September 26, 2008
At long last (about two weeks after grading my final exam), my math teacher has FINALLY posted the A to the school's grades. This brings me one delayed step closer to getting the documentation I need to teach in Korea.

Since I have all but completely decided to stretch my bachelor's degree out over a period of time, it has occurred to me that I now have several interesting new options.

One option would be to teach in Korea for one year basically doing little studying at all, and save up a ton of money. I could use this money to attend a Japanese language school in Japan, which would in turn allow me to get a student visa for Japan, which would allow me to tutor for up to 20 hours per week (because in Japan, you can work on a student visa, even a student visa for language study). That way, I could still be in Japan at the age of 22. Whether or not I had a bachelor's degree would make little difference -- in terms of employment, private tutoring students seldom seem to care, and does anyone really know or care about the difference between a bachelor's and associate's degree? So I bet if my Japanese were okay at that point, I could probably extend to a student visa and make a living wage, and use it to push myself to a bachelor's degree gradually, over a long period of time. I could obtain the student visa by getting a Japanese person to sponsor me, perhaps, although my friend who studied there for one year INSISTS they don't make Americans show any proof of financial viability at all.

Alternatively, I could stay in Korea for two more years and finish my degree here. I would have so much extra spending money, I could do extravagant things like have two goshiwons. Wouldn't it be pimp to have a goshiwon in Gyeonggi-do near my workplace, and another one in Shinchon for weekend use? I bet my housing allowance could just about cover the cost of two goshiwons. Maybe I'd go like 80,000 won a month over, but it could work really well -- from Monday to Friday, I stay in the Gyeonggi-do pad, and from Friday to Monday (the weekend, basically) I sleep in the Shinchon goshiwon. It's just one idea of many.

I guess the big thing I'm starting to wonder is how much I even want to go and live in Japan. Ever since Lee Myung-bak took office, things (other than the economy) have been getting better and better, it seems. I can actually work here now. E-2 visa holders get more rights. He claims he even wants to institute a five-year permanent residency program. On top of all this, my Korean is to the point where I would spend at least a year or two in Japan floundering about and saying "I wish my Japanese were as good as my Korean," meanwhile having to watch the countless white people in Japan who very often speak good Japanese.

Korea seems to have a lot more untapped resources. Almost all foreigners get disgusted and leave after a year, so if you can make it to year two, or year three, you're a winner. I guess there are three sticking points with continuing to live here: the lack of permanent residency (supposedly Lee Myung-bak is changing this), the icy women (this will be an ongoing issue, because I have to pick between much nicer, more normal foreign women who will leave in a few months, or Korean women intent on destroying all men in the universe), and the physical violence (however, when I really think about it, the time I got attacked in Hyehwa, that guy was actually not a real Korean, but a gyopo). So two of those things are at least partially solvable. Should I just stay in Korea?

September 25, 2008
I realize that this recent change to my site, in which I de-emphasize the blog portion, might not be to everyone's liking. The main reason I'm doing this is because I want my site to look more like a Web site and less like a blog. Now the blog is not on the main page anymore -- you must click "News" (note: not "Blog") in order to reach it. One of the main reasons I want it to look more like a Web site is that soon, the Web design-oriented department at Northern Virginia Community College may review my site and see if it suffices for allowing me to skip the introductory level computer literacy courses. If they see "just some blog," they'll be a lot less likely to give me that kind of approval, but if they see a legitimate site, they will be much more likely to give me that approval.

As for staying in Seoul, I have decided to stay in Seoul. However, I did not succeed in my endeavor to make that certain woman my girlfriend. She was extremely nice in the way she rejected me, but a rejection is a rejection. The reason I'm staying in Seoul is not because of her, but because I have some unfinished business here, and mounting a job hunt outside of the Seoul/Gyeonggi-do area would be very expensive. Right now, I can job hunt without paying for hotels, expensive transportation tickets, or restaurant meals. However, if I go searching in Jeju-do or Jeolla-do, I will probably be hit with hundreds of dollars in extra expenses that I really cannot afford at this point.

If I stay in Seoul, I can have ample opportunities for part-time work, which supposedly is allowed this month for E-2 visa holders. If I go to some redneck town, who knows if I'll have that kind of opportunity conveniently available or not. By the way, for some extra cash, I got a refund on my Level 7 tuition at Yonsei today.

September 20, 2008: UPDATE 2
I will soon begin actually going out and looking for an English teaching position at a public school. This is my schedule covering September 20 - October 14.

September 20 - 23: Complete all the work in ENG 111 (English Composition). At this point, I will have earned as many as 69 credit hours depending on a few factors.
September 24 - 30: Re-read all my old CELTA material. This way, I will be well-versed in teaching methodology when I land my first job interview. I will also prepare a good Korean-style resume, in Hangeul, for the employment search.

Starting in October, the schedule splits. I am pursuing a woman in Seoul, and if things go well with her, I will want to stay in the Seoul area, so I will go with Plan B. However, if I fail (as I generally do in these types of matters), I'll choose Plan A.
Plan A: Heading to the Southern Part of the ROK:
October 1 - October 7:
Go to Jeju-do using the ferry that starts in Incheon, or possibly fly if the price is similar. Stay in Jeju-do for a week and drop off as many resumes at as many public schools as possible. If I get any calls back, I will check into a hotel, get a full shower, launder my clothes and iron them, and go into that job interview looking sharp. Otherwise I will camp, because funds are low, and oh yeah, I want to appreciate Jeju-do's natural beauty.
October 8 - October 14: Since Jeju-do is supposedly such a nice place, it may be difficult to find employment there without a degree. If I fail on Jeju-do, I will retreat back to the Korean mainland. Once back on the Korean Peninsula, I will search for one week in South Jeolla Province, the most backward part of the country, where finding employment should be dead easy.
Plan B: Staying in the Seoul Area for a Certain Someone
October 1 - October 14:
Canvas Gyeonggi Province (the province that surrounds Seoul) for jobs. This way, I can stay in my current building and not have to move. I really don't want to work in Gyeonggi Province, because it seems boring and like a crappy, only slightly less urban ripoff of Seoul, but it will be worth it if I succeed in the certain pursuit I am pursuing. I will probably apply through GEPIK to teach in this region, and maybe visit some schools individually, as well.

So as you can see, I'm still in a little bit of suspense over whether I'm going to be in the final frontier of Jeolla-do and Jeju-do, or whether I'm going to be in my familiar stomping grounds of Seoul and its surrounding area in ten days. Perhaps tomorrow morning I will find some answers.

September 20, 2008
I want you to pretend for a moment.

Pretend that it's 1994. You have your cozy little 486, and it's running Windows 3.1 and DOS. You've had the computer for several years, and it still works just fine, and it has all your favorite files on it: your Christmas cards, the book you were writing, your favorite games with their save files, etc. Your cozy little Windows 3.1 (or Mac OS) computer has all your personal stuff on it, and you feel at home whenever you use it.

Now jump ahead to 2008. Gone are the days when a person generally keeps all their important files on the hard drive of one machine -- various malware ensures that a computer must be reformatted as often as every few months. Your Paint doodles, your Sound Recorder recordings, your college papers -- if they have survived at all, they're probably not still on your hard drive, but backed up on yet another USB drive or CD-R.

That's why I love this website. You see, there's a whole hidden side of this site that you probably don't know about. I keep a ton of my school documents on here, as well as documents pertaining to all kinds of other things that I do. This website holds the same kind of stuff that that cozy, stable computer held during the early 90s. Except that now, it's a website, accessible from anywhere in the globe with decent internet access, not a 486's hard drive.

I don't know, it's just nice that this website fills a void that was created when Windows PCs got so much malware, they had to be reformatted every few months. Now I have my personalized, Charles Wetzel's document-filled drive, just like you guys did in the 90s, it's just online. This site is becoming like a time capsule -- there are documents on here that are already about two and a half years old. One of the things I love to do is go back to some ancient document or file that I made in a different era of my life and relive that era just temporarily.

Thanks to the proprietary interface of this website's upload feature that prevents malware from loading onto it, it is pretty much guaranteed to be stable for years to come, and I can have that time capsule experience.

As for real news, I just wrote a 1,261-word paper on Cyrus McCormick in practically one sitting (just a few water and bathroom breaks). I'm kind of proud of it, and it's now sitting in one of the hidden directories of this website, waiting to be unearthed in 10 years.

September 17, 2008
Today is another fairly proud day. Just after midnight, I got my grades for my two ungraded History of Virginia tests. They were both perfect scores (do not congratulate me on that, the tests are DEAD EASY, and I'm sure about half the class makes that grade, at least). What this means is that I have now passed enough of History of Virginia that I know I will get at least a B in it (and almost certainly an A when I turn in my final project). So I basically now have 63 credit hours.

This is a proud day because this is the day when I completed THE MAJORITY of my college education. I am now at about 53%.

Only 57 credit hours remain, and I have also added Old Dominion, New Commonwealth: A History of Virginia 1607-2007 to my list of books I've read this year.

September 14, 2008


That's right, I *somehow* got 85% on my final math exam, which averaged with all the other exams (which were all A's) and got a 94% average. Don't ask me how the teacher weighted the questions on that test when she graded, or what other miracle allowed me to get that grade, but I got it! YAHOO! I am ecstatic.

Someday, I want to program software. That's my dream job. I'm good at programming software, but my math skills have traditionally been lacking, and I've worried that as I become a more advanced programmer my lack of math skills could hurt me. Then, suddenly, I get an A in math! My month is made.

September 13, 2008
Tomorrow, in addition to being Chuseok, is going to be Ultra-High Protein Day for me.

I need to get buff. A major component of being buff is your diet. I need to greatly increase my protein intake! Tomorrow I am trying an experiment: see if I can eat enough protein for serious muscle gain in one day.

I had initially believed the rumor of one gram of protein per pound in your body, but fortunately, a fitness instructor told me that it's actually only about 1.7 grams per kilogram that you need to ingest per day for optimal muscle growth. So in my case, that's about 127 grams per day.

This is good news, because I am actually able to procure all of those 127 grams through what I eat in one day (no need for expensive imported whey powder) -- I THINK. You see, I don't really know yet. I have 1.223 kilograms of food that I plan to eat tomorrow, and we'll see if I'm able to eat it all. If I am, then I will consider myself successful.

Here is the list:

  • 423 grams of tuna (84.6 grams of protein)
  • 800 grams of tofu (42.4 grams of protein)
    That totals 127 grams. Can I eat 2.69 pounds of food in one day? I make it my goal for tomorrow!

    Here are some further details for my plan:

  • The Abs Diet recommends that I should space my meals (six in total) at more or less equal intervals throughout the day. So assuming my day is 15 hours long, this is once every 2.5 hours (I will be realistic and try to space meals a minimum of two hours but no more than three hours apart, that way there is some flexibility).
  • Here is my plan for how I'm going to divide up all this protein: Breakfast 1: a whopping sandwich with 173 grams of tuna (more than 1/3 of a pound), Breakfast 2 (completed after running): a 400-gram package of tofu and some fried kimchi, Lunch 1: a 250-gram tuna sandwich (over 1/2 pound), Lunch 2: half a tube of tofu, along with some fried kimchi, Dinner 1: a 250-gram tuna sandwich, Dinner 2: another half tube of tofu with fried kimchi

    If I complete all of this, I will have successfully ingested 127 GRAMS OF PROTEIN, and the protein itself will have cost a mere $4.25. Quite a challenge, eh?

    September 13, 2008
    Today is a very important day for two reasons. First of all, it is Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving).

    Second of all, this morning, I got an e-mail from my math teacher, who I have been trying to reach for weeks. She said she still hasn't received my final exam, but she has graded enough work that she can give me a provisional grade right now, if I want. Do you know what this means? IT MEANS THAT AS OF TODAY, I HAVE OFFICIALLY COMPLETED ENOUGH EDUCATION TO TEACH ENGLISH IN SOUTH KOREA! YES!

    From here on, it's just a matter of getting documents together. Things I still need to do to get the E-2 Teacher's Visa:

  • Enroll in Excelsior College (I have already applied and been accepted).
  • Wait until Professor Roberts officially releases my math grade, then get a transcript from NOVA, and have it sent to Excelsior College.
  • Though I have already sent my Yonsei documents to ECE (Educational Credential Evaluators) to have those credits (39) imported into the US, I still need to create a user account and pay the (hefty) fee.
  • After all this, when Excelsior recognizes all my credits (hopefully) I get them to send me a transcript. Perhaps I can go job hunting before that. I need to make sure the university apostilles the transcript so it's official.
  • While I'm working with my colleges to get them to give me a transcript, I should be working with the Fairfax County Police Department and getting a criminal background check, to prove that I'm not a criminal in the US (a relatively new E-2 requirement).

    All in all, this stuff could take a month, but most of that will be idle time where I don't really have to be doing anything (though I should try to review my CELTA material to be the best teacher possible). I will have about a month left on my tourist visa when I finally get the documents, I believe. At that point, I will have probably found a job, and since my ducks will already be a row, I bet I can get a visa sponsored very quickly -- complete with another visa run to Japan, this time for my E-2!

    September 10, 2008
    A number of events have transpired. I have submitted all my coursework for MTH 166, so I should now be done with the majority of my college career (as I plan to finish my 63rd credit hour this week). I also registered for the JLPT Level 4 (Japanese Language Proficiency Test, lowest level).

    Registering for the JLPT involved visiting this strange dong that no one has ever heard of called Susong-dong. I needed to ask four Koreans before a single one knew where it was. I finally found it and arrived, and registered for the test at the Sisa Japanese hagwon.

    The application form was obviously designed for Koreans, and asked for things like my Korean citizen ID number, my name in hangul, etc. that I either don't have, or don't officially have. So I had to make up an ID number (the woman behind the desk said this was okay) and use some other creativity, but long story short, I'm registered and it only cost 36,000 won.

    So now I need to keep studying my Japanese, because I don't want to waste 36,000 won. Rie will assist me with this, though I'm not too worried. It only tests 723 words.

    All of a sudden, I'm basically free. I only have History of Virginia II (HIS 282) and English Composition (ENG 111) now, so I theoretically have all this free time. This would be a good time to get all my administrative stuff done.

    September 7, 2008
    AHAHAHAHA! What I just did felt so gratifying. After I eat spicy food, I get all thus mucous in my throat. I cleared my throat, and then discovered that I HAD to spit this mucous out, it felt so disgusting, so I spat it out the window next to the smoking table on the goshiwon's fourth floor.

    Unfortunately, the loogie didn't make it past the windowsill. So I decided to get a cup of tap water and clean it off. I went to the sink and filled the cup, then went to the windowsill, and splashed the water onto the loogie. For a fraction of a second, I was thinking "huh, that one didn't quite take care of it, maybe I should use another cup" when I heard heard water splash against the pavement four floors down -- and a woman's scream!

    As for other news, I went with Rie to Yon-Ko-Jeon (the sports-related Yonsei festival that's held once every year and that I've been to three times counting this time). There was free beer courtesy of a bank, and we saw Wonder Girls (if you're in Korea right now, you'll know who I mean) perform live. However, their mics appeared not to be working and the sound was very quiet. There was also Crying Nut there, but I didn't stay to see Crying Nut because I had to come home and do more math homework, because I have my final exam tomorrow.

    So that's all you need to know about Yon-Ko-Jeon and what a cup of water can do if you absent-mindedly use it to wash a windowsill.

  • Picture of Me, Ayamoto, and the Bilingual Guy on the Panstar Coming from Osaka to Busan

    Picture is courtesy of Ayamoto.

    September 6, 2008
    It's Saturday morning, but I have a ton to do this weekend and on Monday. I managed to finish my planned two math assignments yesterday, though mainly because they were so easy and only took about an hour or two a piece.

    Inflation lately has been crazy. Yesterday, I noticed that packages of jjajang sauce have flown up in price from 650 won to 1050 won. Cans of tuna used to be 1490 won for the large ones (maybe a month ago). Now even a small can is 1600 won, with the large ones currently at 2100 won. Though Kimbap Cheonguk (cheap chain restaurant) prices have gone up, too, they went up earlier this year. My favorite meals went up from 3000 won to 3500. Ice cream also went up from 500 won to 700 won. Crunky bars, which are like Crunch bars, have stayed at 500 won, but their physical size has gotten much smaller. Anyways, I hate inflation. I hope it doesn't keep up at this rate. At least it hasn't affected my rent yet, and the last time subway tickets went up was last year. So I guess unless inflation starts to have an impact on those two things, my cost of living won't need to go up that much, except that the plummeting won is killing my future paychecks.

    Tonight, I am going with Rie Naka to Yon-Ko-Jeon (the huge street party between Yonsei University and Korea University). This will make my third one in a row. I can't believe I'm here for ANOTHER Yon-Ko-Jeon. I had been pretty sure around this time last year that I would never be in Korea to attend another one, but here I am!

    Well, I'd probably better get started on more math assignments. Maybe I'll take some good pictures of Yon-Ko-Jeon tonight.

    September 4, 2008
    I'm starting to weigh the idea of taking an extra year to graduate university.

    Let me explain why. Basically, my plan had been to work in Korea, make an annual salary exceeding $21,000 a year interpreting or teaching English, and graduate without any debt (but not much money, either). However, Korea appears to be entering into a new economic crisis, and in the last few days, the won was plummeted in value to 1148 won to the dollar -- this shrinks my yearly salary from $21,600 when the won was 1,000 to the dollar to $18,815.33 now. That's almost $3,000 slashed from my year of work! Needless to say, the new market change (if it doesn't reverse) will force me to either graduate in debt, or I'll need to work more hours to make up the difference.

    I simply don't have time with a busy class schedule to work more hours than are required and make up for the 19% drop in the value of the won this year. So if the currency doesn't turn around, I will either have to leave for Japan late next year in a few thousand dollars of debt, or I will have to put off my graduation (this way, I can work more, save more money, and take fewer classes, meaning less in the way of tuition expenses).

    I'm not sure if it's such a bad idea to slow down my pace, though. I'll learn the stuff better and have more opportunity to try out fun projects with my courses taken through the Game Institute. Just because I'm not in Japan doesn't mean I can't still study Japanese, either.

    Really, when you get down to it, these are the pros and the cons of waiting two years to graduate/live in Japan versus doing it in one year:
    Pros of Graduating in 2010 Instead of 2009:

  • I can be very financially comfortable. I could potentially pay off all my debts by the end of this year if I'm very careful. Then I could stay out of debt for the rest of my university career. This would make me much more stable and less likely to have to return to the United States should a problem occur (and I REALLY don't want that).

  • As a result of not being in debt, I could save money and have spending money to do fun things that I want to do.

  • I would have fewer hours of work/study per week. I bet I could spend half my waking hours just having fun!

  • I would enter Japan with a much higher level of Japanese (I certainly think at least JLPT Level 3). I would also have two years of experience teaching English or interpreting. Therefore, I could either get a good teaching position (no elementary schoolers, no long, unpaid commutes to multiple schools) or maybe do something else that doesn't involve teaching English when I get there!

  • Maybe I wouldn't need to do my second year of work/study in Korea. Maybe I could experience an entirely different place altogether! Maybe I could squeeze in six months of mainland China (perhaps their restrictions will loosen up now that the Olympics are over), or do Working Holiday in Europe, or teach English on an island in the Caribbean!
  • Cons of Graduating in 2010 Instead of 2009:

  • Though I can continue to learn Japanese from Korea with language exchange partners, through a hagwon, etc. it will not be the same as learning Japanese in Japan. This lowers my chances of mastering Japanese to the point where I can enter Japanese graduate school in time to graduate, get a couple years of experience at a lesser company, and get a kickass job before I turn 30 (and ageism sets in). I may still be able to make the deadlines learning Japanese outside of Japan, but I will only spend two years in Japan prior to graduate school, not three. I had really wanted three.

  • There was a pride issue here. I wanted to graduate in the same year as the rest of my class, and when I was 22. Then I could go around bragging for the rest of my life and say "I graduated when I was 22, in the same year as the rest of my class, but I did it while supporting myself in Asia." This will remove the age part of that bragging right (though the rest is still pretty bragworthy). :-)
  • I know that you're probably looking at the pros and cons and saying "well, it seems pretty black and white, just take another year." Perhaps that's what I should do. I've been teetering precariously, worried about one small disaster sending me back to the US. When I look at my financial calculations, I'm going to be teetering on this cliff for the next two years unless I cut down my educational expenses and start making some more money. It might mean I spend one more year of my life in school, but it might add years onto my life because I won't have so much stress!

    Me in Front of Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, THE LONGEST BRIDGE IN THE WORLD (no qualifiers)

    GS 25 Mart (popular Korean convenience store) on the Boat

    Sailing from Busan to Osaka

    Capsule and Vending Machines on the Ferry

    Sunset from the Deck of the Ferry

    The reverse is also true.

    Osaka's Skyline, Taken from Near the Coast

    The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (the longest bridge in the world, 14 kilometers long, goes over the Akashi Strait of Japan, actually displays the curvature of the earth)

    Another Picture of Me in Front of Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, with a Lot of Koreans in the Background

    Akashi Kaikyo Bridge from DIRECTLY UNDERNEATH (this kind of view is really only possible on a boat)

    August 31, 2008
    Well, I'm back in Korea (from Osaka), miraculously, for the sixth time in a row as a "tourist." They didn't ask me a single question at immigration. I just wore my good dress clothes and filled out "language study" as my purpose of visit, and zipped through the line.

    Ironically, I spent more time on the ferry than I did in Osaka (37 hours 40 minutes on the ferry, 27 or so in Osaka). I didn't get to see much in Osaka. It wasn't my favorite trip to Japan, but don't get me wrong, it wasn't miserable either. It's just that that unlike my other trips to Japan, I didn't have this overwhelming urge in me screaming "IMMIGRATE! IMMIGRATE!" Osaka (or at least the part I was in, known as Chuo) was really seedy and quite frankly looked little different from Korea. I gather that I was in a bad part of town because my hotel room was less than $24. There was a huge red light district, homeless men sleeping on flattened cardboard boxes were everywhere, and the architecture was drab and kind of dirty-looking (like Korea). I even saw two guys in the same field of vision who were missing fingers (if you know ANYTHING about Japan, you know what that means, but if you don't know, it's because the Yakuza cuts off your pinky if you quit).

    Finding an ATM that would accept my card was also a hassle (I needed to wander around for hours and try at least 10 ATMs until I found one that worked). In Korea, many ATMs are international. So I have to say, I wasn't a huge fan of Osaka, but once again, don't get me wrong, it wasn't hell or anything.

    I guess I fulfilled 2/3 of what Rie told me to do there. She told me to eat Osaka takoyaki (made from octopus). So I did. She told me to eat okonomiyaki, Osaka-style. I wasn't able to do that, so that's the 1/3 of her recommendations that I didn't take. She told me not to go to Osaka Castle because it was too new on the inside and she was disappointed with it, so I didn't go.

    I also got a JLPT Level 4 study guide, so now I can study Japanese in a slightly more directed fashion with Rie's help.

    As for the ferry, I spent quite a long time on it, but it was fun. Both ways, there was a GS 25 Mart ON THE BOAT. I'm not kidding, a real GS 25 Mart with basically a full selection and normal prices (so no getting ripped off on the boat). On the way to Japan, I didn't really socialize with anyone, and just worked on writing my Virginia history paper (I did the whole thing, 1,014 words). It's kind of gratifying to write out an entire report by hand -- you can hold it up and look at it and say "my hand did all that." It's a rare opportunity in our digital world.

    On the ferry back, I socialized more. There was a Korean guy in our room who was bilingual who served as a translator between this Japanese 55-year-old dude (who kept on referring to his "idiot son" who apparently lives at home and doesn't have a job) and Itae and I. Itae goes to Hongik University and is just a little bit older than I am. He seemed like a nice guy. His girlfriend was there too, and she was also nice. The 55-year-old Japanese man (later revealed to be a Zainichi Korean who had naturalized in Japan and didn't speak Korean) treated us all to beer and takoyaki. Itae and I watched 1408, a movie that seemed extremely scary at first, but ended up being only vaguely scary.

    Then in the morning I got dressed up, prepared my documents, bathed in the onboard sauna, and got ready to go through immigration. I was worried that this being my sixth consecutive reentry, I might get deported, but the Korean immigration officer didn't even raise an eyebrow.

    August 27, 2008
    Well, I haven't gotten very far from home yet, but that was the plan. I'm taking the latest bus possible so I am tired and can sleep on it instead of paying 7,000 won to sleep at the jjimjilbang (public bath house) in Busan. By going later, it was also easier to snag a bus ticket across the country, basically, for under $20.

    I was sitting there biding my time by playing through Final Fantasy IV (which I have already beaten four times, and this time I'm trying to complete it in under 10 hours). This ajeosshi sat down next to me. Got to be careful of crazy ajeosshis. As is generally the case when an ajeosshi sits next to you in a row of empty seats, he started talking to me, but actually he seemed fairly interesting and credible.

    His name was Il-su. He asked me where I was going. I said I was going to Osaka, and he said he was going to Tokyo. Turns out he's half Japanese, half Korean. He was raised partially in Japan and partially in Korea (did middle school in Japan and high school in Korea). He worked at Sony, but felt he was being discriminated against for his Korean half, so he came to Korea and now works for Samsung, where he presumably does not get discriminated against.

    He taught me the phrase "hara ippai desu ne." He also told me that the reason Korea won the gold medal is baseball is because it uses the method of power and speed, whereas American baseball players use power and Japanese players use "deception." :-) Well, I'd better get on the bus now if I want to catch my boat tomorrow!

    August 27, 2008
    Guess what? I'm not going to Shimonoseki. I called the Busan International Ferry Terminal yesterday, and it turns out that all the tickets to Shimonoseki (for dates that are convenient for me) are sold out. Well, there is also a ferry service that goes to Moji, which is near Shimonoseki. Unfortunately, the ferry going to Moji was undergoing repairs. So this left me with two options: repeat a Japanese port that I've been to before, or go way the heck out to Osaka (18 hours and 50 minutes each way).

    Indeed it was a tough choice to make. It's hard to argue with the round-trip tickets to Tsushima that are now less than $100, but I've already been there twice. So I decided to splurge a little bit and go to Osaka.

    Rie, the Japanese woman who lives on the floor below mine, had helped me plan a whole trip to Shimonoseki, complete with a visit to the Shimonoseki Akaban Festival which is going on this weekend, but since I can't go there, I've had to make some new plans. I think it'll be okay, though -- to be honest, Osaka seems like a much more interesting city than Shimonoseki. According to Rie, I should try the okonomiyaki and takoyaki (made from octopus) while I'm in Osaka, because Osaka's versions of these things are nationally renowned.

    She also told me to avoid Osaka Castle. She says it looks old on the outside, but inside, it's too modern. I guess I won't be going there, then. Besides, I already saw a Japanese castle on Tsushima, and if I want to see more, there are some Japanese castles in Korea.

    I have a goal while I'm there -- go to a bookstore and pick out a good JLPT study guide, so I can begin studying Japanese more in-depth with Rie. I've also read that there's a SEGA amusement park there, and many other interesting-sounding things (no doubt too many interesting things). Since I'm only going to be there for two days, I guess I shouldn't plan too much. I hope to leave by 5:30 PM for the Express Terminal, get on the bus, and go to Busan.

    I've made my hotel reservation (regular hotel, not a hostel) so Japanese immigration doesn't hassle me again about not having them. It's this place called Business Hotel Chuo New Annex. It's $23.95 a night. "Japan is so expensive."

    August 23, 2008
    It's time to come up with a plan, because I've done very little since the math test last week and need to get more productive. I've been letting my finish date for my courses slip behind incrementally by a few days each time. Every few days I procrastinate with my goal is another few days of waiting for that dream job on Jeju-do, so I need to buckle down! I'm going to divide this up into the long-term, the next week, and today:

    The Long-Term

  • Finish all classes needed for the transcript by August 28.
  • Wait three days for them to be graded (August 31). I hope the teachers rush since I'm in a hurry. I've e-mailed Mrs. Roberts about the situation.
  • It should take about a week for the transcripts to reach Excelsior. That brings us to September 7.
  • It should take about three weeks for Excelsior to recognize the credits. That takes us to September 28.
  • A rush-delivered transcript from Excelsior can be ordered in one day. That brings us to September 29.
  • Finally, that transcript can be mailed to me overnight by an accomplice in America, reaching me by the last day of September (September 30).
  • I will have started the job hunt in mid-September and hopefully at this point will already have a job offer and simply need to submit my documents. Then I can be working by mid-October.
  • While I'm waiting for my documents, this is what I'll do:
    August 28-September 15: Finish two more classes (HIS 282 and ENG 111).
    September 15-September 30: Drop everything else and simply concentrate on finding a job. This means actually going around Korea and physically hunting for one, as well as re-reading every single piece of paper from my CELTA class (to refresh my mind on teaching methodology) and preparing sample lessons prior to my first interview, in case I'm asked to have a sample lesson.
    After September 30: Teach in the mornings and do NOVA classes in the evenings, or just do NOVA courses (while I'm waiting for the visa to clear).

    This Week

  • Today: Do English for this week, and do 6.2 in MTH 166.
  • Sunday: Do 6.3 and 6.4.
  • Monday: Do 6.5 and Quiz 7.
  • Tuesday: Do 7.1 and 7.2.
  • Wednesday: Do 7.5 and 10.1.
  • Thursday: Do 10.2, 10.3, Quiz 8, and Exam 4 (final). This will be a hardcore study day.
  • Friday morning: Write the whole HIS 281 paper. It doesn't need to be a masterpiece. It only needs a 33.33%, since I've kicked ass in the course so far and gotten 100% on everything. Therefore, unless I get less than a 33.33%, I will get an A. So once again, no masterpiece is required!


    5:30-9:30: Do MTH 166 6.2.
    9:30-10:00: Have a break.
    10:00-1:00 AM: Do ENG 111's work for this week.
    1:00-2:00: Register for fall courses at NOVA. Order books, including a JLPT guide to work on with Rie in my scant spare time. Go to bed. Hope to wake up at 10:00.

    If I adhere to this plan to the letter, I'll be just fine. I hope I can manage to do so.

    August 20, 2008
    This is a very, very rare occurrence which is to be savored. I am done with all my math homework leading up to the test I'm taking this afternoon. I have more than an hour and a half before I need to leave and take it. Not only that, I got a decent amount of sleep last night (between seven and eight hours).

    I guess it's because I overestimated the amount of work that I had after a KILLER Section 5.3 (in which our teacher asked us to do all odd problems, 1-93). After that, though, it was really smooth sailing. So I feel ready to take the test. What shall I do in the meantime? I guess I'll get a shower and cook up some kimchi fried rice like the stuff below:

    I made this.

    Kimchi fried rice is the perfect food at a goshiwon like mine because your rice, kimchi, and cooking oil is already free. All you have to pay for is the egg, which his only a few cents anyway, and then you have a meal. It has passed the test of the Singaporean dude across the hall, Geoffrey See Kok Heng, who says it's good.

    Once I take this test, if I do well, I will have passed Precalculus with Trigonometry. I will still have one more test and two more quizzes to go, but as long as my average on this test is sufficiently high, I will already have passed the class. In other words, today, I will become eligible to teach in Korea, at least in theory, as today, I will have passed 60 credit hours of college provided that I do pretty well on the test. To celebrate, I'm going to do three of my favorite things: eat a 5,000 won large sweet potato pizza from Pizza School (yes, it can be good if you get it WITHOUT onions), drink a bottle of makgeolli which is chilling in my refrigerator right now, and watch two episodes of American TV that I have downloaded. It's the perfect recipe for a good evening.

    Me and Margaret Standing in Front of the Casino While Ui-Jin Levitates
    August 17, 2008
    Last night, me, Margaret, and Ui-Jin went to the casino in Samsung-dong.

    "Why would you do that, Charles, when you're so broke?" you ask.

    Well, I knew that on arrival, I would get 10,000 won, because it's a foreigner-only casino that starts you out with 10,000 won. Gambling, at least of the casino variety, is illegal for Korean citizens, by the way.

    So basically my plan was to take the 10,000 won, subtract maybe 2,000 won or so to pay for my transportation to and from the casino, gamble away most of it, but save about 1,000 won to take home as my "profit." This idea was great in theory, except that on arrival, they gave me a non-redeemable 10,000 won voucher (only good for one play at the table games, basically) rather than 10,000 won in cash. So I actually did spend money out of my pocket last night, but less than $5.

    After learning that my voucher was basically only good for table games, I decided to work the system and at least get some whiskey out of this. So I started ordering whiskey while sitting and "watching" Margaret and Ui-Jin play blackjack. I pulled the same stunt at the slots while using the cheapest machines, and putting in money very, very S-L-O-W-L-Y. Eventually, the staff seemed to get wind of what I was doing and the whiskey shots stopped coming, but by that time, I'd had a sufficient amount of whiskey and blown less than $5, plus had a fun outing with Margaret, whom I've known for over a year.

    In terms of the casino itself, I guess I should describe it. It seemed to be mostly on one floor, and was not really that huge. The most hilarious part was that these three scantily-clad models wearing red were being paid to just sit or stand there -- one of them just sat on a motorcycle in a showcase, and two of them were posing next to red automobiles out front of the casino THE WHOLE NIGHT. The casino had a wide variety of slot machines, but I've seen much more colorful and interesting-looking slot machines at casinos in other countries. The table games included the staples of roulette and blackjack. Waitresses delivered drinks like vodka, screwdrivers, whiskey, and beer.

    Overall, it was an experience, but I don't think I'd go back. Gamblers used to annoy me so much when I worked at 7-Eleven and they were constantly bothering me with their stupid Lotto an Mega Millions, and the whole act of gambling still seems stupid to me except in a very limited set of circumstances.

    Me, Looking Job Interview-Ready
    August 14, 2008
    It occurred to me that I will need some nice dress clothes for my job interviews when I start hunting for employment as an English teacher. The cheapest place in Korea to buy clothes that I'm aware of is the flea market in Dongdaemun, so I went there yesterday after taking a test in Hyehwa. As you can see on the left, I now have a full set of dress clothes, which will be employed a great deal in about a month.

    What I'm proud of is how I used bargaining and knowing where to get things to assemble the ENTIRE outfit above for less than $19. I'm not kidding, here is the breakdown:

  • Dress shirt: 9,800 won (though I could have gotten it much cheaper had I gotten it used)
  • A tie: 1,000 won (which I learned to tie today with a YouTube video -- the process is a LOT simpler than people say it is)
  • Dress pants: 1,000 won
  • Belt: 2,000 won
  • Dress shoes: 5,000 won

    So altogether, this endeavor cost 18,800 won, or $18.09, and I now have a full set of dress clothes and can go job hunting in Jeolla or Gangwon and know I don't look like a slob.

    As for other news, I took my HIS 281 (History of Virginia I) exam yesterday and got 100%. This evening, I will take the final exam. Then I will have earned a passing grade in HIS 281, and will have only MTH 166 (Precalculus with Trigonometry) to go before being eligible to teach in Korea. I'm nearing my goal!

  • August 13, 2008
    I have started a new blog page. The last one had grown to 45 entries (and 14,322 words). That was just too many, so I filed those entries under "Old News." I had been allowing it to grow long because I thought I was leaving Korea, and I wanted my graduation photos to be on the last page. Now I realize that I could be here at least another year, so here's a new page.

    I applied to Excelsior College today. For those of you who still don't know, it's a college in the US that allows you to complete your degree completely by distance and completely by transfers, yet it is still accredited. That way, I can get my transcript for employment purposes during September, and graduate next year. I've been talking about how I was going to apply to Excelsior College for a while, but thanks to my Stafford Loan coming in, I finally have enough money to do it.

    Copyright (C) 2008 Charles Wetzel. All rights reserved.