Friday, December 18, 2009

You speak Korean (?)

Last day of class this semester before Winter vacation was a designated movie day. Anything else would be beyond impossible into the utterly unthinkable range.

However, one enterprising table of girls in one class asked if they could play a game.
~ There's actually two broken down board games from the 1980's - CLUE and SCRABBLE. Upon asking I was told there wasn't enough 'budget' to get another game. What? Can't spare the 30 dollars on a learning game? No Budget? Why don't we start by NOT buying boxes of paper coffee cups and use only the ceramic ones that are already available?? hmmm..... -_- ~

To my surprise they grabbed CLUE and asked me to teach them how to play it. I was more than happy to. Taken aback in shock even.

In direct violation of Universal Laws, I am not a rabid fan of the TWILIGHT saga and having already seen the first 40 minutes six times this week... Well, any excuse was a good excuse as far as I was concerned. On top of which they would be using more English in this one class than the accumulated classes of the whole semester!! (Somehow that makes me want to cry.)

One girl was apparently appointed translator for my simplified explanation, cards were dealt, set and game.

Knowing better - not to mention not having anything better to do - I stayed and waited for the inevitable question from some unforeseen quarter to pop out and bring everything to a screeching halt.

Took longer than usual to come out of hiding, but there it was. I closely observed the appointed-translator and the dice-roller in heated exchange in Korean then helpfully jumped in:
"You can ask anybody the question. If you 'think it is Mrs. White', you don't have to ask Mrs. White player. You can ask anyone."

Appointed-translator quickly gave the resolution to the exact problem they had been wrestling over, but not before she quipped off, "You speak Korean (?)"
There really wasn't enough raise in her voice to qualify it as a question, but fortunately even if it was a question, I didn't have to answer as the game quickly got back on track again.

I am miraculously fluent in Korean!

Alas, NO.
The reality is I am extremely, painfully skilled at reading people and situations. It's something I have always been able to do and comes as both a gift and curse. Humans don't like being seen-through. They like to think that all their secrets are snuggly tucked away. The reality is though, it's all bleeding through. Everything below the surface. T_T T_T

When you are young people dismiss you as being over-sensitive or even making things up?! o.0
But when you are older...

Here, these many years in foreign lands, my 'skill' has been honed as it is basic to my very survival.
Yet at the same time, because I can read a situation so well I have all sorts of people chattering at me thinking I understand what they are saying. Hell, I've had whole conversations without really knowing what the other person was talking about although they certainly left satisfied.

Oddly enough, that doesn't create as many problems as one might think. On the other hand it creates tremendous stress to read and react to things on a spilt-second basis. And when the conversation, albiet one-sided, goes on for several minutes...
I leave completely exhausted.

It's not that I ever wanted this 'skill' or even wanted to know these things. (Some things really are better left NOT KNOWN. 知らぬが仏。) But neither is it anything I can change.

The good news is I no longer let people demean or dismiss me. I know better.

The bad news is I am still reading people like an open book.

...and that is precisely why to this day I still only wear glasses. -_-;;

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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You teach from 9:25 today!!

was the title of today's 'mail'.
Sent to me at 9:26.

No really. Look.

[제목] : this is todays schedule. you start at 09:25!
[발신인] : 담임 이은영
[수신인] : 어학실
[수신인원] : 1명
[수신일자] : 2009-12-18 09:26

I compared what my clock was saying against the oddly empty classroom, and hurriedly replied back.

"Ok, but so the kids know that? There's no one here."

I learned from before to NOT expect any help so I quickly translated some of what looked relevant Korean emails ONLY to find out today was another test day.

Thanks for the one minute warning people.

Actually, one minute AFTER THE FACT.

This will make the third time they didn't bother to inform me of something dreadfully relevant or a major schedule change. (This is a test-centered school culture.)

Foreigners already have a HUGE disadvantage here far, far beyond the constraints of a language barrier.

But that's another gripe/warning for another time.

The point is that this oversight makes me look BAD. AGAIN.

You do NOT make mistakes here.

And this is "my" third major mistake.

Last week was finals.

Normally I proctor tests so I was prepared to do the same for this one. Even made up a little "test bag" of supplies. When I spoke to my lead teacher, she said that just like the mid-term I would not be on the schedule. Instead I would be "off".

I no longer trust anything here so I decided to come in that morning anyway to do some other work. As I received no "quick! come proctor!" message via the internal messaging system I felt rather confident in her statement. Even so, I went through the dozen or so Korean mails, looking for the ones about the final test and quickly translating what I could.

My name did NOT appear in the schedule.

So I was feeling pretty good and for some reason I can no longer remember went down to see the lead teacher.

After she walked in from her test period, some other male teacher grabbed her and started irritatingly blathering at her. Unfortunately I caught a slurred version of my name.

The resultant explanation of this exchange was delivered with a typically plastered smile - "Oh, you were supposed to proctor! You were on the list!"


Really?!? You told me I wasn't going to be on the list.Matter of fact, I went so far as to check the list and I couldn't find my name on it.

It was the FINAL, for %^$%# sake.

And for a foreigner to make a mistake (much less a woman) it is automatically assigned to the pigeon hole thought process of "foreigners = unreliable. lax. sloppy. not serious about their work. have it so f*(&*%g easy yet they can't even be counted on to do something as simple as THIS."

Admittedly, there's more than a few like that (like apparently my next door neighbor), but for those of us who came expecting to actually teach...

Like I told the lead teacher once after another 'incident' - "They (the teachers) have stress so they take it out on you. The kids have stress which they ALSO take out on you. It really seems to me that they're just looking for someone to kick around."

I so, so, sooo hate this place.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

MichiKusa {道草を食う}: one Monday

Why do I hate Mondays?

It's not for the usual reason, because of work. All in all I have quite the ideal Monday schedule, a gentle introduction to a hellish repeat of every other past week not unlike dipping your toes in the pool in the morning and allowing yourself to slowing adjust to the icy water. It's only 3 hours of 'classes' plus my morning "open office" time. And I had a really good day on Sunday. Not only was it the first day of 2 glorious weeks of Sumo at 九州場所 - 初日にしてはいい相撲取れた!! - but I got a lot, A LOT done.

Now that makes me suspicious.

Admittedly, I had about two hours when I had to lay down as my left eye was giving me that knife in the back of the eyeball pain again making it impossible to see out of (I'm judging the time by the fact that I had to lay down all through THE BIRDS and the beginning of REAR WINDOW.) , but beyond that ...
So it's not that I was pain-free - I only get that kind of relief when I'm completely, utterly unconscious - but I was mostly just in a level of constant 'discomfort'.
It was almost alarming the amount of desk work/studying I could do.

It always surprises me what a difference it makes on your energy level to not be constantly fighting pain.
And the clarity of mind!!?!
I didn't think that state of mind existed ever before. Naturally it has, but I am so used to walking around in a mostly incoherent fog, that a normal clear thought-processsing is anything but a normal state for me.

And to think, if I'm lucky, I even get to say this 2 or 3 times a MONTH!

Which is why I dread this coming Monday far, faaarrr more then usual.
Sunday was way too homey.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Seriously. I want a DOG.

What ever happened to "third times the charm"?
Or "three strikes and you're OUT"?
As of today, for Korea I'm up to FIVE times having encountered some form of sexual harassment. >.>

Oh, how to count the ways in which you piss me off, Korea.

Admittedly, in America, there was one time - an old guy (who happened to be a family friend) grabbed my face and tried to kiss me. Fortunately, he wasn't too forceful and I was able to avert in time. All thanks to the presence of his wife.
Not that she was watching, but after I nonchalantly averted he whispered very clearly, "Come back later when my wife isn't here."

Needlesstosay, I never took him up on that.
Creepy bastard.

I can't recall precisely how old I was at that time. I know it was around High School because later when Pepper Puppy was with us, when she was with me in the car she reacted to him very non-favorably.

But in America's defense, that was only one time in 25 years.

Then there was an incident in Japan.
Actually, it wasn't as blatant as the nasty old man in America, but when an older man - again, older - suddenly feels up my arm and then giggles madly like an elementary girl in between "Oh, I shouldn't have done that."
That just creeps me out.
Oh, and that was at this place in Japan, MSE. I later heard that apparently the righteous bitch that runs it didn't believe me. Which is probably why I was still forced to teach him the last month. (For the record, another girl later on ran into similar harassment by the SAME MAN and she was ALSO forced to continue to teach him.)

But in Japan's defense, that was only one time in 4 years.

But Korea...
Korea's a keeper.
Five times in only Seven MONTHS.

This last time a mere 60 minutes ago when I was cornered in my apartment building by a Korean man wanting sex.
Well, at least he was young. >.>

But sexual harassment knows no age discrimination in Korea!
Young or Old, they all stick out their hand for no reason as you walk past to try to grab your breast.
I can't fathom that one. Because I'll be the first to unabashedly admit there's not much to grab. So seriously, W.T.H. is your deal!?!?!

This last one though...
So much for the new electronic door locks. >.>

As he didn't speak much English and wasn't letting me out, I did the only thing possible - went along with it while trying to find a calm way to diffuse the situation and escape.

See, I had already judged there was not a SINGLE soul in the building.
Everyone there works someplace. And since most are English teachers like me as it was early yet they're were definitely not there. (I had returned briefly to fetch I book Incheon customs kept me waiting over a month for. But that's another gripe.)

Screaming was not going to get anyone coming to rescue me and worse might agitate him. We were on fairly "friendly terms" as much as I was trying to sidle out of there.
I also knew there was no chance of over-powering him - he had already repeatedly shown he was strong enough to keep me from leaving.

I kept protesting that I had work, was late, "shikan" (time) pointing to my wrist repeatedly, but that didn't phase him from repeatedly pulling me close to wrap his arms around me.
That was just tolerable enough, but just like the creepy American, it eventually graduated to grabbing the back of my head and forcing his lips on mine.

Three times. :P

The last time with tongue, too. *gag*
When I pulled away from that one was when he leaned in conspiritorily and asked me if I knew "sex".

Give me a break, already.

I continued protesting innocently about the time and the bus (finally remembered the word for that) then had the idea to started heavily emphasizing "email" as in "1st email THEN sex."

That seemed to do the trick.

Either that or he was getting worried about the delivery he was supposed to be making but instead took time out to make a little detour to assault a foreign girl.

I'm thinking a Siberian Husky or two.*

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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*for the record, this is the PG-version of the Korea story. I really didn't feel like remembering the whole thing in detail over and over again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The Japanese have a saying, a brilliant bit of wisdom if I must say - "口は災いの元".
Literally, "The mouth is the source of troubles."

It's likely why I was unusually reticent as a child (I knew it then without actually knowing it.) and thereafter never developed any further skill with the spoken word.

But as no one understands half of what I say here anyway, I naturally take advantage of this, throw all cares to the wind and babble out whatever pops into my head.

"Wake up or stand up!"
- they are perpetually trying to sleep in class. He stood up immediately. He could have just WOKEN UP, but as no one is ever listening to me in the first place, I didn't bother to correct him.

"It's not a dance floor."
- typical example of minor punishment is to have the student stand outside. I don't like that for several reasons the main one of which you simply can NOT trust them to just sit down and make themselves comfortable or merely walk off someplace.
So my version is they stand at the front of the class on my large dias. (Besides, it's more humiliating this way.)
For the first time I caught someone doing the moonwalk up here today.

"I WILL beat you with the bunny stick."
- aaah, the bunny stick. How I love thee.
In general, you don't have too much problems with the girls classes. That's rather true internationally. But wrongdoings can not go unnoticed forever and sometimes an example must be made.
For the girls, I do the worst thing possible - I use the bunny stick to MESS THEIR HAIR.
For the one and only, singular boys class the rates gentleness because they are so good - I just whack them on the head.
(They're sooo good!!! When I tell them to stand in the corner, they actually STAND IN THE CORNER!! I love that class.)

"You don't speak to me like that!"
- aah, things I remember hearing from my childhood. (Fortunately, I wasn't on the receiving end.) It's almost nostalgic to find myself saying them now, the way the tumble off my lips so thoughtlessly, naturally.
Seriously, children are extremely rude to the foreign teachers here. It was quite a shock the first couple months after teaching in Japan for 4 years. There's nothing to explain it except to say that THIS is the Korean way of things.

"If I wait, YOU wait."
- My newest technique for getting them to shut up not just QUICKLY but for more then 5 minutes is deliciously effective. Even more so then the nailpolish. For every minute the make me wait, they wait that long in class After the bell rings. :D
This is really great because you're hitting them directly where it hurts - the stomach and the Korean teacher.
There's only two options for the 'next class'. It's either lunch/dinner, in which case you're delivering a belly-hit, or it's a Korean teacher's class.
They may treat us like week-old road kill, but they respect and FEAR the Korean teachers. They'll stroll into my classroom 5 minutes past start time, but they will run from this same classroom in order to not be late for their Korean teacher's class.
Boy, do they listen carefully these days.

And as always there are the assortment of curious conversations...
Student: "You are scary."
Me: "Yes. I am."
** Her intention was to say that I liked scary things, but I didn't bother to correct her since I agree under either meaning.

Student: "Your face is so small. You are so cute!"
** Yes, I happen to embody the Asian pinnacle of beauty - tall in height (by Asian standards, of course), small face, big eyes, tall nose. (As opposed to big nose. Not big, 'tall'.)

To a Kindergarten boy that kept shoving his toy tank in my face while we were trying to have class -
"Oh, yes, it's very nice. However, I'm against war under any circumstances."

Possibly my current favorite.
Said to a table of girls up front. You remember seeing those nature shows with monkeys grooming themselves, picking out bugs from their fur and eating them?
One of the little monkeys was laying across two others at her table all three of which were searching intently through her hair. I couldn't resist.
"Are you looking for bugs?"
*squeals* "No, no! White hair!"
White hair acquired and yanked free.
In a fleeting moment of sympathy I said "Aah, you are to young."
As student in question despondantly examined the hair - "Yes, I am."
"I think it's stress."
And just as sadly - "Yes, stress."

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

why do you steal?!

was the only logical response to my landlord's paniced accusation.

I was pretty much on a roll today compared to the disaster of yesterday. (I didn't even get lunch I was striking out that badly.) Already I had found a random 10 won in the school parking lot only to follow it up with a whopping 20 won in the classroom! The kids always have money on hand. Maybe no pens or notebooks, but be damned if they aren't armed with money for the snack bar. Because you know we never feed them or anything. So apparently someone finally took me up on my grinning request for a tip - "Gee, is that for me? Like a tip? Thank You~~ (WTH are you doing here? ).
Into the purse it went and into the apartment I went.

It took only an hour for the knocking at the door to start - at least the landlord was back and my washer might finally get fixed. But the first thing out of his mouth was just that - "Why do you steal?!"
"Coin. You steal!"
I stupidly didn't connect my actions of picking up a coin the valued equivalency of LESS then 1 cent to be stealing so all I could do was continue to stare dumbly at him.

"It's for steelman. If you have it I need it back!"
Even if you were blind you couldn't miss his skyrocketing panic. I didn't get the steelman reference or how it was in any way connected with a random worthless coin, but in a desperate effort to clear my name as fast as possible I hurriedly pointed down to the clothing bag at my feet atop of which the coin was resting innocently.
"Sure! Fine. It's right there!" o.0
(Look, nothing to hide! Just take it and go. Have you been drinking, sir?)

I'm not sure if he was miffed at the whole inconvience of it all or still feeling accusatory, but then he demanded an explanation of me -"Why did you take it?"
I in turn was pressed to think of something on the spot that he could understand in his current agitated state of mind while retaining as much meaning as possible only to come up with, "It was on the ground. Like trash." o.0

That actually seemed to satisfy him and the matter was put to rest.

And we finally got around to figuring out what the steelman was after he demonstrated by grabbing a CD off my shelf and shiftily hiding it behind his back.
"Oh! A burglar!!" (STEAL-man)
Yes, finally the light flashed on!
Or the sugar kicked in.

I guess someone had been robbed in the apartment building while they were gone for Korean Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving.

And apparently the coin on the window sill was his current idea for an alarm system in lieu of a door lock for the building.

Doesn't matter though.
Not only did I get to pet me a dragonfly today, but even his little friend flitted down to watch from the edge of my shoulder!

Cheers! (^_-)-☆
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Friday, October 02, 2009

I take it all back.

Surely it's a fleeting thing, but aside from the monster mosquitos and around 50% of the population being grotesquely unmannered, pompous, ignorant, over-sexed... I'll leave off there.

I am NOT saying that I like it, but maybe Korea is not all bad? o.0

I have access to really great cosmetics lines - Tony Moly, DHC, the domestic brands SkinFood and Innis Free. They would be the best ever if they weren't surely tested on helpless, suffering animals, but I don't have much choice in a country that eats dog meat.

I have an endless supply of 'happy cake' in near endless varieties.
(I know the location of all the closest eight shops and they know me too.)

I have three TV channels in Japanese one of which shows each of the major 2 week long sumo bashos and another on now which is showing American football!
Hakuhou~! Kotomitsuki~! Balto! !
Oh, and BS2 (Japanese) will now be showing COLUMBO regularly on Thursday evenings. ♡ヨッシャー!!

The white rice is still no comparison to Japan's, but the black, wild, red and about 5 varieties of brown are plentiful and cheap.

Unlike in America, I have medical coverage.
For EVERYTHING. Even pre-existing injuries. The fact that I wouldn't be just shocks everyone into speechlessness. Much less when I tell them it was the charming US government itself that cut off my health insurance right in the middle of my physical therapy.

The have these really cool item of clothing I've never seen elsewhere. Once I realized their potential I cornered a student on where to get them. (Apparently NOT where the sell clothes.)
Like leg warmers, but obviously not for your legs.
Within one week I managed to hunt down and acquire 7 pairs.

Or just maybe it's that I like being able to say "I need to make a quick jump over to Japan for some shopping this weekend."

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

psychoses as numerous as the stars above

sophomore girl's class:

The worst class is the worst not because the students behave like rabid, undisciplined puppies (that better describes your normal all boy's class), but because it's the EARLIEST class of the day.

I hate it.
Everyone hates it.
Most students straggle in in a semi-lucid state just at the bell, but for those that drop in earlier that's pretty much what they do - drop into their seats and collapse against the table in exhaustion.
Don't I know that feeling.

Anyway, my classroom tends to be on the dark side. And particularly in the morning.
Purely by choice.

As I myself wandered past a dimly lit table of 3 early girls one of them piped up looking at slouched over student beside her,
"She's crazy."
"That's OK. Me too." was my response which produced a grinning, "Ooh, crazy friends!"

Yay! I got me my first native friend!

sophomore boy's class:

Korea once again brings out my violent streak.

The first grade had already one all day test last week and much to my chagrin the students informed me that now Midterms were next week.
Gawd forbid anyone should bother to tell me anything important.
I've gotten to mostly relay on the kids for information these days.

So in this case what is easiest, or better put least painful for all, is to give them the option of doing English work or studying for the test. (This school is ALL about testing since it is specifically a college preparatory school.) Naturally, the boy's classes hardly ever do any work in the first place, but at least by giving them an 'option' I appear to retain some shred of control.

So study for test it was.

Mostly it went smoothly but even so I found myself forced to make the occasional gaggle of students stand against the wall or separate them into different tables.

Towards the end of class however I heard a very loud and stern (and in English no less!) "Pick it up!" coming from a lone boy at one table. I wandered over to find a pen on the floor which upon inquiry was apparently thrown by another boy at the table cattycorner to him.
Naturally, said culprit denied anything of the sort right down to the big wide-eyed innocent look.
I wasn't buying it but without proof I suggested "Well, just throw it back at him."
"No, no, I can't. He'll hit me."
"So hit him back!"
Usually I get an enthusiastic "Really!?!" but this one just shook his head.
"You want me to hit him? I'll hit him for you!"
I sincerely meant it, too. (I would only have used my fan though.)
Fortunately for our would-be culprit the bell rang and everyone fled in a manner all too reminiscent of a stampede from the room.

Later on though I realized with my experience in Asian psychology, there was a very good chance that boy would have viewed that punishment as a reward.
Probably better that I never got to punish him.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

inner demons exposed


One of my particularly naughty junior boy's classes got an unexpected peek at what's lurking beneath the big-eyed, pig-tailed harmless 草食動物 looking exterior.
Unexpected from both ends as I hadn't meant to do it, it's just how these things happen.

A whole table was MIA.
An entire table!
That's 5 students just GONE.
I started offering suggestions, speculating as to where they had gone-
Are they sick?
Nurses rooms? Hospital?


Aliens? Abducted by ufo?


*low, throaty chuckle*

It just naturally arose in response to one table's suggestion back to me.
I didn't actually realize it until the front tables that heard it started whispering about it.
I only heard bits and pieces of their comments but it was obvious they were duly taken aback.

With ducked heads and sidelong glances...
--did u hear?
--"maybe they are dead." *imitation of my "evil" chuckle*

Oh, well, that side of me was bound to rear its head sooner or later.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Friday, September 18, 2009

The casual comment

Things I've only been forced to say (repeatedly) in what passes for a 'classroom' in Korea.
*all delivered in the typically flat 'foreign teacher' tone of voice we all develop after 3 months.*

1) “OK, if we can't sit, we can stand. Stand.
Sophomore boys class where several students were having trouble sitting in their seats without falling out.

2)“OK, if we shut up for 5 minutes we can watch one of the mini movies...
Again, sophomore boys class.
Even the lure of mindless movie watching didn't keep them quiet for more than 10 seconds.

3)“Why are you sitting on the floor?
Particularly rowdy sophomore girls class.
From personal experience I know that if you even walk across the floor one time in socks the bottoms will be black. I can't imagine why anyone would ever sit on it.

4)“Well, that's probably because you weren't listening.” *smilesmile*
Probably the most often repeated.
Said in response to the just as often repetitve- “Teacher, I don't understand.” I only ask for five minutes, maybe ten TOPS, to explain things. But seriously, they talk the WHOLE time from the time they enter to the time they leave.

5)“No killing, please.
Whether it's punishment or play, both children and adults are very physical here.

6)“No food fights, please.
Only in the boys classes naturally.
When it comes to someone eating snacks, you'd think they were never fed.

7)“Did you hit him back? You can hit him back. It's OK.
I remember my mother telling the story of how she gave this bit of advice to Renee (or was it Diane) in elementary school after said child reported that some student had hit her. So that's my response to the occasional cry of “Teacher, he hit me!!”

From the other end, somewhat quirky things I've had said to me:

Inevitably, if I take too long to tell them where I want to go, taxi drivers automatically assume I am a college student that is looking to go to the local elitest campus. Apparently that is because...

You look like you are 14!
As the director of Posco Education Foundation laughingly informed me upon seeing my picture.
Personally, I really think 14 is pushing it, but after seeing some of the college students, I can see why the taxi drivers might assume I belong on campus. They do look really old.

Teacher, every day is special clothes!
As opposed to the typical jeans-wearing foreigner, my penchant for skirts - particularly LONG skirts - is infamous. Frankly I can count the number of times I've worn pants while I'm here on one hand and have fingers left over. And those times were only because all my skirts were in the laundry basket.
Some things never change.

Teacher, you dress like a girl!
That goes without saying but in this case their meaning was as in a school student girl. Between the swirly layered skirts and pigtail braids, I can see where that comment might arise from.

How old are you?
No, you're not!
" ... "
Up to this point, I've gotten plenty of disbelieving looks upon revealing my age, but this is the second time I've been outright countered.

And the best one to date...

Sophmore girls class:
“She needs to go home.”
Followed by a paniced, flustered waving of hands. Apparently in order to get the brain gears moving.
The frustrated internal struggle for words was clearly stamped on her face.
The radar switches on and I look all over. I have NEVER seen as many nosebleeds as I have with Korean children. I'm pretty sure it has to do with the physical structure of the nose in the mongoloid race.
“No. No. One month blood.... Monthly blood.”

I have to say I thought this was a very ingenious way to get the idea across when they did not have the actual word for it nor any experience in explaining it in English before. All the previous teachers that they encountered were male and hell would surely freeze over first before they mentioned something like this to one of them.

It should be noted that the next time this event occurred, they were able to explain it clearly and precisely. Someone had consulted the native Korean-English teacher for the right word.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Angels on High

Being too brain-dead to do anything else, I am actively avoiding all pressing and necessary labor by uploading pictures from my soon to be vacated apartment. (good riddance.)

ROOFTOP pictures because you wouldn't want to see the inside of it anyway.
Besides I know you people are tired of hearing me babble on and are just waiting to see the "goods"(^_~)

Notice the mountains faintly in the background?
Korea is apparently nothing BUT mountains.
Mountains and STAIRS.


Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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More Happy Racism

We were dragged into the chairperson's office in the middle of our ONE real break between classes (a whopping ten minutes) to be incoherently informed that two teachers here had come into contact with some people diagnosed with SI and were forthwith confined to home for the next seven days.

The whole time I'm thinking SI? SI? ...SI? and throwing questioning looks at the towering 'A' next to me - Can you make out any of this?

I finally figured out he was meaning swine influenza. That might seem obvious to you, gentle reader, but no real English speaker here uses that phrase so between my overwhelming disinterest and his broken English, I didn't catch on right away.

But that wasn't the even best part.
That came in the form of a semi-coherent, delusional YET stringent warning -- You need to keep two meters between you and the other teachers. Everyone. Kids. And wash hands. (mimic hand-washing here.)

I just wanted to walk out then and there.

I had suspected the man knew NOTHING about what went on in his school, particularly the classrooms, from early on.
Like from week one.
But this utterly confirmed it.

At best you are two feet from the little snots and that's when you're not constantly crouching down to try to figure out what they're saying or being grabbed and petted. (My nails are a big hit.) Same goes for the teacher's office -- at best two feet from every other person in ALL directions.

And washing hands?
Well, I know I do. But I also know that the kids DON'T. Many times they don't even flush the toilet, they are in such a rush to get back to class. (Although what do you really expect when you give 100 students 5 minutes to use six bathroom stalls?)

So we had our marching orders - stay back! and stay clean!! - and were summarily dismissed to face the angry, unclean hordes.

We had liquid soap in the bathroom now.
I felt better already.

But, no, wait! It gets even better!

I finally got some coherent information about the whole situation from the KBS Japanese broadcast. Apparently there was an overnight conference for English teachers - both foreign and Korean. Fifteen unspecified participants tested positive for swine flu. The foreigners were staying at the unspecified lodging together but they also had "free time". And in this free time they Went Out Into the Public.
So, the news goes on to report, if you came into contact with the FOREIGNERS during their outings you may be infected too!!

Beware the White People!

They obviously don't say that straight out but neither do they remind you that there were both Korean Nationals together with the foreigners at the conference in closed quarters for hours on end. They are immune, I guess, but their very Koreaness? After all, it's just naturally understood that it's the foreigners that spread disease in this country. It certainly couldn't be the Korean habit of not washing hands or dishes thoroughly, nor the ages old tradition of everyone eating off the same plate. That was quaint about 200 years ago, but it the world of global epidemics, it's long past time to reserve that for an "at home" tradition.

So, we all had our marching orders now:

Screw the threat of impending war!

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why do you speak English?

When I lived in the glorious state of Maryland {regarding Ohio, no comment as always} I distinctly remember my mother having a very 1970's looking hardcover on the bedstand titled KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS.

Yes, they do. Particularly in an ESL classroom.

"Why do you speak English?"
~Student A asked me this recently in a conversation about my stamps.
I have many, many. All of which are invariably from Japan.
In response to the question of why I have these Japanese things, I said, "I lived there."
That was followed by a brief moment of silence.
Then, "You lived there? Why do you speak English?"

This is actually very interesting twist to the common expat experience of being a stranger in a strangeland. In Japan the formula was White=>Foreigner=>AMERICAN.
A distinctly skin color-based formula for assessing your opponent in conversation.
(And incidentally there is a sub-rule of Foreigner=can not speak Japanese.)

However, in the little Korean girl's mind, the formula was geographically-based: regardless of skin color, the fact that I lived in Japan equalled I should be speaking Japanese, not English. You could just see the misconnection of reality and facts etched on her face.

However, first week questions top the list for me.

"Why are you so tall?"
~For all the foreigners supposedly around here in Seoul I've always been struck by how misplaced this was. I was never asked this by children in Japan even in the rural areas where it's NOT unusual to be the only foreigner.

Some questions, however, are universal:

"How old are you?"
~As this inevitably comes up not once, but several times I turn it into an ESL activity to practice numbers by making them guess my age. They're always shocked. Even the adults.

"Are you married?"
~Because at MY age, how could I possibly not be?!?!!?
Is the Asain mindset.

"Do you have a boyfriend?"
~Lacking a proper husband, surely I must have one of these to attest to my basic worth as a female. >.>

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Weather Obsessions

If you live in Japan or Korea you are obsessed with the weather. I have never paid so much attention to the weather in my whole life previous to living in these countries.

I mark it up to reliance on public transportation - whether it's on foot, by bus or subway nothing like standing around at the office looking like a drenched rat.

Japan was different though. I just flipped on a channel and listened to the weather girl/eye-candy cheerfully explain what miserable weather I could look forward to today. BUT if you don't happen to understand what our fashion statement is chatting on about, there are two sites I've found very reliable over the long run:

Weather Channel: SEOUL
Weather Channel: PUSAN/BUSAN
Weather Network: SEOUL
Weather Network: PUSAN/BUSAN

Oddly enough, as much respect as I have for the BBC, I have found their weather forecasting way off - lacking even the marginal bit of accuracy you can expect from your average forecast. They will show up in your goggle search but make sure you stay clear of them.

Happy Travelling~
Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

If this were only the least of my problems

Ok, now I'm mad.
Really irked.

I'm finally about to escape this trashy shopping mecca and the local Dunkin Donuts {current haunt of choice} finally starts selling the original brew again!?

I walk in Wednesday morning and there are boxes, nay CRATES, stacked high in the entranceway mostly blocking it, all snuggly stuffed with the ambrosia of modern man.


This whole time I was being generous thinking the coffee machine was broken or something when the reality was they were just sitting around waiting for the next shipment!?

I see them deliver fresh donuts there EVERY day. They couldn't have thrown a box or two of coffee in with them? Considering there's some kind of coffee shop every block and sometimes even several in one block, I find it unfathomable that Dunkin D's only ships its coffee once a month, but there you have it.

It goes without saying:
Even aside from the current economic conditions, you might want to fire the logistics guy if you want to compete with the Krispy Kreme and Starbucks next door because he's obviously not examing his spreadsheets very closely.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Good riddance to bad Rubbish!


As much as I love the shopping in Seoul, it still does not quite make up for the fact that Seoul is a stinking, flighty, trash-filled warren of spit-hacking snobs. {Service here even gives the hideously low quality of service in America a run for its $$ .}

The air quality is so bad I've had breathing difficulties, a prepetually stuffed nose, and frequent fevers since the day I stepped the plane. I thought it was because the city itself was like a garabge dump - a bacterial pathologists dream {nightmare?} - but a mere 6 hours in Japan cleared up all my symptoms. And that's when I knew it was past time to move on.

So, so long and thanks for nothing to all of that!!!!!

Here's where I'm headed next!!

Pretty, yes?
Ulsan. Slightly North of Pusan and its 3-hour ferry to Japan.

Let's see that again.

I don't necessarily expect the work conditions to be that much better but as long as there isn't a hysterical, incompetant, insecure b1tc4 running the office, I'm good. And no more Elementary students. So to Seoul I can only say THANK YOU

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

MichiKusa {道草を食う}: hiddey (donut) holes

My current territory that I've acquired as my personal lair is the local Dunkin Donuts.

Complete with balcony and a view.
The view from MY chair: (Always the purple one by the window. Although if I'm lucky I get the orange set by the trees.)

Of course, much like Japan it's not just a donut shop, it's an EXPERIENCE complete with chocolate mousse desserts and NY Cheesecake.

Does that just not bring tears to your eyes?
And I assure you that it DOES taste as good as you think it does.

But standing out even more than that for me was an incident that took place in front of my eyes only and one that surely you can only see in a Seoul Dunkin Donuts...

Sitting in one of the second floor cushy purple chairs sipping an iced cafe latte and reading Murakami Haruki's AFTER DARK in Japanese while a Korean girl across from you pulls her Stephen novel in English.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

MichiKusa {道草を食う}:Japanese books

As the clock swings towards midnight again I am left wondering...

The Japanese have managed to master four writing systems without breaking a sweat.
Yet how is it that after TWO THOUSAND YEARS they can still NOT master the art of indexing books??

And only six more days to produce research results.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Friday, April 03, 2009


Finders keepers!

So who found it first?

The eternal question of ownership between Japan and Korea.
Is the island Takeshima {Japan} or Dokutou {Korea}?
Is the tiny waterway the Japan sea or the East sea?

Apparently, it depends on what country you live in.

In the daily radio news about the military movements I heard an interesting word pop up that caught my attention immediately. It slipped by at first and then I tripped on it when it was repeated again almost immediately and thought ???. And just as quickly a wry smile appeared on my lips. I was hit with - “Oh, it's T-H-A-T.”

It's hard to describe the sensation of hearing something in a situation that is totally unexpected much less out of place. Yet, simultaneously you wonder, is it really out of place?

In describing the repositioning if the Igeuos warships the Korean news broadcaster used the word Toukai – the Korean name for the Japan sea since the Koreans argue that they own it.
That may not sound out of place – this was a broadcast by the largest Korean news company KBS (think of USA's ABC or NBC). - Except for one thing:
This was a broadcast IN the JAPANESE language SPECIFICALLY FOR the JAPANESE citizens.

Admittedly any time is a good time for government propaganda, but how many Japanese citizens just happen to know that the East sea is the same as the Japan sea?

I only know because I'm enthralled with the multitudenous versions of history that they battle about over here. It's like a love triangle between Japan, South Korea, and China minus the love. More like a hate triangle.

It was an outter limits moment and I hadn't even started my Friday drinking yet.


Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Payday Priorities

What do you do one week before payday with only one dollar sixty in change?

Run out to the local grocery and buy the highest volume + cheapest chocolate available.
Or that's what I do.

It's all about priorities.

Yes, I shouldn't have bought that twenty dollar imported magazine last week but I was irritated and really mad. And like most frustrated women in that state, I SHOP.
I just don't buy CLOTHES or makeup like most women.
It's books and chocolate or fruffy coffees for me.

So when I was forced to pay cash instead of paying by credit card last week, I was stuck with the reality that I had only ten dollars left. And ten more days to go. After dolling out money for a few absolute necessities like veggies and a last carton of heavenly sweet black bean soy milk, I coasted into this work week with only $1.60 to my name.

And as of Monday night, it is now 0.20 to my name – thanks to being able to find a cheap chocolate bar and a mini bag of chocolates which I promptly ripped open and dumped on the living room floor. After hastily unwrapping and popping three pieces in my mouth, I divvied up the rest of the week's chocolate allocation. Satisfied with my successful acquisition, I tucked my goodies into their respective bags and rolled out my bed for a cozy nights sleep.

Yes, most satisfied.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Friday, March 27, 2009

One last fling!

As the North Korean missles move into place - Japanese TBS news reports "Obviously preparing for countdown" - the US army moves into position in the Japan Sea and the Japanese are moving warships and army towards Northern Japan where I used to live and several of my friends STILL live.

So what are the South Koreans doing?

Apparently on vacation.
I see one or two military personal every day as I walk the streets but TODAY, this Friday, I'm seeing them in groups of three and four, or pairs.

I'm guessing it's one last 'short leave' before they buckle down. :P

I know I'm having a drink tonight.
But then I"m ready to drink by every Firday night.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

the NICE-teacher

That's me.

Why, you wonder?

Why am I the choosen nice-teacher?

What great thing did I do to inspire young minds to greater effort?!?

I let them sleep.

And, it only took me eight working days to institute this rule.

Seriously. You finish the assignment – go to sleep.


At first it was met with mystified expressions and tenative hopeful questionings - “Really?? We can sleep?“

Yes, sleep!“ {And BE QUIET for *$%$&@#$ - sake.}

Before you stick up your noses and tut-tut me for my lackness, consider this:

~The reality is that these are elementary students to tenth graders that have been in school since 8 AM in the morning. It is now 4 or 6 or 8 PM {My latest class is 8-9:15, but that is NOT necessarily the last class for THEM.}

~There is no dinner time for these growing weeds bearing the heavy burdens of the future. They keep going on sugar and snakes like the rest of us here.

~English academy – unlike what one teacher told me – really IS just like Japanese after school lessons. No one is there because they want to be but because EVERYONE else is. {I had no idea the Koreans shared the whole group-mentality like the Japanese.} Why should I make them anymore miserable then they already are?

And, frankly, I'm just not getting paid enough to create anymore work for me or them.

So if they do their work they can have their blessed sleep – heaven knows none of us are getting enough of it in the first place. This also allows me to help the slower students in relative quiet which I could NEVER do before as the early finishers were too antsy just sitting there.

They rest. My ears rest.

Peace is maintained and another day passes without someone being reduced to tears for being sent to detention for irritating the hell out of me.

You are nice teacher!“

Damn straight I am.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Waylaid in Wxnderland I

'is that a body in the road?'

So that was the start of my Monday walk to work.

Now we had just been joking – us newcomers – just last Friday about being careful about not getting sick or hit by a car since we did not have health insurance until we got our ARC (Alien Registration) card. That might sound overinflated, but the drivers here are ALL INSANE ASYLUM ESCAPEES. The road to my temporary dwellings is one turn and a then straight shot from there. You'd never know it though between all the shifting, brake-slamming, hitching, jump-starting and outright swerving. It's literally like being thrashed about on a boat at sea during a heavy storm. And that's just the bus drivers as the car drivers have no reservations watsoever apparently about driving up onto and parking on the sidewalks. Truly, when you as a pedestrian walk the streets you really are taking your life into your own hands.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Today, five minutes outside my workplace at the middle of the hill, in a place I always thought was dangerous to cross as there is no light for us, sat several slient ambulances, a handful of perturbed, somewhat irriated looking police officers, and a woman sprawled like a beaten bag of flour on the ground.

At first, coming up from behind, I thought she was one of the many crazy people I have encountered with disturbing frequency here in the middle of throwing a fit or some crazed, drunkard of which there are also quite a few. Even under the bright sunlight of high-noon. But as I approached I could make out the distinct sound of a broken, ceaseless wail coming from the woman. And then a heavy plastic sheet in the middle road jumped into my line of vision. A large blue plastic tarp covering something equally large and non-moving.

On the one hand I was not terribly surprised by this sight, but equally was I too horrified to look very closely. however I couldn't help wondering if it wasn't maybe her large pet dog-which I have YET to see even one- and not her child – which I FREQUENTLY do see ESPECIALLY at this hour. A furtive side-glance as I passed showed no sign of blood smears or other dark tell-tale spoltches, nor did it give any hint to what was slumped beneath the blanket – just a mass under a sheet, no particular shape that would say, 'this was an arm'.


Today was indeed butsumetsu* for all.
And to think that was just the beginning.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

* butsumetsu is part of the shared Chinese and Japaense six-day rotational calender: daian (大安), tomobiki (友引), senpu (先負), senshou (先勝), shakkou (赤口), butsumetsu (仏滅). Butsumetsu is the day for failure. Utter failure. Not even a silver of a chance, not a single ray of hope like the second worst, shakkou when you are alloted some 'relief' time exactly at noon. Oh no, on butsumetsu, don't bother leaving home. Better yet don't even leave your bed. Although, given that it IS butsumetsu, you'll probably just slip and drown in your bathtub.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009


It goes without saying, no pets in class. Please, people.

I walk into my rowdy, overcrowded {“never more then ten students per class” so why do I count fifteen?} but not unpleasant mid-day class today only to have “Di” jump up and proclaim loudly that “Ray” has snakes!

“Snakes?” I feel my eyes bugle.

“Yes, snakes! Snakes!” “Di” pronounces with that giddy, unhinged excitement only tattletales can manage to exude.

The first thought in my head was "You have got to be sh^%#ng me. Someone brought their pet snake to class?!?"
On the heels of that came a rushed apologetic thought - "Not that I have anything against snakes. I like snakes. I have a tendency towards fondness for long slinky things with sharp teeth – sharks, ferrets, snakes. Ferrets."

Inwardly I felt myself rolling my eyes as I approached the podeum.
I scanned the floor as "Ray" and "Di" and frankly most of the class behaved like a scene out of danse macabre.

"Di" points again. More directly this time at "Ray's" bag – "Snake! Snake!"

In the bag – nothing moving.
Bag – cleared.

On the floor...
"Snack?!? You mean snack?!”
I peer in disbelief at the long curly fry on the floor NEXT to the bag.
"That's a snack. Snake is animal."

Draw snake on board.
Point to floor.

Order, or what passes for it here, returned to class as students took their seats when the bell rang.

And for the rest of the class, the nice-teacher turned a blind eye to the occassional yet repeated consumption of the hapless snakes.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Another buck passing(?)

So I received an email from my contact yesterday that started out with this:

I also wanted to let you know that I will be leaving Korea (to go back) on Monday March 2nd.

Well this was certainly unexpected.
Can't say I slept well last night after hearing that. Last time I "filled in" for someone returning, it was NOT a good position. Worst one to date including an occasionally drunken pervert. Although at this point, poor work conditions are nothing new in this business.

And if that weren't unsettling enough, I STILL have not received my home nor work place address. No matter how many times I've nudged or even just asked.

So it's 8 days and counting until my next entrance into hell!
But at least it will be an interesting version of hell.
Not like the mind-numbing, suicidal-inducing boredom of Youngstown, OH hell.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Why is my laptop smoking?

Japan at least is a similar to the USA - runs alttle "slower' which always made my laptops work harder. Specifically, in the US, my laptops were cooler then in Japan. In Japan the internal fan ran ALL THE TIME the laptop was on probably accounting for the fact that inevitably. like clock-work, my laptops always died 2-3 months after returning to the states. >.>

Korea apparently is much worse and will likely literally FRY any equipment made to Japanese or USA standards without a converter.

Here are two excellently written sites I found in my quest to protect my precious Ipod Nano.
Detailed info on Japan's situation including pictures and explanation of area variations.
Worldwide Voltage and Frequency table including linked pictures.

In summary, Japan is complicated - I'm not summarizing it - but USA is a fixed at 120 V with 60 Hz frequency while Korea is mostly 220 V with 60 Hz frequency.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

MichiKusa {道草を食う}: tea


In Japan there is a traditional belief with tea that if you find a leaf is floating upright in your cup that means good fortune is coming.

This is what I found in the bottom of my tea cup late late last night.

Does this mean I am meant to find love on the otherside of the ocean?!?
I wasn't particularly looking, but sure why not.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Do I really need to know this?" AKA: a Korean Language Primer

When I first went to Japan originally I had some basic language skills as backup. I was an exception. Most ESL teachers went blind and frankly did perfectly well. My family thought I was brave or whatever just for going to a foreign country, but I think THOSE teachers were the brave ones. Now is my chance to prove I too am brave.
Not really. It's mostly that I'm just reckless. ^o^

I snooped around online for some info and found a bunch of sites which I will post later, but I needed a BOOK since you have to have you Foreign Residents card processed and in hand to get Internet service at your residence. If Korea is anything like America -and I'm sure it is as governments everywhere thrive by dragging their collective a$ when it comes to getting things done- that could take some time.

Anyway, the book I choose was in Japanese. I know from the little searching I have done online that grammatically Korean is far more similar to Japanese then English. Pronunciation-wise closer to English so I plan to use both English and Japanese resources at my disposal. In the meantime though, since I'm starting from ZERO I went with this Japanese book on recommendation from Kinokuniya in NYC. It came with a CD and was in-stock..

I have to say it just cracks me up. After tracks of numbers, counting and basic greetings you, the learner, enter the world of daily conversation. And that's when it gets good.
"Please stop" ... OK, harmless enough.
"His conversation is most unpleasant" ... Now there's a very Japanese comment. But still in the reasonable range of things.

"The change is wrong."
"This is not what I ordered."
"This food is not cooked through."
"The glass is dirty." ... ...Home cooked meals are sounding better and better all the time.

"I'm afraid of ghosts." ... ...? OK, I do NOT recall this ever coming up in a conversation and I'm a renowned horror-film fan.

But the best parts come at the end of the book/CD. I think the authors were just sick of the whole thing by then and decided to screw with us.

It's starts off with "I have been hit by a car." and "It's not my fault." (now that's a must know in any language.) then follows up with such other useful phrases like "I am the victim" which utterly cracked me up and resulted in no sleep.

Again, do we really need to know these things?
And if so, what does this say about Korea?
All fun.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

oh, yes. another nasty school crawls out from under the rocks

So Korea it is!

But before that, here's another company to avoid in Japan while your out hunting - tis the season and all.

Not only are the benefits ATROCIOUS - frankly I told my friends in Japan the only benefit was it being IN Japan - but apparently they are not interested in qualified applicants. Just so much... work... to schedule... interview... *pass out*

Seriously, they were all high-ho to interview me, but way behind the ball. To make a short story even shorter, I received this message:
Thank you for your email. I have scheduled your telephone interview for Tuesday, February 10th at 10am JST.
Please confirm your interview time.
Vanessa Oguchi HR

SEVERAL HOURS AFTER I had already scheduled an interview with another company that had been in constant email contact with me even throughout the weekend. Like I said, take your time people. Don't want to break a sweat or anything.

Anyway, I sent them a duly apologetic reply, finishing up with a 元気いっぱい:
Terribly sorry for the inconvenience. If another day or time works better for you, please do let me know. I am sure we can work something out!

To which I received a completely そっけない response:
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, Wednesday is a national holiday so our office is not open.
Kind regards,
Vanessa Oguchi HR

うわ~今時のRecruiterは頑張るよね~。(爆笑) Seriously that was the extent of it. Again, don't want to overextend ourselves here. ^o^

Oh, and if their attitude does not make you wary, check out their benefits. I've clipped some below from the info sheet they sent me. If you have never taught in Korea or Japan before, let me say again, they are the WORST I have ever seen.

-Basic salary: \100,000/month (this figure already includes travel expenses)
- Location allowance: \130,000/month
- Attendance Bonus: \10,000/month
- 3 days possible sick leave

And scarier, there's summer (August) and winter (December) vacation to consider. Vacation, YAY? No, Vacation NO PAY:

OPTION A: Aug & Dec paid at 60%
OPTION B: All months paid at 100% except Aug

Then there's this charming little added expenditure which I have NEVER had to pay before:

Car fee: \20,000/month
We will assist you in finding accommodation within your budget. Please note for most apartments there may be considerable initial outlay.

And yes, renting an apartment in Japan does have "considerable outlay".
What is there left to say? Someone is making money here but it's definitely not you.
Basically, you are completely on your own with this company. Good luck and all. :D

Anyway, from my end, cheers and be back with more info on Korea in the future! (^_-)-☆

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Wait. Korea too???

So now we're about to become the Complete JAPAN/SOUTH KOREA Guide?!?!?
Looks like my next job takes me South Korea, NOT Japan. Although I intend to move back to Japan at some point hopefully. Heavy on the hopefully there.

I have found that compared to when I first went in 2000 to Japan, the benefits and wages for Native English teachers have been steady declining. Imagine a plane in nose-dive if you will.

From 2000-2002 I was making the equivalent of 30K USD in Japan. Ah, how I reminicse on those days.
From 2006-2008 I was making the equivalent of 26K USD in Japan. I was in the back-ass country at the time so it worked ok as there was no place to go to actually spend money.
Now shopping around again in 2009, I'm finding the area I worked before in 2000 is offering as low as 23K?!?!?!
(In case you didn't know already, Japan and Korea school years start in the Spring so from January you enter the height of teacher recruiting season.)
Yes, yes, there are still some placesa offering reasonable salaries, but mostly you're looking at the ridiculously low range where the compensation in NO WAY covers the amount of work you will be doing.

Frankly, I find no excuse for this. Commodity prices cost of living has been rising since 2000 and yet salaries are steadily going down??? Where is the compensation for this?

On the other hand, all the schools - few though they may be - I have looked at in Korea are offering top wages for Native English speakers, more in the 26-28K USD bracket. I don't understand this. Yes, the Japanese economy is in shambles, but so is the economy of the whole worldso that doesn't make for an excuse, does it? On top of which, there is a growing need for native English teachers now that they are starting to require English classes at the elementary school level nationwide.

So, as long as I convince someone to give me a contract, it's off to Korea!!
I kinda did want to go there anyway at some point. Besides, they do have a 3hour ferry that runs between Pusan and Oosaka, Japan. (A city near Kyoto if that is more familiar sounding to you. Sorry if you already know that. ^.^ )

In that case I'll be posting info about surviving in both areas from then on.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

Thanks again for stopping into my little corner of the 'net, and Happy Browsing!!

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