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

Thursday, March 29, 2007

email: silk milk

Subject:RE:Thanks for BOOP
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 06:36:03 +0000
dear mom and dad,

the weather has been really alright. those first few days in february were BRUTAL, but now im doing ok.

i miss Silk Soy Milk! i dreamed about it last night, i opened the refrigerator and it was full of cartons of plain silk in the beautiful red box, and lovely rows of brown cartons of the chocolate. i pass by the cereal in the grocery store and have aching longings i never thought possible. if i cant have silk, i cant have cereal... there's just no way. *sigh*

i dont understand what's with all the dairy here in korea? aren't most people of color lactose intolerant? why is there only whole milk everywhere?! and FULL FAT yogurt, thick and weird tasting! (well no, it's not weird, it's just that i havent had whole yogurt in so long that the full stuff is too weird for me), lots of yogurt drinks here too... where is all the soy?! :(

work is going great. before introducing each topic, we do a "preview" and pretty much just have a discussion of what we're about to study. the discussion gets longer and longer everyday, which i love, b/c the kids try so hard to speak english. they start to do "konglish" speaking english and then throwing in akorean word here and there, and the other classmates will help by yelling out the word in english. it's super cute. ok, class is in about an hour, i have to prep. ~sha.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

email: play it safe

Subject: RE: The Good Stuff
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 07:12:44 +000
dear mom and dad,

what's up, Old School? :) hey good things DO happen in this world! like me, i gave away most of my things before i left for korea: art/drawing supplies to morse high school, all my instruments to fanno academy (another school), books to the malcolm x library, my painting supplies to john dupuis, my beloved cd's to mom! everything else, i posted in the "Free stuff" forum on craigslist. The world returned the favor and introduced me to teresa, who gave me all that furniture. but here is a bit of a story, tho...

so the story behind where she got all this stuff: she told me that it all belonged to her brother, and that she was very confident that he wasnt coming back. she told me that he'd been working as an english teacher in korea for 2 years. he had a friend come visit him in korea. that friend had someone back in the states mail a package of marijuana to him in korea. the brother went to the post office to sign for this package and BOOP he was arrested. the "friend" took off for the states the next day. so, teresa said her brother is in a detention facility somewhere in suji, i think, and that he's awaiting trail. she said she's 99.99% sure he's going to be deported, so when she heard about my plight, she figured the furniture ought to go to someone who can use it.

teresa said her brother claims he didnt know what was in the package, but she's not so sure she believes him. why mail the package in the first place, i wonder myself! teresa thinks myabe he'd done it before and didnt get caught, so he decided to do it again. oh well, good news for me, i got a tv! well i have to jet off, class is in 15 min and i still have some xeroxing to do. love you both! oh, and hector, too. ~sha

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

email: thank you, teresa!

Subject:RE: 229
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2007 07:59:08 +0000
dear mom and dad,

hi! its been a busy last couple of days, spent some time getting all kinds of great free stuff!!!

wow i really made out great with that girl who gave me all the furniture! she hooked me up! she gave me plates, towels, a coffee table, dishes, utensils, pots & pans, drinking glasses, a couch, a tv, amazing!!! AND not only did she refuse to take any money for any of it, she also arranged the moving truck for me, and went all the way to pyeongchon with me (45 min away from her) so that she can direct the moving guy where to go (she speaks korean). there are some cool cool people in this world. her name is teresa and i just cant thank her enough. i feel like im really living somewhere now! i love coming home and sitting on my couch! i have to ask my job to help me get cable. :)

i still dont know what my darned zip code is, i keep forgetting to ask. i'll try my best to remember tomorrow when i go to work.

ive just discovered a korean food called "kimbap." it's the bomb, and only 1000 won per (a dollar). i get it without mayo tho, they put mayonnaise on everything here it seems. and man, mayo is HEAVY on calories, i think there's like 90 calories in just one stinkin' tablespoon... but oh how i LOVE mayonnaise!

im still holding at 229. teresa didnt have a dvd player to give me, unfortunately, but it's first on my list to buy on payday so i can get back to my workout dvd. and i DO have this wonderful tv from teresa to use the dvd player with! ~sha.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

email: good karma

Date: thur, 24 Mar 2007 22:06:25 +0000
dear mom and dad,

so i was out having fish and chips at some foreigner bar in itaewon earlier this week. i went to the area to find this free book exchange at one of the local pubs, then wandered around and stopped to get something to eat. man, BEST fries i've ever had. i was hungry! my nutrition plan is going aiight, im holding steady at 229 (started at 252) but am working hard to get to the 2-teens.

so... at the bar i met this brotha from ghana, and his friend, a brotha from the domician republic. we chatted it up, how long you been here, etc etc., and b/c they asked, i told them i've been here about 2 months and have little more than my mat and pillow in my apt. and then the next day, the girlfriend of one of them called me and told me she had a ton of extra things and asked if i'd like to have it FOR FREE!!! she said, "oh they were telling me how you just got here, i've got so much stuff. ive got a sofa, a dresser, a tv..." i about fell out! the world is so nice sometimes! i'll be seeing her and making arrangements for her loot on sunday. yeah!

ah, i did forget the zip code on my adrs. I'll find out what it is and send another email.~sha

Friday, March 23, 2007

Jeju Do

i've seen these sculptures before, but i didnt think they were real! looks like they are! well, i was an art major, afterall. and i do enjoy sex. so, i think i ought to add this place to my list of "Things To See While in Korea."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

email: happy hour

Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 14:43:23 +0000
dear mom and dad,

another wonderful day here in korea. it's crazy, i wake up in the morning and look forward to work. i wake up thinking of my students and say to myself, "oh, i get to see richard today! i get to see helen today! i get to see andy today!" im insanely happy, this should be illegal.

things are going good grade-wise and discipline-wise with all my students. hey dad, please DONT EVER STOP giving me advice. you kind of have to b/c youre dad, and of course i'll argue b/c im sha, but i dont want it any other way.

whilst walking around my 'hood, i met another english teacher, he's been here 2+ years. he told me that my area was a "gentlemen's area" and that there were a lot of saunas around here. ?? well, i cant tell one place from another anyways, every sign is in hangul and i cant read it. there ARE a plethora of men in business suits in my area come night time, all hanging out up until the wee hours. they're like gangs, there are so many little groups of them, they move in packs, and walk with a heavy sway b/c of all the soju.

my colleague Quinn went down the street to buy something to eat one night, and a gang of Soju-ed business suited men threw their arms around him, feeding him bimbap, telling him to taste everything. he said they were super drunk and laughing and yelling and insisted Quinn put away his money, they paid for all this food. funny! this doesnt happen ever to the foreign women tho, and im glad, b/c that'd be weird.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

email: teacher mean!

Subject: iron fist!
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 04:42:11 +0000
dear mom and dad,

the weather was sort of warm the other day! i walked to school and actually took off my jacket! grandma is putting in some extra time in prayers for me, tell her thank you!

thanks for the concern, dad, but i think i got class discipline going alright :) i've been strategizing class discipline since i started to just LOOK for a job abroad. i was super worried b/c ive never had to deal with more than 3 or 4 students at a time, but ive found that the rules i used for those 4 works well for when im dealing with 10-15 so long as i pay attention.

the boy that always asks me about bad words: i used the stern voice with a "final warning" and threatening a D in class participation after telling him one time already to stop the side talking. i dont do the "this is the third time im telling you, please stop" thing, they get ONE chance and then that's it. i never ask or say please, i always order/tell. not to be mean, but they're children and need to be told what to do.

i do a good stern voice, i dont even yell, b/c it's scarier when Teacher gets right in your face with a low voice and tells you to straighten up. i learned that one in training! well, from a colleague in training, they didnt teach us to do that, but whatever, it works. ive only had to do it three times in all my classes? and this is week 4? i think dressing proper does it too. the school tells us to dress business casual for the first and last three weeks of the term, but i do it every day. i really do think the kids respect me more, and it keeps that professional distance. or maybe my own attitude is more professional when i dress proper. either way, things is okay, i love all my students, even rude-ass little johnny. he knows who's boss.

this is another thing i really like about working at this school: you really are a teacher here. other schools like mine, these Hogwans, people pretty much just play with the kids all day; which can be fun but i imagine exhausting! especially after teaching 6 classes a day, a separate set of students each class? i only have two sets of kids a day and my classes are 3 hours long but they dont feel like it at all. three hours is up before i know it, and i can really see who leaves class having learned something that day... which is ALL of them, of course, b/c they're so smart and im such a good teacher.

i'd read about another teacher, he worked at a school called "Wonderland" and he was really angry and blamed the school for how shitty the job was, he actually "pulled a runner" and just didnt show up to work one day, the school would later find he left korea and went home. i think his anger is in the right place (being mad at the school) but he needed to spread some of that responsibility around. he complained that the kids (they were small, under 10 yrs old) would steal stickers and pogs from his desk and hit him in the face and pull on his beard and the hair on his arms. sorry for you, buddy, but im thinking to myself "that's what you get when you dont lay down the law from day one." he only stayed around 6 weeks before he left. not that im a pro, and of course other teachers dont agree with me, but for me, my own personal rules have not yet failed me:

  • 1. never touch the students, not even to play. no hugs, no pats, no thumb wrestling, nothing, not even handshakes. that sort of affection is one they should be getting from home, not in the classroom. i dont want them ever to think of me like a Mom or a friend, but as the Teacher and hopefully as a mentor. i want the students to keep the illusion that i am all powerful teacher and have respect and keep their distance.

  • 2. never sit at the desk the whole time, always walk around the classroom looking over shoulders. you can make sure they're working, quell any distractions, and use it to give praise and let a student know they have the right answer on something.

  • 3. know every students name, even if you have to do a little review/game at the beginning of class to remind you of the names (which i still sometimes take the first 3 min of class to do). this way the student knows you know who they are and that you're watching them (you can say, "Johnny, that is enough." which is way more effective than, "you, in the blue shirt... stop that.") and on the plus side, this works with class morale and praise, too. when im asking a question of the class and someone gets the answer right, i can say, "Yes, excellent Jonny, the answer is four." or "Yes, Johnny, perfect, you have the grammar in that sentence perfect."

wow sorry, i didnt mean this to be an email about "sha's classroom etiquette!" just wanted you to know that i know a lil' something. some comes from the tutoring and teaching back home, and some are tips from growing up in the Cur------household, of course. Mom, you'd give me spankings but that didnt stop me from messing up the next day, or even the next hour! and Dad, you never laid a hand on me but i never dared to even get close to falling out of line. yup, that strong silent approach is effective! ~sha

Monday, March 19, 2007

email: pieman

Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 14:05:30 +0000
dear mom and dad,

another fun adventure with the skits with the kids! the saturday class that i told you about before, the one with the boy who is always asking me about bad words? today his group asked,

"sister sha, is it ok if we say hymen?"
me: what?"
hymen? can we say hymen?"
me: wait... what?!"
you know, like when it's the first time."
me: uh...
the boys demonstrated by doing a hi-5 and said, "Hi, Man!"
me: deep sigh of relief.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

email: stupid

Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 12:04:07 +0000
dear mom and dad,

hi! im so glad to hear teddy is recycling! most foreigners complain, but i really love the separation of trash here. if someone catches you at the dumpster without having separated your trash, they call you on it! we have to separate food trash, plastics, paper, cans, bottles, and regular trash. i find it very progressive.

i had the day off and used it to do a little more prep, made a grade list thingy for each class so that i can see who i ought to pay special attention to in class (ie: who's getting all Fs.)

i taught classes yesterday. every class we have a section called "applied listening," where the students act out a skit. We listen to the script while they try to transcribe the dialogue, and then they are to add extra dialogue and actions and be as creative as they can. some of the classes are really fun, especially the younger ones b/c they use funny voices and add all kinds of goofy stuff and even trade clothes to try and make a sort of costume. the middle schoolers are of course way too cool for all that.

i do have one particular class of middle schoolers that are a lot of fun, perhaps b/c it's on a saturday. sometimes they ask me if a certain phrase or word is appropriate when they're adding to the script. "Sister Sha, can we say, "Stupid?" Sister Sha, can we say Jerk? Sister Sha, can we say "Shut up?" this one little boy in my saturday class, he's 14 or so but looks around 11, very cute, very smart and very much a smart ass. he ALWAYS asks me about bad words!

"Sister Sha, can we say Shit?"
me: No.and dont use that word in class."
Sister Sha can we say Asshole?"
me: No, absolutely not.
"but asshole just means stupid."
me:"Johnny, who on earth is teaching you all these words?!"
"a filipino student."
little fucker! :)

always use spellcheck

we had an opportunity at work to do a little extra task for a little bit of money. the assignment was to "write a review about a movie that was touching to your heart/soul and sharing that experience." it was to be put on the school website or something and needed to link to the school or something thereabouts. meh, i thought i'd give it a go. i worked for 3 days on this thing (i always write and re-write everything, even if it's a two line thank you card). I was rather proud of what i came up with (below) and when i asked my boss if he received it in his email the next day, he says to me, "oh, yes i think so. i remember that you didnt use spellcheck." at this point in time, ive already missed 3 meetings and arrived tardy to work once. im making a really great impression! *silly sha*

I think I have seen the movie groundhog day at least, at least 100 times, and that is a conservative estimate. The film has it's own cult following; perhaps it being about a man who repeats the same day over and over again lends itself to a crowd that would watch said movie over and over again. For me, I watch it every time i feel that whatever I'm working for is taking too long for me to get. It reminds me that you can't find happiness along the route of instant gratification. It takes patience. It's worth working for. the reward from delayed gratification is worlds more fulfilling.

Released in 1993, the film Groundhog Day stars Bill Murray as Phil Connors: an arrogant, egocentric TV weatherman in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With his producer Rita and cameraman Larry, Phil goes to a nearby small town named Punxsutawny to film the town's annual celebration of Groundhog Day event (February 2). Annoyed with the engagement to begin with, Phil is eager to leave the town at the end of their assignment but the crew find themselves stuck an extra day when a blizzard develops, closing all roads and cutting off all phone service. The next morning, the town awakens to re-live February 2nd again, and the day unfolds exactly the same way as the day before. Each morning for an untold number of cycles, Phil wakes up to his alarm clock radio playing the same song at 6:30am with his, and only his, memories of the day before intact. He finds himself trapped in a time loop, living in the same small town, on the same day, where groundhog day repeats itself over and over and over again.

At first, Phil is seduced by the instant gratification and lack of long term consequences that the repetitious day offers and he takes full advantage. He seduces any woman he wants, he eats any unhealthy sugar-filled food he pleases, he indulges his every fleeting whim. However, Phil's efforts to seduce his producer Rita go unrewarded and day after day she rejects him. He begins to tire of and then come to loathe his existence. Phil commits suicide several times; in one scene he casually relays that he's been burned, shot, electrocuted, poisoned, etc... but death doesn't stop the time loop and still he awakes each morning to February 2nd, Groundhog day.

After this untold number of rejections from Rita, Phil begins to reexamine his life and priorities. Instead of using each day to to satiate his fleeting desires, he instead takes charge of each day working for self-improvement by educating himself on a daily basis. He learns how to play the piano, he studies and becomes fluent in French, he learns how to sculpt. Rita, enamored with a man who is culturally, intellectually, and artistically developed, falls in love with him and the the time loop is broken.

For CDI students and parents, education does not come over night. To think of of and study for an exam minutes prior to taking it, only to forget everything by next class is like Phil eating cake everyday. Sure it tastes good, but then what? Any feeling of instant gratification is gone just as instantly, but gradual development and growth can be savored for a lifetime.

Think of how you read and wrote English two years ago... and look at where you are now. Be proud. You put in the time and effort and you did it, you made it happen, you worked hard and earned it. One cannot, in a single day, fulfill every dream and goal, but you can achieve self-improvement by pursuing education on a daily basis. Each day counts. Each day matters. Each day is important. Phil spent a lot of time trying to get what he wanted here and now and was unhappy. When he started to use his day to learn piano, study artwork, learn another language, it is then that he's fulfilled.

Friday, March 16, 2007

email: throw up

Subject: inner strength
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 03:52:45 +0000
dear mom and dad,

the other day i was teaching, and there was about ten minutes left in class and one of my students THREW UP. ewwww!!! i was in the middle of explaining something and i heard a gag noise and this poor girl got sick at her desk! it all happened so fast! she put her hand to her mouth and vomit oozed out of her nose, it was super nasty... i sent her to the bathroom, and then i sent the rest of class out b/c of the smell, and i wiped up the stuff on the students desk, book, chair, floor. woo, i held it together like a pro! i was so close to throwing up myself! but in front of the kids i kept it cool, showed (and genuinely had) concern for the girl who got sick, cleaned it up, dismissed class 5 min early. i am super-teacher!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

email: cook your own meat

Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007
03:53:01 +0000
dear mom and dad,

last night was the "termly" cdi dinner. every term (three months), the teachers go out for dinner and drinks and cdi picks up the tab. i went along this time. there've been other social things the school has done for the teachers since ive been here: mostly bars and bowling, but alcohol has lots of calories, and i suck at bowling, so i didnt go to any of the gatherings. well, more so b/c of the weather than anything else, it's so cold that all i want to do after work is get home and get under those covers. people teased me last night, surpised that i came to the dinner, 'What? Sha's here? It must be getting closer to spring!." shoot, im a sun spoiled san diegan, what can i say?

we went to some restaurant in Beoyomge, one subway stop from where i live, where you cook your own meat at your table. the restaurant served a TON of side dishes: some sort of potato pancake, lots of coleslaw with rice vinegar, lots of dipping sauces, peppers galore, kimchi, and big fluffy scrambled eggs? yes, eggs. interesting. they were good though, the fluffiest eggs i've ever seen in my life.

im pretty sure all the meat we ate was pork. my co-worker asked me what it was and i said,"Dog." her eyes about popped out of her head! i told her i was just kidding, i didnt know what it was and figured it for pork. she told me that dog is the most expensive meat one can buy here in korea, so she highly doubts cdi picked the tab for that. ~sha

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

email: i know we're not supposed to have favorites, but richard really is my favorite.

RE: In Response To
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 08:13:31 +0000
Dear mom and dad,

it was my day off and i spent some time sort of organizing myself for my classes. i made a folder for each class, with a roster so i can keep track of who's doing homework and such. leah said, "Youre doing that on your day off?!" shocked b/c i wouldnt be getting paid for it. many teachers are adamant about keeping work AT work, and hey more power to them, but im a new kid on the block! i know that by getting a little more organized, i can cut time elsewhere and make less work for the rest of this term.

it's so interesting, i feel like im the only one that came here for the job and not the money (tho i sure do look forward to that first payday). i remember speaking to john, an administrative guy at cdi, and asked him about how busy he gets (he is the one responsible for finding housing for every new employee). he said it really wast too bad b/c he only has to do it 3-4 times a year since each cdi term is 3 months long. he said summer is busiest b/c that's when they get the most applicant and hire the most people, "You know, b/c people are just graduating and dont know what they want to do yet, or they didnt get the job they wanted." i smiled inside b/c this IS the job that i wanted... :)

the kids were so friggin cute yesterday. this one little boy Richard tried to trick me by showing me last weeks work when i was doing "homework check." when i figured it out a few minutes later and asked him, he didnt understand, or pretended not to. but then i laughed and said something like, "richard, you did not do your homework and youre trying to trick your teacher!" he started smiling and laughing and saying, "no, no!" i told him that THAT is why he was laughing. it was too cute. he finished his work by the end of class day, i made sure. everyday i learn a little something about a different student, i like them all, they're a pleasure to teach.

did dave get mom a new cell phone? i tried to send him a text message from my cell phone (it's supposed to be way cheaper than calling) but i dont know if he got it, im not sure i sent it right. well, please give my regards and sincerest apologies to Mr. Hector GOMEZ. ~sha.

Monday, March 12, 2007

email: i got it easy in comparison

Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 03:54:39 +0000
dear mom and dad,

it's monday morning, im preparing for my classes. im going to try to make something like a grade book or something today, or at least separate my classes into separate folders or something. for example i teach 4 of the same class, with a different set of students each class, and i never know which set of kids im seeing next!

and jeez,checking their homework is a whole thing in and of itself! the kids have the homework that i assign them in class, as well as "m-learning" meaning they use the phone and respond to the speaking topic, and "e-learning" meaning they go on the school website to write about whatever the topic is. so i check to see they did all of this, and then assign a homework grade. and this is all on top of whatever homework they have to do from public school during the day.

and i've found that kids dont just go to english hogwans (private schools like the one i work for that is exclusively for learning english), they go to math hogwans, and science hogwans, and many have private tutors at home as well. good god. glad i didnt grow up here in korea. when do they have time to be kids? no wonder many are so tired and listless when the come to my class!

some teachers complain, and rightly so, that a lot of esl teaching here is "entertaining." true, it is, but that isnt all a bad thing. it means that you have to make your lesson plans exciting/engaging. and not b/c the kids dont care, tho im sure some dont, but b/c they already have so much work to do! well im off, i just wanted to say a quick hi. my regards to mr. hector gonzales. ~sha.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

take a break

this aint got shit to do w/korea or esl, it's just that i hadnt seen any of chapelle season three before and i couldnt stop laughing. byaaaaahh!!!!

yup, that's my number! i dont care, incoming calls are free.

Subject:RE: Good Times
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2007 04:51:32 +0000
dear mom and dad,

k i now have a cell phone! the phone number is 010-5804-4742. well, that's the number if you dial it from here. i dont know what the international dialing code is if you're dialing from the states. i'll ask leah. mom, you know you can call anytime you want to! anytime, mom, ok? oh, well, try not to call between 4:30pm-10:30pm korea time, b/c that's when im in the classroom teaching. to calculate the time, subtract 7 hours from san diego time and usually flip the am/pm. its sunday march 11th 2pm here now, so it's saturday march 10th 9pm in san diego. i'll be able to call regularly after my 1st payday, which is april 10. see, dad, im budgeting!
ive not really used the phone, other than leah calling to see how im doing. the phone's got all kinds of features that i dont know how to use, but i did find a map of the subway system on it, pretty fresh! leah explained to me that most foreigners use calling cards, i think you cannot get a proper account unless you have a korean citizen to co-sign for you or something. im not too sure how to dial outside of korea just yet, i'll ask leah.
actually dad, none of the kids have asked me about going to the bathroom during class! there's a 5 min break each hour, i guess they go then, although mostly it seems the kids use the time to run around in the hallway, socialize, and grab some skewer or something from the street vendors.

so i went to itewon last night with leah and some of her friends. cant say i'll be spending too many of my nights there; im so over the "go out and stay out til morning" thing. especially b/c when i go out, i like to dance! here, it's only drinking. boo. well maybe i'll go out some other night to try and find a dance club.

being in itewon this time was so different from the afternoon. at night, the streets were packed with people, and i could count the koreans i saw on one hand! all foreigners everywhere. mostly white, and a lot of africans too.

ah, i DO have a mailing address, but i dont know what it is. i had it written down, along with a map of how to get there, but i gave it to the taxi driver when i moved out of the hotel and neglected to get the paper back from him. i actually asked my head instructor what the adrs is b/c he lives in the same building, and he smiled and said he didnt know, he had it written on a piece of paper at home :) and he's been here for 3 years! i'll find out the adrs and email it to you.

when you send me mail, maybe ask for "Global Priority Flat Rate." i read that you can fill like a manilla envelope sized thingy and send it for 8$? but when i tried to send a package to my friend in japan a few months ago, they charged me by weight and it was like 40$ or something. i must've asked the guy at the counter 8 different times in 8 different ways about how to send it cheaper, and he told me none other than surface mail. but i swear i read about flat rate global somewhere! oh, i should ask ninong cooper. ~sha

Saturday, March 10, 2007

email: milk yuck

Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2007 16:46:10 +0000
dear mom and dad,

grandma must've gotten god to give me a bit of a break today, b/c it wasnt too cold. well, i did finally wise up and wore three shirts under my coat, too.

i found that one of my colleagues lives in the same building as me. his name is edward and he's like one of my supervisors, called "head instructor." he showed me how to separate my trash and where the dumpster is. lots of recycling here, i love it! i asked him about the random dirty dishes i'll see sitting out in the hallway, he said that when food places deliver, they use proper flatware and then you leave it outside your door and the food place will come back around and pick the dishes up. rather progressive! teddy and kanisha NEVER recycled in our apartment, i would dig out the plastics and cans and bottles they'd throw in the trash and put them in the recycling. "Plastics labeled 1 or 2 are recyclable, kanisha!" she thought i was crazy. im completely sure neither she nor teddy isnt doing recycling at all now that im gone. boo.

i wandered into a different internet cafe the other day. they're everywhere, and i usually go to the same one, but i was trying to find one just a little closer to home. and by closer, really it's like one block, these cafes are everywhere. the one i wandered into looked a little funny, all private booths with no windows, and the charge was 5000 won and hour (usually it's like 1000 W), i looked at the old man behind the counter and asked him if the price of 5k was right, he said yes, and then *ding* a light went on in my head as to what type of internet cafe that was! the old man smiled and gestured that i go another block down to find a regular cafe. ha!

tomorrow is sunday and it'll be my day off. i'll do laundry (not so much soap this time), and leah (my coworker and neighbor) is going to help me buy something like a portable dvd player. man, i really REALLY miss my step workout. i used to get a lot of extra exercise from the subway, b/c i'd keep getting off on the wrong exit and would have to climb up and down the stairs over and over to figure out where i was. now that im a little more subway savvy, no extra stair climbing there! i dont even walk to work! but that's because this weather is killing me. i have my balance ball at home and do a lil' something, but meh.

i went to try to find soy milk at the grocery store the other day, and a woman was handing out little samples of some kind of yogurt. lots of different "drinkable yogurts" here. i tried to say no thank you b/c of the dairy, but the she was an elder and said with a heavy accent, "please drink it everyday for your health!" she was so sweet, i had to sample it. it was gross, and i said thank you and went on about my business. i did find soy milk, but i dont like this brand. i wish there was Silk Soymilk here :(

well im tired, my bed is calling. edward also showed me how to turn up the heat in my place, and now the floors are all nice and toasty. hmmm... i may sleep right on the floor tonight! ~sha.

Friday, March 9, 2007

email: i love v8.

Subject: daughter
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 04:41:27 +0000
dear mom and dad,

hi! wow things have gotten busy. i deal with 7 groups of students in the week, teaching two classes a day, and the classes are 3 hours long. even tho i only teach for 6 hours a day, a LOT of time is spent on prepping for the lesson. i make sure i've got enough xerox copies of everything, i look over the reading and vocabulary to see how i should break it down to teach it, etc. my colleagues said it'll get faster for me as i get more experience, but in the meanwhile, woo!

one of the teachers here, her name is leah, took me to itewon yesterday. itewon is the part of town where all the foreigners are, and i think very close to a military base as well? it was strange to see so many non korean people after having spent all this time in pyongchon. plenty of fast food places there, all gigantic shiny two story mcdonalds, burger king, startbucks, kfc... actually, i dont even remember seeing any korean restaurant during my little 30 min trip there. i saw plenty of clubs tho! there's like 5 bars on each block! lot's of partying going on. well, you guys know how i feel about drinking these days: too many calories. i'm sticking with coke zero. the roads in itewon were just dirty looking, not terribly, but it's like avenue revolucion in tijuana, just looks USED, you know? im glad i live in pyongchon, it's very clean there, and i'll never want for white rice b/c korean restaurants are everywhere.

leah is a sister, not quite thick as me, and has locks as well. in all honesty, ive barely noticed the stares people cautioned me about, but when leah and i were walking around together, and especially on the subway, i felt it! it was all good, tho, i know it's because people were dazzled to see two beautiful black women together. leah has been a good friend to me, she showed me how to use the atm, how to cut down on my prep time, and she's going to take me to a place to get a cell phone.

i played around with my washing machine and now have clean clothes. no dryers here, so i have a rack thing where i hung all my clothes to dry. i used way too much soap, so i smell like lemons. im sure mom would be laughing at me were she here!

hey so i found v8 here!!! im so happy! trying to make sure i get all my vegetables is. i bought a scale and i am down a total of 20 lbs! now i really REALLY want to hurry up and get that dvd player so i can continue my step workout. maybe a portable dvd player, it'll be more affordable and a good temporary fix. dont worry about money for me, dad, i havent even spent 1/4 of what i brought with me, i've been very frugal.

things here are so great. i keep thinking that i'll wake up one morning and found i've dreamed it all, i cant believe im getting paid for this, the curriculum is great and the kids are wonderful. i thought i'd have a hard time with the elementary school kids, but they've been so well behaved, and on the rare points they arent, they snap right back into place b/c ive got that iron fist. well i best go... have some prepping to do. give my greetings to mr. hector gonzales. ~sha.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

email: snow

Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007 04:10:18 +0000
dear mom and dad,

wow oh wow this snow is crazy. last night i kept looking out the window wondering when it's going to stop! none today tho, thankfully. i have the day off, im going to work on getting a cell phone. i really dont have much else to say right now, i just wanted to say hi. i'll probably have more interesting things to say tomorrow. ~sha.

email: i smell

Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007 16:30:12 +0000
dear mom and dad,

my students had their first test this week, the grading system we use is pretty interesting. since this is an english conversation school, it's really not so much about grades as it is about how well their language is developing that will determine if the student will move up a level or not, i think. so... even if someone gets like 50/100 on a test, it still comes out to like a B or so. anyway, things are cool. im still working on buying that tv and dvd player. man, i miss my step workout! my coworker is going to show me how to use my washing machine tomorrow. hooray! b/c my clothes all need a good washing.

Monday, March 5, 2007

email: moved in

Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2007 01:42:59 +0000
thank goodness it aint snowing like this in pyongchon.

dear mom and dad,
i am all moved into my place, it's bigger than i remember it to be when i first saw it, really, im rattling around in there. and it was actually pretty clean; i lucked out im sure b/c ive heard it's the responsibility of the new tenant to clean the apt, something about good luck? thank you to whoever was there before me, maybe they remembered that it's a foreigner moving in!

wow, i really really love my classes and my students. and now that i live here in the area where i teach, things are even better. before i got here, i was afraid i'd be going into a class of students who couldnt understand a word of english, but they actually understand quite a lot. i think it's more SPEAKING that is the challenge for them, they're thinking about proper grammar and subject/verb agreement, etc; i remember the feeling quite well from when i studied spanish. even the bits they dont understand, like when we're reading a story or something, if i do enough gestures and enough little drawings on the board, they get me. i have them give me a verbal summary at the end of each class and it's really cool to hear them say things in their (albeit a little broken english) own words.

it's snowing today, and ONCE AGAIN it took me a minute to realize it was snow! "where's that fire?" i think to myself as i see all this ash floating around in the air! it's weird to walk around in it, i keep trying to not inhale too deep b/c my brain keeps telling me that that is ash everywhere even after i realize that it's snow. mom,dont worry, i have my long johns on, im plenty warm.

tomorrow is my day off and im going to see about buying a tv and dvd player, b/c i havent done my step workout since i left the hotel and im feeling "sloth-ish." i think emart will deliver... i'll have to ask one of the staff at the school to help me. maybe write a note with my adrs on it asking for delivery. one of the korean women in the office has an extremely difficult name (for me) to pronounce, and she said i can just call her "twinkle." most people have an english name and korean name, and the kids come up with some doozies "Genius" "Miss Beautiful" "Princess Pretty" "Terminator" but it threw me off a little when this co-worker, a grown woman, is called "twinkle." well, she does twinkle, she's terribly friendly and i like her a lot.

i was riding the subway the other day (which i love, it's so fast and efficient and you dont want for a car here), i always stand, even if there are seats available. reason being is that there are a lot of elders, and if there arent any (or if there's plenty of space when i get on the subway) odds are that the next stop will have many elders who should have the seats. i say all that to say this: i was riding and gazing out the window not paying attention to anything, and then i felt that "stare." i look over and i see two elderly women looking at me. this has happened a couple times before, and when it does, i always smile and give a deep bow. so i did this of course, and the women smiled. a minute later, they motioned for me to come over and sit in the empty space next to them. i smiled and said no thank you b/c i was getting off soon, and gestured hoping that that translated if not the english. they just kept smiling. it was pretty cool. ~sha.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

it's my birthday!

happy birthday to me, i'm 31 years old today :) i love telling people my age, and i LOVE when people respond, "NO WAY!" i've been asked again and again, "oh, happy birthday, what are you going to do to celebrate?" dude, i live in korea! that's the best birthday present ever!

Friday, March 2, 2007

email: moving out of hotel

Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2007 03:50:54 +0000
dear mom and dad,

things are good, it's actually not so freezing here lately! dad, has grandma been praying about the weather for me? let her know that her direct link with the man upstairs is ringing through to him loud and clear.

hey mom, dad let me know that he buys coke zero and SPRITE zero for you, do you like it? im glad you're drinking the low calorie stuff. im here in the hotel drinking coke zero and packing my suitcase, b/c i got the keys to my apt a couple days ago! i went by yesterday to make sure i knew exactly where it is and that the keys worked, and YEAH im moving today! im so happy, i cant wait to unpack and settle. ive got two beautiful windows and a gorgeous bathroom and a washing machine and stove top and refrigerator, im very VERY excited! it's very very close to "E-Mart" which is like a walmart here. i've got pretty much everything i need already, but it's nice to know im so close to a shop if i do need something.

classes are going well, i thought i'd have a lot of trouble with the younger ones, but they're so cute. the older kids, they're around 15-16 years old, are all so quiet and act too cool, it's pretty cute too actually!

im settling in at work amongst the staff quite well. they've all been really nice and helping me learn the ropes. there are two other sistas that work at the school as well, we decided we'd start a club :) they, along with xxxx (a white guy, very cute and very gay fellow teacher) took me out for drinks and dinner after work yesterday. they pounded back the soju and spent half the night complaining about working for cdi, and then the other half about how great cdi is and it being the best job they've ever had. dad, do you remember back in your day, does it go like that with drinking sometimes? ;) i stuck to water.

i dont know the name of the dish we ate, it was chicken and sweet potato and these thick sort of chewy pasta like things. i only had a bit, it was tasty but SPICY and i couldnt handle it. plus, i of course did my step workout that morning and dont want to mess up my health plans. well, im going to finish packing, oh my first night actually settled into my own place, thank goodness. ~sha.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

email: from nisha

Mar 1 2007 3:45P
So dang, can a sistah get an update?!?!? Are you still alive? Is Korea really, really cool? Are there any cute Black/Afrikan women there--'cause if so, I'll book my ticket right away *serious face* So,is the training still intense/challenging? Have your rhythmic circadians adjusted to the time change or are you still tweakin' at 3:00am each morning? Dude, Terrence is too, too cool. I like him. You know some of the coolest, sweetest, most generous, easy-goingest people--of course I've graciously placed myself at the top of this most illustrious group of folks, no doubt!! Anyhoo, luv ya and if you don't send me an update soon Ima' fly out there, sneak into your room and emerge reeeeal slowly from the most inconspicuous corner of the building just as I KNOW you're coming and stand there making those hocking noise you love so much. Smooches!