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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Octopus, English Names & Getting a Life

'Korean age' is one year older than 'Canadian age.' Koreans consider their 9 months in the womb to be a year, so when my students say they're 16, they're only 15. I've wondered why they act so young. Asian culture has a lot to do with it but one year makes a big difference when you're their age.

In class today, two of my students offered me snacks. It was an excuse to eat in class, as much as a goodwill offering. One of the 'treats' was a bag of banana flavored puffs like Cheesies. The other snack had a distinct fishy smell to it. When the girl held it up to me with her fingers, I couldn't help but be astonished by the "legs" and say, "is that.... dried octopus?" It was, indeed, at only 800 WON, or one Canadian dollar. She devoured it like a chocolate bar... Buy one at a convenient store near you!

A strange thing about teaching Korean children is if they don't have an 'English' name, it's your job to name them. Lately, I've done a lot of level-testing with potential students; I should have figured they'd end up in my classes. I named one 'Paul', 'Amber', 'Lindsay' and 'Kimberly'. When a weary child approaches me at the beginning of class and says they're new, I choose whatever comes to mind. It could be a hideous name & suddenly they have to respond to it. Bizarre.

I resent admitting I have a routine. I found a great place to eat lunch for 2,000 WON or $2.00 CA. I walk in the door and they know what I want! I've struggled, one too many times, with Korean menus: generally a piece of paper with Hangul food listings. This waitress automatically brings me spicy soup with noodles and pieces of egg, and Kimbob: sea weed wrapped around rice, carrots, egg and an unknown tropical fruit.

I eat lunch out and buy enough supplies at Home Plus to make dinner: olive oil, butter, bread, vegetables, rice etc. It was thoughtful of the school to buy me a brand new rice cooker when I got here.

Life is good. I have a couple of pseudo-friends, teaching is fun and not at all stressful. But I want more! The teaching alone isn't going to satisfy me for the year. Apart from experiencing the culture, doing a lot of reading, (attempts at cooking), and sight-seeing, I'm looking into taking classes at Ajou University which is nearby to my house. My plan all along has been to return to school with the money I save. A couple more classes might give me a head start.

Also, Josh and I have decided to work on a joint project. I completed a course on Front Page Web design. Josh is currently enrolled in a night course focused on building/marketing a website. We'll fight over the writing portion but he'll focus on getting traffic to the site and making it user-friendly. I'll be in charge of implementation & its overall appearance. The focus will be the work of my Mother: Canadian artist Pam McKinnon.

When it comes to graphic design schools/companies, it's all about your portfolio so it'll be adventageous to have something to show when the year's through and I return to Canada. Plus, it feels good to have a joint project with Josh. We have something more to talk about than how our lives are completely different, and oceans apart! Long distance isn't easy.

P.S: I get paid next Wednesday and will be able to buy my one luxury: a digital camera. If anyone has brand advice, I'd appreciate it! I don't know much about cameras. Suwon is home to Samsung but I heard their cameras aren't the best quality.

The blog will be more interesting when I can show you around my city & eventually travel out of it and explore the rest of South Korea, journalling with photos. I have to see Camille, who lives 3 hours away from me. As for China, I have a friend in Hong Kong: Justin and a friend in Shanghi: Kyle, so I'll hopefully get around to visiting them.

9 comments:

*A* said...

Wow, what a great experience!
It's the first time I read your blog...I find it very interesting, I like this kind of writings that allow me to know places so far from my country!
I found a bit weird that Korean chidren have to be re-named in English...maybe you teach in an English school or something similar?
I'll return here to read again!

Bye ;)
Alice

Eva said...

I teach in a Hogwon: a private English school. There are tons of them in Korea.

I figured my blog wasn't very interesting yet, without photos, so I really appreciate your thumbs-up!

*A* said...

I'm a very curious girl...I like to read stories and to learn things I couldn't experience by myself :)

Bye,
Alice

Josh said...

I couldn't have put it any better myself, love. A joint project will turn our talking about our day into being IN each other's days. This website project will be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to the prospect of wrestling with you over wording and celebrating a well crafted page.

I really miss you and can't wait to see you on camera again soon. I'm looking forward to your pay day more than you are, I think. Soon you'll be the bread winner in the relationship.

Gdog said...

As for buying a digital camera, I'd recommend buying a Canon as they are dead easy to use and they have excellent picture quality. Check out www.dcresource.com for some reviews.

The cheapest place to buy is at the camera shops located near Namedaemun Gate. Avoid Yongsan as their prices are higher. Good luck!

Eva said...

Yay! REALLY practical advice! Thanks, Gdog ;)

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