Monday, June 29, 2009
I need to get into shape. Seriously. While teaching can drain your energy, it’s not exactly going to turn you into a body builder. With that in mind, I decided to engage in a little of South Korea’s favorite outdoor activity. No, I’m not talking about badminton (although it is a pretty close second) I’m talking about hiking.
On any given weekend around Seoul…(remember the u is not silent) you will find people geared up for hiking. Decked out in North Face from head to toe, the Korean have explorer hats, backpacks, hiking poles, gortex pants and hiking boots. With all this state of the art gear you’d think they are taking on massive challenge. When I hike Si and Tiger I’m sporting an old cap, t-shirt, shorts and a backpack that dates back to at least Jr High. Since the Koreans invested so much money in their equipment…they must be up to some truly grueling hiking.
What they call mountains in Korea, I call hills. The “mountain” that we climbed towered a few hundred meters. Again…I think I’m spoiled having grown up in Washington. Where a 30 minute drive put me at Mt Si..a real hike...not like these vertically challenged Korean mountains.
Well the view was nice and I hope to see a real mountain on my upcoming vacation.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
While this may not look like much to you...this is the culmination of my cooking skills in Korea. This is my first official cooking from sctrach. That's right, I can now cook the infamous pork cutlet that is in every two bit restaurant in Korea. While I haven't quite mastered the side dishes (nor do I have the inclination to store rotten cabbage under my bed for 5 years while it ferments. I would like to talk about the staples of the Korea diet.
The first thing to have to know about Koreans is that they LOVE their side dishes. I can go into any authentic Korean restaurant and have all I can eat pickle radishes and kimchi for FREE. To me...that just sounds strange as I'm used to getting charged for extra fries whenever I go out to hamburgers!!!
While kimchi and pickled radishes are found EVERYWHERE I have also be at restaurants that serve you over a dozen side dishes...and I couldn't recognize anything except the kimchi (which is...due to the oder...hard to miss) and the soup (I didn't know what was in the soup...but all that hot water with stuff mixed in was a dead giveaway for soup).
The Korean's like their rice PLAIN. They savor the flavor of plain rice. What that flavor is...I still don't know. I only know that I still get weird looks from the Koreans that I'm with when I put any form of sause into my rice!!!
PS I still have yet to eat dogmeat...
Monday, June 1, 2009
I need to preface this with a general description of my job.
I don't have to pay rent. That's taken care for me by my school. As is my airfare to and from home. If I need a new Visa, they fly me to Japan, on their dime. I have full medical insurance. I work about 6 hours about 5 days a week. Each weekend, I can travel and explore the city or the country. I don't make a huge amount of money, but I can easily send half my paycheck home each month. All because I have a clean background check, university degree and speak English fluently (aka Native speaker).
It's a pretty plush deal.
I know a factory worker. He works 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. His housing isn't taken care of for him and I'm not too sure about his health insurance. He has to pay for his own housing and makes less than half of what I make.
He works 4 times as hard, 3 times as long, and makes less than $2 an hour Its a pretty bad deal, but it's the best he can do.
What a difference a degree makes...
Korean High School is geared towards a massive test. A massive test that makes anything I ever experienced during my 17+ years in school seam like paddie cake.
In university, we gained the freshman 15 (pounds) because we got away from mom's home cooking. Here, they gain the weight their senior year....because they don't move from their desk....they just sit in front of a desk/computer and cram, cram, cram. This test is the main factor that it takes them to get into university. If they don't get into university, they are stuck in a factory job.
Needless to say, there is a lot of studying going on in high school and a lot less goofing off. In fact, you can go to the mall on a weekend and not see a single high school student. It's a crazy contrast to America...where the malls are swarmed with students with nothing better to do.