Tag Archives: seoul

Barcelona

28 Oct

Jeez, I am so lazy. Its been almost a month since I last wrote on here. Europe has been FLYING by. I am getting very sad because I know I will be leaving Barcelona in two days. I don’t know why, partially it’s the come down, and i’m pmsing and I guess I just want to stay longer. Also, I know in a few months I will need to go back to work in Korea, but I actually don’t really want to.

I mean I love Seoul, and I love my friends there and mostly everything about it, minus the weather but I just want to move somewhere else but I know the system there and it’s so easy to find a job. I don’t want to waste months finding a job.

Anyway, back to Barcelona. This month has been SO MUCH FUN. Hands down the most fun I’ve had in years. I mean there are a few specific reasons for that, one being I don’t have a job so I get to sleep in everyday, explore the city everyday, party every night and shop shop shop.

I have a ridiculous obsession and basically purchased a new wardrobe while abroad.

The first weekend here, I partied with Liz who I met through GGI and it was the best first night. I met so many cool people who I still spend lots of time with here in BCN. I did lose my denim jacket, hahah OOPS. but it was worth it.

The second weekend, Kiran and Alex came from Wed-Sun and we just went wild. I didn’t think I could hang with the youngins but somehow I managed and we partied every night. and did lots of sightseeing as well.

The third weekend, Jess and her friends came, who were friendly enough but a bit too square bear for my taste. I guess with age comes a boring nature.

My last weekend was the BEST. I LOVE my roommate Maria, honestly I am going to her wedding, and she is coming to mine. We are SO similar. She is my first real German friend too which I love. Aww I am sad I am leaving her with Adam and Soren but I know she will be busy working and hanging out with other people.

I could go on for hours about what else I did while in Barcelona, basically all the touristy things of course, Montjuic, La Rambla, Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, Parque de ciutadella, Born, Gotico, Gracia, Eixample, and THE BEACH, everyday all day. I went to the beach so much, man I am REALLY going to miss that more than anything. A two-minute walk, it doesn’t get much better than that.

I even took a day trip to Tarragona which was nice as well. I was to lazy, to hungover, and to comfortable in BCN that i didn’t go to Sevilla or Madrid. Owell, I will be coming back to Europe, you can count on that. Barcelona is the perfect city, my favorite so far. The people, the climate, the architecture, the nightlife, the food, the vibe, and a few other unmentionables.

I will truly miss you. DSC_2168 DSC_2182 DSC_2189 DSC_2195 DSC_2199 DSC_2201 DSC_2232 DSC_2236 DSC_2239 DSC_2262 DSC_2286 DSC_2308 DSC_2366 DSC_2375 DSC_2381

Spring time in Seoul – 20 months later

26 Mar

OMG. I have been in Seoul for 20 months how nutty is that?

I completely forgot about you blog, I suck I know. I started my masters in September and since then time management has been a pain. Not to mention the endoscopy in November. 2 months of soberdom. Also, the fact that I have a Korean boyfriend doesn’t help. It will technically be a year since we met at the end of April. WTF.

How is that possible? Anyways Koreans and especially conservative Koreans are soooooooo much different than western guys. They are emotional, sensitive, sweet, nice, thoughtful. Their is a negative side though, they are not as manly, funny, cool, witty, lack sarcasm (probably the language barrier) and overall not as fun. Some Korean men are crazy funny cool dont get me wrong. Just my boyfriend happens to be the sweet, sensitive type. I like it though, it calms me, grounds me and makes me more in touch with my emotional side which did not really exist before him.

My new job I started in August is going ok, I have an amazing Korean co-worker named Becca who I would die without. She helps me, understands me, and isn’t afraid to say no. She works her ass off. If it weren’t for her, I would hate my school. Everyone else is meh. They’re nice but the lack of interaction and language barrier doesn’t really help. ALSO, the new news with my school, uhm they got caught having an English program in the morning which technically they aren’t because they are a government-sponsored Korean kindergarten. UH-OH. bad news. especially for me I might have to change schools again! My last school which I also loved closed their doors which is why i moved in the first place.

UGH. Not the best March ever. March is terrible in the teaching English world. I hope if I move to the sister school, I will at least get to take Becca with me. I am not to fond of their teachers.

Besides that, work, health haahha uhm still working out. got a kettle bell, makes me work out at home when in reality I should be gyming it everyday.

School is chill, I have my flow and schedule going so it’s not bad. I read after work or at work, I do my assignments at home, not to shabby.

OHHHH I am saving for Europe in the fall. Excited but realizing I will go alone. Why are people so scared to travel, move abroad, explore, get out of their comfort zone. I still believe travelling for a week during christmas holiday is fun but it doesn’t compare to uprooting your life and moving to a brand new country. What are people so scared about? It’s amazing.

What else is new…

Oh I need a new digital camera so hopefully I can start posting some good pics on here.

I have made a few new friends recently too, thanks to Holly meeting Suhong on a hike. His wife Juli, so sweet. Vanessa, a crazy amazing canadian who I can talk to about anything and lives in the same area as me, score! I just hope we keep in contact.

I have met a few other people but I guess people aren’t on the same wavelength or am I too judgmental? Maybe a bit of both? I really need to stop but Korea is brainwashing me a bit, I mean they are extremely judgemental people! How you dress, how you look, your hair, clothes, your EYES. hahah ughhh ok I will try to stop.

I think that is it for now. I will try to remember you blog. 🙂

Another Day, Another House Wife

3 Nov

Teaching is amazing, it’s a truly great feeling. Seeing the smiling faces on the children every morning, seeing their cute little outfits, but I especially love their attempts to say “good morning Michelle teacher” because their Korean accent always sneaks in. Day after day, I slowly began to notice something though; every single child was being dropped off by their mother. Wow, I thought to myself.

There are a few rare occasions when I would see the grandfather and grandmother drop off the kiddies but eighty percent of the time, it’s their mothers. They are usually dressed to the tee, looking ready for a long day out on the town. Some of the moms carpool, some walk together in groups to drop the little Koreans off but it’s always the mothers, always beautiful, and they are usually always house wives.

At times, I think to myself that could be me that could be the life I could be living. But then I think again, and I realize that could never be me. I would never trade my life right now for their lives.

God willing, the mothers of my students are doing something besides shopping, eating and gossiping with friends. Hopefully, they are being active members in society and making a well-deserved contribution to Seoul society but more than likely they aren’t.

Many Korean women are raised to be house wives, focusing their attention on keeping the men in their life happy and healthy with little focus on their wants and needs. In many women’s minds as long as there is bread on the table and their husband comes home at a reasonable time, that is suffice for them, but not for me, never for me.

I want more; I deserve more and so do women all across man-centric Seoul and Asia for that matter. Unfortunately gender inequality is just another fact of life in Korean culture, another accepted norm by women across the country.

Yet, statistics show many women in Korea do work BUT one must always look at the socio-economic background of these women, many come from lower class families and therefore work to help maintain the family. Many of the married women in Seoul tend to come from the “high” society or from more respected Korean families.

I work and live in Songpa-gu, the wealthiest district in Seoul, and every single one of my Korean, women co-workers lives in other areas in Seoul, more inexpensive areas, less ritzy areas. Songpa is considered an area of happy families, and even happier husbands, considering most work in downtown Seoul and away from their families. After all, in Korean culture, it is normal to work sixty-hour work weeks at the very least, let’s not forget to mention, Korean’s largest company, its pride and joy, Samsung has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. So, something is going on here, what exactly happens behind closed doors? Well…one can only assume.

Life at a hagwon

1 Nov

Hagwon is Korean for a private school. Some teachers work at hagwons while others work at public schools. The hours are different, the pay is different, and the vacation time is also different.

At my hagwon, their is fourteen women including myself, and two males. The first male is the only other English teacher along with myself and he is also from the United States. The second male is the Principal. Every morning, the Principal sits with all of the Korean women teachers and talks (lectures) them on how they need to improve, and what needs to change. Luckily, I don’t have to come into work until an hour after the Korean teachers, and when I do, the meeting is over.

When I speak to the Korean teachers who I am pretty good friends with, all I hear is horror stories and how incredibly stressed out they are because of the Principal. Needless to say, my encounter with the Principal is usually just a hi and how are you? and sometimes he’ll say you need to learn Korean now, and I just laugh, but secretly I know more Korean than he thinks and I plan to keep it that way.

Throughout the day, the English teachers rotate from class to class and teach multiple subjects to multiple age groups, and the Principal sits in his office all day long. Oh, his corner office is as big as a classroom, while myself and four other teachers share an office about the size of his. Great isnt it?

The occassional five minutes the Principal does decide to leave his office, he creeps around the school going from class to class, monitoring the teaching going on for about 2 minutes and then moves onto the  next classroom. I never know when he’s going to pop his head in, but when he does for some reason, I’m always yelling at the kids! He rarely notices my tender moments with the children but that’s because the majority of the time, I am trying to be the “serious” teacher.

Besides the creepy, old Principal, everything else about teaching in Seoul is better than I could have dreamed. Great hours, great pay, all of the Korean teachers are sweet, friendly, and truly care about me. Spoiling me with food, gifts, and smiles, we all help each other out on a daily basis.

Not only have I created great relationships with the Korean teachers but also the Korean parents, every morning, myself and the other English teachers stand in the front where the children switch from outdoor to indoor shoes and greet the parents. We give the traditional Korean bow to each parent, say good morning, and usually get some type of compliment, “he/she loves you,” “he/she thinks you’re beautiful,” he/she likes your class,” and to further show their appreciation they bring gifts on a weekly basis. Today, one parent brought everyone krispy kreme doughnuts, a few days ago, they brought pizza.

Overall, teaching in Korea is well worth the trip, so for those of you contemplating teaching, don’t think, just do it.  After all, you get to travel, work, meet new people, learn a new culture and language, and get outside that comfort zone you’re stuck in! What’s not to love?

Seoul-Man Centric?

30 Oct

I consider myself a pretty open minded person, but maybe being a California native has made me too open minded or excessively liberal.

Seoul…capital of South Korea, home to 10 million people, 20 million if you count the amount of commuters that come from outside of the city to work every single day. I have been here for over 2 months now, and I have loved every minute out of it. From the fashion, to the technology…yet, there is one thing that I still haven’t figured out. One thing I haven’t been able to quite understand just yet. I know this is a strange first blog to have, but this has been on my mind since my first encounter with my Korean co-workers and friends. It is a topic I have being trying to analyze and rationalize for over two months now.

In a society where women are judged mainly on aesthetics and less on what’s upstairs, women over the age of 25 are considered “old” if they are not married or engaged. I understand the need to have a family, but in my mind, what’s the rush? What is the point?

Seoul is a city based on cutting edge technology with a growing economy; however, when it comes to gender norms, in a nutshell, Seoul is America in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Women are seen as inferior, and men are still dominant in business and the work place. Most women try to be house wives and home bodies while their husbands are out working. The men are chauvinistic, but also romantic…which doesn’t make sense I know. They will spoil their girlfriends with gifts and then go off to a “massage parlor” after a long day at the office. I guess I just don’t quite get it.

Whether it be my upbringing of an independent strong willed mother or the ultra liberal California air, I was raised to believe women had all the same rights and freedoms as men did. I’m not a big fan of societies that are man-centric in nature or societies that don’t take women into consideration when discussing the economic progress of a country. Sorry, that’s just me.