Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Here it comes... our monthly update!

November, it was a good month :-)

First of all though, Halloween! We wore costumes to school; A = lion, L = mummy. We went trick-or-treating (to parents' houses) with our kindergartners, and then scared them in a Haunted House... well, it was a dark room with spooky music playing, but for 6-year-olds it was quite frightening - a few even cried and many tried to escape out the door! The rest of the day we did Halloween-themed activities, passed out candy, and generally had a laid-back school day. That night, there were Halloween parties at all the foreigner bars, and Anderson DJed at The Basement. The bar was packed, so people danced until dawn - but that wasn't the highlight by any means: Liz, going on stage on a whim due to a plethora of shoddy costumes, managed to win the top costume prize (160,000won in bar prizes - about $125 in food and alcohol) with her reasonably-authentic mummy costume! Anderson's costume, Barack Obama b-boy, wasn't quite as well received :-).
The next weekend, Liz's old coworker from The Sanctuary in Iowa City, Matt Steele, came to visit us. He's been teaching ESL in Gumi, a small-ish industrial town located around 2 hours north of Busan by train. We went out for a delicious pumpkin dinner at this appropriately-named restaurant called Pumpkins, that serves baked pumpkins stuffed with all sorts of meat, vegetables, and cheese. And they have flavored soju, which is quite delicious... We also cashed in on Liz's Halloween prize, so we had a free-to-start party for all of our friends and coworkers! Sunday we spent some time relaxing at Haeundae beach, drinking coffees and watching kite-flying Koreans.
Now, mid-month, Anderson journeyed north early Saturday morning to Ulsan, about an hour away from Busan, to play with DMZ in a soccer tournament. Twelve teams showed up, from all over Korea, making it the biggest tournament outside of Seoul for expat soccer. While DMZ did well, placing 3rd overall and winning 5 out of 6 games, Anderson's tournament was cut painfully short towards the end of the first game when he was brutally headbutted, and knocked unconscious by an opposing player. With a badly sprained ankle, and an ear cut in two places - and bleeding everywhere - a hospital trip by ambulance was necessary, although thanks to the tournament and Korean health care that was entirely free. Twenty-plus stitches later he was back on the sidelines, but even now three weeks later his ankle is still not totally healed. Thankfully the doctor did a truly fantastic job on the stitching, so now with stitches out it is virtually impossible to tell where the cuts were. A consolation prize, and a decent one at that, was the DJ Shadow show that same night in Busan. DJ Shadow was the first real international artist to come to Busan during our time here, and it was great to hear some real music for a few hours. Most of the crowd didn't really know his music, so in that aspect it wasn't the best show ever, but nonetheless it was a great change of pace from the usual musical choices.
Another week of school flew, or limped by in Anderson's case, so up next was a trip to Gumi, where Matt's from, to share a DJ gig with him at the local expat bar, The Waegook Cook. It was definitely a small-town party, but the food was great, the people were appreciative to hear new music, and overall it was a very interesting and enjoyable experience, plus it gave us insight into what life in a small town as a foreigner is like... we're glad we picked Busan! Anderson also sold (for charity) his new mix CD, selling all 20 copies that he brought and raising over 100,000won to send to BBAS Memorial School in Nepal, which was quite sweet.
All right, moving through the busy month pretty quickly!
This past weekend, Anderson hosted a party at The Basement to raise money for Nepal. Perhaps due to Thanksgiving :-(, the bar wasn't as busy as hoped, but another 150,000won was raised for BBAS, our Korean kindergarten co-teachers surprised us by showing up, and a lot of friends of ours came as well, so in most ways it was a true success. On Saturday we had a Thanksgiving-esque potluck dinner with about 10 friends, which meant we enjoyed a fantastic feast and good times all night long - including a great game of charades!
So now it's December, and to continue our series of busy weekends, our cousin Reannon (who we traveled with in India/Nepal) is coming to visit us for about 6 days en route from Japan to America. She's flying standby, so if she can get on the flight that she wants to then she'll arrive here late Friday night. It's going to be very fun to catch up, and to see her insights on Japan vs. Korea.

If you want to download Anderson's mix CD, called One Friday Night In Busan, you can do so here: O.F.N.I.B. - enjoy!

We are currently uploading a bunch of photos to our Kodak website, you should be able to view them within the next few hours.

Hope all's well, only 3 short months until we're Stateside - and we can't wait!
We'll try to make our posts more regular as we begin wrapping up our time here in Korea, we promise!
Peace, and much love
Anderson & Liz

Monday, October 27, 2008

Again, not much to report over here, although our initial year's contract is up at the end of this week, which is definitely exciting! So we'll get our well-deserved bonus next paycheck, plus an equally well-deserved raise for our year of service... and then we just have 4 more months until we're home!
Liz is currently doing a weekly story-telling class for pre-kindergartners - their first experience with a white person, plus she's been promoted to head foreign teacher (more of a title than any real job change)...
Anderson is still DJing and is working on a much-delayed music mix, to be released at an upcoming party to celebrate his one-year DJing anniversary at The Basement bar where he DJs on Friday nights...

Work is going well as always, just had speaking tests today and our bi-monthly progress reports of our students are due this week as well. Despite some procrastination they are coming along well enough.

In addition to Halloween we are also going to go paintballing this next weekend, and tomorrow is our co-worker Blaise's birthday, so it will definitely be a busy weekend. Anderson is also back to playing soccer, now in a rather competitive league, and the team has a big away game this Sunday in the nearby city of Daegu.

So nothing yet lots going on :-)

Hope all's well with you and yours, only 84 more teaching days to go!

Peace and much love

Friday, October 03, 2008

Oh yeah... we have a blog :-)

Hahaha... seriously, the past couple weeks have been completely average and normal. Only highlight occurred this past week, when we got officially approved by Korean Immigration for our requested 4-month contract extension. So instead of being finished at the end of October, we'll be in Korea until the end of February. Family finances, avoiding a cold winter, and generally bad employment possibilities back home in the USA combined to shape our decision. As much as we want to return home, and it is quite badly at this point, a couple few months working and saving money here is definitely in our own self-interest.

We are working on planning a bicycling tour across SE Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam & Laos) for next summer, so we actually won't be in the States more than a few months, but we do like to keep busy :-). Should be a lot of fun cruising around with friends, getting in shape and seeing an amazing part of this wild world of ours. We're thinking late-June through October/November '09, but it's definitely still in the planning stages.

Lately we've just been working, taking Korean lessons twice a week (going slowly but effectively), partying on the weekends (going to an 80s-themed party tonight), and working out at the gym. Anderson's still DJing on Fridays, and we ate vegetarian for a couple of weeks in an effort to lose a few pounds and get healthier. It worked generally, but we need to work hard at the gym as well!

So that's that, sorry about the lack of posting, but there just hasn't been much to post about, you know?


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Last you heard from us we were just finished with our English Village experience. We've had an enjoyable few weeks, full of sporting events, some nice schedule changes at school, and unexpected guests. What what?

Sporting events first: Anderson & Blaise are continuing their undying support of Busan I'Park, the local soccer team. The games are under-attended (despite being held at a former World Cup Stadium), the team mediocre, and the style a tad sluggish.... BUT the games are quite fun, excellent seats are available even as the game starts, beer is cheap, and we have some awesome horns to blow in support of our local football heroes. The team also managed a magnificent come-from-behind victory; they were down 0-1 with less than ten minutes remaining, when our horn-blowing blew some sense and soccer skills into the team, resulting in two stylish goals before the final whistle and a fabulous 2-1 victory. Not to take personal credit, but clearly our yelling was heard :-)
We've also gone to a pair of Lotte Giants baseball games within the past week, both of which were not only victories but also a lot of fun. The Giants are doing really well this season, as they put a lot of men on base, have 2 sluggers (unusual for Korean baseball) and some decent pitchers. Korean baseball is rather different from American baseball, as the play is a bit sloppier, games are higher scoring, and the fans are much more devoted to having fun than to the technical sport. Every player has a theme song that is song whenever they are at bat, the teams has additional songs, plus things are chanted at different times (when the pitcher throws to first base, when a ball is hit out of play, etc). Korea has also just won the Olympic gold medal, so baseball fever is definitely here!
Teams are allowed two foreign players; one is Garcia, a former MLB journeyman who hits the ball very hard, and the other is a just-signed closer, Cortez, who formerly played for the Colorado Rockies amongst other MLB teams. The team's near the top of the league (only 8 teams here), but there is a lot of competition at the top between 3 teams, and with October (and season's end) coming soon, every game counts. The second game we went to was on a weeknight, which meant we got killer seats right near first base, as opposed to our outfield seats on our weekend game. Good times times two!

Schedule changes second: As anticipated we've had a complete afternoon schedule change (our kindergarten classes will never change while we are here), so we have all new classes now. New books, new students, a somewhat new break, and an earlier departure time are all exactly what we needed to get through our last six months here - the classes were definitely a tad, um, boring, having taught them for a few months too long in many cases. We get done now at 7:45, which is great because it means we can finish up at the gym, and then eat dinner, before 11 o'clock like we had been the past 2 months. Though technically we haven't gone to the gym this past week... because... of...

Unexpected guests third: While traveling we met a lot of people, and we've kept in touch with a decent number of them by email. Last week we received an email from Matt & Joylani, a married American couple whom we met when we were in Leh, Ladakh, India, with our cousin Reannon. We went on a long day tour with them to some amazing monasteries, including Alchi which was a highlight of our entire trip for its spectacular Buddhist paintings that are over 1000 years old. They are long-term travelers just like us, and have been out on the road for about a year now. We've kept in touch, but were surprised to hear that they would be coming to Korea so soon!
They were swinging through Korea for a little over a week en route to Japan, where Joylani's brother is living and teaching, and where Matt also has family members (he's half Japanese). So we've spent the past six days having a lot of fun with them, going to a baseball game, eating and drinking in authentic Korean style, going hiking and to Beomeosa, and showing them around our fair city when we're not at COREM teaching children. They've also done some additional touristing, taking in the local fish market and the Busan Tower. They've just left this evening, taking an overnight ferry to Fukuoka, so we've just returned from the ferry terminal. It was really great to have more visitors, our 5th while here in Korea (Luke, Rob, Cindy, A's parentals beforehand), and very nice to catchup with some people we met on the far side of Asia around a year ago. We even ended up trying some new restaurants in our neighborhood that were better than expected, besides taking them to all our local favorite eateries, going to an Anderson DJ gig, tackling the soju, daenamu tongsul, and maekju challenges, and even a few arcade games as well. An awesome and surprising week, definitely better than the regular teaching grind!

Thankfully we only have one more full week before Chuseok, a big Korean holiday (equivalent to Thanksgiving), when we have a four-day weekend. We haven't figured out what we are doing yet, as leaving the country was too expensive due to the high number of Koreans doing exactly that, but we'll definitely figure something fun out to entertain ourselves for 96 hours of no-school.

Anderson's now writing music articles for a website called Smells Like Music, he's got three articles posted so far. They are easily accessible from his Author Page. Hopefully you clicked there :-).

We are sorting out the last bit of our contract extension, which will last four additional months from November to to the end of February, so barring any last minute complications we should be signing that, and getting the Korean government to authorize it, within the next 2 weeks or so. We're getting a raise - SWEET - but beyond that everything else will remain the same.

Keep on keeping on

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Working an "English Village" for our school was an interesting experience. For one night and two days we were essentially camp counselors, wholly responsible for about 10 Korean children. Anderson's boys were from the Dongnae COREM, while Liz's girls primarily came from the Haeundae school. The EV was held outside Yangsan, which is Busan's only suburb, so were about 20 minutes northwest of Busan out in the hills at a youth hostel. The rooms were nice enough, the food (all Korean of course) was actually much better than one might imagine cafeteria food for children to be, and the swimming pool - which was a Saturday afternoon activity - was quite wonderful.
Each team had a weather-based name (Anderson = Storm, Liz = Tornado) which we created a flag for, and in addition to team-building games like relay races and such, there were a plethora of other well-planned activities. Highlights included a short "hike" around the grounds with competitive activity stations set up, a King of Quiz event (that was a bit boring at times but still fun enough), a dress your counselor up night-time event (Anderson = rock star, Liz = princess, although her students decided she should be an evil one, which she definitely was!), and the previously mentioned swimming, which was very fun as it was basically 2 hours of throwing children in the water!
Being an English camp the children were highly discouraged from speaking Korean, so we had stickers to reward them for not doing so, as well as for when the won games, etc. On Saturday morning we had a COREM Town, with stations (Hotel, Hospital, Pharmacy, Post Office, Immigration Office, Bank) where they had to practice English conversation - albeit with a script. They then got COREM Money for completing each station, which they could then use to buy food, snacks, and stationary supplies at the COREM Store. So all the kids got piles of stuff, but the best part was the teachers did as well!
We also had time with the kids in our rooms, where we just talked or played silly word games, or whatever filler was necessary until the next planned event. While the two days were very exhausting, they were certainly enjoyable and we got to know our kids quite well in a short amount of time. Not something we'd want to do every weekend, but given that is was a one-time event we were glad that we'd, somewhat reluctantly, agreed to volunteer our (paid) services :-).

Since then another "typical" week has flown by, Anderson has to go to school early tomorrow to do the kindergartner's monthly birthday party, which entails acting goofy for half-an-hour and passing out candy to those kids that can remember their "sight words." Challenging stuff, indeed! Currently it is summer intensives (public school is out of session so our academy offers a plethora of additional courses), but we don't have too many extra classes thankfully, however come September our entire work schedule is getting revamped. Bad news is no more split shift; good news is we change most of our classes - it gets tedious for the students AND the teacher when we've all been together for a few months - and we'll finish our day at least one class (45 minutes) earlier.

Insert Your Cheesy Ending Here
Anderson & Liz

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The week after our rafting excursion flew by in anticipation of the arrival of Anderson's parents. They actually got into Seoul Wednesday evening, however the combination of their inevitable jet lag (2.5 days of sleep was the result) and our work schedule meant we didn't show up until Saturday morning. We took the first KTX train from Busan, right at 5am, and arrived in Seoul just before 8. Marcia & Rod were staying, thanks to hotel "points," at the Millennium Seoul Hilton - a fabulous 5-star hotel!
So we arrived in the lap of luxury, had a spectacular breakfast buffet 2 mornings in a row, and took advantage of the top-notch fitness center (puts our home gym to shame) just before we left. While in Seoul we went to the Seoul National Museum, which was packed with all sorts of Korean artifacts, including quite a few of the nation's "National Treasures." The Korean government has compiled a list of the best of the best and we've seen quite a few of them during our time here. Although with a total of 307, we'll never really get close to seeing them all :-) The museum also featured some nice collections of other Asian art, although by that time in our museum visit we were moving quite speedily through the galleries!
Afterwards we headed to a little more action-packed cultural experience: a performance of Miso at the Chongdong Theater. Set up in traditional Korean style, the theater finds a nice balance between the ancient and modern. Thus, while deeply rooted in Korean drama of yesteryear, the intent is definitely to entertain the modern audience rather than bore them. So the performance, which combines music, dance, song, and acrobatics, is high-energy and highly entertaining. Having seen many a culture show elsewhere in Asia, what truly set this one apart was the genuine passion and joy of the participants. If you are ever in Seoul, this is definitely worth checking out, and at only $20 quite affordable.
From Seoul we took an afternoon bus to Jeonju, which ended up being literally direct, as opposed to the usual half-journey reststop. But given how close Jeonju is, at just over 2.5 hours, everything worked out well. Sunny had found us a nice hotel, The Riviera, right on the edge of the traditional village which, besides the wonderful food, is Jeonju's main touristic claim to fame. Over 900 traditional houses are still thriving in the center of the city, a combination of homes and shops. There are many stores selling hanji, traditional paper made from mulberry bark, as well as old-style tea houses. The city is constantly improving the area, and a waterway has been recently established that was under construction during our last visit to see Sunny. Jeonju's food of course did not disappoint, as we enjoyed many a tasty meal. Highlights included bibimbap (mixed vegetables and rice), gamjatang (potato/pork spine soup), and some cold noodle soups in bean sprout and black bean sauces. We spent our days meandering about the village, making ourselves hanji ties (think tye-died style), drinking tea, and window-shopping; our nights were spent recovering from dinner and chatting with Sunny & Zoe in our hotel room.
From Jeonju we returned home to Busan, with Anderson's parents staying only 2 blocks away in the same "love motel" that we stayed in when we first arrived in Korea. It was very nice and fun to finally show Rod & Marcia what our life is really like, from our apartment to our school, to our neighborhood and the highlights of Busan. We went to two of the most famous temples: the temple by the sea Haedong Yonggungsa, and Beomeosa which is set in a contrasting forest environment. We of course went to the aquarium (probably our last visit there, we're a bit aquariumed out by now), and foolishly took the nighttime city bus tour - not worth it at all as the only think worth seeing at all is the Gwangan Bridge...
The days definitely flew by, and soon enough our vacation was over and we had to return to work. Marcia & Rod did get to see COREM then, and they sat in on a couple of our kindergarten classes in the morning. Their two weeks in Korea had past, and so the next morning we set them up in a taxi around 4:30 am so they could get to the airport in time for their 7 am flight to Seoul. All went smoothly and they are back in America, sleeping to recover :-).
It was really wonderful to spend quality time with our parents after a two year hiatus. They can now relate to our life and experiences here much better and we are very thankful that they took the time to explore this culture. They were lucky enough to have many "Asian" things happen to them. For example, obliging requests for a photo with strangers, getting talked to and talking to people in languages neither can understand, and having people openly stare out of sheer curiosity. Even the mundane for Asians, like taking shoes off in restaurants, working the shower and using tiny towels, or bowing to people is hard to adapt to in such a short amount of time. It's these daily travel occurrences that are hardest to relate to people that have never experienced them, and it's our reactions to them that help us understand ourselves better. Rod and Marcia took it all in stride, and for that, we are very proud of them.
Since their departure we've worked one week, and this past weekend we went to Haeundae Beach both Saturday and Sunday. Anderson's a bit red from the sun, but it was quite relaxing, we got some quality reading and swimming in both days with Blaise and Joe. We also went to see Batman: The Dark Knight on Saturday night, which was certainly grandiose and epic, but didn't disappoint one bit.
This next weekend is 3 days long, no school on Friday, but we are working a voluntary-but-paid English Village weekend camp for upper-elementary students on Saturday and Sunday. So the bad news is our weekend is really only one day long, but the good news is the weekend should be fun enough and put some extra money in our pockets!

That's that from Busan, just cleaning the house up a bit today since it got a bit messy over the weekend!

Anderson & Liz
A lot's happened since the last post, so this'll be broken into 2. First up - rafting and such and such in INJE.
Inje's located in the far north-east corner of Korea, although we actually stayed in the beach side town of Seokcho. Between the two towns is a large and beautiful national park, amongst Korea's best: Seoraksan National Park. We took the overnight bus, along with Blaise & Nayoung, from Busan to Seokcho, and thanks to some Dramamine managed to actually get a half-decent amount of sleep. We arrived around 5:30 am, and were met at the bus station by Sunny.
We stayed at an excellent hotel, more of a conference center actually, with nice big rooms, a jjimjilbang AND swimming pool in the basement, and trampolines outside! Sunny's whole family was there, so we finally got to meet her father, and we also met her aunt, uncle, and 2 cousins. Our first stop was the downstairs jjimjilbang, which felt very soothing so early in the morning. Despite our exhaustion we didn't sleep, just relaxed, and prepared ourselves (ha) for the raw squid & lettuce wrap breakfast prepared by Sunny's mother and aunt. It was tasty, as tasty as chewy raw squid can be in at 8am on a dreary Saturday morning... :-).
We then headed into the national park, and hiked up around 800 meters to a high-point called Ulsan Rock. The climb was steep, and a bit slick since it had started to drizzle - but there was a helpful staircase for the worst parts... although the metal steps were actually harder to navigate than the rocks because of the rain. Koreans love their hiking - and Sunny's parents are no different - they beat us to the top of the rock by at least 15 minutes!
The rain started to pick up, as we descended back down the path, past a small temple and a massive Buddha statue. We then headed to Inje to go rafting. By then the rain was pretty much pouring, but thankfully it was rather warm, and obviously being soaked while rafting isn't all that unusual. Rafting was only $25, though none too challenging. Fortunately it was a lot of fun, the guide was good despite the river being packed with other rafts, and there were a few rapids and one big dropoff. It lasted about 2 hours, with the final stop being some freezing cold water coming down from a mountain that Liz adamantly refused (to no avail :-) to sit in.
Back to the hotel we went, thoroughly soaked, for a delicious dinner of pork lettuce wraps. We had a fun night at the hotel, culminating in some trampoline usage once the rain finally stopped around midnight.
The next morning we returned the culinary favor American-style by making our somewhat infamous spicy-tuna sandwiches. Let us know when we're at your house - we'll make 'em for you, too. Even the old Korean men, traditional food fans if there ever were any, ate the sandwiches, though we're sure the would've preferred more raw squid if they had the choice!
The rest of our day was spent on an 8-hour bus ride back to Busan, we'll spare you those details because it was simply too amazing to fairly describe.

So that was almost 3 weeks ago now, all our adventures with Anderson's parents will be posted very, very soon.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

The MUD Festival was indeed muddy, and was part of a long and crazy weekend. We left Busan early on Saturday morning, around 8am, and then drove over 4 hours to get to the Hite (beer) brewery in Jeonju. We went on a full bus of Busan foreigners, so there were over 40 people pre-partying at 9am on our bus! After a rather silly beer tour, since the plant was effectively closed down for the day, we got what we had come for: silly trinkets. Of course, there was the "as much beer as you can drink in 20 minutes" challenge first... which may have directly impacted the number of Hite-logo trinkets purchased. We got a nice bandanna and a bottle opener - not a bad deal for $2.50!
From there we went to Boryeong, which is a small mostly upscale "tourist ghetto" with endless hotels and restaurants. Everything is there for the Mud Fest, where millions of people turn up for days of mud fun, drinking, and beaching. After quickly checking in at our hotel - where we totally lucked out since we only had 3 people (ourselves and Blaise) while most rooms were jammed full with 5, we then headed out to the beach. The water was nice and warm, and the mud was gray and soothing. Everywhere people were covered with mud, and there were plenty of mud pits, slides, paintbrushes, and other ways to get muddy. A huge stage was setup with bands playing during the daytime, and all the corner stores were selling beer as frantically as they could. Saturday we meandered about the whole afternoon and evening, pausing for a bit to take in the spectacular fireworks display around 10pm, after which the whole Busan crew moved down to the beach. Good times were had, Blaise got soaked while watering the ocean, blah blah blah. Had a tasty dinner of oysters roasted over a fire, and then some late-night cappuccinos for, um, balance.
Sunday was a bit more low key, but still muddy and fun since we played with a beach ball down by the beach between swims. We also had a great sushi lunch, got some free mud soap, and got as muddy as we wanted to get :-)
This week at school's flown by, and this coming weekend (as in tomorrow night) we are taking an overnight bus on Friday to the far north-east corner of South Korea. We are meeting Sunny's family, and along with Nayoung and Blaise are going to go rafting near a gorgeous national park. We'll be staying at a nice condo thanks to Sunny, and we also have plans to go hiking in Seoraksan National Park and then hit up the east-coast beaches for a bit. So the two opposite coasts of Korea in 2 weekends: not too shabby.
We'll have a full report on rafting this next week, and then starting July 26 we have our much-anticipated summer vacation! Anderson's parents are coming from the US to visit us, so it should be a lot of fun to show them around our new home. We haven't seen them in about 2 years, so it will be nice to catch up, be Korean tourists, and eat lots of tasty food together. Plus, we don't get many vacation days with our job, so this one-week vacation is literally our longest of our entire 16 months in Korea.

That's that from B-Town
Come correct
A to da E

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Spy Vs. Spy party was a tremendous success! We raised over $1400 for charity, between raffle ticket sales, date auctions, games/t-shirt sales, and additional donations. With over 150 people in attendance, it was definitely a crazy party and people danced until past dawn! We're posting photos on our photo site right now, so you can check them out soon. It was a lot of hard work, literally weeks, but it was all well worth it when the party came together perfectly. We couldn't have pulled it off without a lot of help from our friends, Blaise and Nayoung in particular. The raffle went extremely well, with plenty of people buying additional raffle tickets beyond the $2 mandatory donation entry fee, and our friend and former coworker HaeJin won the grand prize of a one-night stay at the Westin Chosun Hotel at Haeundae Beach. We also had a lot of other great prizes, including Korean lessons, signed cartoon books, and food gift certificates. The date auction, a last-week addition, ended up being a great success as it raised well over $400 alone, with the bidding on several of our 10 volunteers being quite heated. All and all, definitely a legendary night, a great party, and a very successful fund raiser.
So that was last weekend, June 28, and the 29th was Anderson's 27th birthday. Sunday was rather low key by comparison obviously, but we did go out for an excellent Korean beef BBQ dinner with our local Yeonsan crew of friends.
The week of work flew by as quick as usual, although Tuesday night was "Canada Day" so went out to the weekly open mic night at The Basement, which was much busier than usual and a fun time, although our exhaustion on Wednesday made the day of work feel a bit rough!
This weekend was quite fun as well - Friday night was July 4, so Anderson's DJ gig was also a Mad Cow Party (due to the extreme Korean controversy involving American beef imports). Liz and Blaise won the Mad Cow Dance contest (prize: $50 bar tab), which was quite hilarious and fortunately recorded for posterity. It was definitely another late night, but a fun one for sure.
Saturday was a baby shower for our supervisor Rose, primarily planned by Liz although Chris nicely hosted it in her posh apartment :-). Baby showers are unheard of here in Korea, so all our female coworkers had a great time playing crazy games, eating tasty food, and having fun. In contrast, Anderson, Blaise, and Joe went to the Busan Ipark soccer game - which was also quite fun, perhaps in a more masculine sense though! We all met up afterwards in Kyungsung for a fun nightcap.
Today, Sunday, we went to Sung Ae Won Home for Children to drop off all the money we raised with Busan Assassin & Spy Vs. Spy. We had over $1500, so it felt great giving so much money to such a needy place. The orphanage is quite nice and very large. It currently houses 73 children all under the age of 5. So after meeting the owners, a nice couple, and their son and daughter-in-law, we then spent over 2 hours meeting and playing with all the orphans. It was tiring yet very fun, although filled with plenty of crying - especially when it was time to go. Afterwards the owners took us to a nice nearby Chinese restaurant (one of the orphanage's sponsors) for an interesting meal of cold peanut-sauce and seafood soup. It was an interesting flavor combination, but very good, as were the mandu that preceded it.
Next weekend is the Boryeong Mud Festival, which is sure to be a crazy good time! We also will get to tour the Hite brewery, so it'll be a good start to a long and dirty weekend of partying Korean-style :-).


Monday, June 23, 2008

Time is flying by, which means Anderson's 27th birthday (on June 29th) is practically upon us. School is still going well - we've verbally negotiated a 4-month contract extension (still need to sign the actual paperwork), so that means we will be remaining in Korea through the end of February 2009. A few more months, particularly during the mild Korean winter, will definitely pass quickly, and the savings we can put away will enable us to have a lot more financial flexibility in regards to our future plans. Beyond relaxing in America for a good while we have a lot of good ideas, but we'll see how it goes whether we end of biking around America, traveling to Central/South America, teaching in SE Asia, or working on a cruise ship first. All good options, and no rush to experience them all!
The Spy Vs. Spy party is consuming much of our time, as is not getting assassinated (by a water fun) playing the Busan Assassin game itself. Our one attempt at killing our targets was unsuccessful, but perhaps more importantly we haven't died ourselves yet! We've gotten together a couple generous sponsors for our event, so we'll have around 50 total prizes to auction off, and recruiting people for the date auction is also going well. Still have a few more games to plan, more spy music to download, and some spy-themed DVD to put together - but with 5 days left until the party things are going rather well. Spent much of the weekend passing out business cards, over 400 have been given out and response on the street has been good - Busan doesn't exactly have an abundance of charity parties so we're hoping a lot of people turn out to help the orphans of Sung Ae Won Home for Children.
It's test week at school as well, so that means we'll have a rather easy day on Friday - though the kids will all hate it :-), and then the month of July will already be upon us!

Hope all's well wherever you dwell

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June is quickly scampering away...
Our friend Cindy came here for the first weekend of the month, which was quite fun. Her first night here was our coworker Nayoung's last night, so we had a fun late-night out in our local neighborhood. We also went to Gwangalli beach at night and hit up the amusement park there. The definite highlight was our Saturday shark dive at the local aquarium. Having never scuba dived it was a bit intimidating, but all the sharks weren't interested in silly waegookins in dive suits, so dangerous it definitely was not! We got to collect any shark teeth we found on the bottom, which was rather fun. We were more on display than the sharks in one sense, since all the Korean families spent time gawking at the crazy foreigners!
Let's see... school's been the same, although we did just informally agree on a contract extension with our boss, so although we still need to sign the paperwork we have already effectively agreed to remain in Korea for 4 more months, through the end of February '09. It's a mutually beneficial decision, as it helps us save up for our "FUTURE" - whatever zaniness that may entail - while also helping COREM out by having us finish the "official" kindergarten school year.
This past weekend we met up with Sunny and her boyfriend Sean. We explored some of central-western Korea, going to the town of Gongju. It's home to some ancient tombs, one of which held an undisturbed king & queen, completely intact with plenty of treasure - in one sense the Korean Tutankhamen. We also visited, during a touristic Saturday, a nice modern museum and an ancient fortress, before eating an amazing bulgogi (spicy cooked beef) dinner. We stayed at a nice lakeside hotel, and went to a spectacular rural temple, called Magoksa, on Sunday. To get to the temple you have to cross a bridge, which was particularly nice because here were hundreds of huge fish beneath eagerly waiting to be fed by temple-goers.
All the photos should be up on our Kodak site soon, it's currently being uncooperative so we can't upload the last batch.

We are also working on a benefit party for a charity: the Sung Ae Won Home for Children, located here in Busan. For a bit more information, check out Foreign FUN(d)Raisers - although that page is most definitely under construction! We are in charge of the closing party for a 10-day event called Busan Assassin. A bit of effort, but fun and for a good cause. We're having a Spy Vs. Spy theme, with people dressed either in black or white, and wearing sunglasses. Anderson will DJ, and there will be a raffle (if we can get enough sponsors in the next 10 days) or else a bachelor/bachelorette date auction. The party will also have the awards show for the actual event, and will raise a lot of money for charity!

That's about it from here, got to back to school shortly... we now work a split shift, so we have 4 classes in the morning, from 11:20 - 3:15, and then 4 more classes from 5:30 - 8:25, although our schedule does shift a bit each day, so Liz has an easy day on Friday, and Anderson has an easy Tuesday.

Hope all's well, our thoughts our with our soggy friends in Iowa :-)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Just spent a fun weekend hiking, after a great night our with our coworkers on Friday. We all ended up going out for chicken and beer after work, then switched to daenamu-tang-sul (a tasty bamboo beverage), before heading to The Basement where Anderson was DJing. A long crazy night, as evidenced by sombrero that Anderson came home with!
On Saturday we went to a temple about an hour away, called Seongnamsa, that Anderson is currently procrastinating writing an article about for The Korea Sun, the foreigner's magazine he writes for. It was a smaller temple, up in the Korean hills, near a "tall for Korea" mountain called Gajisan. We did some hiking but didn't have enough daylight to get the summit, but it was definitely a very peaceful and beautiful place. The temple itself is next to a small river, and has several nice Buddhist buildings. Unfortunately the Japanese essentially destroyed the whole temple in 1952, so everything has had to be rebuilt, but it definitely all looks very nice. It is actually under some renovations now, as new bridges are being built around the temple complex. We plan on going back to hike to the top of Gajisan, maybe in a couple of weeks if we're not too busy.
Today, Sunday, we went hiking with our co-teacher Blaise near the Beomeosa temple. We hiked the hills for around 3 hours, so our legs are definitely feeling good now. The Korean summer has arrived, so the days are warm, sunny, and long. Koreans love to exercise and hike, so the trails were busy but not packed, and we crazy North American men with no shirts on definitely attracted a bit of attention (all good - though some guys told Liz that she should join us!).
Our days of overtime work are now officially behind us, which is great, although we are now stuck teaching a split shift, where we will each teach 4-5 classes, then have a break for around 2 hours, before returning to teach for 4 classes. At least we'll be able to eat lunch at home now, rather than having to eat out everyday, and we can bike on the river as well, so it won't be too bad. In August we will probably have the chance to teach more overtime, since it will be summer intensive time for a month, but we'll take the respite from the long hours while we can get it!

That's that for now, need to grade a few tests...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The last 2.5 weeks have flown by quite quickly, due not only to exciting weekends, but also because of a decent amount of vacation days.
Our weekend with Sunny in Jeonju was quite enjoyable, for a variety of reasons. It was very nice to meet her mother and brother (her father was away working), and Jeonju is a very nice smaller Korean city. We arrived a bit late in the day on Saturday, so we walked a bit around the town, ending up in a beautiful park that was having a cultural festival. So as dusk descended we got to watch traditional Korean dancing, which was made a bit hilarious by the wanderings and dancing of a few soju men! That night Sunny's mother made us a traditional Korean dinner, which was simply fantastic. Other highlights included checking out the traditional village, with all sorts of old-style Korean buildings, tea houses, and touristic shopping options; going hiking; checking out the zoo; and even going bowling at a rather high-tech bowling alley. The weekend was over all too soon, but we shall definitely return soon, we are planning on taking Anderson's parents there when they come in August to show them a different side to the city life in Seoul and Busan.

We also had a fun Teacher's Day on Thursday the 15th. The day before we received piles of sweet gifts from many of our students, which was unexpected and totally awesome! We got everything from clothes, to beauty supplies, to food, and even some Starbucks gift certificates and a bottle of nice wine. On Teacher's Day itself we had no school, and all the COREM employees, from every school (as in 200 people) all went on a hiking trip. It was a lot of fun, we had a big Korean feast before playing some games. Our school got 2nd place in both joku (soccer-tennis) and dodge ball, so we won enough money to have a Pizza Hut pizza party the next day as well, which was pretty sweet.

This next week our school gains a new foreign teacher. We met him last Friday, his name is Josh, he's from Vermont, and he seems like a nice guy. We are very happy to have another teacher, since it means our overtime is over! While we appreciate the extra money, the long hours are becoming quite draining, and now that the weather is very nice we want to be exercising and enjoying life, not working more. We have been riding our bikes by the Oncheoncheon river a lot, and are working out a bit as well - we need to lose our maekju flab and get ready for the upcoming beach season! We had planned on going hiking at a temple out of town, called Seongnamsa, but it rained all day on Saturday so that had to be postponed until next weekend. Anderson is going to write an article about it, for a new foreigner's magazine (out of Ulsan) called The Korean Sun. He just wrote an article about our favorite sushi buffet, Green Mong, that will appear in the upcoming June issue, and he is also going to start editing some articles as the magazine expands it focus to Busan. A good opportunity that should be a lot of fun.

That's about it, we're as ready as we can be for our last week of overtime :-)
Hope all is well wherever you may be, and a special congratulations is due to our friends Jordan and Nat for tying the knot - we wish them all the best now that they've joined the married club!

Peace & Love
Anderson & Liz

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Our 3-day weekend (thanks to Children's Day) was chock-full of fun and entertainment! We departed from Busan early Saturday morning, taking the high-speed KTX train to Seoul. The train was nice and comfortable, as well as quite fast - it took around 2.5 hours to cross South Korea. We had a dual agenda in Seoul: first to have a Cornell reunion with Sunny and two other Korean exchange students - Juyoung & Min; second to attend the "2nd Annual World DJ Festival" and get some quality dancing in :-).
We got to Seoul early in the afternoon, and met Sunny and Juyoung at the train station. Juyoung hadn't changed a bit, and is still her smart, sweet self - she's currently studying to be a diplomat! Our first stop was at a subway Krispie Kream donut shop, where we met one of Sunny's friends for some donuts. His (appropriate) nickname is Na-Nold, since he looks like a Korean Arnold Schwarzenegger! The donuts were quite delicious, particularly since we got a free hot glazed donut fresh out of the oven. We then made our way to our hostel, the Windflower, which we'd found on Hostel World, an amazing bargain at only $10/bed/night. It was in one way an average hostel, but excellent value and we really only needed a comfortable place to sleep, which we definitely got.
Juyoung had to go to an English class, so we went on a lengthy walk with Sunny, first to the nearby palace Changgyeonggung, one of the five remaining palaces in Seoul. It is surrounded by an extensive park and garden area, so it is a very peaceful and calming place. We then walked over to Insadong, an extensive shopping area that is quite famous. We had perfect timing, as we ran into an oncoming street festival! It was a festival featuring a variety of dancers and music, plus plenty of costumes and Buddhas, since it was sponsored by a variety of Buddhist monasteries. We then met up with Min, the 3rd Korean Cornellian, which was quite shocking since has changed quite a bit. She not only lost weight, but now has long hair, not to mention that she is married a recent mother!
We re-met up with Juyoung, and had a delicious and wonderful Korean dinner, chatting and laughing as we ate a tasty mushroom and rice meal. After dinner we met Min's husband and their baby son, who Liz kept entertained. From there we headed across town to the Han River, where Seoul's "2nd Annual World DJ Festival." The festival was quite large, with 4 stages and thousands of people in attendance. The music was great, with Rabbit In The Moon as the headliner. We also saw some good Korean and Japanese DJs, and the crowd was quite responsive to all the artists, so even techno rookies Sunny and Juyoung had a fantastic time. We also ran into a lot of friends from Busan, and even Peter Strutt (yet another Cornellian), who teaches English in Incheon! Our night ended speedily, as we took a high-speed taxi ride across Seoul and back to the hostel, cruising through the city streets Formula 1 style...
Our first priority on Sunday was a Mexican lunch, so we took the subway to Itaewon, another foreigner area (due to a US Army base located there). Panchos' was authentic in the Tex-Mex variety, and the fajitas were top-notch. Since Mexican food is definitely our favorite, the relatively high price for food (since it's "foreign" in Korea) was well-worth the taste-bud explosion we all experienced. From there we hit up another of Seoul's palaces, Gyeongbok Palace, which was the main and largest of Joseon dynasty's Five Grand Palaces. It is an extensive area, walking just one side of the large square park takes around 10 minutes. We took plenty of photos (of course :-), wandered around the peaceful palace, before hitting up the adjacent Folk Art Museum. The museum was nice and modern, and had a lot of interesting displays on Korea's past, including the first drawn map of Korea, recreations of traditional food and housing, and some very interesting traditional clothing displays. The Korean love of headgear definitely goes back countless centuries!
We met up with our co-teacher Blaise and his friend Jon (visiting from Japan where he is a public school English teacher) for dinner, at a tasty pork/kimchi restaurant. Blaise stayed at our hostel as well, we'd just been on different time schedules while in Seoul, so we kept missing each other up until then. After dinner we had some scrumptious Cold Stone Creamery ice cream for dessert, before returning to our hostel. While saying our goodbyes to Juyoung, her hostel-bed replacement arrived, Anika, a nice girl from Germany who had just spent six months backpacking around New Zealand. She then joined us for a night out drinking and chatting at a local bar, where we sampled a new-to-us rice wine, in addition to our usual favorites daenamu-tongsul (bamboo liquor) and maekju (beer).
Monday we had a tasty lunch of cow-bone soup (tasted better than it sounded), which like many Korean soups is "good for a hangover" - which it was. For our last stop as tourists in Seoul we headed to the Seoul Tower, a lookout point high above the city. It was a nice place to relax, and we even got some hackysacking in (thank Jon), before saying goodbye to Seoul and Sunny. We'll be seeing Sunny next weekend for Buddha's Birthday (another 3-day weekend), since we are going to her hometown of Jeonju to meet her family, but we may not get back to Seoul until Anderson's parents come to visit in late July.
We rode a deluxe bus back with Blaise and Jon, which was very comfortable, so we got a short nap in, and due to a lack of traffic the trip took almost exactly 4 hours. We then introduced Jon to the "Korean hotdog" - kimbap, better known as a veg sushi-roll, and to our favorite local pub Mister Seven. All-in-all a fabulous weekend, we really couldn't have done more, or had more fun, if we had of tried!

This week at school will undoubtedly fly by, and we are definitely excited to see Sunny again this coming Saturday. Pictures are currently being uploaded to our photo site, so feel free to check them out when you've got some time,

Anderson & Liz

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Just had a fun foreigner-in-Korea post-work evening. After a long day of teaching, we indulged in some tasty dakgalbi, spicy chicken served with potatoes and vegetables in a red sauce, at a local restaurant. The owner tried his hardest to converse with us in his limited English, and we used our even more limited Korean in exchange, which had a similar feeling to many a meal in India. But we got a beer for free - "service" - and had some rice as well, and ended up quite stuffed for $15. It was actually the proverbial 2nd chance for the restaurant, its right behind our school and we'd eaten there once before when it first opened up, but we were underwhelmed by the regular chicken dish we ordered. The "service" chicken feet they gave us then were, ummm, appreciated though :-).
Afterwards it was time for Oprah, a little slice of Americana (thanks to the On Style English-language TV channel), and then a nice bike ride by the river to burn off all those chicken calories. OK, OK, to burn off those beer calories.

Anderson's friend Rob, from way back in high school, came through Busan last week with his family (his mother's Korean) - so we got to spend two delightful evenings hanging out with him, his brother Casey, and his brother's wife Lisa. It was definitely nice to see him, been over a year and a half, and we made the most of the time we had: went to Neo for a leisurely catch-up chat our first night, the owner of Neo, Ken, gave us the royal treatment which was very nice. On Tuesday we went down to PNU, chilled out at a nice coffeeshop, then wandered the Korean streets before blowing a bunch of change at an arcade. We spent a little time at The Basement's open mic before they had to leave, and Rob blew minds with some intense guitar thrashing - the stuff of legends :-). He also brought us some great American foodstuffs - Mac & Cheese, White Cheddar Cheezits (RIP), and oatmeal. Yum, yum.

Last Friday we also had our first school field trip with all the kindergarteners. It was a fun morning at the Olympic Park, playing games. Running races, bubble blowing, spoon/ball relays, and ball parachute games preceded a picnic on the grass. Definitely a nice change of pace from our usual teaching, and it was fun to just hang out with the kids, more as babysitters, than drill them with English sentences. Their moms also packed plenty of great food, so we got to eat all sorts of tasty fruit and snacks. We'll have field trips once a month, so we are definitely looking forward to the next one already!

There's all the news fit to type, be sure to check our Kodak site (remember that ol' thang??) for a few new photos from Liz's trip to Jiri-san and our apartment complex's Cherry Blossom Festival!

Anderson & Liz

Sunday, April 20, 2008

While the days just keep flying by, today was at least a little different from our "same same but different" routine in Korea. A local organization, Busan Buddhism / Han Na Rae, put on a lantern-making class for foreigners at Hongbeop-sa, a temple at the northern end of Busan. So we went, along with around 100 other foreigners, to have an enjoyable cultural experience. We ended up having a great time, and we got to make two very nice lanterns as well: one lotus pedal, and one octagonal lantern. Somewhat like paper mache, the organization had kindly prepared all of our materials, so we got to focus on arranging and gluing, rather than cutting up paper and making metal shapes to wrap up. Our apartment is now looking a bit more Korean, though we have yet to actually hang up our new creations!
Otherwise we are working a lot, on average 3 extra classes per day, and will presumably continue this hectic teaching pace through May, or whenever our school actually manages to hire another foreign teacher. Supposedly we are currently quite close to doing so, but we're not holding our breath. The additional money is quite nice, but we are very exhausted after work, so most nights we literally just make dinner and then lounge about watching downloaded American television and reading books. A reading recommendation: "The World Is Flat" by Thomas Friedman is an excellent guide to the current state of the global economy, and how the world truly is flat concerning commerce and business relations.
In personal electronics news we finally got Liz's computer working again, although her old hard drive definitely seems screwed - thankfully nothing too important was on it, other than some old photos that we hopefully have backed up elsewhere. Next up is our camera, which primarily involves waking up early on a week day and traveling to the repair center - tragically much more difficult than it sounds...

For the curious, here is a sample teaching schedule (Anderson's) from last month:
(all classes are 40 minutes long)

First, 3 Kindergarten classes:

11:20 - 7-year-olds 1st-year-of-English
12:50 - 7-year-olds 2nd-year-of-English
1:30 - 6-year-olds 1st-year-of-English

Next 7 Elementary classes, on a Wake-Up, Hop, Skip, Jump, Boost, Elite system of books... Hop, Skip & Jump have 4 levels each. Boost & Elite have 5 levels.

2:30 - Hop 3
3:15 - Wake-Up
4:45 - Boost C
5:30 - Skip 3
6:15 - Boost E
7:00 - Jump 2
7:45 - Boost B


Definitely a wide range of classes, ages, and levels, so the day is far from repetitive, although jumping from Kindergarten, which require an animated and overly excited teacher, to the more laid back (and disinterested) older children is a bit of a shock some days.

Anderson's DJing is still going well, nothing too exciting to report there.
In May we plan on going to Seoul over one 3-day weekend (thanks Children's Day) and then to Jeonju to visit Sunny and her family another 3-day weekend (thanks Buddha's Birthday). Frankly we can't wait for the holidays, March and April is the longest stretch of the year without any days off, and it is definitely a bit wearing, never mind all the OT.

Hope all's well

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The month of March seemed to fly by... between overtime at work, Anderson's knee injury, and busy weekends, seems we've neglected Watch Out World! a bit. Sorry :-)

With the launch of our kindergarten program, and our school's need for one more foreign teacher, we are now on our 2nd (but probably last) month of intensive overtime. That means we are teaching up to 11 classes some days, at we live at school from 11am until 8:30pm. Good news is, when payday finally arrives this coming Thursday, we'll be won millionaires several times over, since we both - for the month of March - taught the equivalent of an additional week (37 classes). The longer days are a bit more draining, but class itself is enjoyable, and our new kindergarten classes are rather enjoyable. Teaching younger children means lots of activities, coloring, cutting, gluing, etc. - which also makes the hands on the clock spin faster. Our days also, then, have much more variety, as we go from teaching 4-6 year old children in the morning to teaching older kids at the top levels of our school in the evening.

What else, what else...

Liz went to Jirisan National Park last weekend for Sunny's birthday, which was a fun ladies-only hiking party, since cripples (ie Anderson) aren't really allowed to go hiking! Our coteacher Jin also went, and we'll get some photos posted on our Kodak site soon. Spending a weekend outside of Busan, enjoying rural Korea, was a vast change from our typical city-dweller existence and routine. Anderson may or may not be jealous!

Since spring has arrived, flowers are in full bloom, and this weekend in particular it is cherry blossoms. Our apartment complex, Han Yang, even has had (we're still listening to the blasting K-pop karaoke right now) a 3-day festival, with lots of food vendors, singing competitions, taekwondo demonstrations, dancing, and plenty of other stuff. We've spent a while wandering about, and other than the smell of roasting silk worms it has been quite enjoyable, the whole neighborhood, from babies to grandparents, are out and about having a grand ol time. That means we've done quite a bit of student-spotting, with results varying from excitement to shock. Seems some children forget that we are real people outside of school :-)

This weekend Sunny and her boyfriend Sean came to visit us, which worked out well with the cherry blossom festival. We also met some of Anderson's students (they wanted to "hang out" with the teachers), so we wandered around with them, and their cute but crazy dogs, and then went for a walk by the river (Oncheoncheon) and an extended game of catch. Saturday night was also the Busan Beer Olympics, which was a crazy competition/party that Anderson DJed. There were at least 100 people, so the bar Neo was packed, and just like the movie "Beerfest" there were all sorts of games, from Beer Pong to Bat Spinning, Volume Chug to Quarters. An American team won, and a lot of dancing was had, and also a lot of money was raised for charity (a local orphanage). Sunny and Sean even played their first game of beer pong, which they won!

That's that, having a laidback movie night tonight, then back to the teacher grind in 15 short hours :-(

Anderson & Liz

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

We have added yet another blog to our digital family.
Arguably the most important yet -
Many of you have probably heard about our experiences in and around Bardia National Park in Nepal. Now you can read all about the school we volunteered at, think about volunteering yourself, as well as help the school out financially if you are so inclined :-).

PLEASE share this with your F.R.I.E.N.D.s - that's our clever acronym for Funding Rural Indigenous Education in Nepal Directly!

Thanks so much
Peace & Love as always
Anderson & Liz

Friday, March 07, 2008

We've gotten through our first (half) week of overtime pay, and while still rewarding it is definitely a bit more draining than our previous schedule. We each teach 10 classes, and at least have identical start times and breaks, so that is a big plus. Our days now start at 11:20am, with one kindergarten class before the kids' lunch break - which we use as prep time - followed by two more kindergarten classes. Two of our K classes are 1st-year English speakers, so it is a lot of parrot learning and chanting, but the kids are enthusiastic and generally well-behaved. We also teach the same 7-2 class - which means they are seven years old in Korean, as in 6 years old American, but in their second year of English class. They are adorable, well-behaved, self-policing ("No Korean-speaking" they say) and quite fun. After that a short 20-minute break, to get our heads screwed back on properly, before we begin our former day's teaching at 2:30pm. Good news is we share a 4:00 break, so we only teach 2 classes of older kids (but having taught 5 total already) before we have our un-official lunch break. Then 5 more classes straight and we get to go home, a little exhausted from carrying such a fat wallet around :-).
We aren't making THAT much more money, but the $15 or so per extra class definitely adds up, with Liz teaching 44 and Anderson teaching 47 per week, well above the 37 our contract calls for.
Our school has also gained a lot of new teachers, so our office is packed. We have 2 new Elementary teachers (the older kids), plus our good friends Jin and Nayung are now full-time instead of part-time. There is also another room full of Korean kindergarten teachers, who are not English teachers (and thus don't speak that much English). There is even a Chinese teacher, who seems quite friendly and is obviously smart since she's mastered 3 languages!
School is still great despite the dramatically increased insanity, but nonetheless we are VERY thankful that the weekend rolled around, though Liz was so tired she had to skip going out! Anderson's DJing is still going great, The Basement on Fridays and Neo on Saturdays as always. For more information on that, you can, as always, check out Everyone's Happy In Sandyland.

That's about all that's new, we are hoping to see Sunny again soon, perhaps for an upcoming Beer Olympics the first weekend in April, which Anderson is DJing and is shaping up to be "the event of the spring" or something...

Peace from Pusan
We're off to go biking on our recently-acquired 2nd-hand-but-still-like-new mountain bikes!
Anderson & Liz

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Alright, alright. Here's the long overdue super-post about the month of February... now that it's March and all.

Luke arrived, with plenty of Western snack foods and some electronic DJ equipment in tow. Obviously it is great to see any old friend, and we definitely lived it up during the 2.5 weeks that he was here. Highlights included plenty of wild nights out, going to Beomeosa Temple and hiking to a mountain top, visiting Haedong Yonggungsa - another temple located right by the ocean (thanks Jin!), a lengthy river walk, never mind the endless search for pure vegetarian food. One weekend Kat and Corissa, two of Luke's companions on his India trip, came to Pusan from Jeju Island, where they have been teaching English for the past year. We had a whirlwind weekend with them, going to a techno show with DJ Myagi (from Canada on an Asian tour) and also checking out the amazing Busan Aquarium. The aquarium was spectacular, full of lots of amazing sea life, with a definite highlight being the massive shark tank.
We spent plenty of time catching up, relaxing at home and talking, which is what we definitely miss the most about being gone from home this long. Of course, soon enough, Luke's time was up, and he had to return to being a rock star - Hunab is currently on tour in Colorado. His visit here was a good recharging for us, but of course we now can't wait to get back to America even more in some ways!
This weekend we also had a visitor, our friend Sunny who lives in Jeonju! She was a foreign-exchange student at Cornell, and lived with Liz in Harlan House her junior year of college. Which means, though they've stayed in touch, that it's been 5 years since we've seen her. Needless to say, we had a great time and will be seeing her again very soon! We went to Green Mong sushi buffet (again!) with some friends, and then headed off to Neo for a fun night of partying. Several of our coworkers came out as well, and between Anderson's DJing and a live hip-hop/funk band (Direct Injection) some good dancing occurred as well. Today we had some tasty pork-spine soup, and then wandered around a traditional market before Sunny caught her bus home.
In school news we now have a new teacher, Blaise, from Canada. He's fresh out of college and excited to be here, and we are quite happy to have another cool coworker. School is going to be crazy starting on Wednesday - a new session begins, as does our school's kindergarten and pre-k programs, and due to our relative lack of teachers we will both (voluntarily) be working a rather large amount of overtime. The exact schedule should be available tomorrow, but we'll definitely be getting to school a few hours earlier, and probably have 3 additional classes each. The days will be long, but we can use the extra money, since saving is one of primary objectives while here in Korea. Right after having fun, of course.
If all goes well tomorrow we will also be buying some used bicycles, which will be great for getting around town with ease. Now that winter is virtually over, the warmth of spring is motivating us to get back to exercising, which we have been a bit lazy about (thanks Luke :-).
Anderson's knee is still bothering him from a soccer injury, so in addition to all the school craziness he's going to try and get to a hospital (with a knee specialist) this week and have things checked out - fun, fun - but hopefully it's nothing serious.
His DJing is still going well, two gigs a week is hectic but very enjoyable, although soccer has taken a bit of a backseat due to holidays, league problems (one team dropped out), and the injured knee. Hopefully things will be resolved soon...

So that's about all from SoKo - though our friend Robbie from the States will be coming to visit in April, so we have that to look forward to as a reward for our intense month of overtime that is coming up!

Peace from P-Town (or B-Town, your choice)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

We'll write a full post soon, but our time with Luke was great, lots of fun times were had. We now have a new teacher, his name is Blaise, from Canada. We've had a long weekend, but tomorrow or Tuesday we'll give you the February report, we promise!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

As you've undoubtedly guessed, not all that much happens to us on a daily basis, the days of elephant-riding, temple-tours, and general craziness, are, for the time-being, past. School has been grinding along, Liz in particular cannot wait for winter intensives to be over - something about a split shift is quite tiring...
Tomorrow we have to give writing tests for all of our classes, which isn't really all that hard, so we'll be going to school a bit earlier to get those taken care of, which really means the day just flies by. Anderson's been sick the last week, so that's been fun, and no soccer game this week was quite the nice coincidence. The soccer league finally actually started last weekend, with his team winning by a nice 6-0 margin over "the new team" that just joined. DJing is also still going well, although this last week was a bit slow.
Weather is still generally cold, but we've gone bowling the last two weekends which was pretty fun, and our coworker Rachel's birthday party was yesterday, which meant we had a nice Turkish dinner before some bar-hopping and dancing into the wee hours.

That's about it, although perhaps most importantly:
we are very excited for Luke to be coming, 9 days and counting!


Monday, January 07, 2008

Liz's sushi birthday party was indeed spectacular, we got party platters of prawns, plus salmon and eel sashimi (covered in gold flakes), since we'd called ahead with a reservation! All the food at Green Mong was delicious, and those that joined us (Rachel - our co-teacher, Brian - another American teacher who lives in our 'hood, Esther - one of Korean co-teachers, Minji - one of our secretaries who is an English Lit student in Seoul on winter vacation, plus Jay and Joey - 2 Philosophy students at Pusan University that we met out at The Basement where Anderson DJs) all had a great time. Minji brought a tasty cheesecake/poundcake from her Black Uncle, and Liz also got some nice fashion accessories from Rachel and Esther.
Rest of the weekend was fun, too, more DJing by Anderson, etc. His knee is still hurting, so no soccer, but the healing process is gradually having some effects. Not that it mattered too much, the game was hardly one, according to a teammates post-match report.
Food's still great, as is the weather, time is flying by, though payday this Thursday will be quite exciting (particularly for Anderson's parents :-).
Luke is coming to visit in a month, which we are quite excited for, since it's been a while since we've seen a familiar face. Lots of friendly faces here, but familiarity is a non-factor.
Our cat-sitting gig is almost up, Kester is back in town but hasn't emailed us yet, so we're enjoying our last few days with Jonesy, the best cat ever. Shame he isn't ours...


Saturday, January 05, 2008

New Year's has came and went, laid low preferring to watch TV over getting unnecessarily inebriated, and then our initial ambitions of catching the sunrise were replaced by our comfortable bed. Seeing the sunrise is a popular Korean past time for New Years, but the weather was too cold and windy, and we were by then far too sober, to brave the elements. We did have Domino's pizza, which was tasty and covered in potatoes and bacon.
Same old same old, otherwise, soccer and DJing are going well for Anderson, though he hurt his knee last week so he's taking this weekend off to heal up. He's gotten Ableton Live for his Mac, so he's beginning the lengthy process of making his own remixes and such, in order to switch to laptop DJing from CD-DJing.
At school "winter intensives" are upon us, so there are extra classes during the day, and a 4-hour morning session that some kids are attending. Liz is teaching 2 classes in the morning, so she's earning a little bit of our scanty overtime pay, while Anderson actually has an easier schedule, except on Tuesday and Thursday when he has 8 straight classes with no lunch break. It's only for the month of January though, so it's nothing too bad, although Liz's longer workday isn't exactly her preference.
We went back to Vesta, the Korean sauna (jimjilbang) in Haeundae, which was great, and today we located a nice one two blocks from our house that we'll be visiting in the very near future.
Tomorrow is Liz's birthday (26!), so we're going to go out for an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet, which is not only reasonably priced at 15,000 won, but is supposed to be amazingly tasty, as well. We'll find out soon!

Miss you all very much,