Friday, December 21, 2007

Double Dipping

Today being my first Saturday, I decided to get out of the apartment and get some things I needed. I wanted to get a hot water pot for making ramen and pasta so I went to an LG store. An electric kettle there was $40! A small coffee pot that would be $15 at Wal-Mart was $50. I didn't buy one. I looked at electric razors there and picked up a Panasonic for $70, about the American price.

When I checked out, the salesman asked me my name. He walked off and came back with some LG papertowels, said "Merry Christmas," and then handed me his card. Apparently he's my "guy" when I go to that store. It's really neat the level of service they have.

I went to a department store here and got dress shirts for $5. Since I didn't know my size, the lady measured and pulled the ones for me. Also nice.

I was asking about a dry cleaner all week. I walked across the street from my apartment and found three right next to each other. I just dropped my stuff off there. The guy quoted my $3/item. I told him too much. Then $2, still too much, I got him to go to $1. With so much competition so nearby they have to meet others prices. There is a place in the dept. store that does shirts for 90 cents, but I don't want to walk that far. Oh, the best part is I can pick them up at 8 p.m. (I dropped them off at 3.)

Walking around, I saw one of my students. He is probably the best English speaker in my kindergarten class. He didn't say anything, he seemed in total shock that Adam Teacher was out on the streets with other Koreans.

I went to get lunch and noticed that most Korean families order one big dish and everyone eats out of it. Kinda gross. If you order a large "cola" here, it will have holes for two straws, so you can share with your sweetie. I guess the concept of double dipping would be completely lost on them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Election Day

I woke up very early yesterday morning and decided to walk into town and find the school. I was suprised at how empty the streets were. No traffic, a few buses, and even fewer people. I found the school with no problems and decided to explore and get some breakfast. Everything was deserted downtown, save a 24 hour McDonalds. So I got an McMuffin.

I came into school very early, before any other teachers. Soon everyone arrived and I was off to observe for an hour before being thrown to the wolves. (8 kindegarteners for 3hours) I did at least have the help of the Korean co-teacher.

For lunch, everything was still closed. It finally dawned on everyone that today is election day; a holiday for Korea. So we had Dunkin Donuts. I thought I would be able to eat more healthy food and more cheaply than at home. Not really happening yet.

My meals so far in Korea:
1. KFC
2. McDonalds
3. Dunkin Donuts
4. Burger King
5. Chicken & Pig
6. McDonalds

The fast food is only a little cheaper at home, but you get more food. BK Whopper meal comes with fries AND chicken nuggets for about $5. Last night I had my first Korean meal at "Chicken & Pig." That's not the name, but what everyone here calls it. It was a galbi restaurant, they have these gas burners at every table. The waiters bring your food out and cook it there. Tons of food. The tab for 4 people with drinks was: 30 bucks (no tip in Korea either!)

Again this morning I woke up very early. I am blogging from school. I have to go to immigration today to get my Alien Registration Card. There are some issues with my being overscheduled according to the terms of my contract, but I think that will be worked out today.

The kids here are all very smart and some classes do the English exercises better than American kids their age. One girl even corrected my wrong answer. (I should probably READ the questions before answering them.)

In one class the students had to fill in their best friends name. The teacher told them they could write the Korean name, so when I wrote a name in Korean, all the kids went crazy. They were so excited and suprised I could do it and they all came running up to the board to correct it. Fun.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I'm sitting in the airport in ATL waiting for my flight to start boarding. Just charging the laptop/mp3 player/ and maybe uploading some photos. I couldn't get upgraded, because my M fare was somehow a QHOW. I thought at least WINDOW seat 46J wouldn't have anyone in the middle.

I checked the availability when I landeded: FULL!. My best hope now is that I will get put next to a Korean, and she is small. I'll just push their arms out of the way and generally spill over into their seat. Something I learned from flying with South Africans.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Almost there

Today I got my flight information. I am scheduled to fly on the Monday the 17th. Everything is packed. I'm suprised at how much can be crammed into one bag.

My visa should be in Monday. All seems to bet set.

What now?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pioneers of a Different Sort

Below is a clip where Jim Rogers (The Adventure Capitalist who grew up in Demopolis, AL) was talking about how he has moved his family to Singpore. In other interviews he has said that living/working in Asia is the same as being in NYC in 1907, that is, on the brink of growth and success. Agreed.

I feel that a lot of my reasons for going to Korea has not only to do with my wanderlust, but on economic principles. The salary/cost of living for most new graduates in our country is appalling, not to mention the inflation and dollar bastardization. The future doesn't look much better for most as salary rises only marginally (for most in most industries) over the next years.

True, we still have a high standard of living. I am constantly asking "what is enough?" It is my belief that successes enjoyed by my grandparent's generation are today impossible on the same scale. 400+ years ago, someone in my family decided to move from Spain to the US and 100 years later, someone from Scotland decided to do the same. Why can't I make that same move for my future?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Criminal Intentions?

I got a call from the recruiter this evening. The new visa regulations that will go into effect Dec. 15 will hit me, although not until I arrive. This means I must bring with me a criminal background check issued by a local police authority along with an apostille (certification stamp). I also have to have a blood test for drugs and AIDS.

It seems a little early for this, but I've already started packing. Everytime I've moved before, it has been last minute. I'm using the "space bags" to see how much will fit/weigh.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Preparation M

I guess today marks the first day of my journey. The contracts were signed and sent last week and the visa is pending. I juggled around bank accounts at Wachovia, Bancorp, and my newest banking love, Keesler FCU. (Better because it's yours)

The car is up for sale on Craigslist and Facebook. Probably soon to go in the AutoTrader.

I took a late night run to Wal-Mart to gather sundries. I am trying to take only the necessities. When I moved to Germany, I took only clothes. Korea won't have nearly as many familiar products, but I'm attempting to not let my experience be contaminated by trying to replicate the US. I guess it's mostly "creature comforts" having gotten more settled in my last six years.

All that's really left is to do a dry run on packing. Put everything in the bags and make sure they meet all the new regs. And 50 lbs max a bag? Why? Because the TSA folks are too weak to lift more than that. I give it a Puh-leeze.