The Same, The Same Again

Hey everyone. How Goes it?  I am writing during the exam period which pries my students away from their English academy classes.  This all began last week and will possibly last until next week.  At first, having canceled classes is exciting; I compare the excitement to having snow days in elementary school in Ohio.  However, since I am a lowly Hagwon teacher, I don’t get reimbursed for my canceled classes… no $!  I’ve had some fun, but I need a schedule.

So how have I spent my time?  Well, fortunately my canceled classes allowed me to spend more time with Jason while he was here.  Jason was in Korea from June 17th-27th visiting from Cincinnati.  On the 17th I met him at Incheon and I had no idea how excited I would be to see a familiar face from home.  I was able to introduce him to Hofs and Soju on the second night.  In those ten days, it never got tiring to catch up on all that I missed while being away.  I also really enjoyed showing him around my neck of the woods and venturing into new places myself; there seemed to be many happy accidents.  I inadvertently took him to Gyeoungbokgung Palace when we couldn’t locate a museum.  Walking around Cheongye led us to Dongdaemun for shopping.  It’s funny how easily stressed out I get when I’m lost, but I’m slowly beginning to lose that.

Jason was also able to meet all of my work friends.  He may have gained some insight about how eccentric we all are, ha.  I took him to a couple of dinners and one farewell/Bon Voyage party for my friend Charlene.   Showing him the finer aspects of Seoul life really redeemed the reasons why I initially came here.  Though there are many reasons for me to want to stay, I feel as if I need to go home for a while to really know what I want.

There are a myriad of photos from Jason’s visit during the past two weeks, but currently I am much too lazy to post them. Next time!

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Vacation!

And I’m sure the question is “Where are you going?”

Answer: Nowhere!

I’m going to take the chance to do all of the touristy things that I still haven’t been able to do while I’ve lived in Seoul for more than 10 months.  Even better, I’ll take on the tourist perspective by having my friend Jason here.  It will truly be awesome to see him but also refreshing to see through his eyes.  During the week we will traverse the city then who knows what the weekend will bring?

So many thoughts crossed my mind as I left my school today, readying myself for the revelation that I wouldn’t have to be there for an entire week.  First, I need to clean my place.  My room gets easily dusty and  clothes seem to pile up at a rapid speed.  It’s so easy to live day in and day out knowing my routine without expecting too many interruptions.  But now that I will have a guest, I am worried that my daily life may seem strange, maybe even primitive to some.  There are many things that I have gotten used to here: not having a microwave, no bathtub, cleaning my bathroom once a week (almost), Zooey running around/biting me, clothes on the futon/floor/table, etc.  But now I realize that my way of life may be, well, strange.  I am in no way worried about what Jason might think, but he really is one of the few people who will have seen my place: I don’t have too many dinner parties at Chez Meg.  I’ll just have to make my place immaculately spotless, as to present the facade that I am a clean person. HA.

I’ve really been having a great time in Seoul lately.  I can’t decide though: is it because of the weather or is it because I know when my Korean expiration is up?  Sometimes it helps to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I think that I’ve just really allowed myself to enjoy my time more.  A really good friend recently left Korea to return back to Canada.  He has been traveling for a long time I think, so he was ready for it.  But his final days and nights really ignited the part of me that initially really wanted to be in South Korea.  It also helps to be doing well as a teacher.  My classes this term are more familiar, which I think comes with time.  There are also the superiors that are telling me about my progress; it’s endearing to hear that this job has actually become something that I could get used to.  I think my progress really had to do with last term.  Even though I was initially against being in charge of seventeen elementary school students, those kids ended up being my favorites.  They search for me now, looking into the classroom in awe of the much older students I teach now.  “Is this your new class?” they ask.  I say “Yes,” but in a way which tells them “…but I miss you guys.”

I’ve been outside more, as well.  The other night, after talking to Jason on Skype about post-arrival arrangements, I watched a movie and then realized that it was almost 5 a.m.  The sun was about to rise and I felt like I had restless leg syndrome.  So, contradictory to everything that I stand for, I put on my Nikes and went outside.  I was greeted by the rising morning sun and decided to walk around the small park that is minutes from my place.  I’ve never been in (I think there’s an admission charge) but the path around the park is cushioned for joggers and walkers; I was of the latter.  I had my MP3 player playing and I walked around the park, looking in at the refurbished palace that dominated the center of the field.  I’ve always wondered where the runners were and well, I found them.  I quickly found myself part of a small club that woke up at horribly early times to stretch the old bones.  Needless, I was the only white person out walking around that park.  I usually am on the outside, walking out of a cab at 5 a.m. to fall into my bed after a long night of karaoke or clubbing; it was nice to know that I could begin my day so early and nap later if I wanted to.  Seriously, my life is fueled by evenings/nights of fun and excitement though sometimes punctuated by moments when I feel older and wiser.  Some may call it a multiple personality disorder but I call it Life in Seoul.

More to come…

A King has Died…

{May 4th, 2008}

On May 4th, 2008, the creator of the Pringles can passed away. When I found the article, I was a bit dismal, but when I learned that the creator had lived in College Hill, Cincinnati I was beside myself. How could I live so close to a legend and not ever know it? I guess I should have known; he worked for P&G which is located in Cinci.

Pringles are very big in South Korea: you can find an assortment of delicious flavors in every convenience store. I frequently enjoy my old favorites – Sour Cream & Onion, Original, Pizza-flavored – but I have had several experiences with new and exotic flavors, such as Feta Cheese and Guacamole. The man and the mustache has always conveyed positive thoughts for me: when Chester Cheetah is nowhere to be found, Mr. Pringle provides comfort and solace.

With my new classes this term I have made numerous threats to deter sleeping in class. In the past, I had forewarned students about utilizing waterguns, throwing markers, and calling parents in order to prevent their overworked, money-invested minds from hitting the fake wood of those crudely-assembled desks. But nothing has worked better than showing them a Pringles can. With the cylinder-shaped can in the left and a permanent marker in the right, I promise that I will replicate Mr. Pringles’ mustache on the faces of snoozing students. My threat is all the more effective if I hold up a red or blue marker instead of a black one.

So, Mr. Pringles Can Creator, this one is for you. Thank you for leaving your stamp on the world in the shape of a mustache. I will forever remember your contribution to life itself and will tell tales of your glory.