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Moving Out

I know it’s kind of pointless, to post on a blog that only ten people read, but if anyone knows of any schools looking for new teachers, let me know. Despite of the breakdown you read of earlier this week, I actually do enjoy teaching. Only the hours (and the cold weather this far up north) were killing me.

Right now I’m looking for work in Seoul and Pusan, because I’d like to take university classes in Korean as well, as well as study Buddhism and yoga. And because of those interests, I would like to spend only 8-9 hours a week in the office–preparation included!

I’m not too picky about accomodations, but because of the number of extracurricular activities I plan to take up next year, and traveling, pay will be an issue. But I don’t think you’ll find me too unreasonable as far as my salary goes. It’s just that this will be my second year teaching, and I really earned my stripes at Wonderland, so I expect a bit more.

Ideally I would start work in February, but I know it’s harder to find work as an Asian. So I’m willing to move back to Korea in late January.

Okay, enough of the pimping. I’m going to be really busy this weekend, but if you want to hang or chill out in Seoul (and you’re a girl!!!) then I’m free on the weekends up til the 20th. That’s when I head on back. Until then, I plan to:

1) Mail everything back home. (I’m donating most of my clothes to the Salvation Army. And on Wednesday night I threw away half my shoes . . . still traumatized.)

2) Buy the first season of Prison Break, because Wentworth Miller is gorgeous and I am shallow.

3) Buy presents for my very patient, understanding parents. I’ll probably buy everyone else’s gifts when I’m in Cali, because I have enough stuff to send home.

4) Look into a trip to New York City! I always wanted to go, and after the New Year I can see myself getting real bored at home. Which isn’t so bad, but I always wanted to visit the East Coast, and the closest I’ve ever been was Texas . . . sad, I know.

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“Pia, you have to eat something.”

I poke out of the hood of my winter coat, wiping the snot with my sleeve. “Huh.”

“You have to wash your face. You have to fix your hair. Are you ready to teach your classes.”

I sit up and start gathering my books. “Yeah, yeah, I’ll have it done in ten minutes.”

“You’d think they’d give you the day off. Or at least let you spend those two weeks in Thailand.”

“No, it’s nobody’s fault. I understand why she decided not to work here. I wish she’d told me yesterday so I hadn’t spent all night cleaning and packing, but I understand. It’s a hard job. I can see why she’s overwhelmed. She’s younger than me, and I remember feeling overwhelmed. Uh-huh, I don’t blame nobody.”

Shelley’s eyes widen as she sees my face. “Pia, please eat something. The cook, she saved some food for you.”

“I should be in the airport right now. I should be eating Thai food. I should be vacationing for a month. I shouldn’t be here, in my coat, in the winter, with more hours in the office. She gave me the shitty classes for December, you know that? I could have died when I found out.”

“Why are you still here? If I were you, I would have been on that plane. It’s not your fault the new girl couldn’t take it.”

“Of course I’m going to stay. How would you teach all my classes.”

“Yes, but you were only going to be in Thailand for two weeks anyway. They should have let you go.”

I rest my head on my desk again. “I just wanted a month off. I didn’t care if I was in Thailand or Ilsan or my little hick town in California. I just wanted four weeks away.” I look up again. “I only signed on for two more months. Not three. That’s a fourth of a year. I can’t do that.”

“That’s what I’m saying. Sod this place. You fulfilled your first contract, and extended it thinking you would be working less hours.”

“I am tired. I want to go home.”

“I know–”

“I want to go home!” I scream, pulling my at my hair. “It’s too cold. I’m lonely! I’m tired! I hate it! I want to go home!”

“Pia, please . . .”

“I want to go home,” I moan, reaching for her. “I want to go home.”

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My replacement didn’t show up today. She emailed me this morning to tell me that she would look for another job.

My trip to Thailand is canceled. I am not taking a break this month.

I have never felt so miserable. I want to go home.

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Those Darn Americans

Marbs on Thanksgiving, caught on Myspace:

I caught Pa eating a Filipino dinner before the turkey was even done, and I’m not sure Mom even had any.

Hee! You can take my parents out of the Philippines, but you can’t . . .

***

I’ve decided to spend the second half of December in Seoul. But this time, I’m going to stay out of my safety nets–Gwangwhamun, Itaewon and Seoul Station.

In the meantime, I’d like to work on boring, dopey interests that have been long neglected in favor of work, Taekwondo, yoga and that cute barista I’ve been stalking. I’d like to reconnect with friends with whom I’ve lost contact (in and out of Korea), take pictures, type on my dumb blog and untangle that funky scarf I started months and months ago . . .

And a big thanks to Amanda for posting pics of the gorgeous Cho Jae-Jin. Christmas has come early, ho ho ho. This should make winter slightly more tolerable.

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Er, Scratch That

Ignore my last post. I’m staying at Wonderland for another three months.

Two months, actually. I get all of December off.

This was the fourth time the school asked me to extend my contract, with a month off in December. As I mentioned earlier, they originally wanted me to stay a whole year as a supervisor. The school is going to hire a new teacher, so there would be three of us, in anticipation for more students in January. Also, I would have a month of vacation, more pay, my own apartment and fewer classes.

I said no, I’m already at my wit’s end, I’m cold and strung out and I’m fairly certain my parents would fly on over, take me by the hair and drag me back to California. Besides, I’m here for other reasons besides money. I want to live near a university so I can take classes in Korean; I want to live near Busan so I can go to my favorite temple in Gyeongju every weekend. And, uh, I’d like to log in less than ten hours every day.

Then C approached me a new proposition: stay until the school year ends in February, teach fewer classes (about 6 to 8, depending on whether or not we get that many new students) without a decrease in my monthly salary, get a new apartment above the school (as if I don’t spend enough time there!) and get next month off “to travel around Asia.”

The school just fired a Korean teacher, and three months prior another teacher had quit. M completed her contract last month and Shelly just started. So we’re going through all these new teachers, and some of the parents have been complaining. If I leave now it could be the last straw.

Plus, it would look really good to tell prospective employers that my school asked me to stay another year. But most important, the school has been good to me. Yeah, this chain is notorious for screwing teachers over, and this particular school has. But for the most part, it’s treated me well.

More important, C has looked out for me. Maybe this is the Korean mindset seeping in, but I do feel loyal to her. Fortunately, she also leaves in February, so I won’t feel the need to stay any longer. I’m sure the school will ask me again to stay until 2008, but I’ll have a far easier time saying no to the director.

Anyway, one month off. All that free time–what do I do? I’m fairly certain I know the answer, but I have to do a little more research. This weekend will be spent browsing the Lonely Planet sections in Kyobo and What The Book.

I’m kind of stressed from planning everything so close to December, so if you see a short little Asian girl in dirty sneakers, clutching a cup of coffee and mumbling to herself, buy her a cinnamon scone.

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Boo.

The Motherfucker isn’t going to Pusan anymore, and Z can’t afford to go either. Jason and Angela, knowing zip about the film festival (or any place outside of Seoul for that matter), dropped out.

And there’s just something so depressing about doing something by yourself, when you’d originally planned to do it with friends.

Boo.

Now it’s half past four in the morning, my bags are packed and I’m left with a weekend of nothing to do.

Some people would love this. Considering how we have an orientation for the students’ parents and the new foreign teacher this week, I should revel in my two days of lounging around.

But . . . next Friday I end work at 7 p.m. The Jay-Z concert starts at 8. I’d miss a huge chunk of it.

Not to mention this will be the newbie’s first weekend in Korea, and it would suck to be like, “Well, its Friday night in a country in which you know nobody and I’m going to this awesome shindig in Seoul but I will totally take you out once I get over the fact that I was in the same building as Jay-Z! Help yourself to the sliced cheese in the fridge! Peace out!”

So I’ll most likely end up ditching the concert as well. Christ.

I had so many plans, and now the only thing I have to look forward to this weekend is that What The Book received my order for the sixth volume of Fables. But even my favorite comic book series can’t make up for missing the largest film festival in all of Asia.

And I know I should be happy because I’m saving money, but I hate doing nothing. Especially after spending four days of nonstop activities in Gyeongju.

There’s got to be something major going on in Seoul this weekend. If not, maybe I’ll take that Korean proficiency test. I should buy some new sweaters, it’s getting too cold. I should clean my room, because there’s mold growing on my backpack.

I’m getting sick of the capital.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to lie on the sofa and hate my friends. But only for five minutes. There’s a whole lot of nothing to do.

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Annyeong!

So I’m back, I’m tired, and here are some highlights from my stay in Gyeongju:

a) An elderly German and French group joined us on Saturday. For Europeans, they were quite rude. Most of those I’ve encountered outside the temple had been very courteous and eager to follow Korean etiquette. Anyway, touring Asia with such a large, robust crowd looks like fun. I can see myself doing something like that when I’m 65.

b) Some of the younger foreigners and I took out this one monk visiting from Southeast Asia. He was so adorable–he shared our shameless enthusiasm for rice cakes and played all these children’s games.

c) My favorite monk instructed us to shut our rectums while breathing in during our yoga exercises. (What is it with yoga and butt-holes?) He made us practice 30 times, while bending over. It was awkward.

d) The same monk has rap music on his cell phone. They’re not as innocent as they look . . .

e) My team won this traditional Korean board game. Three rounds, and we were up against the monks for the title. (They cheated a few times, by the way.) I have to say that I was the standout player–otherwise known as “the lucky Japanese girl.” The ajummas actually whooped every time I played. And the monks were startled by how competitive I was. I probably shouldn’t have sneered at them so much.

f) When the older people found out I couldn’t speak Korean, they spoke to me in Japanese. Since I only know a little, I didn’t realize this until much later, when they addressed me directly. But considering they thought I was from their most hated country, they were really nice!

g) I had to do 108 bows. It doesn’t seem that hard on paper, but believe me, it is. Halfway through I was throwing myself on the ground. Afterwards, I had to walk back up the mountain to the dorms. My legs cramped up during dinner that night. But junior monks have to do 3,000 bows at least once (one recalled finishing in about 7-8 hours), so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. And I felt really good afterwards! It was the most sweaty “workout” I had that week.

h) I can do half-lotus for ten minutes now! I’m hurting, but determined.

i) I told my mom I’m going to study (and most likely practice) Buddhism. She was concerned, but for the most part happy for me.

There’s more, but I want to elaborate on those moments when I have more time. Let me just say, this trip was the best time I’ve had in the past year.

Even though my ass hurts.

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