Ant's Misadventures Through Asia

Korea Chapter 2:
Settling In

Sent: Mon, Feb 20, 2012 9:36 pm Subject: Korea Updates V1.2

The temporary housing fell through. Well, more like I got frustrated enough to find my own place. After bouncing around from place to place, staying at motels and catching numerous buses and taxis, I called my friend's Dad. I stayed with Anton's dad previously in Korea, and the place is comfortable and furnished. It's one city away, so two buses and two taxi cab rides later and I can make it to work. Also factor in a 45 minute walk to and from the bus station. Worth it though, and it's only for about three weeks. To recap, I live in Sacheon during the week, work in Jinju, and live in Geoje from Friday night til Monday afternoon. More often then not I find myself sitting on a bus. I guess it beats driving, though. Two more weeks and I find out if I am getting hired for a full-time teaching position. I was told I have about an 80% chance of getting hired. If for some reason I don't land this job, well, that's when things here will get interesting.

As for the teaching, oh boy. I have yet, after my first week, to have anyone come watch me teach or ask me how I am doing. I assume this means I am doing good? With so many different classes the kids are a mixed bag. I have very few classes with very young kids, but the ones that I do are very frustrating. The older kids (13-16) have at least a basic grasp of English. I can get my point across and they do the work in the book and will read me back stories and such. The younger kids on the other hand, have no idea what I am saying. It takes hand gestures, drawings on the board, and me repeating myself slowly to get them to grasp what I want done. Sometimes it's just to repeat the sound that letter "M" makes. Almost all my classes are behaved, only very few kids act out. For the most part both the kids and I find it amusing and entertaining watching me figure out how to teach them the lesson found in their books. A majority of the kids know exactly what to do, they will sit down and flip open their workbooks and fly through it. All while getting perfect scores. The only problems I have with those classes are trying to find something constructive to do with the rest of the period. They need to be in some advanced courses or something. Most classes are the basic listening/repeating/spelling/pronunciation/grammar type of lessons. Though some classes mix it up. I have a Native Speaking class where I bring in magazines and the students pick an article and just discuss in English what they think it means. It doesn't have to be accurate, they can make up any story based on the picture. The goal is just to get them speaking in English outside of repeating what I say. It is probably my favorite class to teach, some of the stories get very elaborate and epic. I also teach a class to two older boys where I pop in a CD and they write down and circle answers in a book.. Oh, the book is all in Korean and I have no idea what is happening. I have an answer book and I correct their work. I come into class, pop in a CD, wait thirty minutes, correct their papers and class is over. I can handle that. I think the extent of my conversations with the teachers were regarding the pizza/chicken wing parties and when we are going to go grab a beer after work. I dig it.

Let's see, some stories from this last week. Last Saturday I was out drinking with my Filippino friend Dominic.

Dominic is directly to my right.

His girlfriend, Juna, is Max's partner in singing. So after consuming some fairly large bottles of Hite, the beer of choice here in Korea, we decided to find a bar close by in Geoje. He suggested a bar called Playboy. Of course I didn't care, so we headed in. Now, I'm not sure if this bar has any relation with the brand from back home. Maybe you could tell me based on what happened. We entered a fairly large room with plenty of seating. We were the only two customers, also the only two males. We are immediately surrounded by a swarm of girls that follow us to the bar. At this point I am telling myself to order my beer and keep my damn mouth shut. The girls working there won't have any of it. One of them starts a conversation with me, with almost flawless English I might add. She talks about this and that, then the conversation starts turning strange. She asks where we are going? Still doesn't click for me. She drops a few more not so subtle hints...ding ding ding! Anthony finally gets it, she's a call girl... they all are. If you can believe it, this is where things get weird. I kinda laugh and explain I am just having a beer with my buddy until my girlfriend is done with work. BAM! Complete change of character. Once she realized I wasn't someone who is going to purchase her she dropped whatever facade she had going. She explains that she is Filipino and was told she was going to work here as waitress. When she arrived she was left with the choice of being jobless, homeless, and broke or becoming what she was now. She really wanted to go home and is unable to get out of her current situation. I listened, it was about all I could do. We talked a bit and I regretfully explained that I feel terrible for her situation. She didn't expect anything to be done of course, maybe an ear to listen is at least something. We left after one beer, can't save them all...

This last Friday was also great. As usual I hopped on the first bus to Geoje right after work on Friday. I had a full day of teaching and being my first week I was pretty beat. The bus arrives during Max's last set, so I get to listen to her sing for an hour and then get some well needed sleep. Yeah right. I get a text from my friend Jin right after work. She is going to meet me with Olive, another friend of ours, and head up to Geoje with me. We all meet at the terminal and start the 2.5 hour bus ride to Geoje. I am informed that it is Olive's birthday today.

Olive is on my right.

Sleep is looking further and further away. We arrive at the Samsung Hotel, being Max's boyfriend qualifies me for a free beer right off the bat. Sometimes I do love Korean bartenders. The gals and I split a pitcher and wait for the set to finish. The manager of the hotel comes down to enjoy the show. Before you know it our table has this elaborate cheese platter spread over it. He nods our way, sweeeeet.

The devoured cheese platter.

We finish up there and head to a bar known as the Sky Lounge. It's me and four Filipino girls. That doesn't mean anything unless you have gone out with Filipinos before. They know how to have fun, more so than almost anyone else I have ever gone drinking with. Cut to two hours later,

The bar, one of the few places with steady internet.

I am teaching people at the bar a little game involving flipping coasters up and catching them. You place it half on the table and smack it upwards so it does a full flip and catch it. You add one more on top of it making the stack thicker every time. My record is 22. Next thing I know we are at a supermarket buying produce for dinner that night... it's 3am. Welcome to Korea. Olive is the designated chef, and there is a reason. That girl can cook.

Some of the cooking I was treated to that night.

We devour some toast, cheese bread, tuna over rice, and some grilled up meat. Though I can't be certain I think I finally managed to make it to bed around 5am. At least I have Saturday to catch some sleep. Oh, it's Dominic's birthday? Heh, oh boy...

Recap of Saturday so I can get onto Sunday. Birthday/beer/soju/feast/party/7am. Good, now for Sunday.

11:30am = I am woke to a pounding on the door and my name being called out. I haven't slept enough, not nearly enough. What is happening? I groggily get out of bed and find that a feast has been spread out in the living room. People are knocking at the door, I guess it's time to start again? I am handed a shot of whiskey.

12:30pm = The first bottle of Johnny Walker is gone, I am heading to Homeplus with Dominic to pick up more. I feel better, maybe this will work out after all.

2:00pm = I stumble into the bedroom. Max is skyping her mom and sister. They are introduced to me by the sound of my last meal escaping me into the trash can. Damn I'm good. The room is spinning and baby powder is being applied to my stomach and back. Bye Sunday!

7:00??? = I awake and quickly check my phone. 7:00, crap. I scramble to get my things together and make it to the bus. Someone still alive informs me that it is 7:00 at night, still Sunday. Thank God! I still have all evening. Time to grab some food and relax with a movie. Relax... finally...

Max, Jinlee, and I relaxing. Or something to that effect.

That's it for this last week. Hope everyone is doing great! I am having an amazing time here, living for the weekends. These next two weeks determine a lot for this next year. Anxious and excited. Regardless of what happens I am staying here. I will make it work, one way or another. Maybe next year I'll be stateside, but for now, Korea is where I need to be.

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