You have failed and now you must Daegu!

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm in Pohang for training. Pohang is painfully boring. The place were at is fairly isolated, so we have little entertainment at night other than TV and alcohol. The only problem is that we're almost out of alcohol.

I'm in a room with 3 other guys, its not bad, most of them are fairly normal, but there is one that I may have to kill before I leave. He's got Fat Brian's personality, but he's a quarter of the size. He's new to Korea, but he's convinced he can tell me about what I can expect to experience in the next year and how it related to his last year in China. He also claims he could have had any Chinese woman he wanted, but he left the country. Sure, you could champ, sure you could.

I'm extremely happy with my dating situation. I have the perfect girlfriend for me, but if I were in a country where I could have any woman I wanted, why would I leave?

Whatever. Most of the people here are relatively insane. There are quite a few mutants and weirdos, but Pohang is painfully boring. Nothing to do, but go to seminars....

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quick update. I feel sleepy and I have to go to Pohang tomorrow for orientation at my new job.

My last week came and went at LIKE. I waited until the end of my classes on Thursday and Friday to tell the students that I was leaving. I got a few handshakes and two hugs. A few kids also wanted my cell #. I'm sure I can count on a few emoticon filled texts in the next few months.

Mrs. Kim gave me my bonus and I move out in twelve hours. No trumpets. No fanfare. No teary good-byes. I'm just looking ahead to my next challenge. Fighting monsters at public school in Daegu.

Su-Jin has been great this weekend. She got me organized and packed up with little trouble. I can't believe I packed all my shit into two duffles, 1 backpack and a couple small boxes. She's amazing.

Robert took myself and two new teachers out to dinner on Wednesday. We went to one of the most expensive restaurants in Daegu and he picked up the bill. He's still a strange dude.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

DeForeskin: /makes imaginary tick mark on imaginary chalkboard with his finger

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I wasn't going to update, but I'm convinced the guy next to me at pc room is going to either punch out his screen or kill me. I'm not sure which and I wanted to update in case this was the last chance I get. He just left. I guess he just wanted to rant and rave and point and spout whatever English he knew. What an ass. I had little interest in the conversation. I'm wearing headphones for christ' sake. I just want to dick around, see how my various teams in various leagues are doing and maybe play a half assed game of StarCraft. Most people don't go to PC room after 18 bottles of soju, congrats overachiever. I've been thinking about year end awards. For a while the "Dickbag of the Year" award was a one man race. It was the old asshole who hit me with his bicycle and then swore at me by a landslide, but now, a new challenger has raced to the front of the pack, "Crazy, pissed off Korean dude at the PC room. To the "Crazy, pissed off Korean dude at the PC room," we salute you.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"I'd like you to meet my investment banker..."

I had my 3rd experience with Korean medicine this week. I had to get a physical for my new job. I'm healthy. I know this, but no one wants to believe me. So, they make me do silly things like get poked by Korean doctors.

It was essentially conveyer belt medicine. The goal was to get me out of the hospital as quickly as possible. I was fine with it. The biggest highlight was the dentist. Not only did he speak perfect English, but he was the only guy who wasn't intimidated by me. He was the Korean dentist version of Clint Eastwood. The exchange went like this.

Dentist: Open you mouth.
Matt: /giggles
Dentist: What's so funny?
Matt: English. You're the only one here who even attempted to speak English.
Dentist: Of course I do! I went to Dental College.
Matt: Silly me.
Dentist: Now, did I use six shots of novocaine or five? In all the confusion I honestly can't remember. I've got one question. Do you feel lucky? Well, do you? Punk!
Matt: /afraid to say anything.
Dentist: I thought so.

Classes are tame. This was the last week for my high school kids. I was sad to see them go. One of the girls told me that she goes to a Christian Academy and they try to tie all of their books in with the bible. How the hell are they going to tie in Cyrano De Bergerac? How? It's either going to be genius or laughably silly.

Nothing else remotely interesting happened this week.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mr. Kim asked me on Thursday night if I wanted to go to Jeju-do for LIKE's English camp on Sunday. I mumbled a "yes" and a "thank you." I was told to show up at the airport at 7. I assumed this meant 7pm. Wrong. 7am. Fully packed and ready to fly.

Jeju is like the Korean version of Hawaii, at least that's what Koreans will say when asked. It's quaint and on the ocean, but it's not Hawaii. We were on the south end of the island. Everything that one would possibly want to do or see is on the north end.

Either way, my job and the job of a fellow English teacher(Sandy, an older woman who's an American citizen, but she grew up in England) was to essentially be a camp counselor. No problem. One thing I'm actually good at is making Korean children laugh as long as I don't have to get through a lesson.

Important note: Two months ago the Kims asked Fat Brian to go. I guess the children complained to the parents who complained to the Kims because Brian got bounced at the last minute for Mattu-sam. Seriously, nothing made me smile more than getting to piss in that moron's fucking coffee. He's obnoxious, rude and behaves inappropriately with some of the older students. I can't figure out how he rationalized it. Maybe he thinks that I begged the Kims to let me go or maybe he thinks the Kims want him to focus more on his regular classes. Either way, I think we're mortal enemies now. Is it wrong that I can't stop giggling about this? Can I put this on my resume? It's my understanding that the kids requested that I come. Not because I'm a terrific teacher, I'm not. I freely admit that the Fat Idiot is probably ten times the teacher I'll ever be, but the kids seem to enjoy my company and they're not intimidated by me. Most of them want to talk to me and want my attention. They seem more willing to attempt to speak English with me than some of the other teachers. Maybe I'm not that useless.

The flight was uneventful. It's like flying from St. Louis to Chicago. I had to sit next to Mrs. Kim and the middle son, Hee-dal. They had about as much interest in talking to me as I did in talking to them. It was a quiet flight.

Most of the kids on the camp were from my school and it was mostly the cool ones. No douche bags or shitheads here. Some of the boys were a little rowdy, but there weren't any horror stories. In fact I had great time and I believe most of the kids did as well.

After the flight, we loaded the kids onto a bus and headed to a dolphin show. It was actually fairly entertaining, albeit very short. Then, we headed to a botanical garden for lunch. The only problem was that there weren't any restaurants at the garden. The kids packed lunches and shared some with Sandy and I. I bought a couple of tubes of Pringles and some chocolate for dessert just to make sure the kids didn't get shortchanged. The garden was the closest we came to having an incident. The boys were chasing each other and knocked down a couple tourists. I was just hoping the tourists wouldn't slug the nearest teacher. Also, there were other foreigners at the garden. All of the kids assumed that since I was a foreigner, I knew the other foreigners. One of them(a guy named Bobby) and I had some fun. We told the kids we were brothers. Bobby was a black guy.

After the garden we went to a place called Mini-Mini Land. It's like a mueseum of famous buildings, except they're all 1/12 the size. This was probably my favorite spot. There's nothing more fun than standing over a miniture Kremlin with my arms crossed or headbutting the Taj Mahal or pissing on the Eiffel Tower....Okay, I did make the last one up.

We stayed at Mini-Mini Land for about an hour and headed to a Teddy Bear Museum. If any place in the world would have a teddy bear museum, it would be Korea. It was painfully cute and about the least hetero thing I have ever done. Let's just say that if Ronald Reagan, Carlton Fisk and Chuck Norris met for lunch(this scenario is too cool NOT to have happened), the Lotteria at the Teddy Bear Museum in Jeju, Korea is the last place they would go.

We finally headed to the Kims' property around 5pm. The kids unpacked, settled in and ate dinner(all the food we had was Korean, fresh and delicious. The Kims might not spend cash on the school, but they went all out for the camp). Mr. Kim had the kids write an English travelogue. He wanted to start the travelogue with "On my summer vacation I....." I asked what I could start with since I was working. He gave me a look like I had just handed him a dead fish.

After English class, we played some more games and then tried to get everyone to sleep. Sandy and I were given our own room and weren't bothered when we were sleeping. Sandy got the bed and I took a futon that was designed to make humans sweat as much as possible.

It was strange seeing the Kim's actually act like normal human beings. I've always assumed that Mrs. Kim plugged in at night because she is a robot. She was actually nice for once. Mr. Kim was fairly normal for most of it. He was about as interested in entertaining children as a sixty year old man can be.

The second day was spent at the Kims' beach house on Mr. Kim's fish farm. We were supposed to go to the beach, but it was pissing rain all day. So, we had to stay at the farm and just play games. This was actually a lot of fun. The kids taught me a couple strange Korean card games. Sandy tried to teach a few English games. I also spent time just goofing off and playing with the kids. It was a lot of fun.

Actual exchange:

Student: Teacher! You are ugly, stupid and fat!!!
ChildrenOfKorea /Laugh hysterically
Mattu-sam: ....I am not fat.
ChildrenOfKorea /Laugh hysterically
Student: You diving now!
Mattu-sam: Yes. YOU diving now!
Student: Nooooo! You!!!!
ChildrenOfKorea /Laugh hysterically

At one point six of them had me cornered. I fought the good fight. I tickled four of them to the ground, but the last two got the drop on me and whacked me on the spine a few dozen times with small Korean fists.

At night, Mr. Kim brought out the karaoke machine. He can fucking sing. He brought down the house, Leaf and Zwirb style, with John Denver's country road. Actually, all Koreans can sing. None will ever admit it because they are too Asian and humble, but all Koreans can sing. All of them. Singing room is as much a part of the national character as kimchi. I had to sing a song. I tried to pussy out, but I wanted to give the kids something to write about in their English journal, so I performed a solo of Billy Joel's Piano Man. I did my best, I know I suck, the kids know I suck, but the fact that I was willing to try made an impression on them. The impression was that Americans are tone deaf buffoons. Actually, they were all very polite and clapped for me at the end. I even got a prize :-).

We left the camp on Tuesday morning. Again, the flight was uneventful. It was a little sad to have the camp end as soon as it began, but I needed a beer and cigarette after three days of Korean children. The bottomline is I just hope the kids had fun. That's the reason I was happy to go. I think they'd probably have a better time with me than with the Fat Idiot. I hope they did.

I did remember to buy chocolate at the airport for Su-Jin and Manjiro. Both are happy to have me back in Daegu. 10 more days at LIKE, then its off to Pohang for orientation and my new job. This weekend will be one of my favorite memories of the past year. I just can't get over the fact that these kids are comfortable with a bizarre foreign prick like me.

Strange story of the week. One of the new foreign teachers got in trouble for pulling a girls' hair. I've taught the class that she had before. The girl that she did this to is not a troublemaker. I don't know all the details, but this is one of the worst stories I've heard. It happened in a drama class. I guess she wanted the girl to read louder and she wouldn't, so she pulled her hair. There has to be more to it than that, if there's not the teacher should probably quit now.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I just finished checking out the lame DVD section at a Korean media store. It was awesome! I found a Korean subtitled copy of the original cut of The Warriors. Now I can show Su-Jin how awesome that movie really is! Actually I was searching for a copy of Roxanne for my Lit class. We're doing Cyrano De Bergerac and I thought this might be a little more interesting for them. I found every other crappy DVD known to man, including but no limited to...

Resident Evil Apocalypse, Stone Cold 3(They made a sequel? The original is perfection), Rambo 3, Robocop 3, Heaven Can Wait(not a bad movie, but is it a lame DVD? Oh yes), National Treasure(I still think the sequel will cause the downfall of western civilization. In the game, Civilization, this should be one of the things your society should have to overcome), and the usual random assortment of ten packs and random pairings, but no Roxanne. The biggest highlight was the music DVD section. It's like there was a separate Brad and Jason section. Alanis Morissette and Hanson for Brad and Phil Collins(I think I saw 3 different DVDs) and about 10,000 Beatles DVD's for Zwirb. There was also a Kenny G section for Gusek, because as we all know, Gusek is gay.

Morning classes are slowly killing me. Thankfully, I believe they're over. The best moment. Mrs. Kim had a new teacher watch my classes today. One of them was a drama class. He got to watch me go to the "drama center" or stage and sit on my ass while kids would read for me and Mrs. Kim would bark orders until her phone went off and she ran out fifteen minutes in and left us to fend for ourselves. Another new teacher, Margaret, thought we should try to get through a reading. Slow down there, overachiever. You don't piss into the wind and you don't get through a reading of drama at LIKE without a Korean teacher in the room. I declared "Free time," and let the kids study or talk as long as they wouldn't act crazy. I guess the new teachers needed to see a fucking pro at work. It went something like this

ChildrenOfKorea: /go crazy
InTheHeathOfTheNight: What are we gonna do?
InCharge: I don't know. THEY. WON'T. STOP.
InTheHeathOfTheNight: My ESL training didn't say anything about this!
InCharge: Where is the Korean teacher!!!!!

DeForeskin has entered the chatroom

DeForeskin: /eyeballs the room, flexes muscles

InTheHeathOfTheNight: Uh, Matt?
DeForeskin: yeah?
InTheHeathOfTheNight: We think we should, you know, try to get the kids to read this.
DeForeskin: There's your first mistake.
InTheHeathOfTheNight: It's just what Mrs. Kim told us to do.
DeForeskin: Your second mistake. Take a rest soldier, let Big Daddy Cool rock your fucken mind.

Deforeskin: /Takes a deep breath.

DeForeskin: 하지마!!!! 안자!!!!
ChildrenOfKorea: /Stop screaming and sit down.

Deforeskin: Free time. Don't be crazy. You can leave in 10 minutes.
ChildrenOfKorea: /Nod politely, start studying, texting, or chatting quietly
Deforeskin: It's just that fucken simple.
InTheHeathOfTheNight: /looks on in awe

Either way, morning classes are a grind. It doesn't hit me until I finish but this schedule is a lot to handle. Or maybe I just got so used to easy schedules that actually working is taking a toll on me. I've always said I could do this in my sleep, I may get my chance because I feel like I'm burning out.

Morning classes are just a fucking joke. That's all they are. My debate class I take seriously and I actually do some teaching with my "Punishment" Class, but the 3 drama classes are just stupid. Parents like it because its a chance to see their kids speaking English, but its just not a good way to teach a language.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Another quick update.

One of the old guys at LIKE had a mild stroke on Friday. He's in the hospital and more or less fine right now. He's undergoing more tests tomorrow, but we visited him today. He was walking around and in relatively good spirits. He's going to be there for 10 more days at least. The hospital visit got a little interesting. We stumbled into the ER on accident. Not delicious. Either way, in all the years the Kim's have been butchering the English language, this is probably the closest they've come to having a teacher die on them. At least, I'd like to think so.

The Samsung Lions are actually showing signs of life this week. Just in time for a playoff run! Lions fever! Catch it!

Work was tame, but its starting to drag. I just want to be finished with LIKE and start my new, better job. The summer session is a grind.

Korean lessons are helping. My handwriting and knowledge of the alphabet has increased along with my ability with Korean grammar and vocabulary. The class is filling in some of the blanks that I have been created by learning from people instead of learning from a class.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Go-bots were NOT metal. They were cheap plastic and about a quarter of the size of transformers. Also, Go-bots sucked and I was constantly in trouble, so it's not like I actually deserved good toys anyways.

The next Korean that gives me a hard time this week I will punch in the nose. Patience wears thin when idiots try to lie to me. Still no contract with the Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education. This is moving at a governmental pace. I shouldn't be surprised. I'm getting deported, mark my words.

Mrs. Kim was in rare form just now. My literature class is scheduled from 2:30 to 4:00pm. They changed it today to 3:00 to 4:30 and scheduled another class to start at 4:30. Not cool. If I'm not in the room, the monsters will tear it apart. I know this. Mrs. Kim is incapable of understanding this. Also, it's a fucking grind to go straight from one class to another without a break. Even five minutes is helpful. I had this discussion right after my discussion with the recruiter from my new job. I basically had to tell her, contract or give me my documents back. I was in no mood to deal with Mrs. Kim and her insanity. She attempted to convince me that there was in fact a break between 4:30 and 4:30. I thought I had suddenly lost my mind.

I can't wait for the weekend.