im just one person. for more soko info, please check the fb group BSSK, focused on expats of color

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

email: first day teaching

Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2007 21:18:41 +0000
dear mom and dad,

so monday was the big day and wow i was so drained! that first day of classes really sucks the energy out of you. im sure it was all my nerves. the classes went fairly OK tho, i was prepared and the classes were very small (8 in one and 5 in the other), tho i heard the numbers will swell as the term progresses. overall i had a great time, the kids are so cute and were well behaved, but we'll see if the manners change as they spend more time with me. i think it'll be ok, i put down the iron fist.

i met another new teacher yesterday, it was her first day and she was so stressed. i felt so bad for her, i really thought she was going to cry. but i dont blame her; she didnt find out what classes she'd be teaching until 1am that very morning. at least she actually got training in the classes she teaches :) i talked to her at the end of the day, she was much calmer. i told her that we all know it's going to go smooth like butta next time.

i had tuesday off and used it to do my lesson plans and talk to the school about moving. still tentatively set for mid to late week. doing my lesson plans was super easy this time. im glad. how is everything there? mom, how is amado? are you still drinking coke zero? none of the full calorie stuff mom, ok? and you too, dad!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

answering my friends' questions

Subject: RE: sha in korea
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2007 12:53:50 +0000
hi everyone! bcc for brevity. i got a lot of the same questions, so here's one email to answer them all.

hi gwen! im still in the hotel, i'll be moving into my apt either late this week or early next week. i like the hotel, but im anxious to settle into my own space. it's small, but so clean and new looking and im in love with it.

I'll cc this email to teresa, but you can let her know that for korea, the only requirement to teach esl here is that you have a BA degree in any subject. i wrote a blog when i started my job search, about how i got this job and what it entails, etc. the url is

i started a different blog when i arrived here a couple weeks ago, so far it's mostly the emails i sent to my parents, but it lists my day to day so far

There's a lot of info on teaching esl in different countries at it's divided by continent.

the food here is good, im really feeling settled here now b/c no meal feels complete unless i've had it with a side of kimchee.~sha

Saturday, February 24, 2007

email: not my feet pictured.

Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007
13:49:33 +0000
dear mom and dad,

wow, there's lots of shopping you can get done at the subway stations. today i bought lots of socks. while walking through the subway, a vendor kept waving me over so i bought a pair of her crappy earrings for a dollar b/c she was small and elderly and spoke no english and i couldnt bring myself to say "no thank you." as soon as i pay, her colleague at the table with her, some middle aged korean guy, starts talking to me in english! well, it wasnt all on purpose im sure. he commented on my headwrap and that it looked very unique and asked if i was muslim and where i was from and all. we chatted for a minute and he thanked me for talking to him b/c he said he really wants to practice his english. it was a nice moment.

so it wasnt until yesterday that we all found out what classes we'd be teaching. many of my colleagues are annoyed, and rightfully so, b/c hardly any of us are going to be teaching the methods we'd been individually trained for. we were all given apologies galore. i heard from some veteran staff that it happens every year: the main office recruits and trains, without yet knowing which schools will need which type of teacher. we had some quick extra training that day. it's cool tho, all the teaching methods overlap so it wasnt too difficult.

of course this is not to say that i wasnt feeling nervous b/c of the class change, tho! i had a small panic attack yesterday, but today was very smooth and i found all the stuff i needed. it's still a little overwhelming, but i took a step back and told myself that everything i needed to prepare for my lesson plans is in my notes and i just needed to find it. hey dad, just like how you told me about how to change a tire! stop and think, ok what's the first step? put those brake things under the wheels... well, that's all i remember.

i went back to the school today to use the computer. there are an awful lot of handouts for the students that i needed to find and print out. monday is the big day. i saw a few of my colleagues on their way in as i was on my way out and actually i helped a couple of them navigate the computer. i felt so smart! it's a trip b/c we had all kinds of new info thrown at us when we came for orientation and the whole reason i returned to the school was b/c i didnt absorb everything that first time and had to come back to figure out what i needed. while i was having a small panic attack to myself during orientation, everyone else seemed soo cool and collected. and here it is a couple days later, and they came back too, as clueless as i was.

when i left the school, a group of small children on their way to their lessons all freaked out with smiles and giggles when they saw me and all waved and yelled "Hi!" and then "Bye Bye!" it was cute :)

Friday, February 23, 2007

email: i decided i could hold it

Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007
dear mom and dad,

things here are great. it's still cold and i still dont like that part, but mom, i have my wool socks on so im ok.

today i ate rice with some sort of thing that looked like potstickers, it was so good. i was thinking how glad i am that i know how to use chopsticks. no one even offers a fork or spoon; i kind of assumed restaurants would if they saw a foreigner. well maybe they see the filipino in me and know that im down. er, no, actually they eat with their hand in the filipines, right mom? Mom, you'd loose so much weight here b/c i know you can't use chopsticks to save your life! you'd starve to death! :)

im going to sign the contract to move into my place on weds or thurs, im really anxious to move in. that hotel is nice, but i cant wait to unpack and settle. three of my colleagues are working at the same location as me and we're all going to live within a few blocks of each other, it's really cool.

i stopped in the bathroom in the subway today and had my first encounter with squat toilets. couldnt bring myself to use it; but it was interesting sight to see, for sure. i did make sure that apt i'll be moving into has a "western style" toilet. monday is the big day; my first day in the classroom. im super nervous!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

email: lush

Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2007 00:33:12 +0000
hi mom and dad! i start teaching on monday! im so nervous!

mom, dont worry about not emailing me back, i know the computer is a scary challenge for you. dad, have you talked to ninong cooper? i used to cc copies of these emails home to him, but his inbox is full again. let him know im thinking of him. and godmother mary lovelady, too, i dont have her email adrs. and let grandma know that her prayers are working, b/c everything has been just so great here. oh and dave, if you dont want/need these emails from me, let me know and i'll cool it, everything is pasted in my blog anyway.

the school showed a group of us some housing options yesterday, im so in love with the officetel they showed me! it's only 10-15 min walk from the school i think, and it has a fridge and washing machine and stove and little balcony, it's so beautiful. i wish i had a video camera, i want to show it to you. well, i'll take pictures. the school put down the deposit for me and i'll be moving in mid next week, im so excited! and they take cats!!! tho maybe i wont get a pet, the place is awfully small and i dont think i'd feel right about keeping an animal in such a small place. maybe a fish.

oh, as for the degree from the school, go ahead and keep it. i ordered it a while back to have as back up in case anything happened to the original. when i was on my job search, i'd read a lot of things about schools not returning your degree or it getting damaged or lost, but everything turned out fine. anyways, yeah, do whatever with that back up.

yeah, i have to lay off those peppero sticks, i ate TWO BOXES yesterday. they so friggin good... i wont buy any today.~sha.this is of course from google image search, it's not quite as lush, but you get the idea. officetels are usually really nice.

Monday, February 19, 2007

email: pepero sticks are pocky sticks

Subject: pocky sticks are peppero sticks.
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 08:56:12 +0000
dear mom and dad,

it's been a nice chill these last couple of days (chill as in relax, not like temperature. er, both actually, b/c it's still cold!) With training over, it's like everyone has breathed a sigh of relief. i actually havent seen too many of my colleagues yesterday and today. many went out on the town to, as they put it, "catch up on drinking for the last week." they seem really excited about soju b/c it's supposed to be very inexpensive. everyone was really nice and invited me to join; but i politely declined. not that i dont enjoy the occasional drink, but alcohol is full of calories!

tomorrow we're supposed to go in groups to the part of town our assigned school is in to check out the classrooms and hopefully see a prospective place to live. i look forward to it.

oh, i found DARK CHOCOLATE peppero sticks at familymart, it's my new favorite thing in the world. im still doing a step workout every morning, so i think it's ok that i indulge. :) ~sha

Saturday, February 17, 2007

my mom

so i got an email from my dad and brother telling me that mom was in the news:

Car bumps San Diego post office
February 14, 2007
A car crashed into the Valencia Park post office on Stevens Way near Imperial Avenue today. The 10:30 a.m. crash caused only minor damage and no one was hurt, police and fire officials said.
oh momma... :)

tv/movies online

these are websites where i can watch tv/movies without having to download. they work pretty well in the pc bangs b/c their computers are super fast (targeting the gaming clientele). i didnt really watch tv back home b/c i didnt have cable. since i've been here in the hotel, i've channel surf korean tv here and there (training has been very time consuming!), but i really want to watch the office.
find more links here and here.

these i've not used/have trouble using/havent used in a long time so many they dont work anymore:

email: training is over

gifts are given during lunar new year, a spam set being a popular gift item.
Subject: training is over!
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 18:20:03 +0000
dear mom and dad,

i forgot to tell you that yesterday when i was leaving the afternoon training, the instructor Randi (really small cute korean-american) chats with me a bit in the elevator and asked where i'll be teaching. i didnt know at the time so i told her i was awaiting my assignment. she said "you should teach at the main branch," smiles "b.c that's where i work." i was so flattered!!! i was pretty proud of my presentation in her class that afternoon, and her compliment confirmed it. it felt really great. i wish anyway that i was going to the main branch, b/c i really like her.

on another positive, a fellow trainee Leo (who i met day one here) will be in pyongchon same as me, so it'll be nice to have someone i kind of know when i get there.

so i woke up at 3:15am today! *sigh* maybe next week my brain/body will adjust with training over. the morning step workout has been a lifesaver. mom, you thinking about exercise just yet? just a LITTLE walk, mom, not too much.

we had our final evaluations today, everybody did really well. i take back the things i said about my peers, everyone really shined today, it was wonderful.

it's lunar new year here in korea, so the streets are going to be pretty quiet and a lot of stores closed. when i was on my way to training this morning, there was NOBODY on the streets, which was weird! every other time i step outside, the streets are full of people! one of my colleagues, max (he is korean american) explained that it's lunar new year, and it is when people spend time with families. i think the holiday goes on until monday or so.

we're pretty close to a mall here atthe hotel, i really want to buy a scale but im nervous about trying to communicate. well, pointing and smiling has worked thus far, so i'll just give it a go. ~sha.

Friday, February 16, 2007

email: im almost a teacher!

i dont know what this map says, but if you do a google image search for "pyongchon," it comes up.

Subject: im almost a teacher!
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 11:27:48 +000
dear mom and dad,

i woke up at 3am again today, *puh* it's friday evening and training is now over. we do a test and mock teaching tomorrow for evaluation. i've actually ALREADY signed a contract, a few of us have, despite not having been evaluated yet. i found out i am to be at the Pyongchon Branch. I dont know anything about it, i know it's about 40 min from where i am right now according to the guy who gave me the assignment.

we get next week as free time and then we get intot he classroom the week after. the school will pay for all of us new teachers to stay in the hotel until we find a permanent place, and actually they'll hook us up with a realtor as well if we want. i've gotten rather used to this area and know my way around a bit, the hotel really is nice: tv, internet, nice soft sheets, big bathroom; but i do look forward to having my own space so i can unpack and settle and everything.

im thinking about getting a cat... two cats, so that they can keep each other company. i miss you, mom, of course, but i really miss my cats too *teardrop*

i got an email from kanisha and she is now an auntie! her sister had a little boy and nisha completely adores her nephew. mom, i'm going to tell her that she should bring the baby by the house to visit you, since your own daughter hasnt given you any grandchildren yet! :)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

not an email to my parents

it's 3:45am. im sitting in my hotel room and ive just discovered that channel 17 is korean playboy spice tv, playing soft core porn. there's lots of moaning. a lot of misaligned jiggling, too, and no camera time on genitals. in this particular one im watching right now, this cute petite korean woman has unshaven legs.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

email:the most boring entry ever

hi mom and dad!
seoul is being very nice to me. but my sleeping is still all off, i keep waking up around 2:30am every morning, no matter what time i go to bed. it's cool, tho, i use the time to go over the training, and do my step workout-that's right, doing my daily exercise right here in my hotel room! im going to set an example for you, Mom!!! :) seriously, tho, i think the exercising is what's keeping me awake and alert during the day, not all jet lagged and sluggish. exercise, and plenty of coke zero.

i went for a walk today int he afternoon and man it was COLD. i noticed these little things in the air, i thought it was tiny raindrops, but the way they were falling was too light an airy. so then i thought it was ash and wondered if there was a fire near by! ha! it really took me a minute to realize it was snow!

today around 3am, i re-wrote my lesson plans for that afternoon's training, and then went to a local internet cafe to type them out. these cafes are called "PC Bangs" bang means "room" and most are open 24 hours a day. brother dave told me before about how loud they can be b/c everyone is gaming, and HE IS RIGHT, sounds of guns and grenades just blasting. it was 3am and the place was over half full! the guy working this morning wasnt the same guy that helped me last time, but this guy was equally nice to me, helping me find microsoft word on the computer and printing my stuff out. i didnt write this in the email, but those pc bangs are pretty friggin cool. you can have snacks and drinks while you play, there's a smoking section if you want, and the lights are always a little dim so that the desk you sit at is basked in the light of the gaming on your computer screen. maybe when my brother comes to visit me, i'll never see him, bc i think he'd do his vacation right here in a pc bang.

i found out that i passed that grammar test that we all had to take on monday. yeah! this afternoon in training, i did my "mock teaching" with the lesson plans i'd prepared and they went well. i feel like im becoming a better teacher everyday. im pretty happy. tired, tho! i hope i dont wake up until maybe 4 or 5am this next morning morning! :) ~daughter

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

email: eww, im such a jerk in this email. i take it all back.

Subject: in training
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2007 10:51:51 +0000
dear mom and dad,

hello from korea! everything here is great. this is the end of day two for training. i think i did pretty OK on that grammar test today. it didnt seem too hard, pretty much was the stuff the instructor went over the day before. i was the first one to finish, actually... im'a feel like a foolio if i zipped through that test just to not pass! :)

on a negative, and i feel like an asshole for saying it, but MAN there are some whiny babies here in training with me! so much, "i want this to be over" and "when are we gonna be done?" and "i cant wait for training to end so i can go to the bars." "when does this day end?" goodness, it's only day two! judging from some of their mock teaching (and i can judge since im a self-admitted a-hole), they need to be using up every moment of training available. even the ones who have teaching experience are shitty. goes to show, just having a degree (the one requirement for teaching in korea) dont make you nothin. it was said from day one in orientation, BEFORE even, w/cdi's reputation, this is not one of the easy slide through esl jobs here in korea. i cant believe im hearing so much complaining about how much work this is so far. it's not even a lot of work... im feeling like im the only one who doesnt feel like this is too much or too fast, etc., it's a JOB! well, im a tad older than a lot of people here, many are early twenties, fresh out of college, perhaps that plays in. a lot of "over-thinking" things too, and nervousness, a lot of people asking of questions that have already been answered, making up answers when they're not sure what to say... it's annoying me. well, i need patience, not everyone is the super star teacher that i am... ok, im done being an a-hole now! :)

i've been told that the hotel we're staying in is actually known as a "love motel", which i think is pretty funny! mom, did you and dad stay in one of these back in the 70's??? (just joking mom! you know how you always say everything is something you did back in the 70's) well, knowing what this hotel is intended for does explains why all the cars parked in the garage have their license plates covered w/signs of the hotel logo, and why there are condoms and two sets of slippers in each room. one of my colleagues is hardcore catholic and is pretty upset about it. he says he doesnt even want to stay at this hotel anymore. ha!

well i best be off, i have a lesson plan to prepare for tomorrow. it'll be another couple of weeks before i have a cell phone or adrs, but i'll keep emailing. how is mr. hector gonzales? lots of bubbles on the top means he's happy. ~daughter.

Monday, February 12, 2007

email: i get around

Subject: sha
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 10:19:34 +0000
dear mom & dad,

my first day of training is now over. of our group of 50, i am the only black among them. and the only filipino. there are a good chunk of korean-americans, the rest are white.

at orientation, there was a lot of emphasis on CDI (the company) professionalism and compassion for teaching. many of these esl teaching jobs in korea are said to be overpaid babysitting where you give the kids word searches and play hangman all day; there was much emphasis today that at cdi, you do teach. we saw a video of an actual cdi class, it was wonderful, im really excited to get into the classroom.

in the afternoon, we all had to go to the immigration office to get our alien registration cards. i went with Joel and Leo, two of the guys i met the first night here (we were all on the same plane from tokyo to seoul).

getting to immigration was a bit tricky, it was our first encounter on the subway. the maps looked a lot like the trolley in san diego. before i could step up to see where we should go, a really nice young korean man named Lee saw us struggling at the subway map and he accompanied us all the way to our proper stop.

oh, if only we were so lucky to find another Lee when trying to get back to the hotel! we were so hopelessly lost! we stopped about 4 taxis, asking all of them if they knew where KTF tower is, or Hotel Major, and not a one knew. We had the addrss written in english, but still no dice. we eventually wandered into a building to use the phone and call one of our recruiters from cdi for directions. three and a half hours and a lot of walking later, we eventually made our way back. this is what i get for letting MEN lead the way. i was fine by myself yesterday!

tomorrow morning we have a grammar test, so i best be off and study for it. the weather doesnt seem so cold anymore. dad, thanks again for these sneakers; all that walking today and my feet didnt feel a thing. ~sha.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

email: tomato smoothie

Date: Sun, 11
Feb 2007 12:53:01 +0000
hi mom and dad!

day 2 in seoul so far things are great. it's still very cold. i'm wearing wool socks, mom, so im ok.

today i went for a stroll around the neighborhood, a lot of the side streets go on for two blocks and then just stop. i strolled for about 3 hours, making a little map along the way, and i found my way back to the hotel all by myself! i was very proud. a lot of places were closed since it's sunday, but there's a "family mart" which is like a 7-11 on every corner. i bought ramen. it was spicy and good. i bought tomato juice, all excited about it b/c i love v8, but this stuff was sweet and frothy, like a tomato smoothie. but then i found coke zero!!! yeah! if i can have coke zero, then i'm set.

training starts tomorrow morning, im eager to get in and start learning. i went to an internet cafe today to print the training schedule from my email, the young man at the counter spoke no english and me no korean, so we did a lot of gesturing and sign language. he was very nice and helped my print the things i needed. he was VERY cute, i smiled a lot, when i learn how to say, "youre very cute and thank you for helping me," im going to go back and tell him that.

im back at the hotel now, laying out my clothes for tomorrow. mom, im going to wear my black sweater and black skirt, but i have leggings for underneath, dont worry, im prepared for the cold. im eating some sort of skewer of meat i bought at a shop down the street. i hope it's not dog. ~daughter.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

email: one more 'gin

Subject: FW: sha is now in seoul, south korea: please forward around and stuff.
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2007 00:50:59
hi dad!

i forgot about the day, it's saturday in daygo so you're not at work. so im sending this again to your home email. im in the hotel that the school put me up in, along with 5 other new recruits. uhm, in different rooms, i mean. everyone has been really nice so far. it's really fucking cold. im glad you made me take those funky sweaters b/c i'm wearing one as i type. ~daughter.

first post

im writing home rather frequently, for my momma. so i'll be pasting emails here. uhm, i should mention that these emails are going to be skewed to overwhelmingly positive b/c i dont want momma to worry.

Friday, February 9, 2007

different posts

here is where i list posts i dont want to forget about.