A Travellerspoint blog

July 9

Today, I did the hokie pokie in class. It was the most fun I've ever had doing the hokie pokie. In one of my classes the kids are learning the parts of the body. I asked them where their rear end was, and they didn't know. I asked where they derriere was, and the still had no clue as to what I was asking. I then asked them where their back side was and I turned around. Some little light bulb went off, and I told my students (who are about 8-10) to get up, push in their chairs, and do the hokie pokie with me. We hokied the arms, legs, head, elbows, and the rear end. They had a blast - so did I.

I finally got to talk to my folks via skype as well today. It was so nice to talk to them, show them the apartment, and just catch up. They seemed pretty stoked to get to talk to me as well. It's astounding what technology just keeps coming up with. Just wait, next we'll be living on Mars. :)

Posted by almchenry 04:48 Comments (2)

Hospitals in Korea

I pray to the almighty budda I don't get sick.

So yesterday morning (Monday) I had to go get a physical done, in order to get my alien card, in order to get more vital things that I need in Korea. I was told that I needed to fast after 10pm on Sunday. Fasting wasn't a problem, but the school told me that I couldn't even drink water. Peculiar I though, but I did fast without any water.

I got up Monday, rode the subway (which are incredibly clean. EVERYTHING in Korea is clean!), and ended up in at the Hospital. I had to do an eye, ear, find the number on the page, and blood pressure exam.

Then I had to go give blood. This is where I have a problem. The nurse that was taking my blood wasn't wearing gloves, and when she got done getting the pint of blood (I exaggerate) out of me she threw the needle in some can. There wasn't anything labeled bio-hazardous, but rather a plain metal bin.

Next I had to give a urine sample - in a dixie cup. This I'm not exaggerating on. She marked on the dixie
cup with a pen where I needed to pee. I don't know where the cup came from, but it had obviously not been sterilized.

Lastly, about 13 hours later from not eating anything and then giving blood, I had to go get x-rays. I walked in, there was a top that had been used by who knows who, and I had to put on. The last person could have had some kind of skin disease, and I just put it on.

It just astounded me that as clean as Korea keeps everything, the nurse wasn't wearing gloves, nothing was put in a bio-hazardous bin, I peed in a dixie cup, and I had to use garments worn by how many other people? If there's one thing that I am grateful for, it's the health care and proper safety restrictions that the U.S. goes through.

Posted by almchenry 15:45 Comments (1)

July 7

I'm sitting outside of a Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins, and a Starbucks (unfortunately I did go with a corporate for some coffee). There's not too much roughing it. It's a beautiful Tuesday morning about 7:30am. It's not overcast (that usually rolls in around 3pm), it's about 70ish, and there's a nice breeze. The perfect day to be docing my journey outside. I realize that I've talked about my experiences thus far, but I haven't talked about my job, the reason why I'm here.

The school - It's great. Like I've said it's 2 minutes from my apartment. I don't have to be at work till 2pm, so literally I could pretty much roll out of bed, and walk across the street. Which would be convenient if I drank like a fish like most everyone else around here does, but I don't. So I wake up usually around 8am. Which means that I've got to find a gym STAT! I stray - I get to work at 2, and meet with the teachers that I'm working with. There are about 10 Korean teachers, and their job is to actually teach English grammar to the kids. I find out what I need to be doing and what I need to review with the kids. I go to the classroom which holds no more than 11 students. That is the most that any teacher has.

The ages vary as well. Some of the classes are youngsters, where they don't know a lick of English. Those aren't so bad. They usually don't say anything if I ask them a question. But if I tell them to repeat after me, they will. The next level are the 3 graders or so. They really are my worst class. It's so hard to get them to settle down. Granted the class is only for 50 minutes, but it seems like a very long 50 minutes. Most of the time I just end up talking to myself. Oh! And since this is an English class, they can only speak English so if I hear them speaking Korean, they get an X by their name - 3 X's and you're out. It's promoting the kids to speak English using the baseball system. :)

The next grades aren't so bad, 5-6. When I get down on their level it's very easy to relate to them. All I really have to do is make an ass out of myself. Which isn't very difficult. Like I said, most of the time I read and they repeat after me. Sometimes with this level of students, I'll stray and talk about some synonyms or some random fact. They aren't too bad. The thing that I've noticed is that most of them speak quietly. I know that the school wants to build their confidence, so another key element that I push in class is to speak up. Respond to me. I don't want them to be afraid to talk.

The next levels are very smart. They can read and write on their own, so with them it's not so much a matter of say this after me. I try to connect the dots with them. Give them abstract ideas and see if they can follow them. On Friday's at 6:10 I have one student that's in the 9th grade. She's incredibly bright and wants to become a teacher or a doctor.

All around it's a great job. I really enjoy it. There are the little brats, but what kid isn't a brat at one point or another in their life? For the most part, the kids are great. They are nothing like the kids in the U.S. They want to learn and strive to speak better English. There are the stereotypical types of kids that I see that I see in the U.S. The nerd, the suck up, the quiet awkward kid, and so on. So it's interesting that no matter in which country, those stereotypes do exist. But, it's made me appreciate and love teaching in a way that I thought I never could.

Posted by almchenry 20:16 Comments (0)

July 5, 2008

July 5

So in my effort to try to find an iron and a blow dryer, along with the beach, I took a nice 5 hour tour of the city. I broke my new tennis shoes needless to say. I did however manage to find e-mart, where I got what I needed. I however did not manage to find the beach. The closest I came to was the yacht barn.

I consciously know that I am in a different city, but my subconscious finally kicked in. It finally clicked with today that I am in a different country. I’ve realized it all along, but being by myself in a different place will really open your eyes. The generation difference here is amazing too. The older generation stared at me while I walked by. The younger though paid me no attention.

The women here are very interesting as well, particularly the older ones. They wear these amazingly long visors. Ones that shield their face completely, and not only do the visors hide their face, but they carry umbrellas as well. I now know that if I see an old lady with an umbrella to stay out of her way. They literally will push you out of the way with their elbows. Moving out of someone’s way is not common around here. You just have to push and shove.

Speaking of, on my way back from the yacht barn, I met up with an old lady with an umbrella. She was walking right in the middle of the sidewalk. So I start walking faster trying to pass her. Well she decided to start walking faster as well. I eventually past her because 5’9 wins over 4’nothing. Well I come to an intersection, and it’s one that is a 5 minute -file your nails-call your brother in Norway- to walk across intersection. She meets back up with me. We start walking again, but the 4’ nothing umbrella lady passes me because she’s tiny. I catch up with her eventually and pass her once again. I’ll be damned but I come to another stop light, and she catches up with me. She sneaks ahead of me but I manage to coerce my way thru the crowd and meet back up. As I’m passing her on the right, I look over to my left and she smiles at me. She knew. That was the last time I saw her, and it made my day.

It’s starting to be overcast time. The view from my apartment is nothing like it was earlier this morning. The fog has rolled in, and the lush mountains are now hidden.

Posted by almchenry 23:42 Comments (1)

July 2, 2008

July 2

I took a tour of the city today. My way of saying that I got lost. However I did find 2001 outlet, and it is so much better than the San Marcos outlets. However, what I went in looking for they didn’t have. Apparently to get a blow dryer and an iron you have to go to e-mart, which is a subway ride. They have ironing boards for the iron, just not any irons. A bit incontinent, but never the less anything I need (for the most part) I can get very close to me.

Most of the days are over cast, which isn’t bad at all. All I have to do is open my window and get a very nice breeze. I will get in trouble though. There’s a little mini mart below my building, so I’ve got to find a market ASAP. Eating some chips and having some water isn’t really a good diet that I would recommend. I’ve got to find a gym too. Hopefully I will be enrolling in some judo classes of some sort. I will be fierce when I come back.

It’s interesting to see the young women walk around here. Most of the time they are all wearing heels. And I thought I was a heel fanatic.

Everyone has been so helpful though. As much as there is a language barrier, both cultures grasp what each other are talking about. In some places, it seems to be a bit of a bother asking people how to get to a place or where can I find something. If you look lost here, most of the time someone will come up to you and help you out.

Posted by almchenry 23:05 Comments (0)

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