Anyong-haseyo, dear readers, and welcome to A Day With J (South Korean Edition). Just so you know: my original title for this page was The Dark Night of the Seoul, but in the end I figured it was probably better to be consistent than clever.
Anyway, it goes without saying that living in a foreign country for a year is a pretty big deal, so I thought I’d mark the experience with a completely new blog. I won’t be abandoning my old blog, of course – just setting my year in South Korea apart as a chapter all its own.
As with the original A Day With J, I don’t plan to blog about every single boring thing I do from day to day, just the stuff that’s really worth talking about. That said, please allow me to get this party started by answering a few frequently asked questions.
How do you like it in Korea?
The first and most obvious question: do I like it here? Yes I do. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say I love it so far. As of this post I’ve been here for two weeks (arrived on Sunday, February 20) and already I’ve gotten used to the food, the public transportation, the time change, etc. My co-workers are friendly. My job is a very pleasant challenge. The Korean people are extremely hospitable. The women are beautiful. The cities are immaculately clean. The stores are open late. And most importantly, the restaurants offer free refills (Korea 1, Germany 0).
Wait. You’re living in Korea? What are you doing over there?
Here’s the story again for those who missed it the first time: “I’m a Seoul Man.”
Where, exactly, are you living?
I’m living and teaching in a city called Anyang, just south of Seoul. And when I say “just south” I mean it. Seoul is literally just a subway ride away.
How do you like teaching?
Like I said, teaching (and especially teaching kids) is a fun kind of challenge. In some ways it reminds me of my radio show back in college. Every day I have to come up with new material to keep my audience engaged and paying attention. Teachers really have to stay on their game, and that’s a welcome change for me. I’ve been on auto-pilot for far too long.
How do you like your students?
I’ve never understood why people ask this question, probably because I take the common-sense view that anyone who openly doesn’t like their students shouldn’t be teaching in the first place. Though I personally would never want the responsibility of having children of my own, I love my students for their energy and potential. A lot of adults (i.e. grown-ups) are content to go through life without really knowing anything or asking any big questions. Kids are the exact opposite. For them, curiosity reigns supreme. They are the epitome of the famous Kerouac quote:
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
Put simply, I’m in my element and it’s gonna be a great year.
Do you speak Korean? And if not, how can your students understand you?
No, I don’t speak Korean. I’m working on it, but so far I’ve only picked up the bare minimum: “Hello;” “Thank you;” “I’ll call you tomorrow;” “I really don’t think there’s any reason to involve the police;” etc. Fortunately, I have an awesome teaching partner named Young Na who talks to the kids when I don’t know what to say. She’s also a great disciplinarian who knows how to keep them in line. It’s basically a good cop/bad cop kind of deal. 🙂
What is your apartment like?
Let me tell you something, dear readers – it pays to be the big guy. Thanks to my height, broad shoulders, and (ahem) ample frame, I was given the largest apartment the school had to offer: a 2-bedroom setup with a kitchenette, a modest living area, and a separate room to hang my clothes. The only thing I don’t have is a dryer [calling all venture capitalists: the dryer market is WIDE OPEN in South Korea], but that’s a small price to pay for a nice place in a nice neighborhood. I’ll post a video once I get a new battery for my camcorder.
Do you have a phone or address where I can reach you?
Yes. Message me here or via FB and I’ll give you my number. And of course there’s always e-mail and Facebook.
Are you worried about being so close to North Korea?
No. As far as I can tell, no one in South Korea devotes any significant time or worry to their crazy cousins up north. As for me, my thinking is this: it’s better to live just south of a country led by a Marxist than it is to pay taxes to one back home.
I think that covers just about everything for now. Let me know if you have any questions that aren’t answered here.
I hope everyone reading this is doing well and that you’ll all keep up with this page for news of my ongoing adventures here in the East. Much love.