Monday, August 30, 2010

One of my students made this awesome video. He is a really good dancer.

Second week at work

On my way to work this morning my wife told me "Have a nice day at work, Sucker!"

Why am at work, unlike my shiftless wife? She decided to use one of her 14 or so unused sick days to stay home with the offsprung on their final day in Kimchiland. They are flying back to the good old US of A-holes to get their edumcations at our fine pubic schools where I am also got my edumacation.

People think that Korean public schools are really great, and they are for teaching math and science, but not much else. In America, most students know that their are 50 states in the USA, they may only be able to name around three of them including their home state (New York, and California being the other two) less if they live in either New York or California. Some might be able to name Hawaii and Alaska because they are both located south of California in the middle of the ocean near the Mexican boarder, yet for some reason only one is tropical, where the other suffers from a sub arctic climate...odd.

And people on the news always complain that 99% of Americans cannot find Afghanistan or Iraq on a map of the middle east, but most of my students did not even know where Australia is, and it is a fucking continent (Oceania assholes, go ahead and google that bitch. And yeah I know its New Zealand, Indonesia and a bunch of islands too, but Australia is the main land mass, you nit picking sons of bitches.).

I know that math and science are very important, but I think learning about the world around you, peoples and cultures are also pretty damn important too.

When my students did not know where Canada and the US were, I figured that they must spend their entire geography and social studies classes focusing on Korea and its people and history, which most Koreans think is pretty fucking important.

So I asked my students how many provinces were in Korea, which I knew there were 9 (I swear I did at the time, but may or may not have just looked it up on Wikipedia) but my students had no idea. The students and my co-teacher also had no idea what the population of Korea was 49,773,145 (they thought it was way more), and when I showed them on the board their population, compared to the US 310,118,000 (also may or may not be recently googled) after slowly counting all the zeros out loud (I mean what is that? Why cant they look at 1,000 and say "one thousand"? or 1,000,000 and say "a million" what is with the complete lack of number recognition?), they gasped in amazement that there were so few Koreans compared to Americans. I did not want to even tell them how many Chinese or Indians there are, for one thing it would have taken the rest of the class for them to count all the zeros.

I thought that they might have a little more knowledge about where they live than American students, but not really. So I have no idea what these kids are learning for 10 hours a day at public school and 8 hours after school, but it sure aint about the world they live in.

Or how to count by tens.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hellie Pol-tor

If you teach English in Korea, you are asked about what you like on a daily basis.

"Teacher, you like Kimchi?" For example. If you have not been asked this one million times then you are not teaching in Korea. The other standbys are if you like "rice", depending on your sex Korean "women or men", Korean food (which for some reason is a separate category from rice and kimchi), and various K-pop bands and Korean celebrities that are virtually unknown to anyone not born on the peninsula.

However there was one thing I kept getting asked that I had no Idea what it meant.

"Teacher do you like Hellie Pol-tor?" I would be asked randomly


"Hellie Pol-tor?"

"What the hell is that?" I had no idea what the fuck they were asking me, and one student in particular would ask me it about my opinion of "Hellie Pol-tor" once every two weeks. The student who asked was actually one of my better students, and spoke English fairly well, but would get very frustrated when I asked him to explain what the fuck a "Hellie Pol-tor" was.

I eventually figured out that it was a movie, but did not know if it was Korean or mainstream. Then one day I was browsing movies at the local library when all of a sudden it hit me. "Hellie Poltor" was known in America as "Harry Potter", one of the most popular book and movie franchises of the recent decade.

I cant believe it took me like 6 months to figure that out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First day of classes

Yesterday I returned to work, but since I had not created a schedule for the classes I would teach, I taught no classes.

Today is my first day of actual teaching I have scheduled 3 classes. My first class was scheduled for 10 am, so when students started arriving at 9:00 am, I told them too get the fuck out. They left. Were they suppose to be there? Who knows. I don't really care either. It might have been that they very well were suppose to come to class, since in Korea they will change your schedule at the last minute and not say a fucking word to you about it.

Last semester I was sitting in my private office, watching a movie when I heard noises coming from my classroom. I investigated and found a class full of Students sitting quietly, waiting for class to start. My co-teacher had an appointment or something and had asked the VP to come to the class in her place, however she had not bothered to let me know about the schedule change, and the VP had not bothered to show up.

So after turning on all the video equipment, and letting the monitors warm up, I taught about 25 minutes of class before the students went on their merry little way. Did I care? Hell no, I get paid the same no matter what. Show up or don't, come early, come late, all I have to do is turn on a DVD and say repeat after me for 45 minutes 20 times a week. I really cant complain.

So it is now a quarter after 11:00 and my first class has yet to show up. Was it re-scheduled? Who knows. Will i teach my next two classes today? Your guess is as good as mine. Does it matter? Not really. Welcome to Korea muther fuckers.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oh Korea

We just got back from an epic journey through China and Borneo, and the journey really made me appreciate some things about Korea.

1. (relatively) Clean water. In china and Borneo it is not safe to drink the water without boiling it first, and of course they serve ice in all the drinks, along with a hefty dose of the Asian version of Montezuma's revenge.

2. Public Transportation. Although the bus drivers in Korea are certifiably insane, the extensive network of bus and subway service (throughout the area around Seoul anyway) is convenient and reliable. And you dont feel like you need either a tetanus shot or shower after riding on the bus, for the most part.

3. Sunburns. Koreans are more phobic of direct sunshine than your average non-sparkly vampire...


But they actually don't have that much to fear since the sun is usually being blocked out by the thick haze of pollution or near constant rain or overcastyness (not a word). Meanwhile the entire Awesomecool family was nearly burnt to a non sparkly crisp on the sunny beaches of Malaysia.

4.Paid Vacation. At all my jobs in America, when I took a vacation, it meant I was not getting paid until I went back to work. The whole time I was relaxing on a beach, or visiting pandas, or checking out temples, I was getting paid the same as if I was at school, watching movies, taking a nap or writing my blog. Not at all like in America, where you get paid for when you are actually doing your job, and expected to clock out for your 15 minute break.

So there are some good things about living over here, but sometimes you have to take a step back to really appreciate what you have.