Sunday, May 23, 2004

Good Sunday morning

Good Morning Everyone
It is a bright sunny sunday morning and things here are going well. I have so many exciting things to tell you all about I don't know where to start!

Okay, let's start with food... it is amusing to say the very least and spicy! a little too spicy for me. I have experienced a few different Korean restaurants in the last week, some better than others. Last Saturday I went out with the staff from my school to a traditional Korean restaurant, I ate a lot of rice and these great little egg omelet things that are pretty tasty everything else was a little to odd for my jet lagged body to be excited about. After work this week we went to two local restaurants, one they call the mushroom house that has this tasty but spicy mushroom/potato soup. The other was called shabo shabo and is the ultimately Korean fondue, it was really great but expensive. My roommate does not cook at all and thinks it is the best place to eat in the neighbourhood. Yesterday I went out for some traditional north american food with the director of my school and my supervisor.... trying to make up for not giving me the schedule they promised ( more about that later). Anyway we went to the Marche (Movenpick), they are just the same as they are at home but the menu signs are in Korean, it was really good.

So eating out is really easy, I was a little concerned at first about buying groceries but I am over that now. I live near a little street market, it is combination of stores and street vendors who sell things of the back of trucks and vans. It is really neat to see but challenging to but food at. There is a huge grocery store near but, 15 minute walk, but it is really expensive and there are lots of things that you can not get there like cheese and meat! Well that is not true you can get meat but you have to order from the butcher and thus you have to speak Korean, thus I have been a bit of a vegetarian lately because I can not figure out how to ask for what I want.... it would work if I had my roommate with me as her Korean is quite good. Anyway that was the grocery stress until yesterday... then I discovered the real grocery stores! I was the given the email address of someone who was living here by friend in Ottawa ( Ken I will email you about him later) and boy did he have all the info on where to buy groceries! First he took to a small store that imports all it's goods from abroad and has decent prices, although more expensive than at home they had cheese and salsa, you buy nacho chips everywhere but not salsa to go with them. Anyway it was this great little store and it is not to far from my house, about 30 minutes on the subway in this great neighbourhood called Itaweon, the foreigner part of town. This part of town has amazing street stalls with knock offs of everything you could ever want. Anyway so this is where the grocery store is along with a black market store that I saw last weekend, a real back market store that you would miss if you blinked! It is this little tiny hole in the wall that gets all it stuff from the army base and then sells it at outrageous prices but you can get anything you want there.

So after we went to the small grocery store and took a cab back to his apartment to drop off his groceries... I sat in the cab while the cab driver tried to flirt with me Korean... it was quite funny. Anyway then we went on the subway to this other "real" north american style grocery store, it is like a superstore at home. Anyway I was in grocery store heaven, I found peanut butter that wasn't 6 dollars, pringles that were only 2 dollars instead of 3, rice noodles for 1.50 instead of 3.00 and the list goes on. There are still things that you can not get here but I think that I will survive with out rootbeer, ruffles and mangos. The most exciting part of the second store was that I could but meat! in packages just like at home, chicken and ground meat and it was clean and there were no flies or dirty fingers around poking at it. Nice clean styrofoam containers with saran wrap on them, it is amazing how the little things excite me. So I bought some.... won't be a vegetarian anymore.

Okay so aside from food, I have been kind of hung up on the food issue, things are really interesting, oh wait one more food thing. There is a Starbucks near my house! it is a good walk and expensive but it is a starbucks and I can get a carmel frapacunnico when desperate. Okay anyway so the rest of Korea is amazing. I am alone this weekend as my roommate has gone to Beijing because Monday is a holiday so there will not be a lot of sight seeing going on until next weekend but what I have seen has been great. I live very close to Olympic park, a great park and stadium that is just a 10 minute walk. There is a man made lake just a 5 minute walk in the other direction on the way to Lotte world. The lake is the only bit of nature that I have seen at all (besides the park), there are no birds except pigeons and even they are few and far between and there are definitely no squirrels!The irony of the lake is that it is divided down the middle by a 10 lane bridge that traffic races across at all hours and makes a lot of noise, the lake is still nice though. On the other side of the lake is this amazing department store/theme park/hotel/mall, it looks like it was picked up from las vegas and dropped into the middle of Seoul, it is a whole city block and quite the site to see. The department store is amazing... 8 floors or so of designer clothes with designer prices! It is amusing to just wander around the neighbourhood because everything is so different, all of the signs here are in english and Korean even though few koreans speak enough English to read them.The children all speak english but it is definitely a generational skill, few people my age speak english unless they studies abroad, which is popular, but the language barrier makes asking for directions can get challenging.

Alright so finally I'll tell you about the job, I was hired to teach grade 1/2 english in a intensive daily program that the school offers and then teach 1 or 2 other classes after that to make up my 6 hours a day and that was I doing until the middle of this week. They had limited enrollment for the daily program and so instead I am teaching a combination of older and younger children from 2 until 9 each day. There are a myriad of issues that have including the fact that they said all the teaching materials would be supplied, and there are materials for the children ( in all my classes but 1) but there are not teaching manuals to go with them... frustrating to say the very least. So I have a huge variety of levels to teach including one class of new english speakers, just created and added to the schedule on Friday that I am teaching two days a week. It has no curriculum set as it is new and no books so yesterday I went to the book store with my supervisor and the director to find some books to use (thus the free lunch) I did find some things but the whole process is frustrating because the Korean teachers here have a very limited knowledge of teaching materials available and thus want to use old and really lame books when there are amazing materials out there. Anyway I will stick out the job until the summer break and then see if I want to stay or move on to another job somewhere > else... Australia, Thailand... the opportunities are endless... I think that somewhere warm might be nice because then I could mail home my sweaters.

Anyway this email has been more than long enough... there is just so much to tell you all about. I am off to right lesson plans ( i have to hand them in! yuck) and watch the movie channel... we have 4 english channels, 2 movie, discovery channel and the american military network... none of them are great but they are in english.
Miss you all

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