Monthly Archives: August 2005

>U-turn country

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Now I need to start this by saying that I don’t think Korean drivers are necessarily worse than any other drivers. In fact, I know a Canadian driver who has a spotted driving past (ie: backing up into the stationary apartment building next door not once… but twice. You know who you are) but things here are just different.

Like the U-Turn.

If you make a u-turn at home, you are pretty much saying that you got turned around at some point and have to go back. Here, you have no choice sometimes… you have to do it to get to where you are going. But it still looks hilarious when 5 cars all pull a “u-ee” at a light.

Speaking of the traffic lights… they seem to be more of a suggestion here than an actual representation of how you are supposed to maneuver your car. There have been a lot of people going through red lights. No – a LOT. It is crazy. You have to be careful when you cross the street outside my place because of this. Today a dozen cars went through the intersection after it was red. Very careful.

>You might be a nerd if…

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…these pictures make you laugh as much as I did. www.toothpastefordinner.com is one of my favorite sites.

>Suji

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So I’m not really in Seoul… I’m in Suji. Suji is sort of a suburb of Seoul and its own city at the same time. Not the way Burnaby is a city on its own though… it is different. And the weirdest thing is that cab drivers in Seoul don’t know where Suji is (a bad scene if you are trying to get home drunk… imagine having your cab stop to ask another cabbie how to get you home and YOU don’t know where the fuck home is…). This area is really new and most of the buildings are less than 25 years old. It is also a very affluent neighbourhood so it is pretty clean too. However, the smog is the shits. These pictures of the buildings and the sky were taken today around 5pm, so it was still daylight.


I took the picture of the guy farming because he is doing that right down town. I took that picture standing beside a 6 lane expressway (that I have to cross – with a streetlight safely mom, I promise – every day to go to work). There are little vegetable gardens like that all over the place. It is really wierd and kind of cool at the same time. That is one thing I will give Korea, they are using their space well. They garden wherever they can and they build vertically instead of horizontally.

>Hey hey, it’s my monkeys

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I don’t know if teaching is getting easier or not, but it sure ain’t good for the throat when you have a cold. There was much telling off of the little monsters today. I had to take away everyone’s stickers because someone got hit by another kid really, really hard and was hurt. So here is a picture of my wee little bastards. If there are 10 kids in the picture, I got them all to sit on the mat. I seriously doubt there are 10.

>Every night is beer night

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I keep MEANING to do a post, but I am vaguely retarded and keep forgetting my camera. And most of my posts need pictures to fully explain what the heck is going on. So today, please enjoy the picture of the Coffin of Sand (it isn’t EXACTLY the Coffin of Sand I sleep in every day, but it is close) and the size of the pints. Those pints were from the Wa Bar, where I went with Laura and Francis on my first real night here (thanks, girls!). That bottle is of a mud slide, and is there for prospective, so you can tell how big those pints are. And a pint is about $2.50CAD. There are definitely high points to being here.

On Friday night, I went out to the park for some drinks. Also a highlight – drinking in public is totally acceptable. What was a little weird is that it was 11pm and there were still kids all over the park. After a few we went to the Beer Cabin – Joe, Orla, Aaron (sorry Aaron… not sure about the spelling), Brooke, Richard (sometimes known as Chad) and I. It was good fun, and cheap beer. My first night drinking Soju, but because it was peach flavoured I don’t think it counts. Get this… you buy the flavoured Soju by the pitcher, but you do it in shots. In case you didn’t quite get the full ramifications of that I will word it again: You buy SHOTS by the PITCHER here. I heart Korea.

The next night I went into Itaewon (very multicultural part of Seoul) with Orla, Joe, Brooke and Richard (sometimes known as Chad… but I think for now I will call him Richard. If later you read about “Chad” though, that is still Richard and I have just changed my mind about what to call him). Brooke, Richard and I went to a Greek restaurant, which was very good. Then we met Orla and Joe across the street (forgot the name of the bar… if you are reading this Orla, leave a comment with the name). This new bar was very cool… wish I wasn’t such a dumbass and had brought my freaking camera. The seats are very low to the ground and the atmosphere was amazing. But the coolest thing was that the floor was covered in white sand so you felt like you were at the beach. Next time I go (and there will be a next time, I promise!) I will bring my camera. The other neat thing is that on the menu an option is hour on the hookah. For 15,000W. We didn’t try it, but it sounds pretty cool.

After that (we left after one drink because they were “too expensive”… about $6 for a Cosmo) we went to the “Hollywood Grill” for more drinks. It was so much fun! It was just about being back home, but the Premiership game started at 11:00pm and we were already drunk. Fun! All of us piled into a cab and headed home – at about 2:30am.

Sunday I mostly sat around on my ass and rested. Started getting the worst cold ever. I’m feeling better today, but not by a lot. My voice is screwed – and yelling and the little monkeys all day didn’t help.

Tonight we went out for Francis’ birthday. Happy Birthday Francis!! I split a “Mexican Salad” with Amelia. It had apples and party sprinkles (yes, like the kind on a fucking birthday cake) but no Mexicans. In fact, beats the fuck out of me what the hell made it Mexican.

I’ll post more later. Cheers.

>Lazy entry today

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I’m feeling too lazy to type much, but if you check out http://www.flickr.com/photos/luckybuttons76/ you can see some photos finally.

Finally have the internet at home…

>First day and the new apartment

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The new job

I need to start by saying this: my dreams are haunted by the voices of children saying “Jodi Teacher… Jodi Teacher… Jodi Teacher help…. Jodi Teacher finished…. Jodi Teacher I can no do…”. Haunted.

Yesterday was the first day of teaching, and seeing as how I lived and all the children lived, I think I did okay. Don’t know if the little buggers learned anything or had any fun, but they lived.

I start the days teaching kindergarten. Firstly, this is nothing like our kindergarten and secondly, everything is done in 15 minute increments (even math) so if you have the attention span of a gnat, this is the work for you. These kids are so smart. They all know their alphabet, they are starting to read, they can do math and can converse. Now, you are probably thinking… I could do that in kindergarten. Not like this. And not in an EFFING FOREIGN LANGUAGE. Try this: add trois and cinq. See? I mean, you can do it, but you have to think about it for a second. And you aren’t FIVE years old. These kids rule. And they are really cute. And just so you know on my first day one of them got a nosebleed. Just because that is fun to do to the new teacher.

Kindergarten is mostly the kids saying “Jodi Teacher” over and over and over again to get my attention, and Jodi Teacher saying “Yes yes yes… yes… now sit down. Sit. Is that how we sit in our chairs? Look everyone how nicely Grace is sitting… can everyone sit like Grace? Now if you can all walk to the bathroom without screaming or running everyone can have a sticker.” These kids are obsessive-compulsive sticker-collectors. It is insane, but it works. So does taking them away if they act like little bastards. So I teach these wee monkeys from 10:00am until 2:30 every day with an hour off for lunch.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I teach three classes in the afternoon, ending at 7:00pm (remember I start at 10:00am so it ain’t bad). These guys are coming to LCI (the school I work at) in order to do extra practice. Poor bastards. You can see how tired they are sometimes so it is important to keep their attention. They are really smart though and it is cool to teach them stuff. My five o’clock yesterday read a story about Alexander Graham Bell. It was interesting to try and explain what “inventors” do. There is so much English in my head that is just there and I don’t know what the meaning is. Inventor was easy compared to explaining “still”… as in “My family is still in Korea”. I feel like saying “It means… you know… “still”. As in “they are STILL there”. Still.” Poor kids, they’ve got an idiot teaching them who is seriously considering becoming a practicing alcoholic (sorry moms, but beer is cheaper than Pepsi so what’s a girl to do??) I was exhausted at the end of the day, but I got to run home and get ready to move into my new house (that is why no blog yesterday).

The new apartment (pictures coming soon!)

It isn’t as bad as I thought. It is like a dorm room, not a prison cell. I was worried because people kept saying “you have the smallest apartment” (which I do) but it isn’t that bad. And besides, it is just me. If I had a roommate or a pet it would be hell on earth, but I don’t, so I like it. Another teacher at the school (who is a wealth of information and has a wicked-fun attitude) named Amelia lives upstairs and is in the biggest apartment. I checked it out and it is three times the size of mine. But I’m not fussed, even Amelia says she does most of her stuff in the one room anyway. So I’m not all that concerned about the size. What does concern me is how dirty the shit was.

I’ve seen dirty and this wasn’t the worst. But it was close. I got in there at 7:30pm, and cleaned until 2:00am. This is the best part. Please remember that this is a one-room place that isn’t even 300 square feet. In those four hours, all I did was the following:

  • Make the bed
  • Clean the fridge (and it is a little fridge. Made by Samsung. But fucking everything here is made by Samsung, including the plug in my bathroom sink and my gas range.)
  • Clean the floor and wall behind the fridge. And then cleaning up my blood from the floor because I stepped in glass.
  • Bag up the “left behinds” (from the last teacher)
  • Wipe out the wardrobe and hang up /some/ clothes (I’m not fully unpacked yet…)
  • Wipe out the medicine cabinet
  • Scrape the soap off of the soap holder

That’s it. And that is how long it took. Oh, and I vacuumed out the vents in the a/c because it was also gross. GROSS GROSS GROSS. But it is starting to come together. I should have the internet at home early next week, so I will be available for chatting more often. A few people have asked for my mailing address, and I was waiting until I moved. Now that I have moved, I learn that the best place to send shit is the school (duh). So here is Jodi Teacher’s address in Korea:

C/O LCI KIDS CLUB
6 FL. GARAM B/D 1084-14
PUNGDUKCHUN-RI SUJI-EUP
YONGIN-SI KYONGGI-DO
KOREA, SOUTH

I have a cell phone too, but it is in Korean and I can’t figure it out. If it were to ring, I could answer it though. If you leave voicemail, may the Lord help ya ’cause I can’t. I did figure out how to get into voicemail (same as you do here)… but I don’t have the four digit code I need and I’m going to wait at least one more week to ask the Korean teachers (I hate that I have to bug them every time I need any little thing). Anyhoo… here is my number: 010 3980 0523.

The new job – Day 2

I’m too tired to type about day two. The wee bastards tried to get me to quit today. It was all about a battle to see where the boundaries are. I don’t know if I’m winning, but once again we all made it through the day alright (well, alive at least). I didn’t have afternoon classes today so I was done by 2:30 (sweet). Now I’m going to Lotte Mart to pick up more cleaning shit and tackling the kitchen cupboards. Tomorrow is Friday here, and we all get to work late. But I’m promised that everyone goes out crazy-style Friday nights and I’m looking forward to it.

Keep in touch… getting emails from everyone is keeping me sane. The people here are really, really great but not as great as you guys (of course). Let me know what’s shaking with you.

>Razing the new teacher

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I’ve been so uptight about my back (ha ha – uptight… get it?) that I forgot to tell you about the funniest thing that happened today. It was field trip day – I figured they were kidding just to freak me out. But nope, going on a field trip with 50+ five year olds.

The bus ride there was okay, because there are actually 7 buses (they are more like vans) and there was a Korean teacher in the bus with me. Actually, there was only one girl from my kindy class in my bus – her name is Grace and she’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.

We ended up at a place called ‘Bear Castle’, and the shameful thing is that I didn’t have my camera. But I’m going to go back for pictures, because it is unreal. It is a big toy store / arcade, but there are these huge bears all over the outside that are worth checking out. We had to ride the escalators 2 by 2 to the fourth floor, and then we went into the theatre. Once in there, we got all the kiddies seated and the lights go out. I was expecting a movie. But it was a play. Today I saw ‘The Wizard of Oz’, live and in Korean. With 5 actors. It was craptacular but the kids loved it.

What was amazing is how behaved they were. they can been little hooligans (cute hooligans though, so it is hard to get mad… and not just because I’m new, Amy teacher (the girl I’m replacing) still thinks they are cute and she’s been here her year) in class so I thought the field trip would be a horror show. All in all, not bad.

Tomorrow is my first day teaching. Keep your fingers crossed!

Original Comments:

cj_coulter wrote (on 24/08/05):

I used to do my grocery shopping at the Bear Castle (downstairs in Carrefour). It’s one stop from my old school on the subway.

>Maybe I SHOULD have pooped my pants…

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Today was the first day that I had a minor breakdown and I haven’t even started teaching yet. You know what sucks? Being in a country where you don’t know the language and being told that there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with your shit. How serious? Herniated disk in my lower back. That’s how serious.

Apparently the second doctor was not just sought out because he can speak pretty good English… the first doctor told Ellie (my supervisor) that I was going to require surgery. Eep! That’s when I started to get a little bit uptight. Then they took more x-rays and this doctor very clearly showed me where my back was wrecked. Right at the bottom and it ain’t looking good. The disks are all squished together and there is no arch in my back. Then he did this thing where he pushed on my toes and the toes on the right side are big wieners… can’t hold their own. But this guy says that surgery is the last option he wants me to take (goody) and that I should start doing effing physio every single day. Nice. Starting today.

I figured today’s therapy would be like yesterday’s… and it was. And it wasn’t. Most of it (up to and including the traction contraption) were pretty much the same, so I will skip it. The only new thing was the Coffin of Sand. It was a coffin-shaped box with sand in it. The sand was covered with a blanket. I got to hop in, and they closed the lid with my head poking out (good thing my head wasn’t inside the Coffin, or that’s about when I would have started protesting). It just got really warm. If I could get one and bring it home, I totally would. I would sleep in a Coffin of Sand every night, it is pretty comfy.

That was the last good thing to happen. Today after the traction contraption I was in serious pain. Couldn’t get up off the bed pain, couldn’t stand up pain, couldn’t walk pain. And no one can fucking help me because they don’t speak English and I don’t know how to say “help me I’m dying” in Korean. They understood when I started crying though – I don’t think they wanted me to scare the other patients. I was taken back into the doctor (who speaks English) and he gave me my prescription for more painkillers (yesterday’s were crap) and then to the nurse to get a shot for the pain. And this is how much it hurts, boys and girls… the shot didn’t help. And joy! I get to go tomorrow again. It is no wonder just stretching hasn’t been helping my back – herniated disks. It is probably a good thing i am here… no one in Canada x-rayed and no one thought it was serious. Now I’m going to kick my back’s ass. I have to – the kids want to be picked up. They want me to sit on the floor with them. I have to sit on the floor sometimes to drink beer and eat dinner. And I want to do those things without feeling like a 400 year old woman.

Other than my back though, things are great.

Original Comments:

Erin wrote (on 29/08/05):

I can completely COMPLETELY understand. It took a blood infection to get me into a hospital here and I too cried and felt the drugs were crap…
Plus side we know how good eastern body positioning and love of MRI’s and x-rays is! They are nothing if not careful. Gambate my girl! and remember our yoga postures!

and-errhea wrote (on 24/08/05):

Oh, baby. You must be in aych-eee-double-hockey-sticks. And I know that you are a tough-as-shit Cariboo Country girl, and I mean skeleton-of-titanium tough, so for you to complain about this stuff is a big deal. I hope you’re feeling better soon, ready to kick some cute 5-year-old Korean ASS!

xo.

Korean kiropractor

So guess what 11 hours in an airplane and 25 hours of sitting around does to Jodi Teacher’s back? Frigs it all to hell, that’s what. Now, for those of you who don’t know, my back bugs me on and off anyway. But it has been horrid the last couple of days, and today it was so bad that I asked Ellie (a Korean teacher at the school and the person who made the decision to hire me) if there were chiropractors in Korea. This became an experience like no other.

So at lunch Ellie takes me to the doctor. Good thing, because I have NO idea what the hell they are talking about. When we get in to see the guy, as he is talking, Ellie is making faces and going “oh no…. oh no…. oh… oh” and looking over at me like I’m going to drop dead at any moment. She finally translates 5 minutes of discourse into “he says it could be serious”.

Now, he had me lie down and moved my legs around and poked me in the back to see where it hurts. Much like how a Canadian doctor would do it. Thus endeth the similarities.

Next thing I know I’m being taken for x-rays, at which point I try not to poop my pants. If someone wants to x-ray your SPINE, typically it isn’t a good indicator of what’s to come. (I found out later that afternoon that the chiropractors here x-ray everyone, which is actually not a bad idea). So after x-raying I go back into the doctor’s office – good news is that there doesn’t seem to be serious damage. WHOO HOO! But it is still hurting.

I get dragged into another room, told to lay on my left side. The nurse (or woman doctor??) massaged my back with a… thing? I don’t know what the hell it was. Ellie says “waves”, and all I can tells ya is that it was cold.

Then I had to lay on a hot pad for 40 minutes. The nurse (or woman doctor???) comes back and gets me up on my side. I wish I could tell you accurately what happened next, but alas – such is the barrier of language. She stuck things on my back – four of them I think. And then turned on “the machine”. I think it may have been electricity… it sort of felt like a bunch of needles (the way your leg falling asleep feels like needles). It felt good and wrong at the same time.

And yet… it was NOTHING compared to what came next… “traction treatment”. I thought they were kidding, until they took me to the rack.

I had a harness slipped under my shoulders, and a belt-thing lashed tightly around my pelvis. That part they hooked up to a machine that pulled on my pelvis while my arms were trapped in the harness.

PUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLL… relax….PUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLL… relax….PUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLL… relax…. this went on for some time.

All in all, the treatment took 2 hours. And cost me $30. And if I had my alien card, it would have been free (although Ellie tells me if I get cancer I’m fucked – cancer is NOT covered). If you are wondering, my back feels like hell… but it feels like the hell you endure before something gets better. Also, they gave me a prescription for drugs. They didn’t even cost $10. I’ve taken the first dose, but just moments ago so I can’t report yet how they work. If they suck, I have Robaxicin and beer is so cheap it is nearly free. I’ll let you all know how this fiasco turns out….