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I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the earthquake–tsunami–nuclear reactor disaster in Japan. Some of you may have even heard about the volcanoes that have been erupting there too. My friend who teaches English in Iwaki ended up going home last week, understandably so.
Korea hasn’t been effected by any of these, at least not yet (we’ll see what happens with the radiation). But it’s good to be prepared in case something does happen. I’ve heard foreigners here say they’re not registered with their embassy because they don’t know how to do it. But, aside from the newsletters they’ll send you, the embassies can also make sure you’re evacuated promptly if there is a problem (like nuclear fallout or fighting with North Korea). So I’ve posted the links to various embassy websites for registering purposes:
Americans (you’ll need your Passport number and address in Korea)
Canadians (you’ll need your passport number and address in Korea)
As of 11:50am on March 18, my dog Marty is missing.
I had taken him to a park just outside my apartment to play with him off of his leash. The weather has been really nice lately so I let him just wander around the park while I sat on the swings. I was starting to get ready to leave when a group of women come up to me, cooing at Marty because he’s basically adorable. So I was talking to them in English. And then I realized they were recruiting for their church.
They had me almost literally backed into a corner since I was sitting on the swings. But I thought what could be the harm in just listening to them. So for twenty minutes I listened to them while they showed me a video about how they celebrate Passover, which protects them from disaster, and they tried to get me to go to their church on Saturdays instead of Sunday church. They asked me for my phone number and I wrote down the wrong one (actually honest because I can never remember my phone number). And then of course they called it but luckily I didn’t have my cell phone on me so I could just not answer. But a Korean guy answered. Really Korean guy? You couldn’t just not answer just this one time?
So they kept asking for my phone number when I realized that Marty was missing. He had stopped running back to me after exploring for a while. I went to go look for him, and the women actually helped look for him. Normally there would be one thing working for me in that Marty wears a harness plus a collar and the collar has my address and phone number on it. However, I had given Marty a bath the day before and forgot to put his second collar on.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find him before I had to go to a meeting for work. After the meeting, I basically sat in my classroom for an hour trying to eat some comfort McDonald’s while starring at cheerful stories about the disaster in Japan. Then taught some classes. Then I asked a counselor to help me make a reward poster, which I brought to the police station after work. Hopefully they’ll be able to find him because I did have any luck looking on Saturday either.
Several people have asked me where would he go or tried to encourage me by saying that he’ll come home when he’s hungry. Here’s the problem. The question is not “Where will Marty go?”. It’s “Where’ won’t Marty go?” He’s a wanderer. I had trained him not to leave the park and this is the first time he’s disobeyed (probably got bored waiting around for me). But even when he’s in the park he wanders off if he picks up an interesting scent. Marty likes walking and he’ll basically follow that scent to it’s end if he can.
So tomorrow I’ll go out and spend the day looking for him. Hopefully he’ll turn up soon. The weather is getting nicer and the nights aren’t so cold anymore but I don’t know how long he’ll last on the streets, being tiny and blind. Suwon’s got Jindos running around.
Today at work, our boss bought us chicken (I believe because it was her birthday). So I didn’t really need dinner today but I still wanted a snack to tide me over until tomorrow’s breakfast. Naturally, I stopped by Paris Baguette as it was closing. For some reason (probably because P-Bag is delicious) it was fairly crowded. I picked up some cookies and this scrumptious-looking strawberry tart thingy (and it was scrumptious) and went to pay with my debit card… Only to realize it was past midnight and therefore in the middle of the 15 minute freeze on debit cards that happens every midnight.
I had no cash on me to buy the delicious snacks. Which was unfortunate because I had been poking them with bare hands, wondering about their tastiness. I tried scrounging around for money to no avail. Then the man told me with a smile (like this happens a lot) that I could pay him tomorrow.
At first I thought “Does he recognize me? Do I come to P-Bag this much?” Then I thought “This South Korean culture is a trusting one.” I don’t want to be cynical and say this wouldn’t happen in the USA, but it wouldn’t have happened in a chain store like P-Bag.
Also, that reminds me of how since the weather has been getting nicer(ish), I’ve noticed that there are a lot of kids running around without *gasp* ADULT SUPERVISION. Even the slightest sliver of adult supervision. Basically, they get out of school and then they run around Suwon, ride the buses, go shopping, play etc. etc. But then, I think that has more to do with city culture and not so much Korean culture.
Back to Paris Baguette! Now, I could be a horrible person and not go back tomorrow to pay him the ₩5 I owe. But that would be wrong and I have every intention of going back and paying him.
*Editing: And, for the curious reader, I did go back and pay him. The man was there, recognized me and happily took my ₩5,000.
In November, in addition to doing many, many other things (hence minimal posts) I hosted my dad on his first visit to South Korea and then in January I had a visit from my friend, who’s teaching English for JET in Japan (and hence has way more vacation time than me and can go visiting her friends teaching in other countries). In hindsight, these were actually pretty bad times. When my dad came, it was the end of a term, and therefore I, as an HI, had many meetings and other odds and ends to do before the new term in addition to making those NIE classes I posted about. And then when my friend visited it was the first week of Intensive classes.
So now, especially because CDI Yeongtong has three new teachers who will be seeing Suwon and work through fresh eyes, I would like to reflect on how its interesting to see things through other people’s eyes. With my Dad, I went to a lot of places that I had already been too, including Hwaseong Fortress. We also went to Gyeongbuk Palace in Seoul. Most people say that after they’ve been to the Palaces, Hwaseong Fortress isn’t really worth seeing but my dad said he like the fortress better, that it was architecturally more impressive (… or something like that. He said this several months ago.) Personally, I like the Fortress. You can’t do archery at any of the Palaces (to my knowledge).
My dad was also struck by the complete disregard for stoplights that some driver’s here in Korea exhibit. That once bothered me too, but I’ve been here too long to still be concerned with it. Now I just make sure to get out of the way of those motorcycle delivery guys ‘cuz they don’t stop for nothing.
Of course, seeing the world through others’ eyes doesn’t mean I have to limit myself to just newbies to Korea. Recently I’ve been showing my students videos of sitcoms that are relevant to the lessons we’re learning (they really are, I promise!). For my intensive class, I showed them the clips from the Colbert Report where he sings in Korean (previously posted). This time around they found it HILARIOUS (although it was kind of funny since they understood it based on reading the subtitles, not by listening to Colbert’s Korean) and asked me to play it every class. Which I did because they were enjoying it so much that I couldn’t help but not get sick of it.
In my Master’s reading class last term, we read several books that I read in school, including The Giver. One of my students loved it so much, he bought the sequels and read Lois Lowry’s book, Number the the Stars (and blogs about both books, although I am not supposed to know that but that’s what happens when you log onto your blog from Teacher’s computer). He was really passionate about the injustices in both books. It’s always nice to have a student that really gets into the stories we read. It helps you teach better, but also helps you appreciate them even more. Inspiring kids to write blogs and read more books is what teachers and children’s book authors are all about.