best, I have been trying to focus on the really wonderful things I get to, and have gotten to, experience. Thus, I wish to share them.
NOTE: These are NOT in order of importance to me... they are simply the order in which they come to my sleep-deprived mind.
my friends:Although I am very far away from my closest of friends, they still have the power to impact me like few others. Today I was talking to Brie and she told me she likes my poetry. Not just likes it, but that some of it makes her feel. That is all I want for my poetry. She and I talked about nothing things as well as things that are so very important to me. Things that make ME feel. I love her so much.
I got to hang out with Chris for the first time in three weeks last weekend and it was such a relief. Snorkeling and sailing. Naruto and 300. Hanging out. He is a support and friend in ways I can't even describe. I am so proud of his accomplishments and dreams, and I am inspired to have more of my own. Truely, Korea will be a challenge and adventure with him. I cannot describe my anticipation.
Lately I've also spoken to other friends, some in longer conversations and some just briefly, and those people have brightened my world. I am encouraged when Shelley sends me a short message saying she misses me, or when Jac listens to my flashes of loneliness and frustration. When my Zo wants to go out for drinks and chat, or when I get a message from Brad telling me that he likes my pictures because they make him want to have adventures. I feel brighter for having seen a picture of Walter online and it strikes me that he is such a wonderful person. All of these people are so important to me, even if I am rarely in touch, each is unique and I love them.
I will leave this blog here... with Friends. Yes, I will write more another time, perhaps on my Family, but it's nearly 2:00 AM and time to sleep.
I am Becky, if you do not know me, by all means, read on anyway...
I'm not sure why I started this, since I'm terrible at blogging. But I so enjoy Shelley's that I decided I might have something to say, whether people read it or not.
First, I will write about going to Korea!
We have takeoff in two weeks. Yes. That is exciting. And scary. What the HELL do I think I'm doing? Going off somewhere for a year where I have never been, don't speak the language, or know the culture or history??!! Whew. Now that's scary. There are positive points though, like the fact that I'll get to preview my appartment before I accept the job. I'll get to interview the employers instead of them interviewing ME! I'll also get to get in shape, hike, meet new people (both exciting and scary) and travel a bit. Those things are worth being pleased about.