Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004


My tutor is awesome. The other day he says "Janice, I made you a present. If you get all the answers on this page right, I'll give it to you." sweet. So, I concentrated as hard as my little brain could, and got everything right. He reached into his pocket and handed me a beautiful earring. Just one. Then, with a laugh he tells me that if I want to be able to wear them as a pair, I need to get the next page right as well. So, eventually, I prevailed and now have a gorgeous pair of black earrings as a hard earned reward! I still despair that I will never be able to hold a decent conversation in Korean, but I'm studying much harder than I expected I would!

In horticultural news, the cherry trees are in full blossom, and line every lane and path on campus. Absolutely beautiful. For those of you familiar with the sight, it looks similar to Anne of Green Gables and her first drive with Matthew through the orchard. Not quite as breathtaking, but close enough.

Oh, and for those of you concerened either with my safety, or the safety of nearby pedestrians, I didn't buy Chris' scooter. I'm still riding my little Marry Poppins basket-in-front bike.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Too many nipples...

Yes, you read that right. There are too many nipples. 27 to be exact. The new office has now been decorated ~ with a whole lot of nude paintings. There are 27 nipples between the elevator and my desk. Now don't get me wrong, I don't have any objections to art. And the pictures are quite nice. But there are SO many of them lining the hallway. However, in the stairwells, there are some fabulous photos. There is a whole series of black and white photos from the late 19th, early 20th Century Korea. So, combine the excrutiatingly slow elevator with the fascinating photography, I've been taking the stairs pretty often. Unfortunately, I'm still subjected to 'nipple row'.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

It was supposed to be simple...

The plan seemed so easy. For the chapter on preposotions of place, and directions, John, Jenn and I decided to send our students on a scavenger hunt. And so, we scurried around campus putting up markers on benches, behind statues, etc. We gave our students their directions, and set them loose. The finish line we happily decided, was the cafe in the main building. The plan was to sit and sip coffee while waiting for our students to finish the race. HOWEVER, some of my students took down all the markers, and what my students didn't take down, the cleaning ladies did. So, here we are racing around in the 10 minutes before our next class trying to put them all back up again. Jen would park her car, then all 3 of us would spill out and take off in a full sprint to the various locations, then make a mad dash back to the car. It was insane. My legs are killing me, and we still have 4 more classes to go through this with. Ugh!

On the other hand, the students are having a great time, and I am now on a first name basis with the nice man in the coffee shop. His name is Lee. Mine is Janice.

Oh....and just so you know, my e-mail has been down in my apartment, so I can only scrounge a few minutes here and there at the office. Sorry for not replying to any e-mails!!!

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Movin' on Up...

The first hours of this day were spent packing and lugging a few (not many) boxes from our current office on the 2nd floor of the 2nd Student Union Building to our spankin' new digs on the 6th floor of the main building. The new offices are decked out with sweet swivel/rocker/roller chairs, and my desk faces the window overlooking the forest and mountains. To make the entire deal even sweeter, there is a wonderful coffee shop on the 2nd floor...which by necessity I'll need to walk past on my way to the elevator. I think that me and the nice guy that works there are going to become the best of friends.

However, just because the offices are new and beautiful, don't think that there weren't a few glitches. As always, the helter-skelter planning that seems to dominate businesses in this nation, helped contribute to some confusion this morning...when it was discovered that the office was short 2 cubicles. Yes, someone forgot to take into account that the number of teachers we have would also require that many desks. The second matter of confusion arose when one of my co-workers said "Hey, this is beautiful! Where are the computers going to be?" At which point one of the people in charge got a terrified look on his face, he glanced around the full room like a cornered rabbit, then rushed out. Yuppers...after ordering new computers and their components to replace some of the old ones we were using, nobody bothered to wonder where they would be set up! Sometimes ya just gotta laugh.

Friday, March 19, 2004

It's Friday afternoon, the sun is shining, the cherry and magnolia blossoms are starting to bloom, students are sitting around the student union building strumming guitars or practicing their fencing. I'm doing laundry. blah. I'm also contemplating buying a scooter for bombing around campus. One of my co-workers just upgraded to a real motorcycle, so I'm going to take his scooter for a test drive this evening.

I just finished my third Korean lesson with JooYong, and I think I'm improving. I still speak like a turtle with a mouthful of molasses, but at least I'm getting my verbs and object particles in the right places. (most of the time). It's a good thing he's patient.

Pottery classes are going well, and I'm going to try and sneak into the art room this weekend to make a few extra pieces. Yes, I'll do it under the cover of darkeness, and dress entirely in black, with some tree branches stuck to my head to disguise my appearance. Then, instead of asking the office assistant for the key, I'll try and sqeeze myself through one of the rusty barred windows. Yessir, it'll be an adventure.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Well, the race is on. Yesterday afternoon I played volleyball with the other foreign teachers. I stank. Today, I had my first Korean lesson with my tutor JooYong. I stank. So...the race is on to see which skill will actually improve this semester ~ My athletic or linguistic ability. ? I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

I bought a pair of jeans from a sidewalk vendor yesterday. They were cheap, and they fit quite well. As I was taking the tags off, I noticed that instead of listing the fabric used, this is what the tag says....

mainly mum (25%) Korean, height, kind, stupidly believe, people, full of love.
Dad (5%) korean, height 170cm, sharp, sensitivity
#1 brother (15%) nine year older, married. sensitivity and sharp.
#2 brother (15%) six years older. Kinda lazy works with me.
#3 brother (15%) eleven years younger. student, loves with me. oldest
sister unlaw (10%) works with me. oldest brother's wife.
my wife (25%) height 173 cm, American, model

we are happy

Yup, so instead of your usual denim or cotton blends, my pants have 110% of a Korean family in them. I love this country.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

I don't usually write about politics. I think that's because I'm not usually interested in politics, nor do I have anything relevant to say. However, when you're eating in the cafeteria and all eyes are glued to the TV, so you look to see what's going on, and you see a swarm of men in suits and ties brawling ~ you take some notice.

Yesterday, South Korea's president was impeached. From what I can tell, the Western Media and the Korean Public tend to disagree on exactly what went down. All I know is that Korean TV stations yesterday were full of footage that showed men in suits behaving like NHL players at a WWF Wrestling workshop. It was bizarre.

Some of my Korean friends attended impromptu candlelight rallies to protest the impeachment. About 70% of Koreans are opposed to the impeachment (according to German news sources), and everyone I've talked to sees it as an attempt for the opposition party to seize they can go ahead and mis-use the money that President Roh was accused of mis-using. And that, my friends, is why I don't like politics.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Now that I've started to settle into the groove of teaching here, I've begun to fill up some of my free time. For starters, this afternoon I'll be starting pottery classes here on campus. I loved my pottery classes in Daejeon, and am looking forward to taking it up again ~ I can make myself some plates and bowls!

I've also arranged for a Korean tutor. His name in JooYung. He makes me laugh, and he's cute too ... so I think that will make studying Korean much easier :)

And finally, I was asked to write an ariticle for the campus English newsletter / magazine. I'm not sure what it is. Anyway, I took some of my free time yesterday to write it. I came to realize that with the exception of my occasional blurbs here on my Blog, I really haven't written much for over a year! That has got to change ~ I can feel my brain turning to oatmeal as the days go by. If that continues, soon the only thing you will see when you read my blogs is :

ugh. today. good. ugh.

Which, for all my caveman or neanderthal friends, that's fine. For the rest of you whos mental lexicon exceeds 12 words, it might get a bit tedious.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Of Farms and Flurries...

Sometimes, Daegu University is referred to as "The Farm" for two reasons. 1 - we're way out in the boonies. 2- we actually do have a barn and animals on the campus. My first class this morning was in the COW building ~ which, as you may guess, houses the Agriculture majors. The students are really nice, but have low level English and tend to be unmotivated. After all, if your prospective future is working on the farm in rural Korea, you don't have a pressing desire to learn a foreign language. I enjoy teaching those classes, because my flair for acting comes in handy :)

As for the weather, it's been cold, cold, cold here. A wet cold miserable rain, as well as some miserable cold snow flurries. However, we've been spared the freakish snowstorm they got in Daejeon and Seoul. Imagine a city with a climate similar to Victoria...and as ill prepared for snow...waking up to over 40cm of snow!!! It snowed heavily from 4am to 4pm nonstop. You can imagine the havoc and chaos reigning in the city. Buses skidded, and turned around so as to block all lanes of traffic, taxis were loading up with 6 or 8 passengers and people were simpling abandoning cars (by the hundreds) and walking home through knee-high drifts. I wish I was there to see it!!! Kim and one of her friends stood at the bottom of a hill cheering for cars as they attempted to reach the top, and groaning in dissapointment when the attempts failed. That amusement kept them occupied for an hour !

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Hooray! I had students! My last class of the day had 2 girls in it. I gave them a syllabus, and sent them away. Tomorrow I have a 9am class in the Engineering building complex. It's the most bizarre building I've ever had to navigate. I think it was designed by drunken space monkeys...or engineers. Either way, I'm about 80% sure I'm going to get lost.

In other news, I STILL have a cold, and continue to sound like Bea Arthur, although Chris has also likened me to Joan Rivers. I don't want to sound like either one of them!!!
Well, my first day of classes has to speak. I showed up for my 9:00 am class - nervous, but ready. None of my students showed up. I guess that's pretty common for the first day of the semester. So, I chatted with a Korean professor who could locate neither his class or his students. Then I wrote my name on the board, along with the course number, and went back to the office! Now I'm finished until 6:00 pm, when I'll do the same thing over again! Whew.