May 31, 2009
Here's the plan — tomorrow I'm going to break up with Yuri, unless she does something spectacular before then.

Lately she's been completely non-expressive in any way, shape or form, aside from sometimes giving me random gifts and acting friendly. It really started to bother me about a week ago. Although when I asked if we were "boyfriend and girlfriend" a while ago and she said "yes," I've never heard her use the word boyfriend to describe me once. In messages, I'll send sweet nothings like a kiss sound or an "I miss you" or that kind of thing, and she _NEVER_ reciprocates. There were certain specific physical things we did in the first week that we haven't done in the last 17 days — excuse me, am I not supposed to notice this?

So finally, yesterday, in as nice a way as I could, I explained to her that I cared for her a great deal and didn't want to make her feel bad, but I was really wondering if she considered me a boyfriend or just a friend. After a few rounds of text messages she was like "I'm tired, I'm going to bed." So I finally convinced her to talk about it for ten minutes (come on, not a tall order on a Friday night with your boyfriend, just after midnight) and she was REALLY belligerent. Like, slightly raised voice the entire time, cross facial expression, very pissed off language. I was really trying to be nice about it. I said to her that I really thought she was a person of high quality and that I had decided to stay in Korea because of her, and she basically just went on about how I was so damn inconsiderate for making her have this talk when she was tired, so damn inconsiderate for not waiting until Sunday morning, how we didn't do anything physical because of the CCTV (yeah, like a good night kiss for the guy who cooked your dinner is too much to ask because of the CCTV, just shows where her priorities are), and how I was so damn weak for abandoning my Taiwan plan to be in Korea with her.


And the amazing thing is, it's been over 16 hours and she still hasn't apologized or even tried to extend any kind of an olive branch.

She obviously does not give a crap about me as a boyfriend, or she'd do *SOMETHING*. So I think I'm going to break up with her.

Tomorrow at 9:00 AM, I plan to stick a letter in an envelope on her door breaking up with her in the nicest way possible (lots of compliments, "but it's just not working"). That way, she won't find out the news until she's home from work and can have a full evening and night of sleep to recover rather than finding out just as she's about to start work.

I just can't go on like this. Seriously, the Korean expression "gungmul-do eoptda" (국물도 없다) comes to mind. It means "there isn't even any soup." It's used to refer to when someone is not trying to the point where it's offensive. I guess it originally came from a Korean woman not making any effort by not cooking, and her husband coming home and finding absolutely nothing prepared after a full day of work — there isn't even any soup.

Actually, I always cooked for her, it was never the other way around. I didn't expect her to do that, anyway, this is 2009. Still, the expression is perfect for this situation — she doesn't even make the slightest effort to mend fences. So tomorrow I'm going to dump her, but do it as nicely as possible, unless she tries some major reconciliatory measures before then (unlikely seeing as how over 16 hours have passed and she's done nothing).

So with basically nothing left to tie me to Korea, I probably will go to Taiwan. Better give notice to certain parties who need to know about this.

I just bought a bike yesterday. Guess I'm going to sell it. Didn't cost me much, just 40,000 won and the cost of a helmet.

I seriously don't think Korean women have any clue about the concept of love or affection. I've had four different Korean girlfriends, and except for one, they have all been extremely cold and icy after the first week or so. They put on their affectionate airs in the first week to pull you in, but after that, you're simply the least important factor in their lives. There was one exception to this, although she was simply an exception in that she took months to go sour instead of a week.

Anyways, I look forward to entering Taiwan and severing all ties with Korea.

May 28, 2009
I'm planning in case there's an invasion. Since the 1953 armistice was revoked yesterday and there have been five missile tests and one nuclear test this week, North Korea is looking much more likely to invade than it has in years. The US military is currently on WATCHCON 2. There are major naval buildups in the West Sea right now, too. This may seem paranoid, but keep the following in mind:

  • In late 1938, Neville Chamberlain visited Nazi Germany and told the British that they should sleep soundly at night.
  • The 6/25 War (the Korean War) was a complete surprise attack.
  • One Christmas in World War I, hostilities temporarily ceased, and most people thought it was the end of the war.

    In other words, the press and governments frequently ignore the possibility of a major war (or the continuation of one) right before it's about to start. I'm not going to make the stupid mistake of believing the press' apathy and the apathy of Koreans who are complacent. People generally don't think there's a war right before there's about to be one. Things escalate. A small misunderstanding along a tense border can end up killing millions of people.

    So I'm going to prepare for an invasion. Call me paranoid, but I estimate there's a 10% chance of invasion (they are REALLY going all out now), and if I'm the only guy prepared for this thing, guess what, I'M going to be the one laughing at you guys!

    Here is what I've already done:

    1. I've read the posts on the US Embassy website about evacuation. I now know to keep three days' worth of food, to stay tuned into Armed Forces Korea Network radio. In the event of an invasion, the US embassy recommends that we "stand fast" and wait for more directives via the radio. The evacuation center closest to me is the Mokdong Ice Rink. In the event that North Korea attacks and the US gives the order, I need to retreat over the Han River and reach Mok-dong.
    2. I've decided I'm going to stay in Seoul because I have classes going on here, I have a girlfriend, and it would be troublesome to move. The North Koreans probably won't invade, but it's possible. Therefore, this is my criteria for leaving Seoul:
      - If the US issues an evacuation recommendation/order.
      - If North Korea invades any South Korean land (even if it's just a small island above the 38th Parallel).
      - However, I won't evacuate if there's simply a naval skirmish like in 2002.
    Here is what I plan to do today to prepare in case North Korea does invade:
    1. Before midnight, I'm going to stockpile nine meals (three days') worth of very cheap food (as well as other supplies my country's embassy is currently recommending), so as not to blow my budget, but have something to eat just in case.
    2. Before midnight, I'm going to figure out how to get to Mokdong Ice Rink ON FOOT. That way, in the event the North Koreans invade, I'll be able to retreat to the evacuation zone WITHOUT public transportation (just walking and swimming).
    3. Before midnight, I'm going to figure out a way to tune into Armed Forces Korea Network Radio so it is playing constantly. I may buy a pair of speakers for this. That way, I'll know the second North Korea invades.
    So basically, my strategy is to find out as soon as there's an invasion, and if there is, get to Mokdong as soon as possible in preparation to evacuate. Last time North Korea invaded, they destroyed all the bridges going over the Han River, so I'll probably have to swim if they invade, but I've swum longer distances before. :-)

    Furthermore, I had an idea for my website. For those of you who are tired of constantly reading my educational plans and other boring crap, I'm planning to start TWO blogs -- Boring Blog, and News. News will contain interesting stuff like invasion information, cultural trips I take, cool photo write-ups, etc. Boring shit like academic progress, planning my day, and looking for jobs will be going into the Boring Blog. The "Boring Blog" will be hidden slightly deeper in the site.

    I've got quite a bit of work ahead of me! Better get started on it!

    May 27, 2009


    This is NOT a hoax. I read it in the paper. North Korea has withdrawn from the 1953 armistice.

    What this means is that unlike before, when there was a cold war going on between North and South Korea but few shots fired, they are now in OPEN WAR.

    I hope this is just more saber-rattling like they always do, but this is a new extreme. Things have not been this dangerous in 55 years! Is it time to get out of Korea?

    My KLPT Score Report (from the KLPT website)
    May 25, 2009
    I have achieved KLPT Level 5. My score was 405, so had I missed more than one additional question, I wouldn't have gotten Level 5! However, I got Level 5, so HAH!

    This officially certifies me for at least 6,000 words, and I can now enter all three of the SKY universities in Korea (SNU, Korea University, and Yonsei) for regular studies without having to attend their language programs. Not that I ever plan to do that, but if I became totally out of my mind, I could — oh, and it's worth noting that I got 85% of the listening questions right, as opposed to just 78% of the reading questions, so once again, a test has shown my listening to be better than my reading (but I still believe my reading is far ahead of my listening).

    May 24, 2009
    Um, that was really odd. I just got insulted and called a fucking bastard by a man on the street, but here's the funny and entertaining thing about it that allows me not to be put into such a bad mood:

    Basically I was walking down the street, just having eaten some pork and rice (jeyukdeopbap) at the Kimbap Cheonguk restaurant. And I hear this guy down the street yelling all sorts of obscenities like FUCKING BASTARD and other things. Potty mouth. I don't think he was talking to me, because I couldn't see him yet, and I doubt he could see me. I think he was just pissed off about something else. Anyways, eventually he came into view as I walked down the street, and said to me "Hey!" and I said in Korean, in the lowest formality level "I don't want to talk to you." Because honestly I don't. If you want people to talk to you and sympathize with you, don't start yelling swearwords in the middle of the street.

    Then, to that, he replied "YOU'RE JUST LIKE KOREA. A FUCKING BASTARD."

    That's the first time I can recall a Korean insulting me by being comparing me WITH a Korean...

    May 23, 2009


    Not kidding. This is not a hoax. He did. I just read it in the Korea Times!

    He jumped off a cliff this morning, and left a suicide note saying that he wanted to be cremated. He briefly survived the jump, but died in the hospital from massive internal bleeding and damage. This all happened near his home in Gyeongsang-do. Apparently his wife passed out from shock.

    If you're not currently in Korea, it might be a little hard to understand how shocking this is, but try to think of it this way -- if former president George W. Bush jumped off a cliff, it'd make international news for weeks. And the equivalent just happened here.

    I actually always strongly disliked Roh Moo-hyun, because he was openly anti-American and pro-racism, but still, it's shocking and I wouldn't wish his fate on anyone, especially once that person no longer held political power. Man.

    May 22, 2009
    I had a HUGE scare. I thought I wasn't going to graduate, because I realized that Excelsior College doesn't consider history as a type of "humanities" subject, and therefore I was missing 2 credit hours of humanities! I wouldn't be able to graduate unless NYU's language test scores suddenly came in!

    It seems as if they were lost in the mail. They never arrived. So I called up NYU and told them to overnight mail the scores to Excelsior. They did. I will now graduate with an AA. Not only that, my NYU language test scores were so good, I'll graduate with a special little bonus!

    My NYU language test score for Korean was 16/16. A perfect score.

    This means that my Associate of Arts degree will also carry "Area of Focus: Korean Language" on the transcript. Kind of like a little baby major in Korean. I'll also have an "Area of Focus: History" on that transcript, recognizing my 27 credits of history (no big surprise there). So I'll have a nifty little Associate of Arts Degree with a transcript that says "Areas of Focus: History and Korean."

    What's more, since my NYU Korean language test score was so good, this earns me 4 UPPER LEVEL CREDITS. UPPER LEVEL CREDITS are seriously worth more each than an ounce of gold. Not kidding. Unlike lower level credits which can be satisfied easily with things like CLEP tests and AP tests, upper level credits are MUCH harder (and more expensive) to get since very few standardized tests grant upper level credit, and since cheap community colleges do not offer upper level credit. So I just grabbed four very, very valuable upper level credits. This is all great news.

    May 17, 2009
    Today is the last day I can register for NOVA summer classes, and I'm trying to decide which ones to register for. My associate's degree appears to be done, but I can't stop studying. I need to get my BS in Information Technology. Only then will I consider my educational level adequate.

    I plan to take care of 12 credit hours this summer. Six of them must be from NOVA (or I lose my eligibility for getting another Stafford Loan, should I need it).

    Basically, all my basic stuff (the broad spread of courses required for every BA) is either done, or I can test out of it at a later date. For example, Ethics (PHI 220) is as-of-yet undone, but I plan to test out of it instead of taking the course, because apparently the NOVA professors who teach it are really difficult and almost always give out C's. I think they have a DANTES test for that.

    Aside from that, I think the only things I need to meet my Arts and Sciences Component are calculus of some sort and Discrete Math. Discrete Math is an obvious choice for this summer because I can take it through the Game Institute and do it both cheaply and without having to take all the prerequisites that NOVA requires. As for calculus, I'm not sure how I'll do that yet. I may take it through NOVA, or I may find a way to test out of it (I'd prefer to study calculus slowly over the course of a year rather than put myself under the stress of a calculus course).

    So since I'm taking Discrete Math through the Game Institute (supposedly not requiring calculus as a prerequisite, amazingly, they say all the stuff I need to know is built in to the course), I still have nine more credit hours to account for, and six of those need to be at NOVA. I think I'll knock out Graphics Programming with DirectX9 at the Game Institute, as well.

    So now for my NOVA courses. These are a tough decision, because Excelsior College refuses to advise me on an IT degree while I'm enrolled in the Associate of Arts program. This makes it very difficult for me to plan.

    Fortunately, I can afford to "screw up" on exactly six credit hours of the IT requirement, because those are electives. Even if the courses I choose don't match up with their requirements, I can still get recognition for up to six credit hours of IT courses that I've chosen myself. So I'm safe for this summer, but after that, I'm going to need to re-enroll in the college as an IT major and get an official consultation. Here are the courses I'm tentatively thinking about enrolling in:

  • ITN 171: UNIX I
    My reasons for enrolling in this course are twofold. First of all, I have ALWAYS been ignorant of UNIX and Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems. I'd love to be able to use them competently. It's something a geek just has to know. Second of all, it may satisfy the Operating Systems requirement of my degree.
  • ITE 221: PC Hardware & O/S Architecture
    I'm fairly certain this will satisfy the requirements of "Computer Architecture" for my degree. Even if it doesn't, I have six credits of IT leeway that it can be filed under.

    So based on my research, if I take the following four courses, none of them will be a waste as long as I pass them all:

  • Graphics Programming with DirectX9 (Game Institute)
  • Game Mathematics (Game Institute, transfers to Excelsior College as Discrete Math)
  • ITN 171: UNIX I (NOVA)
  • ITE 221: PC Hardware & O/S Architecture

    May 16, 2009
    Here are some pictures of my girlfriend, Yuri!

    May 15, 2009
    Like many people, I'd imagine, following an adrenaline-pumping conclusion to a major project, I go through a few days of R&R and then some aimlessness. Right now is one of those times.

    My degree is DONE. I have 60 credit hours assuming the NYU test doesn't come through in time, and if it does, I could have as many as 76. So what now?

    Of course I can't stop studying — I have a bachelor's degree to complete as well. However, I have 4.5 semesters to do this (meaning I can take a mere 11 credits per term from now on to graduate on-time). Really, what I need to be concentrating on is getting myself back in an organized, consolidated state, and find a job that pays enough to save at least $1,000 a month to pay off my debts and pay for my continuing education.

    I'm going to assume for the moment that I'm staying in Korea. I know this sounds premature and I probably sound like a fool in love, but don't worry, I don't have to make a definite decision which country I work in until the end of June, anyway. Yuri and I have been going out for over a week now, and she's been a total angel. I have no complaints whatsoever with her. By this point in time, Chung-hee had already made her "we don't consummate this until you get a high-paying job" line. Yuri has been far more considerate, less demanding of my time (and sanity), etc. over the last week than Chung-hee was. And she's prettier. And cooler.

    So I need to find a job in Korea. My options are not non-existent, but limited. A job is not guaranteed since there are fairly few channels for an associate's degree holder to find a job here, but I should be able to find one.

    Here are four job options should I decide to stay in South Korea for another year:

    1. Join the TaLK program (pros are fewer teaching hours, cons are possible placement far away from Seoul and low pay)
    2. Get a GEPIK internship (pros are higher pay and placement near Seoul, cons are much higher competition [including competition from Korean citizens])
    3. Try to get a position on an E-7 visa that is not teaching, most likely interpreting (pros include getting a job in Seoul and being paid to use my Korean and learn more, cons are the difficulty of finding such a position and generally low pay)
    4. Apply directly to public schools (pros are high pay, choice in where I work, etc. but cons are that I don't even know if it's possible to apply directly)

    Here is my plan of action.

    1. Friday: Clean my room. Get my finances in order, including finding out EXACTLY how much money I have to work with.
    2. Saturday and Sunday: apply for various things. Apply for more NOVA classes. Fill out job applications for TaLK and possibly GEPIK.
    3. Monday: drop off applications for jobs. Start 12 new credit hours of courses (at the end of the summer semester, I should have 85 / 120).

    May 13, 2009: UPDATE 2
    I have to make this quick because I have a place I need to be, but I passed the C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I proctored exam with an 83% (B). The 4,600+ word summary I wrote up beforehand definitely helped as a study aid.

    My associate's degree coursework is now definitely DONE.

    I feel like an absolute ball of pure, invincible energy. I have literally grabbed AT LEAST 30 credit hours THIS SEMESTER (not counting the NYU Korean test, which may add up to 16 credit hours to that number). SO IN THEORY, I MAY HAVE GOTTEN AS MANY AS 46 CREDIT HOURS IN THE SPRING '09 SEMESTER.

    Understandably, I'm proud. Now all I have to do is file some basic forms and papers for my graduation. Then I can re-enroll and worry about my bachelor's degree (while making nice money as an English teacher with a valid visa).

    May 13, 2009
    I have written a 4,697-word summary/study guide for C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I. I plan to review it this afternoon before the test. It's going to be HARD, I imagine.

    May 12, 2009
    YAHOO! Passed the Social Sciences and History CLEP with a 71/80!

    This means that I am now basically completely certain of 56 credit hours (60 needed to graduate), think I might have about 10+ on the way from the NYU Korean test, and I'm taking a four-credit C++ test tomorrow. So at this point, unless I really bombed the NYU test, I've basically met all the requirements to graduate.

    Tomorrow's test is the C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I test. I expect it to be HARD. Both the midterm and the final (which were actually just practice exams, since the entire course grade is overridden by the final) were really tough and I got in the low 70s (70 is the cutoff for passing). So I'm kind of anxious about it.

    Tonight I plan to study the harder units (two hard units remain) and then quickly review the easy units tomorrow morning and afternoon. If I do this, I think I should have a reasonable chance at a 70% or higher (passing).

    If I fail tomorrow's test, I'd say there's still a roughly 75% chance that I'll graduate (since the NYU test scores will probably come through for me). If I pass tomorrow's test, the chances rise to maybe 90%.

    As long as I get my associate's, this is a HUGE step forward. An associate's degree is the minimal qualification to teach in most of developed Asia. Korea, Taiwan, and several more developed Chinese cities and provinces all set an associate's as the minimum qualification for a teaching visa. Although Japan generally requires a bachelor's degree, I have heard anecdotally that occasionally Japan also accepts an associate's instead if you are an exceptional case (I heard about one associate's degree holder who got a working visa for Japan because the immigration officers really wanted to give that person a visa, and slightly bent the regulations and counted five years of volunteer work at the Boy's and Girl's Club as "teaching experience" and issued the visa). In any event, making money here in Asia will be MUCH easier from July. I am ecstatic.

    May 10, 2009
    Today (well, this waking period anyway), I accomplished the following:

  • I ascended Mt. Ansan and read 50 pages of western history next to a natural spring. And I peed on a tree and was surprised by the wing-flapping of a large bird, who was also surprised. I read 109 pages total today.
  • I ordered two transcripts from NOVA.
  • I text messaged Yuri. She was studying for the police exam. We didn't talk much today, but I don't think this is a bad thing. If we talk extensively everyday, one of us is bound to get on the other's nerves. We need to have days where we leave each other alone. This is an interesting experiment because I have never had a girlfriend with whom I lived from the outset! Normally people move in together when they get to know each other, but we live in the same goshiwon from the get-go. I wonder how that'll work out?
  • I re-studied a chapter of C++ in preparation for Wednesday's exam and wrote a 577-word study guide to that chapter.
  • I made this website update, as well as the one earlier.

    So all in all, I got a fair deal done today. Tomorrow, I can get away with slightly less history reading, but should do significantly more C++ study. That's really what I should be worried about.

    May 9, 2009
    My Japanese teacher (with the prodding of some last-minute phone calls on my part) did finally release my A for JPN 101!

    Once again, I got all A's for the term at NOVA, although this doesn't mean much since I only took eight credit hours. My current NOVA GPA (based on 36 credit hours) is 3.778. Cruisin'!

    Only 35 of those 36 can be recognized at Excelsior College (Excelsior specifically excludes SDV 100 because it's only an orientation course). I have passed four CLEP exams so far (12 credit hours) and one AP exam (3 credit hours). So kids, 35 + 15 = 50. 50 credit hours. I need 60. This week, I have the following tests, which will add up to exactly 10 more credit hours:

  • CLEP Social Sciences and History
  • C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I

    I should study lightly for the Social Sciences and History CLEP, and study HARD for the C++ test. The latter will be MUCH harder than the former, I'd imagine. According to my experience on the midterm and the final, assuming I were fresh out of the course (which I'm not), I'd get in the lows 70s, barely passing for transfer purposes. The course grade is based ENTIRELY on the final exam.

    This gives me four days to study for C++ (worried), and three days to study for CLEP Social Sciences and History (not worried). HOWEVER, in the extremely unlucky event that I fail the C++ test, or in the event that one of the transcripts doesn't make it to Excelsior College in time, NYU's test scores will probably come through. In theory, these could give me up to 16 credit hours in padding, just in case. In theory, as of the end of this month, my Excelsior College transcript could show 76 credit hours, although this is highly unlikely.

    Things seem to be going great with Yuri, by the way. She's like, the polar opposite of Chung-hee. It's really refreshing. For example, Chung-hee was always trying to hide my existence from her older brother, because he'd "kill us," but Yuri has already told her brother, who really wants to meet me and thinks it's cool Yuri and I are going out, because he's a big fan of America.

    May 8, 2009
    Looks like I have a girlfriend!

    Yep, Charles Wetzel and Yuri Choi are going out!

    Now, you're probably saying "Wait a minute, aren't you trying to get out of Korea? Why are you dating a Korean girl when you're leaving next month?" Well, I know, the timing sucks, but on the other hand, I think of it this way:

  • If I really like her and if she really likes me, I can stay here for longer.
  • If things don't work out, it'll make moving to Taiwan all the sweeter!

    Yuri Choi is 23 (about one year older than me), from Jeonju (famous for its bibimbap), works at a Japanese restaurant, wants to become a police officer, her favorite game genre is RPG, and her favorite movie genre is horror. We saw "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" last night. Disgusting movie in my opinion, but fascinating in a morbid way. Modeled on the serial killer Ed Gein, about whom I already knew. Yuri supports the death penalty. I've got to say, with horrible, bizarre murderers like Ed Gein, Franky (Germany), Yu Yeong-cheol, etc. I have to say I support it in certain cases, too. Didn't used to, but that changed when I was a senior in high school and heard about a grizzly murder that happened in Fairfax County (and Franky, the German cannibal).

    Anyways, back on topic. Got a girlfriend. She's gorgeous and seems to have a much more westernized, free-thinking style than Chung-hee, but how things will turn out, time can only tell.

    May 7, 2009
    I'm debating with myself how much Mandarin I should learn. Whether I go to Taiwan, or the pendulum swings and I decide again to go to mainland China (God, I hope I don't lose my mind and decide to do that, again), I need to know Mandarin to a certain level either way. Once upon a time, when I was a middle schooler, I spoke Chinese to a certain extent, but I haven't been a middle schooler in about eight years! So obviously I've forgotten the vast majority of my Chinese.

    My actual goal for the end of the teaching stint in Taiwan (after one year in country) is very, very clear. This, I am not debating with myself. I hope to exceed 3,000 words and be able to recognize 1,800 characters (hopefully write them, too). This is nowhere near my Korean level, but it will allow me to live life fairly comfortably, and the 1,800 characters will mean I'll barely need to learn any kanji when I learn Japanese. Who knows, as China rises, the Chinese ability might be important, too, in ways I cannot even yet imagine.

    The big debate here is how much Chinese I should learn BEFORE I do my job hunt in Taiwan.

    There are three potential plans I could follow:

    1. Study no additional Chinese beyond what I already know.
    2. Study Chinese to the point where I learn (or recall) 1,000 spoken words.
    3. Study Chinese to the point where I learn (or recall) 2,000 spoken words.

    If I go with Plan #1, I can save time for my college-related studies, and any run-by-a-moron English school that prefers people who can't speak Chinese (because of the whole you-can-learn-in-20-minutes-a-week-of-immersion delusion) might prefer me. Cons include having a hell of a time getting around Taiwan at first, looking like a moron to schools whose managers actually have brains, and doing a discourtesy to the country.

    If I go with Plan #2, pros are that it will allow me to get around Taiwan MUCH more conveniently, show a potential employer that I'm not one of those monolingual people who know nothing about language acquisition, and do a basic courtesy to the country that's going to give me a work visa. Cons include slightly less free time over the next month or two.

    If I go with Plan #3, the pros will be borderline conversational Chinese (quite possibly a significant boost for employment purposes), and not getting treated like a beginner by every other expat and bilingual Taiwanese person. The cons would be extreme mental stress over the next 50 or so days, and not learning the words in a quality fashion.

    Actually, after typing this all out, I have already decided to go with Plan #2, if possible. I'm going to try to cram about 1,000 words over the next 40 or 50 days. It's the middle ground. I'll touch down in Taiwan unable to understand the locals very well, but at least be able to specify what I want, and gain some goodwill points.

    May 6, 2009: UPDATE 2
    I'll tell you, it's infuriating how pretty much as soon as I made my New Year's resolution to leave Korea, I suddenly get all popular with the ladies all of a sudden. Tonight, Yuri asked if I wanted to have a drink with her tomorrow night on the roof at 10:00 PM. She's attractive, 23 years old (one year older than me), asked me if I had a girlfriend, said I was handsome, and informed me that she does not have a boyfriend.

    She's also interesting. She's trying to become a police officer. She's going to take the ROK police officer entrance exam soon (it's offered twice a year). Here are some interesting facts she told me about the Korean police:

  • Korean policemen almost never carry real guns. I asked her why I have seen police officers at the post office and the bank carrying guns, and as it turns out, they're fake! Not kidding! Cops carrying fake guns, how about that?
  • 1/3 of Korea's police force is composed of women.

    Anyways, she seems interesting, all right, and probably interested in me, too. She stuck a little green post-it note to my door that reads "Charles! Good night ^_^ enjoy your meal~ Ha Ha~." Why is it that I have to meet all these interesting, high-quality Korean women literally months before leaving the country? God has a sense of humor.

    By the way, here is her picture, which you've actually seen before:

    May 6, 2009
    With my associate's degree looking more and more certain, I've been looking over employment ads for teaching in Taiwan and wondering exactly what the best course would be.

    I think it's realistic to teach in the southern part of Taiwan. From what I've read, this area actually has lower competition for jobs than Taipei. Furthermore, there are nice beaches in Kenting.

    The trouble is money. The Taiwan dollar is suffering versus the US dollar lately, and I need to pay my tuition in the US. Although a year ago, I could have possibly saved $1,500 a month, I'll be lucky to save $1,000 per month now.

    I figure that 60,000 Taiwan dollars per month times 0.85 (taxes are 20% for the first six months and 10% for the second six months) means just over $1,500 after taxes. I plan to live on $500 of that, and save the other $1,000.

    The $500 a month living expenses break down to the following:

  • $250 a month for a small room.
  • $100 a month for HOME COOKING. This is about what I currently eat on in Korea, but I've heard that in Taiwan, food is cheaper.
  • $150 a month for incidentals

    I don't know if I'll be able to stick to such a tight budget (especially incidentals, which seems a bit low) but I'm going to try to bring down my incidentals by buying certain things like a bicycle, a printer, etc. early on, so that I never have to pay for things like public transportation or printing at a print shop.

    If I'm lucky, I bet I can save $1,000 a month. That's $12,000 over the next year. And Kenting's beaches look BEAUTIFUL when I see photos. And since Kenting is tropical, it doesn't matter whether it's July or February, I can go swimming anytime I want!

    May 5, 2009: UPDATE 2
    Yahoo! I got a 71/80 on the History of the United States I CLEP! That old 1908 textbook really paid off. Guess they don't make 'em like they used to, seeing as how that's my highest CLEP score yet.

    I am surging forward toward my associate's degree.

    Thanks to CLEP, I am 12 credit hours closer to my degree in just over one month! If only I'd started doing these CLEPs sooner!

    May 5, 2009
    I hope to be in bed in about 20 minutes. If I do that, I can get a square seven hours of sleep before waking up to take my CLEP test for History of the United States I (until 1877).

    I downloaded a textbook from Project Gutenberg and have been using that to study for the CLEP. This is not illegal. It is public domain. Suck that, corrupt textbook companies, trying to get me to pay top dollar for your over-inflated volumes!

    Here are some things I learned from my free, public domain textbook:

  • The proper spelling of reelect is actually re?ect (with an umlaut on the second e).
  • Nowadays we can travel from one city in America to another using steam locomotives, but back in the early 1800s, journeys by stage coaches took forever! Then Fulton's steam boat came along in 1809 and changed everything.
  • A tip to teachers: to bring the Civil War to life, it might be a good idea to invite a Civil War veteran to talk to your class.
  • The extensive telegraph network today was thanks to Morse, an American, who began setting up telegraph lines with the assistance of the government in the 1850s.
  • One of the first tasks of the US military upon the ratification of the Constitution was to suppress royalty-demanding Mohammedans in northern Africa who enslaved Americans on Christian ships, largely for their own pleasure and profit!

    Oh, did I mention why this book is in the public domain? It was published in 1908. ;-)

    I just figured it'd be interesting to read any extremely old textbook. It's not like pre-1877 history suddenly changed in the last hundred years, right?

    May 4, 2009: UPDATE 2
    Today is a very busy day, so this will be a quick update. I got an A in ART 116 (Design for the Web I).

    I got a 52/56 on my final project, even though personally I felt it was pretty bare bones. So there's another A in the grade book.

    May 4, 2009
    I have completely finished all my ART 116 (Web Page Design) work. The final site that I created (with six pages and a navigation set in a frameset) was pretty meager. The only redeeming thing about it, really, was the attractive navigation. I just figured I had to hand it in, ASAP. I wanted to get it out of the way to focus on preparing for the History of the United States I CLEP. Now it's done. I did so well in the course, all I need is a 65% on my final site to get an A, according to my calculations. I technically met all the requirements, so I should get that.

    I also finished all my coursework for JPN 101 (Introductory Japanese) today except for the final exam which won't be available until tomorrow.

    Oh, and Hwangdae went back to Japan just now. I helped him carry his stuff down the stairs. Then I said to him "see you in Japan next year, we're going to drink sake" or something to that effect. And now he's on his way to the airport.

    Anyways, better wrap this up. I'm glad all my loose ends are tied up for now and I can dedicate all my free time to studying for the CLEP and not be distracted by these other courses.

    May 2, 2009
    I am retaliating against a target in Bangladesh!

    Yeah, that's right, this MORON keeps calling, day after day, night after night, to my cell phone. Seriously, at the most inopportune times, like 3:00 AM. In the last two days, this motherfucker has called three times. So I've finally decided to retaliate.

    I don't know why this person is calling. I mean, there are a lot of Bangladeshi minimum wage laborers here, but it seems the person who keeps calling me should realize that their son/brother/etc. IS NOT GOING TO CALL BACK, BECAUSE THIS IS NOT HIS PHONE.

    At first, I just tried politely to speak English and/or Korean and ask them not to call me. But they keep on doing it.

    So it's time for massive retaliation. Using my Skype account, I am going to call them at ridiculous times of day, mostly in the early hours of the morning, and curse them out at every opportunity! I know it sounds immature, and it is, but maybe doing this will get the idiot on the other side to STOP. CALLING. MY. FUCKING. PHONE.

    I might also give this person's phone numbers to as many telemarketers as possible.

    April 30, 2009
    Today's been kind of a sobering day, though nothing disastrous has happened to me personally.

    First of all, I found out what happened to Teacher Yang from Level 1.

    She was really, really gorgeous. Every guy in that class seemed to think so, including me. When I entered Level 2, she was nowhere to be seen. Nor was she anywhere to be seen for Level 3. Eventually, I just figured cynically that a young woman that attractive must have gotten married and quit her job. Or maybe she'd gone and taught in a third world country like some Korean teachers do (like Vietnam or Cambodia). Or maybe she just got tired of teaching Korean and quit. Looks like I was wrong. I found out today that she died of cancer. She couldn't have been much older than her late 20s, so that is kind of sad. I'm not sure when it happened — it could have been way back in '06, or it could have happened recently, I'm not sure, but she's dead now. I suspect she had a fairly long battle with cancer because her picture was up on the wall with all the other Korean teacher pictures until probably a week or two ago (I sometimes checked out of curiosity just to see if they'd removed it yet). It's gone now, replaced by another teacher whose surname is Yang. Anyways, that's kind of sobering, isn't it?

    The other sobering event is that Hwangdae is leaving Korea early. He has grown to completely hate Korea, despite being a Korean citizen. He says that after Japan, Korea is the nation that he hates the most in the world. I can definitely understand why he says this. Everyone thinks he's Southeast Asian and treats him like a foreigner, when in fact his citizenship is Korean. I mean, I'm not sticking up for some gyopo with an F-4 here, unlike a gyopo on an F-4 visa, he actually has genuine Korean citizenship with the dark green Korean passport and everything, and his fellow countrymen should show him a little bit of respect, but he can't even get a normal cell phone account because he can't get a citizen registration card because he needs documents from his parents, from whom he is estranged. He tried to get the registration card and the guy told him "there's nothing we can do, you have to get those documents from your parents." Why would a 32-year-old man need to get documents from his parents to get an ID card in his passport country? I agree, it is pretty ridiculous. Do you think they'd ask for that stuff from a full-blooded ethnic Korean? Of course not. Basically, Korea is trying to make a non-pure-blood Korean self-deport, which is characteristic of Korean fascism. Anyways, Hwangdae is so angry, he's leaving Korea earlier than expected — this Monday. He's going back to Japan. Even though he's not a citizen there, at least his race doesn't prevent him from getting a cell phone like it does in Korea.

    Of course, for some Korean-American with US citizenship and an F-4 visa, there would probably be much fewer problems, but the problem is, Hwangdae, despite being a Korean citizen, is 25% black. He "pollutes" the pure Han Race gene pool. They simply cannot tolerate any foreign blood, so they refuse to issue him an ID card unless his mother, a full-blooded member of the Superior Race of Korean God Beings, sends various certificates to them. Typical Korea, I'll tell you — rolls racism and ridiculous over-filial piety into a little package with a bow on top.

    On a different, slightly more uplifting topic, I am now fairly certain I'll meet the May 22 deadline for having enough credits to get my associate's degree. I called NYU and they told me to check with Excelsior on the receipt of the score report on May 19, three days before the cutoff date. It should be there by then, they said. Even if it doesn't make it in time, both my teachers at NOVA are willing to release grades early. All my ducks seem to be in a row if I just keep working hard.

    Tomorrow is my final exam for ART 116 (Web Page Design). It will no doubt be easy. I got a 100% on the midterm. The final exam is strictly nominal, that is to say that it only exists because courses are required to have a final exam, generally. It's worth less than 6% of my final grade.

    However, what is FAR more important than finishing that midterm is the final project (the site). That's worth 1/3 of my final grade, roughly. I have a final site put together, but it still needs many changes and additions.

    So really, my goal for the next 24 hours is to whip that final project site into shape. Here are some other things I need to do before I go to bed:

  • Pay my credit card bill.
  • Contact Amelia Colvig about doing two Japanese dialogs.
  • Take a shower.
  • Do as much work as possible on my final Web site project for ART 116.

    April 28, 2009: UPDATE 3
    I just took the NYU Korean test. I am not sure how I did.

    The test had four sections — listening, a simple Korean essay, a Korean newspaper article to translate into English, an English newspaper article to translate into Korean, and an opinion piece.

    First of all, any of you who know "a little Korean," FORGET ABOUT TAKING THIS TEST. Though I think I got some credit for it, anyone below the intermediate-high level will simply not get any points. However, since I speak Korean at an advanced level, the test was possible for me — just not easy, and I don't think I got a perfect 16/16.

    I'm pretty sure I did poorly on the listening part. I was only confident on 2/5 of the answers, with a "maybe" for another answer or two. So let's assume I got 2/4 credit hours for that part of the test.

    The next section was a simple essay. I wrote about my trip to Geumgangsan in North Korea. I'm guessing I got 3/4 credit hours on that, because no essay, especially an essay written by a non-native, can ever be perfect. I think the 3/4 of a credit applies to all the other essays I wrote, too.

    The test was far more translation-oriented than proficiency test-oriented. Never in my Yonsei academic career have I been required to translate Korean into English for tests. This test RELIED on translations. However, as students go, I'm not a bad translator, so my guess is that I'll probably get a 10/16 or so.

    The trouble is, it was a HIGHLY subjective test. I mean, the grader could say "he has the best written Korean I've ever seen from a foreigner" and give me straight 4/4's on the essays. Or she could be a 33-year-old disgruntled Korean-American woman with a sourpuss expression on her face who exclaims "DAMBAE DOES NOT MEAN 'TOBACCO/CIGARETTES.' IT JUST MEANS CIGARETTES. WHITE PEOPLE CANNOT LEARN PROPER KOREAN." and dock me an entire credit hour. So I really don't know how it'll turn out.

    Another variable is how professional the translations need to be. Am I being graded as just a Korean language student, or as a professional translations candidate in a translator training program? I'm not really sure. So that could easily add or subtract a great deal to/from my score.

    So in summary, I'm not sure how I did, but since I was fairly confident I was doing *something* right on 3/4 of the test, I should be all right. I only need 10/16.

    Now I'm going to watch "Fatal Attraction," a movie I've never seen before, and drink up, because I just finished a shitload of testing. I refuse to do anything else productive today.

    April 28, 2009: UPDATE 2
    Ah, the satisfying feeling of inching 5% closer to my associate's degree that will let me teach in Taiwan for megabucks! :-)

    I just passed the Western Civ II CLEP test with a score of 68/80. Though I passed by an 18-point margin, it *seemed* really tough. I'm glad I read an entire CLEP study guide and over 200 pages in a Western Civ (1648 to present) textbook. Both those things were good preparation.

    This afternoon, I am taking the NYU Korean test. I'm dreading it. I think it's going to be tough, based on Yim Bang-Wool looking over the materials and telling me it's going to be tough.

    Theoretically, if I ace this afternoon's test, I'll grab 19 credit hours total in ONE DAY. I am scheduled to take the Social Sciences and History CLEP next week, worth 6 credit hours, and then plan to take the C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I accreditation test soon after that. So in other words, I'll get roughly a YEAR'S worth of college credit in just two weeks. I love how this works, and I wish I'd discovered this testing stuff earlier!

    April 28, 2009
    If I do say so myself, I have accomplished a lot today!

  • I read 130 pages in a history textbook, part of my preparation for the Western Civ II CLEP test I'm taking tomorrow morning.
  • I went to class at Yonsei.
  • I finished a Japanese assignment.
  • I completed all the necessary posts for Web Page Design.
  • I completed the Forms assignment for Web Page Design.
  • I reviewed roughly 300 words for the NYU Korean test I'm taking tomorrow. I still know over 90% of them despite the fact that about half of them were crammed hastily the day before yesterday.

    So in other words, tomorrow I have two different tests, a CLEP and the NYU Korean test. If I pass the CLEP and get a perfect score on the NYU Korean test, that will be 19 CREDIT HOURS IN ONE DAY. I'm not kidding, that's more than a semester's worth of credit determined by one day of testing.

    I think I'll do fine on the CLEP test. I'm less certain about the NYU Korean test. I'd initially assumed it'd be easy, but Yim Bang-Wool has looked at it and warned me that it doesn't look easy. So I'm kind of picturing this extremely difficult test made by some angry Korean-American woman in an office somewhere. Not something to look forward to. Still, for maximum credit reclamation, I only need a score of 10/16, assuming I pass all my CLEPs.

    The only advantage of getting a score higher than 10/16, realistically, would be the possibility of majoring in Area Studies: East Asia in addition to IT like I'm already trying to major in. I would need a perfect score to pull this off. A 15/16 is not sufficient. Besides, a degree in Area Studies: East Asia wouldn't be that useful, frankly, since I already have plenty of qualifications related to East Asia that more than compensate for having a degree in Area Studies: East Asia. So I shouldn't stress, and should just take the damn test and try to get the best score I can.

    If I get ready for bed soon, I'll get seven hours of sleep — ample. So maybe I'd better do that now.

    April 26, 2009: UPDATE 2
    Today, in addition to taking the KLPT, I got a Hanu Beef inflatable novelty sledgehammer from a girl on the subway.

    I think I did well on the KLPT. Many words that I'd studied came out on the test, and I may have gotten a Level 5. We'll just have to wait and see. :-) All I can say is, that test was A LOT easier than it was when I took it two years ago with only half the vocabulary.

    My KLPT Exam Pass
    April 26, 2009
    Today is the KLPT. It comes but twice a year!

    I actually feel basically fully prepared. I had decided to prepare only LIGHTLY, as previously specified (just learn my Level 7 newspaper words), and I succeeded in that goal. Last night, I crammed about 150 words. I tested myself this morning and I am still retaining about 97% of my Level 7 newspaper words (only about 300, but man are some of them useful). I'd like to listen to Korean radio or watch a Korean TV station for about 30 minutes to get my ear in tune, but there's really nothing else left to do that I'd planned to do.

    This is not to say I'll do well on the test. Testing at a Level 5 (my goal) requires 8,000 words, generally, and I don't know if my vocabulary is that big. If I had to guess, I'd say my vocabulary is more like 5000~6000 words.

    If I get a Level 5, I will be ecstatic because that will mean entrance to basically any Korean university whatsoever, without having to take Korean classes in the first semester. Not that I actually want to do this, it's just a personal goal. I could already enter university here, but my selection would be limited because fewer places accept the Yonsei graduation certificate than accept the KLPT.

    I am almost 100% sure I can manage a Level 4, because two years ago, I got a Level 3, and I sure as hell hope I've improved a bit since then. Level 4 would mean probationary entrance to a university in Korea (allowed to take regular courses, but also being required to take a Korean course alongside a limited load of normal courses). However, Level 5, advanced Korean, is my goal.

    Actually, many students get a Level 5 in a much shorter time frame than me. I bet quite a few Chinese students and Japanese students and even some Russians get Level 5 after one or two years of intensive study, but let's face it, I wasn't really applying myself that hard after the first year in Korea, because I realized I wasn't going to live here forever and that there were greener pastures in basically any other Asian country.

    Why does today's test matter, since I don't even want to continue living in Korea? Well, it really doesn't matter that much. I can think of the following benefits if I do well, though:

    1. Upgrade that Level 3 currently on my resume, which is way out-of-date.
    2. Possibly use the score to secure a better job in Japan (or maybe even Taiwan). I'm thinking along the lines of a Korean international school that pays better than a regular eikaiwa. Or maybe working at a small foreign trade company who can kill two birds with one stone and get an employee that speaks both English AND Korean.
    3. Although I want to leave Korea, there are Korean universities abroad. There's a place called Korea University (not affiliated with the Seoul Korea University) in Tokyo, for instance, run by Jocheongryeon. Who knows, I might take a regular class or two at a Korean university in a foreign country just for the novelty of it.
    4. The psychological benefit of knowing I tested "advanced" on a standardized test.

    So you see, it's not a waste to take this test. Well, I should get ready now.

    April 25, 2009
    I just discovered a shortcut to my associate's degree that I hadn't considered previously.

    Rather than labor really hard at the extremely difficult Win32 C++ programming course and try to finish it by the beginning of May, I'm going to take my time on it and get my credits from the Social Sciences and History CLEP instead. This CLEP is worth a mighty 6 credit hours, yet costs the same as an ordinary CLEP! I intend to take it instead of the American History II CLEP. This will save me effort because I will not need to rush to complete the C++ Win32 programming (I can take that at my leisure), and I won't need to study later American history in the same depth I otherwise would have. It costs the same as an ordinary 3-credit-hour CLEP, so it's no more expensive. I bought the practice exam for it from the CollegeBoard Web site and got a 78% on it (more than enough to pass). So if I do that, it'll save effort in this time of strenuous academic activity. Because I'm generally concerned that trying to rush C++ Win32 programming would cause me to fail it — it's an extremely difficult course that honestly should be higher level.

    I can only worry about what I'm going to do today, tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday. To think farther ahead than that is a waste of time.

    My Plan:

  • Today: Cram all the Korean words I learned last term from newspaper articles and spend two hours listening to Korean stuff to get my ear in shape for the KLPT tomorrow. I estimate this will take about five hours, in all. Read 100 pages of CLEP preparatory material for Western Civ II.
  • Tomorrow: Prior to the KLPT, listen to 30 minutes of Korean TV and review vocabulary for 30 minutes to reassure myself that I am current. After taking the test, do 100 pages of Western Civ II material.
  • Monday:Do 100 more pages of CLEP Western Civ II material.
  • Tuesday Morning: Read and summarize the last 61 pages of CLEP Western Civ II material, and re-read the study guide I've been working on. Take that test.

    April 23, 2009: UPDATE 2
    Great news! I called the Yongsan Base testing center and pleaded my desperate case, and they're going to make a special exception and escort me onto the base! YES!!!

    I think that once they see that I'm a normal, decent person, the option to have further escorts there will be a possibility. So this may take care of all my CLEP problems.

    As for other news, GeoCities is shutting down! That's where my site is hosted! After probably over a decade of world-famous service, GeoCities will be no more! This happens later this year. So expect my site to change locations. I will make sure to back it up regularly. Where should I have it hosted next? Perhaps on my own computer, so I don't have to pay for service?

    April 23, 2009
    Well, the trouble is, I have these CLEP tests I need to take, and without them, I probably won't graduate. I can register to take them in Korea, but actually appearing at the building where they are administered is a totally different ball of wax because it seems nearly impossible for a US civilian to enter a military base for three hours. It's not enough to just have a friend in the military — he has to be able to escort you for the full three hours! One of my military friends can do this, but only for one test. What about the other two?

    If NYU were moving faster getting me the Korean test, I wouldn't need to worry, but they are dragging their feet. They are supposed to FedEx it back to me, but so far, I see no charge on my credit card. I contacted them and asked if they could do it immediately and send me an e-mail afterward, but no e-mail came. Lazy bastards. I pay them a $420 testing fee and they don't even want to lift a finger. Typical of academia.

    So I'm actually considering flying to Tokyo to take these. It's going to be ridiculously expensive. I figure it'll be a minimum of $500 beyond what I'd pay if I'd take them in Korea. The plane ticket is about $200, the tests have a ridiculous $121 proctor fee (11,970 yen), each, and all this adds up to $442. Then, I'll need lodging — another $45, probably, assuming I find a youth hostel. Factor in cheap food and transportation, and we're talking about exceeding $500 of what I'd pay if I could take them in Korea. This is getting ridiculous.

    Since my Korean test probably won't come through for me (because NYU is so lazy), I have to rely on CLEP, unfortunately. So I may just have to grit my teeth and spend $500 extra.

    Fortunately, if I take them in Japan, it won't interfere with my student visa, since I can leave on Friday night, take the tests on Saturday, and come back on Sunday night. So it's just a money issue.

    So I can shell out $500 extra and pretty much guarantee my graduation, which will mean $1,300 extra a month once I start working (if that day ever comes). However, it's a huge investment right now.

    A Photo of the Kimchi Jjigae I Made Prior to the Incident
    April 21, 2009
    What a rude son of a bitch!

    It's extremely seldom that someone pisses me off without raising his or her voice to me, or even saying a single aggressive thing to me, but just now was one of those rare occasions.

    Basically, I made this kimchi jjigae, complete with optional tofu chunks, and I was really looking forward to eating the whole thing (except for a little bit which I offered to Hwangdae, but he declined because he has a dinner appointment with someone). Then, as I was eating on my own, this guy (not sure if he is Chinese or Korean) came into the kitchen.

    "Is there any remaining?" he asked.

    I said "Sure, help yourself."

    He proceeded to take several ladle-fulls, giving himself PLENTY of my kimchi jjigae. I was a bit concerned that he'd eat it all.

    "Can I eat it all?" he asked.

    "Well, I'm going to eat some later," I said.

    Then, get this — he just took his gigantic bowl full of the kimchi jjigae I'd labored hard to make, and went back to his room and ate it! What the fuck! So you take a whole bunch of someone's home-cooked food, ask "Can I eat it all?" and then you just go off to your room, like I'm just a free restaurant? What the fuck, I'm not your fucking welfare service!

    You see, in my opinion, which I believe is shared by both Americans and Koreans, if someone gives you food (especially if you take more than 50% of the amount in the pot like he did), you're supposed to sit down and socialize with the person who offered it to you! The chef doesn't OWE you food. He lets you have some to be friendly. Just carrying it off sends a "fuck you, I got what I wanted, I'm out of here" message.

    And then, get this — as I was washing my dishes, he inched up to me like I was in his way, and washed his own dishes under the same water! He didn't even wait his turn!

    Needless to say, I'm never giving food to that ungrateful jerk again.

    April 20, 2009
    Well, I moved out of the Sky Goshitel and into the Yonsei Goshitel.

    My initial assessment is that this goshiwon is cheaper by 40,000 won per month for a reason. It's a dingy dive for Chinese students from Shandong. Many of the signs in the goshiwon are written in Chinese. It's just a little bit dirtier than the Sky Goshitel. The shower stalls are smaller. Cooking oil is not free. My television is older and can't be used with headphones like the one at the Sky Goshitel.

    Normally, I could justify this by saying "well, the price is cheaper." The thing is, as I was moving out, the chongmu informed me that she could knock down their price to 200,000 won a month, as well. Which would have meant I could have stayed in a goshiwon I otherwise like, and just pay 200,000 won a month. Unfortunately, at that point, Hwangdae had already moved to the new place and I had already paid my money. So unless I really hate this place, I'm staying for the next two months, although I kind of regret coming here.

    I should use part of the 80,000 won I saved by moving here to "treat myself." Maybe get a new video game system or something.

    I moved all the stuff in, tidied it up somewhat, and I'm back at 95% capacity. I've become a master of moving into a new place quickly. I walked over 22,000 steps today. I am definitely losing weight. This is good.

    April 18, 2009
    I spent all of today rushing around from place to place trying frantically to get the forms sent to NYU for my NYU Korean language test (a ridiculously overpriced $420 that may allow me to claim up to 16 college credits). FedEx sucks. Despite its reputation for getting things places fast, that's bullshit. After being misdirected on their website to their Yongsan branch (which is INSIDE a military base, meaning 99% of people in Korea can't access it, not mentioned on their website), I went to their Hongdae branch, arriving in the afternoon. They informed me that the fastest option was a Wednesday arrival. Excuse me, FEDEX and you can only guarantee that the package arrives in four days? I mean, isn't FedEx supposed to work faster than that?

    So long story short, I'm really starting to doubt that I'll be able to take the NYU test and get my credit by May 22 (and get the transcript sent to Excelsior College by then).

    This will not NECESSARILY sink my Taiwan plans (and who knows, if all else fails, the NYU test might come through in time), but it deals a mighty, 16-credit hour blow presuming it doesn't make it to Excelsior's office in time for the cutoff date.

    So here's my alternate plan. I need 23 official, recognized credits to finish my associate's degree, and I can't count on the NYU test, so how do I get them? Even if I add up CLEPs that I'm about to take, my current NOVA courses, and the upcoming C++ accreditation exam, that's still only 21 credit hours. So what do I do? The answer may be to finish C++ Module II as quickly as possible and pass that test as well. That would give me 25 credit hours -- just enough to pass, in theory. Or I could find another CLEP category that I know something about (although I think I'm running out of CLEP subjects about which I have significant knowledge).

    I'm going to have to think hard about this. I would have to finish C++ Module II in just 20 days for that to work, or study my ass off for an extra CLEP test. Time to come up with a plan.

    Oh, and I think I can get passes to enter the US military base at Yongsan just by going near the USO building and showing my passport. That's what all the gate guards said. I may not need Sergeant Carlino to let me in after all, but I'm not sure yet, so Rick, please make sure to keep your May 2 appointment unless notified otherwise!

    April 17, 2009: UPDATE 2

    That's right, I previously thought civilians were barred from taking the CLEP tests on-base, but we're not! All I need to do is get a military friend to let me in, and I can take the tests on-base. Meaning I don't have to make a $500+ trip to Japan. Awesome.

    So here's my intended schedule:

  • Take Western Civ II next week.
  • Take American History (I & II) the week after that.
  • If I get absolutely screwed by NYU (I have no indication that they will screw me, so this is probably as just-in-case scenario), I can take another CLEP test in the beginning of May.

    All these things combined with my current NOVA courses and the GI C++ test would allow me to get my AA WITHOUT Korean. However, if I pass the Korean test at the highest level and get 16 credits, that would be great too. The key here is to build myself a nice, big safety net.

    April 17, 2009
    Since I've now decided to move to Taiwan, not China, here's my time line:

    1. Finish up all my proficiency tests, classes, etc. and get everything on to transcripts by May 8, 2009. Then send them all to Excelsior College.
    2. As long as I get enough courses sent in to Excelsior College by May 22 (as in, the materials must be in their office by then), I'll get my degree on the July 17 degree conferral.
    3. While waiting for my degree, take a flight from Seoul to Taiwan on June 20.
    4. Once in Taiwan, go ahead and find a job (it isn't illegal until they pay you, hehe) — I hope to have found one by July 20, but hopefully earlier. I intend to sign a one-year contract.
    5. My degree is conferred on July 17. I'm going to estimate that I'll have it within 10 days. At that point, I'll be ready for a visa run. I'm going to estimate this will take place around August 15, because it'll probably take my workplace a while to get their stuff together and get all the stuff running through the immigration office.
    6. After one year of contract work (July 20, 2010), I will be finished with my time in Taiwan, and can do something else for the remaining 3+ months prior to entering Japan to work before my 24th birthday on October 24, 2010.

    So here's a quick summary:

    1. May 8: All classes and exams for my AA degree will be finished and sent to Excelsior College by this day.
    2. May 22: I'd better pray to all I consider holy that all my relevant transcripts have reached Excelsior by this date, otherwise I'll miss the cutoff and will have to wait Gods-knows-how-long to get my AA degree.
    3. June 20: I leave for Taiwan.
    4. July 17: My degree conferral date
    5. July 20: I hope to have found a job and signed a contract by this date, hopefully earlier.
    6. August 15: Estimated date of visa run to a neighboring country
    7. July 20, 2010: Estimated finishing date for my one-year contract

    Now, the dangerous part is the May 22 deadline. I will have finished all my courses by then, but who knows if my instructors will actually release the grades then? It could take weeks, or even months, for the lazy professors to input the grades. It's happened before. So I'm really worried about that. They could have them all in the grade book by May 5, or they could procrastinate and it could be June 5. Because of this, I'm worried, and am considering making a quick run to Japan early next month to take CLEP exams at Temple University, as an insurance policy in case my professors are slow to release the grades. This would still allow me to get my associate's degree on-time.

    So basically, this is the dilemma — do I pay $500+ for a visa run to Japan, which absolutely ensures my AA degree coming out in July, or do I risk it, not go, and hope for the best? If I risk it, I could end up ineligible to teach in Taiwan, which would mean up to $10,000 in losses because I'd have to settle for teaching in a poorer country. Think about it. I think I should just suck it up and make a quick flight to Japan, but I'm going to wait a few days to see how things pan out.

    April 16, 2009: UPDATE 3
    Okay, I caved and gave her a 5,000 won box of donuts from Dunkin' Donuts with a note attached saying something to the effect of (in Korean): "Sorry for being mean this afternoon. Even though I have paid my gyeyakgeum (promise money) at another goshiwon, no matter how short the time is that remains here, we shouldn't be on bad terms, right? If I leave on bad terms, we will forever have wounds on our hearts (this sentimental stuff is completely normal in Korean, it may sound weird in English, but isn't that weird in Korean). So receive this present that says 'sorry for making you cry.'"

    I put it on the desk in front of her and walked off without a word, I figured the card I wrote up would do it better than I could.

    Now that's off my conscience. We're now even, as far as I'm concerned. None of my assholic 7-Eleven customers ever did THAT for me.

    April 16, 2009: UPDATE 2
    Well, I feel kind of bad, like I'm a bad guy. I just passed the lobby and saw the chongmu crying. I think it's because of how I chewed her out earlier.

    I really gave her a piece of my mind earlier. When she accused me of leaving that bowl in the sink for her to wash (which was not true, it had batter stuck all over it and I was waiting for it to soak), I told her I was just soaking it. She said "it looks like you weren't soaking it" and I got angry, because she CONSTANTLY scolds me, and said something to the effect of "Are you calling me a liar? I am so sick of you constantly scolding me every day. You're three years younger than me, and I'm your elder, but I don't think you respect me at all. I do the dishes almost all the time, and yet you say I leave them for you to do every day. I'm sick of your attitude. If you don't like working here, why don't you quit? If I hear you complain to me one more time, I'm letting the owner know."

    Yeah, I was that pissed off, I said all those things to her. I feel like what I said was pretty mean, but quite frankly, when I used to work in service jobs like 7-Eleven, I _NEVER_ scolded customers like she did, or with the frequency she does. Seriously, if I'd scolded people who spilled coffee on the counter more than once, or left their cream containers on the counter, or even shoplifted, I would have gotten a fist in the face.

    So on one hand, I feel like a bad guy for having said such mean things to her. On the other hand, when I was 19 years old, I got chewed out in the same fashion for much less, and had she scolded me less (or even scolded other people in addition to me, since I never saw her scold anyone else) and not made me feel singled out, she wouldn't have had to hear any of that.

    So on one hand, part of me wants to buy her a small gift, attach a card to it, and say "sorry about earlier, I was a bit harsh." However, the other half of me says "no, with her repetitive nagging, she deserves it -- this is Korean society and when young people are rude to older people, they deserve to be told off." Before I saw her crying in the office, my thoughts were nearly 100% the latter, but now I'm starting to wonder if I was a bit too cruel.

    Anyways, I've gone ahead and found a place to live at another goshiwon that is cheaper. She'll recover, and if she keeps on scolding tenants like she scolded me, I'm sure they'll tell her off too, in a worse way than I did. Still, I don't know if I can bear the image of her crying in the office knowing I just callously said "whatever, cry all you like." When someone I'm in conflict with starts crying, I melt. I remember in 8th grade when Jason Li stole my TI-83 graphing calculator and I got him in huge trouble, and he started bawling his eyes out. Even though I hated his guts, I couldn't help but feel a little bit sorry, even though it was clearly his fault since he'd stolen my expensive graphing calculator. So whenever someone starts crying, my resolve automatically weakens. What should I do?

    April 16, 2009
    Today is a day of REVOLUTION!

    Today I am taking two things that annoy me or piss me off and THROWING THEM AWAY!

    The first one is the American TESOL Institute. Without asking me, they simply changed the training center to Shenzhen -- THE OTHER SIDE OF CHINA. And more importantly, they changed the dates on me, so I would have to enter China AFTER my Korean visa had expired. So where do I go in the meantime? Oh, and how am I supposed to work legally in Shenzhen, anyway, when a degree is an absolute requirement in Shenzhen and I don't have one? Fuck that! They claim they're going to give me a refund.

    The other thing is my living situation. The chongmu complains just too much. Today I had enough -- she complained that I was leaving dishes in the sink (something I almost never do) and I just blew up at her. Me and Hwangdae decided we are going to MOVE! Hwangdae was already pissed off about the place. Yes, we found a place that is 40,000 won a month cheaper! So I save money AND get rid of the troublesome chongmu. The roof is so big, I can run laps on it!

    So without American TESOL Institute, where will I go? I'M SICK OF TRYING TO FIND A JOB IN CHINA. FUCK FINDING A JOB IN THAT MONSTROSITY. I am going to go to Taiwan!

    So today, I decided to withdraw from the American TESOL Institute, change which roof is over my head, and NOT go to mainland China, but instead Taiwan! Today is a day of REVOLUTION!

    This is Muak, a location from Hwangdae's and my possible ghost sighting.
    April 14, 2009
    I do not mean this as a joke. I really believe it is possible that I have seen a ghost. Hwangdae was with me and he saw it too, and agrees there is a definite possibility.

    Read this account of the incident that I wrote, and think deeply about it.

    Copyright (C) 2009 Charles Wetzel. All rights reserved.