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Ok, lets be positive about korea now...
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Homer
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2003 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

N-dog,

No worries mate. I am getting used to your style.
didn't know you were not a teacher dog. My mistake, sorry.
What did you do in the ROK if i may ask.
As for my "10 year plan" its just how far we are lookign ahead for now. After that we will see how things are and financially we have many choices. I am not saying this (korea) is the only place where this plan could have worked but it works for me and for my wife.
I do not mean or think I sound "smug" however.
I do wonder what could have made you so bitter about Korea. I do not doubt you have strong dislikes about the country. Its your right to not like it.
But its also the right of others to enjoy it and it doest make them lesser people right N-dog?
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narsty dog



Joined: 29 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2003 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well believe it or not i had plenty a great time in seoul. i say seoul i never ventured out much. koreans actually seem to like me a lot which made me worried and i d say i have some proper friends there - i might sound bitter , but its not from having a bad time - i enjoyed all the usual things to enjoy there - i think it s my feeling like weatherman or someone said that it doesnt matter in some ways whether you have just arrived or been there ages, in the eyes of the populace you are an outsider , and more importantly in terms of everything, the law, legal representation, and the chances of really being secure it feels limiting. I think its alright for a few years , but my problem is my partner is obviously always trying to get me to go back - but i just feel that culturally the place is especially lame - it s not london .yeah london s rip off and its a rat race - seoul even thought it s big you can do on the cheap....but i just felt theres nothing new in korea after a few years - the general culture is so plastic and naive - TV, music scene and art scene. there are plenty of good korean films , but...........well
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TheUrbanMyth



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: Retired

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2003 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

narsty dog wrote:
well koreans actually seem to like me a lot which made me worried



Why did this make you worried?

The Urban Myth aka The Korean Cheerleader
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narsty dog



Joined: 29 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

uhh...because most of the korean adult population are like nerdy schoolkids???? is that the right answer???
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Homer
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for answering N-Dog.

I disagree with your comment on Korean culture in one respect.
It is not all plastic and supercifial. That part is just the pop culture that you see on the surface. When you make stronger ties with Koreans and take the time to observe, do some reading you will see the deeper layer of the culture here.
this superficial thing is the same in most countries. Look at the US, many people make the mistake of thinging its a culturally bankrupt nation because all they see is the pop culture of McD's, MTV and coke. Of course american culture goes deeper than this.

As for comparing Seoul to London I would agree London "wins" but these are 2 different cities.

You said after a while there was nothing for you to do in Korea. It depends what you look for and "something to do" means for you doesn't it N-dog?
If you limit yourself to clubs, bars and the like (not saying you do dog) of course you will reach the limit in Seoul pretty quick. However there are many other options. You just have to be willing to explore a bit. Even travel to the Korean country side.

In short, Korea and its culture goes deeper than you can see on the surface. The limits a person reaches are largely imposed by their own choices and perceptions.

As a foreigner in Korea you will of course be an outsider in some situations. But in others you will not. For example my in-laws, friends and extended family in Korea all accept me as one of their own. My boss and co-workers act the same. Because they know me.
Of course to the stranger on the street I am an outsider but what do I care about his or her opinion?
For being an outsider is visual in Korea due to the ethinic homogenuity of the country. In western nations its more ethnically mixed of course and that makes it easier for a person to "blend in". Does it mean they are no longer an "outsider"? That would depend on what community they are living in.
For example, at my former job in Canada, there was this asian dude working there. He worked there for years. Yet, customers constantly asked him where he was from. He would say "I am from Canada" since he was born there. To this most people would reply "Yeah, but where are from originally?". Thats a satetment that he was being perceived as an outsider.
This is just to make the point that this perception of being an outsider exists in many nations and takes on different forms.

All that being said N-dog, you have every right to not feel "at home" in Korea. I was not trying to dismiss your views. Just trying to show you my opinions and views on Korea.
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matko



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: in a world of hurt!

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Homer,

The question "Where are you from?" is very common in Canada. I am white and have been asked that on numerous occasions. I have also asked it. It is a question regarding ethnic background. For some reason, Canadians are obsessed with what a persons ethnic heritage is.

It is not always a "visual" thing. In Canada, at least.
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narsty dog



Joined: 29 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeah i see what you're saying homer. i suppose it s true about the US, UK too - the present reality TV culture in the UK sucks - basically programmes are made around people calling these 090 numbers at premium rates which bring a lot of money for the companies . I m certainly no western-centric fan , ie england s better than other places. and yeah just hanging around seouls going to end being boring - but i m not a big fan of rural korea , thats just the way it is - or rural england . i think the problem with seoul is that it seems to be cosmopolitan on an immmediate level - i dont mean the people, i mean the size , the dynamics, the fact its a capital - but even though its got variety in its size - it s just got a small town attitude. thats it. again of course london s better , its one of the cutting edge cities of the world ( and most expensive ) , but my problem is my partner's connection to the place / Korea and therefore mine. Cant see its easy for me - as you all know.
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sid



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Location: Berkshire, England

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

narsty dog wrote:
i think the problem with seoul is that it seems to be cosmopolitan on an immmediate level - i dont mean the people, i mean the size , the dynamics, the fact its a capital - but even though its got variety in its size - it s just got a small town attitude. thats it.


Whenever I go to Seoul (not very often) I'm aware of a kind of fake international 'cool', as if paying lip service to being a slick, modern 'globalised' capital city without really wanting to be. I much prefer the more 'umble, unpretentious run-of-the-mill life and attitudes out in the provinces.
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Medic



Joined: 11 Mar 2003

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 4:15 pm    Post subject: Ok, lets be positive about korea now... Reply with quote

I was in the casino in Kyungju about a month ago playing a combination of blackjack and roullette. When the deck was finished in a blackjack game I would wonder over to a roulette table and plonk a few chips down around the edges. You know the double your money ones. Any way the pit boss of the roullette table got agitated with me, because I was being too cautious. He was pleasant about it though, and it was his opinion that if you risk and stick your chips all over the table you'll increase your chance of winning. Anyway he proceded to tell me this in Korean, and of course I wasn't able to understand him. I asked one of the female dealers whom I knew spoke English, and she readily translated for me. I then proceded to do what was suggested, and actually won some money. It was I might add one of the ratrer moments in a casino where I did win money.
The point I'm trying to make though is that a lot of us foreigners look at Koreans speaking to us in their language as sometimes having a screw loose. I have done it many times, but in this particular case I didn't, and it proved beneficial. Strange. All the people on the other table looked in shock when he spoke to me, but for one brief moment in time I felt that this was one time I should try and get in tune with what the guy was trying to say. Doesn't happen very often, but for some inexplicable reason I connected with him, and he connected with me.
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weatherman



Joined: 14 Jan 2003
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sid wrote:
Whenever I go to Seoul (not very often) I'm aware of a kind of fake international 'cool', as if paying lip service to being a slick, modern 'globalised' capital city without really wanting to be. I much prefer the more 'umble, unpretentious run-of-the-mill life and attitudes out in the provinces.


Yeah, there is very little soul in Seoul I believe to the international visiter. Sure, Seoul has to have soul, but where is it? How is it accessible and how can it be marketed to make Seoul a better place to live? To an outsider it does seem to have soul in apperance but after a bit of exploration and questioning you get lost and usually at a bar. One reason of many I feel is the reason for this, and this is only one angle about it too, is that Koreans when they go out on the town or are out working in the town are always by the nature of their culture in a group. These groups tend to be very exclusionary and inviting some new guy at the moment to pal around with them would change their group's dynamics. These exclusionary groups then sequester themselves away in establishments so that they have very little contact with other groups. If they do there is always a distance, formality and prescription about it too. I see very little uncontrolled meetings and mixing. Most actions are prescribed so while there is a lot of energy out there, it is hard to grab onto it, for it is by nature very exclusionary and sequested away. And thus very little Soul when taken in conjuction with the totality of the city?
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mary_73



Joined: 17 Mar 2003

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2003 7:58 pm    Post subject: life in Korea Reply with quote

Okay, back to the positive things about Korea thing.... (you might wanna grab a cup a joe or take a potty break before starting this, it's kinda long, sorry sometimes I ramble! Embarassed )

Teaching kids at a hagwon! Yes, I said it. I love this job. I will be returning to Korea after almost a year's absence in several weeks. I have worked in Seoul, as well as Jinju for over two years. I have also taught in Canada for roughly the same amount of time, and while teaching in Canada can be rewarding, teaching ESL in Korea has got it beat all to pieces. This is not simply because it's easy;. Quality teaching is never easy, but it is worth every bit of effort one puts into it. Will I ever reach the top of my profession. If that means more pay for teaching adults or sitting in an office making decisions about curriculum, NO THANKS! I cannot speak for University professors, but I know that the vast majority of teachers in Canada work for years without gaining any work-related responsibilities, unless you count the extra curricular acivities they are expected to organize. Give me a room full of kids any day, even if often most of them would rather be somewhere else. I enjoy almost every aspect being a hagwon teacher: preparing the lessons, getting to know the kids, marking homework, writing report cards (ok, maybe I don't enjoy this but it is part of the job!!), encouraging students and even occasionally kicking some figurative butt in order to get them to do more than take up space in my classroom. The thrill of seeing a student's face light up when they finally grasp a difficult concept. Shoot, is there anything better. (Again, maybe I'm exaggerating here, there ARE better things in life, but being the demure and chaste gal that I am I will refrain from commenting further!)

As for the students themselves, they are, across the board, 100% the best bunch of kids I've run across, and I've taught at several different schools both in Canada and Korea. Don't get me wrong I have some great students here in Canada and I will be sad to leave them in a few weeks, but the commitment, openness, and enthusiasm of Korean students have little parallel here. Korean kids are spoiled? Sure a lot of them are. Have you been anywhere in the world where there are no spoiled children? Trust me, teaching spoiled Korean kids at their most annoying is not as frustrating, hopeless, and full of rote learning as your average Canadian classroom.

In regard to frustration levels because of administration here, you should check out administration at most schools in Canada. Many of the teachers I know are not burning out merely because of the kids. (Though this is often more than enough reason.) Nope, they are sick to death of all the limits, pressures, and unreasonable demands put upon them by administrators, fellow teachers, the general public and, yup you guessed it, parents. Compared to all this stress, the pitfalls of living in a foreign country are hardly insurmountable. Teaching ESL in Korea is fun, rewarding (in more ways than one), and worthwhile.

I know I truly enjoy living in Korea. This is not to say that I do not think that Canada is the best country on God's green earth, it is. That said, both countries (like every other country) have their bad points, but that is not the purpose of this thread.

Now, if I may digress for a moment or two...

Someone earlier mentioned that in Korea people are not judged according to merit. This is absolutely true, and if you can tell me where exactly this utopia is where people are judged strictly according to merit, I will be sure to take up permanent residence, swear eternal fealty, or whatever else is necessary. Until then, I'll realize that this is the way of the world and work around it.

I believe that the same someone said "you westerners are so enligthened and democratic arent you ...i think you should get your governements to attack other countries and steal their oil (Uhhhhh...sorry, i mean teach them about 'democracy')" "you westerners"?!??!?? Isn't this poster from the UK? Ummm... Speaking of enlightenment perhaps one should take a sec away from posting on the café the check out the real world, I don't think it was the US alone attacking Iraq, I seem to recall something about some help from the the honourable Mr. Blair. If I'm wrong I sincerely apologize, my bad.

Okay, back to the positive things about Korea and what I will have to show for my time in Korea...hmmm... let's see how about we start with, the knowledge I've gained, a new language, culture, and skills, the satisfaction fo having impacted the lives of innumerable students whom I am also lucky enough to have learned from, not to mention the love, loyalty and friendship of people from numerous nations and walks of life. Yup, definitely a waste of time, wish I'd have stayed in my comfort zone!!! Seriously, it's not Paradise, but it's hardly Hades and I can't wait to return.


Last edited by mary_73 on Fri May 02, 2003 8:07 pm; edited 1 time in total
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FlagWaver



Joined: 12 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2003 8:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Ok, lets be positive about korea now... Reply with quote

Medic wrote:
It was I might add one of the rarer moments in a casino where I did win money. .




Someone once said "If you want to make money in a casino - own one."

Wink
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Eazy_E



Joined: 30 Oct 2003
Location: British Columbia, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, just shy of three months but I have a few pros to add to the list. Some have been mentioned already but they deserve to be said again:

1.) Food: inexpensive, healthy, and ubiquitous. Most Koreans are surprised and amused when a foreigner likes the spicy stuff. However, I can't handle kimchi before noon. I can have Western food for breakfast so that keeps me happy.

2.) Public transportation: never waited longer than 5 minutes for a bus. Does away with all the hassles of having your own vehicle. You never miss it.

3.) Friendly and generous people: my bosses are great, and almost everyone here treats me as a guest in their country. I'm the only foreigner in my town so people think it's a novelty, but still it's like being welcomed by a VERY big family.

4.) Safety: no drugs, no guns. Do the math.

5.) Ondol.

6.) Instant coffee packages. I'm from the West Coast so I'm used to the "real" stuff, but the instant coffee is starting to grow on me. I just use two packages of Maxwell House in the morning and I'm good to go.
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Emma Clare



Joined: 24 May 2003
Location: Anseong, sung, song.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very good pay for such short hours (around 12 per week).

My adult students wanting to take me out to dinner all the time! Koreans are most definitely the most generous and hospitable people I know.

Going drinking with my college students at the end of the week (whom I love to bits, even though they call me 'ajuma').

The fantastically cheap and efficient subway system, rail network, and the express buses, which I use all the time.

The fact that pretty much everything is at least half the cost of back home in limeyland.

Ondol heating.

All the really cool bugs they have in Korea.

Melonbars! (I have to eat one a day or I'll fade away)

That it gave me a chance to meet the sweetest man I've ever met in my life Very Happy

(Despite my last post, there are some things I like about Korea Wink )
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merivale



Joined: 14 Nov 2003
Location: CP Hialeah, Pusan, Republic of Korea

PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2003 2:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I'm definitely blushing now.
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