April 2, 2009
I'll just review those and then I'll read a short piece on computer ethics (for the computer test, because computer ethics was my weak area) and I should be good to go. I'll probably make a post later saying how I did.
Okay, it's a few hours later, and I took them. I got a 70/80 on Western Civ (a very respectable score, passed the threshold to get credit by a 20-point margin) and a 66/80 on Information Systems (pretty good considering the only studying I did was read one brief Wikipedia page about computer ethics). So I just added 6 credit hours to my transcript today. Awesome!
April 1, 2009
March 27, 2009
The flight over here was okay. It was non-stop. There was a cool golf video game on the seat back computers.
I went out tonight to University Mall and George Mason University campus. Geez, it was WEIRD. I got stared at a ridiculous amount, probably more than I've ever been stared at in Korea, and the way people were staring at me wasn't the "wow, a real live foreigner" stare, but the "this guy could pull out a semi-automatic and start shooting any minute stare." I think the reason for this is that I generally wear a long wool coat that looks like a trench coat, camo ROK army pants I bought in Dongdaemun, and dress shoes that look like combat boots. In Korea, this is not an abnormal ensemble, and people don't automatically distrust me when I wear this ensemble, but MAN, today people were staring, looking over their shoulders at me, and acting like I might have a bomb strapped to me! I seriously felt like if I stayed out much longer, someone would call the cops. This country is so paranoid about shooters and terrorists, it's incredible. At times like this, I'm glad to live in Asia, not America. America has many good points, such as being a fairly benevolent country as superpowers go, but one of its bad points is that people are quick to judge you as "a weird creep." I'd rather be judged as a "peculiar but intriguing foreign man" than "some weirdo" any day of the week! Which is one reason why I don't move back to the US!
March 24, 2009
I just went out into the hallway, and who did I see? Jere.
Jere, for those of you that don't know, is this Finnish guy. When I wrote the "Eurotrash" stereotype in my "99.9% of Students at Yonsei University" article, he was the person I was thinking of.
Jere got kicked out of the goshiwon. Why? Because he simply had too much loud sex. I would often see him bring girls in, and then there'd be an "AH! AH! AH!" coming from either his room or the shower stall (one time when I was eating tofu and kimchi in the kitchen adjacent to a shower stall early in the morning). Eventually, people started to get annoyed at this guy constantly having loud, intrusive sex in the goshiwon, so Jinu from room #401 finally reported this guy to the ajumma. Which I actually completely understand.
As Jinu put it (translated roughly from Korean), "I don't care what he does in his room with girls, but he should be quieter when he does it." Amen to that.
So the ajumma kept warning him, and finally, the third time he brought a girl over and made steamy love to her, the ajumma told him to find another place to live. We thought that was the end of Jere. Apparently not.
Today I saw him sitting at the public computer, browsing various social networking sites and chatting, like he always used to do like 24 hours a day, to find potential hookups. What a goddamn eyesore! I can't believe they let him come back and live here!
I guess this is an open endorsement for me to go down the the park, meet drunk girls, and have wild monkey sex with them in my room, because Jere does it and gets a Get Out of Jail Free card.
All I can think is that the chong-mu, the annoying office girl who is always scolding us and acting like an ajumma and giving me the silent treatment because I patted her on the head as a joke a couple of times, let him come back, without realizing his past history (she started working here after he was asked to leave). However, that's no guarantee that he'll be kicked out when the ajumma who runs this place comes back. So it's back to the old days of going out in the hall, seeing Jere using the computer there constantly to find new booty calls, etc. Man, this place is deteriorating -- crappy chong-mu AND Jere, the Finnish guy who barely speaks English or Korean and bangs girls in his room! ARGH!
March 19, 2009
Afterward, I went to the Korean Language Institute office to pick up my report card. I actually decided not to get one because the grading was not complete yet and the best I could've gotten would have been an incomplete, but one notable thing did happen in that office -- one of the office ladies asked me to read an English e-mail some disgruntled person had sent her and help her respond.
The e-mail was really quite nasty. It was some fellow who had a semi-legitimate complaint about the program, but the way he phrased it was so provocative, it made me mad (even though I sometimes have complaints about the KLI, as well). He was complaining about how the Japanese students constantly talk to each other in Japanese, and this disrupts the learning environment. He suggested that classes be split up into English-based classes, Japanese-based classes, etc. This was not necessarily unreasonable, but he kept on swaggering around in his e-mail, explaining that he was some kind of highfalutin' professional who did business in Japan, and had "studied in three different countries," and called Yonsei's program "a kindergarten vacation" for Japanese people. Obviously he had a very high opinion of himself and thought he knew everything about language teaching -- however, I will refute his points by saying that I'm a Cambridge University CELTA certified English teacher who has graduated from the KLI, and I say that Japanese students using Japanese during class is a problem that cannot be helped in a profit-driven language school. If you take serious action against students because they speak their native language, the school will fail because no one will want to sign up due to the fascist atmosphere.
I understand his argument that there should be segregated classrooms, I actually kind of agree to a point (I wish they'd take the Chinese and put them in their own classes, they constantly speak Chinese and have horrible pronunciation), but this guy obviously doesn't realize the logistical difficulty in making all students speak Korean even on breaks and to each other.
In summary, I agree with the guy that the KLI has some problems, but he obviously knew nothing about language teaching, and he made an ass hat out of himself by saying the KLI was a "kindergarten vacation" for Japanese. I don't care what qualifications he claims to have, anyone who has ever taught a language before should know that you can't realistically force students to speak in the target language at all times. And I don't get these people who think all their speaking practice should come from class. There's a whole nation of about 50 million Koreans out there -- who cares if Japanese people sometimes speak Japanese to each other -- when you get out of your four hours of school, there are 12 remaining hours to speak Korean to Koreans as much as you want.
March 18, 2009: UPDATE 2
By the way, for those of you who are saying "but isn't Charles going out with a Siberian woman?" she's actually kind of out of the picture, because I asked her out for a sixth date, and she ended up being "busy" right before that date, and I figured that the chemistry was so bad, there was no point in asking her out on another date. That, and I was just tired of paying for her. I hate paying for the woman. One thing I've noticed is that none of my steady girlfriends have ever been women for whom I always paid on the dates. This tells me that paying for a woman on dates not only has no positive effect, it probably has a negative effect, so why do it? Am I so innately worthless that I need to pay a woman just to spend time with me? Of course not.
Anyways, the 27-year-old nervous piano teacher woman is quite intriguing, but I probably won't pursue. I only have less than three months left in this country. I mean, not a whole lot of Korean women get drunk and start kissing my hand in the early hours of the morning, so she's definitely intriguing from that angle, it's just that I don't think <3 months is enough time, so there's no point in pursuing.
Now, when I move to China, I'm a little bit scared that I'm going to get too many women. Ever since I turned 22, this magical age, I've done immensely better on the dating market, and I'm afraid that once I hit China and have a regular job, I'm going to be so popular, that when I move to Japan after, I will become depressed because the rich white guy factor will no longer be working for me. So when I move to China, I think I should stay out of the dating scene as much as possible, because if I get too involved in the dating scene, every subsequent country I live in will probably look like crap.
March 18, 2009
I went out to dinner with Hwang-dae and Yu-gwon, and Yu-gwon ordered a stew with an abundance of fish intestines. You'd be surprised, fish intestines, although they may look strange, seem to be clean of anything the fish ate. I chopped them open several times to examine the contents before eating, and it was like the fish's system had been completely flushed -- it was just clean white meat. The stew also contained chunks of normal fish meat, as well as soybean sprouts (kongnamul).
Hwang-dae's friend, Yu-gwon, is a doctor who speaks good Japanese. He volunteered in Africa for two months, apparently, and found that it was not nearly as dangerous as he'd expected. He apparently has very accurate Japanese spelling, because whenever I asked the hiragana for a Japanese word, Hwang-dae (who is a native Japanese speaker) would forward the question to Yu-gwon, which I found entertaining, since Yu-gwon only lived in Japan as an exchange student, whereas Hwang-dae has lived there basically his whole life. Anyways, after that, we got bindaeddeok (kind of like pajeon, except thicker) and had makgeolli as well. The restaurant was entertaining because paper chopstick wrappers LITTERED the floor, they were EVERYWHERE. So we just threw ours on the ground as well, I mean, there were already hundreds on the floor anyway, so why not?
Things will be more fun now, because Hwang-dae is back from Japan. It was sure quiet over the past two or so weeks!
As for other important news, today I went to the immigration office and got an extension on my D-4 visa, so I'm good until June 21 (though I plan to leave before that). I also have a re-entry permit, so I can visit the US and then come back to Korea, no problem.
Oh, and one more thing -- I learned I can take the NYU Korean test from Korea. I think this is a better idea, because my Korean will be in much better shape than if I take it in the US. If I take it in the US, I won't be able to watch Korean TV 24/7 to get my ear in tune, speak with Koreans just by walking out into the hallway, etc. If I take it in Korea, my Korean will be extremely fresh. It also takes some pressure off, so I can enjoy my trip back to the US more. It's been over one year, two months since I was last in my home country!
March 17, 2009
According to the article, which I will not link to since most people can't read Korean, babies conceived with the sperm of 20-something men were, on average, over 6 IQ points smarter than babies conceived from sperm from 50-something men! Haha, take that, traditional society with whom I am always at odds! Not only that, babies born to younger men also have lower rates of certain mental problems like autism. So it just basically goes to show that society is wrong, and Charles Henry Wetzel, who has dated numerous 30-something women in the past year, has a completely justified, scientific reason for doing what he does! Take that, society!
As for other news, we didn't really have anything to do in class today, so I showed the class my website and dug out the pictures from Tsushima Island. Actually, Teacher Jeon was presenting my pictures as much as I was, because she's been to that island too, and lived in Japan for 8~9 years to top it off, so she knew what she was talking about more than me. One of the Chinese girls was puzzling over why there was a graveyard so close to people's houses -- literally a few feet away. Wouldn't that make people scared? Well, it's okay, because apparently the people there do not fear the ghosts, they are just considered a normal part of life. A pair of chopsticks moves themselves, no reason to freak out. It's just the harmless ghosts from the local cemetery! I guess, if you think about it, it's kind of comforting to think that way.
I also got the mystery solved of why some of the Buddhas on the mountain in Hitakatsu had clothes on them. I had never seen this in Korea and thought it kind of strange and even comical. Apparently the reason for that is that the little statues are actually baby Buddhas. Therefore, people feel the need to have Baby Buddha wear clothes. Interesting.
Anyways, Teacher Jeon went there with her family one time and spent three or four days there, but there was a typhoon. Being the Korean parent she is, she decided her kids must not miss school on Monday, at all costs! So she actually took her family to Fukuoka to catch a plane to Seoul so the kids could attend school. However, a plane was not available! So apparently although the island had a nice countryside environment, it was filled with rushing around and having to be preoccupied with other things, so she did not particularly enjoy it.
She also told us about the PTA meeting she went to when she lived in Japan (and raised a kid there). Apparently, in Japan, they literally call it PTA -- straight from English. So Japan also uses the word PTA just like English, that's a new wrinkle to my brain.
March 16, 2009
I was in Korean class. I told everyone that I was going to be taking a trip back to the United States, and asked if anyone wanted me to bring anything back. Teacher Jeon asked me if I could bring back some Biosilk, a sort of essence/conditioner sort of thing for one's hair. She claims it costs about $10 a bottle in the US, but in Korea, it's $50 or $60 a bottle. So I said that I'd bring her back a bottle.
Then, on break, I was talking to the three Chinese girls who, besides me, are all that remains of the formerly large Level 7 class. I asked if they wanted anything from the US. All three of them said they wanted Biosilk. Okay, so apparently this Biosilk stuff must be pretty good. All right, four bottles total.
I was visiting my "friend" near Seoul University Entrance Station, and I asked his father and mother if there was anything they'd like from the US. I mentioned, jokingly, that I was already bringing back four bottles of Biosilk from the US. Then I went and "hung out" with my "friend" for a while, and when I came out into the main room, I saw that his mom was sitting on the floor, using an Internet shopping site on their computer to research Biosilk. She had figured out that in Korea, on a wholesale basis (six bottles), Biosilk is nearly 40,000 won a bottle, but probably more expensive if one just buys a single bottle. She told me to bring her back two.
So long story short, I am bringing back six bottles of Biosilk back for a total five different women, both Chinese and Korean, of two different generations. Therefore, I stand behind my generalization that Asian women love Biosilk.
March 10, 2009
As for other news, since the Game Institute will let me take my exams from Korea (as I found out yesterday afternoon), this takes a HUGE load off my shoulders. So I should redistribute my effort strictly to CLEP tests and Korean (for passing the CLEP tests and the NYU Korean test, respectively).
I think I will take more CLEP tests than originally planned. I think I might take as many as five. These are the ones I'm thinking of taking:
I figure that I should join one of those CLEP prep sites and start reading a bunch of CLEP study material, and then I should be fine on those exams. I should be sure to hit the books (and the immersion) for Korean as well, I want to make sure my Korean is at its best when I take NYU's exam! Today's goal will be to join a CLEP prep site and map out a schedule of how I'm going to study enough material prior to the 25th of this month.
March 9, 2009: UPDATE 2
The slightly bad news is that I took the Level 7 final exam (the writing portion) and feel I did horribly. However, two other test takers (one of which I talked to, the other of which I heard of indirectly) also felt it was really difficult, especially the beginning Chinese-derived vocabulary section and the incorrect sentence finding section. So I did poorly, I'm sure, but other people did too, and besides, this test doesn't really matter for anything, since I've already graduated, and since I'll take Level 7 again.
The very good news is this -- I got an e-mail from Susan Nguyen at the Game Institute, and now students can find a proctor and get their exams proctored wherever they are! Holy shit, this is awesome! Why is it awesome? Because it means I can get credit for my game development courses from overseas, where I'm actually living, instead of having to carefully time the tests to coincide with visits to the United States or Canada. Basically, if I wanted Yim Bang-wool to proctor my C++ Module I test in two weeks, there'd be no reason she couldn't!
This really helps me add certainty to my degree program, because my entire degree hinges on one bottleneck class -- Discreet Math, which is Game Mathematics at the Game Institute. I was really worried about taking the class, going back to the States for one last visit before graduating, and failing it, and failing to get my degree. However, now, I can take Game Mathematics from Korea or China and take the test whenever I want here -- much less suspense! So my plan is to sign up for that course very soon and get it out of the way.
This further helps me because it allows me to take a whole bunch of Game Institute courses first instead of the more expensive NOVA courses. This will help me financially as I get set up as an English teacher in China this summer.
So a little bit of bad news, but the e-mail that arrived in my inbox from Susan Nguyen pretty much overrides that. Now I can take my Game Institute proctored exams from overseas and get credit for the courses, just like any other college course, rather than taking my tests only in the US or Canada. I swear, being able to take tests anywhere I want isn't going to last forever -- someday I'll tell my grandkids about how I did my whole degree while traveling the world, and they'll say "Whoa, Grandpappy, they wouldn't allow that now!"
March 8, 2009
I have also discovered some other things I wrote in middle school that are still on the web, as well, and may post those in the future. I believe I should preserve these writings on my own site, because they are an important part of my personal history -- my hobby of writing about Asia and publishing my essays on the Internet began over a decade ago.
I just want to add that 6th grade (1998 - 1999) was a very sentimental year for me. I actually was not happy at all -- it was a very stressful year, but one that made me the man I am today. Here were some firsts from 6th grade:
So if you think about it, 6th grade made me the man I am today. It was a rough year, especially socially and grade-wise and because of the international move, but it was a year of many, many firsts. I hope that in ten years, I can look back on 2009 and think "that was the start of a new era."