June 18, 2009

Yeah, it's been three years since I left home. However, since the plane took a while, I didn't reach Korea until three years ago tomorrow. So I'll put up a separate post for that.

Just a little while ago, I finished Civilization (the old DOS strategy game where you build one) on Emperor mode, the highest difficulty level! YES!!! This is the first time ever!

Oh, and now three different people want to do phone tutoring with me while I'm in Taiwan (these people are in Korea and I haven't started doing the private lessons yet, so there is no legal issue). I guess things are going pretty well — as long as I keep up with my packing and various forms of preparation.

June 15, 2009
Good news. Even though I'm way behind on my stuff, I just got two students who want to do phone tutoring with me. They say it's okay that I'll be in Taiwan, it doesn't matter to them. I've known one of these people for three years, so I can trust her to pay me when I'm in Korea on vacation, and the other friend will give the money to her.

This is illegal right? Wrong. There's nothing illegal about doing private lessons for Koreans FROM OUTSIDE KOREA. :-)

So as long as I do a good job teaching them, I'll have a nice little income stream that can travel with me to Taiwan, Ireland, Japan, hell, even Antarctica!

I'm going to do as good a job as possible. If they like my services and recommend me to other people, I could seriously make my whole income off of this. They were astounded when I offered the low rate of 15,000 won. She thought it was on the low side! Well, that's about $12 an hour for a job that I can bring with me anywhere on earth, and there's no travel time because I do it with my computer! Hah!

June 12, 2009: UPDATE 2
I just found out some bad news.

If I choose to continue to a Bachelor's of Science in Information Technology, due to a certain college regulation at Excelsior, I will not realistically be able to graduate until 2011. The reason for this is that ITA 495, a portfolio compilation course, cannot be taken until ALL my other relevant courses are completed. This means that it takes up an entire semester of its own, and I would have to shoehorn at least 34 credit hours into two semesters before taking the course — highly unrealistic, because 34 credits is a best-case scenario (17 per term), and I'LL BE WORKING FULL-TIME IN TAIWAN. Oh, and if I did that, all the most expensive courses, I would have to take immediately, which would completely break the tiny bank I still have left. So in other words, I'm faced with the following two choices:

  1. Wait until 2011 to finish my BS in Information Technology.
  2. Settle for a generic BS without a major.
I simply do not consider graduating in 2011 a viable option. I've waited long enough. I'M GETTING MY BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN 2010, NOT 2011.

So in other words, my degree is going to be a generic Bachelor's of Science without a major.

Now, the Bachelor's of Science is extremely liberal — I can take basically whatever I want as long as I have at least 30 upper-level credits and 120 credits overall. This leads to the danger that I might try to test out of everything and learn nothing of importance in order to save money and time, and I don't want that. I want my bachelor's degree to show that I learned things that I wanted to learn, not just be a mere piece of paper, and I want to keep my option open to major in Information Technology later, after getting my first BS.

Therefore, here is a little compromise I've come up with. I've calculated that if I can finish my degree in $5,000 (in addition to the tens of thousands I've already spent), I can graduate out of debt. So my goal is to get the best education I can for $5,000. Here is my goal of what I want to accomplish with this $5,000:

  • Courses that deviate as little as possible from the IT degree. Preferably, getting the IT degree would not require more than 21 credit hours of additional courses.
  • Pick the most interesting and relevant DANTES tests to get upper-level credit at a reasonable price. For example, skip lame DANTES tests like Principles of Finance in favor of interesting ones like Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union.
  • Use my remaining lower level credit allowance to take a CLEP test in Introduction to Educational Psychology, which will force me to study something that is directly relevant to the work I'm doing (they will reinforce each other).

    In conclusion, I think I can still get a rewarding degree and keep the option open to upgrade to a BS in IT in the future if I really want it with only one full-time semester and one part-time semester of work. I can still graduate on-time. It'll be nice and cheap this way because I'll be taking plenty of cheap DANTES tests that are simply one of the cheapest sources of upper-level credit on the planet. I won't let this setback destroy me.

    June 12, 2009
    Sorry I haven't updated my Korea site in more than a week! Actually there's been quite a bit of news, but I've mainly been updating my (currently secret) Taiwan site.

    Yesterday, I did my last-ever class at Yonsei University Korean Language Institute. It was really ordinary. Nothing special. No class party. No one wanted to come, so none ever happened. This term, we had the worst group cohesion of any Korean class I've ever had. The Chinese stuck to themselves, the timid Japanese women stuck to themselves, and I kind of disliked both groups. I wasn't a big fan of our teacher, either. She wasn't horrible and I don't dislike her, it's just she wasn't like Teacher Jeon.

    My score for the course was a 79, down 1% from last semester's Level 7 course. Oh well. At least I didn't fail in my last semester at Yonsei.

    So there you go, I did an even two years' of study in South Korea. Now I'm moving to Taiwan.

    My temporary girlfriend, Suyeon, still doesn't know. I still need to tell her. I hope she won't react badly.

    I bought my plane ticket for Taiwan. I paid for it with 370,000 won in cash.

    I also got 22 more pages for my passport. So in other words, I've been making significant strides towards the Taiwan endeavor. My Letter of Qualification from Excelsior College has arrived here in Korea. In just eight days, I get on a plane and start the next chapter in my life.

    I will come back to Korea, but probably not to live here. I will come back for cheap merchandise at Dongmyo Ap Market, to visit friends, to take the Hanja Neungnyeok Geomjeong Shiheom (Hanja Proficiency Inspection Test), and to do the last tourist things I never did (visit Panmunjeom, Jeju-do, and eat dog soup).

    The last two days in Korea, I won't have a dwelling. I'll need to stay with Mijung or someplace like that.

    Things I still need to do:

  • Sell or get rid of all things that can't be carried in one checked bag and two carry-ons.
  • Take my Computer Architecture test.
  • Take my UNIX test.
  • Get a two-month tourist visa for Taiwan (better than the 30 days Americans get there without a visa).
  • Apply for the TaLK Program in Korea in case I fail to find a job in Taiwan.
  • Interview my replacement for a certain thing I don't want to talk about on my website.
  • Tell everyone who needs to know that I'm leaving.
  • Make a trip to the guesthouse to meet Mijung and Minsu for one last night out (and maybe Bongdo, as well) and also pick up my mail and the clothes Minsu left for me.
  • Get a haircut at my favorite barber shop and get extensive photos so the new Taiwanese barber will know how to cut my hair.

    June 4, 2009
    Well, I just got my test scores back for Level 7 (the second time through) — 77.75%. Okay, so I passed. Great. I studied almost nothing, so no big surprise that the scores aren't great, but at least my last semester wasn't on a failing note, so that's nice.

    No need to congratulate me or anything like that, I already took the exact same level last term and got an 80% then. I don't really care about my Level 7 scores that much (especially since I already passed), although it would have been a slight shame had I failed my last semester at Yonsei. And I didn't. So great. That's about all I have to say.

    Oh, and our teacher WAS NOT lenient towards that quiet Japanese women who never say anything on the speaking tests. Akiko got a 60%. I got an 88% because I talk plenty. That's almost an A.

    June 2, 2009
    As much as I miss Yuri and wish we could be together again, I realize that it's just not logical. I don't particularly like living in Korea. Even if we reconciled, I apologized for dumping her without giving her more than a 16-hour chance, etc, the fact would remain that I dislike this country and want to leave it. She could never realize her goal to become a police officer in the US or any other country — even if she learned to speak English fluently, I doubt anyone in the US would ever hire a person to be cop who was only five feet tall. So logically, one of us would have to put up with a sub-ideal reality, and therefore, I'm not going to try to win her back. I feel bad about the breakup, I think she is a quality woman, etc. but what's done is done in this case. Logic overrides.

    So here is my KOREA EXIT STRATEGY:

    1. By on on June 7: give two weeks' notice to all important parties that I'm leaving this place.
    2. By or on June 14: have sold every possession that is nonessential and that I can get money for, realistically (like my bike, my folding bed, perhaps my old Pentium III, etc).
    3. By or on June 20 (my last day living in the ROK): have thrown away or given away all nonessential things that I couldn't sell, have taken the first proctored exam for my class which is called "Computer Architecture." I also hope to have procured my letter of qualification for my associate's degree by this date (this should just mean a simple phone call to Excelsior College, since I already have my letter). I should also have procured my tourist visa for Taiwan, bought my plane ticket, and packed my bags.
    Someday I will settle in a place that will be my home for many, many years. I hope it's Japan, but I can't really say until I've lived there. Being an international nomad is an interesting life, but it makes long-term relationships basically impossible. I hope to put my roots down by my mid-20s.

    June 1, 2009
    After breaking up with Yuri last night, I went to meet Suyeong, the embedded systems programmer girl from Sangmyeong University, and we had Cass beer on the roof of a school building, along with Korean popcorn (bbeongtwigi, the authentic stuff, not the fake stuff) and small sausages. It was a good time and helped get my mind off Yuri. Suyeong showed me her research room at the university, in which they have constructed this gigantic LCD monitor by hooking up sixteen large LCD displays in a 4x4 square, controlled by eight PCs. And then, while we were chatting, she told me that Bona, our mutual friend whom I've known for about two and a half years, cannot ride a bike without training wheels! Then we decided to call Bona (who is in Japan right now), and Bona asked Suyeong if she'd asked to meet me specifically because I'd broken up with Yuri, and actually the answer was "no," because we'd planned to meet on friendly terms anyway even when I had no idea I was going to break up with Yuri. And then after that, I headed down to Shillim, went to a disco for middle-aged people, met up with Suyeon (not to be confused with Suyeong), a 40-year-old fresh produce saleswoman, and we went bowling with her friend at about 2:00 AM. Then we had kimchijeon (like pajeon) and makgeolli and chatted about things, and at some point, Suyeon's friend, who called herself King 언니 (King Eonni) decided to change her nickname to Queen Eonni because she had previously been unaware that "King" only referred to men. Anyways, we all totally sucked at bowling. I beat Queen Eonni (Seongheui) by one point, but we all got terrible scores. Still, it was fun. Woke up this morning quite hung over in a motel in Shillim-dong.

    I don't know what to think today. I feel sorry towards Yuri for breaking up with her and not giving her more of a chance. I mean, I was pretty kind when I broke up with her, but I still feel like she hates me. She has said nothing to me since saying "Okay." when I said "Let's break up." I'm not trying to be a bad guy here. She was not the worst girlfriend I ever had. I suspect part of the reason she was so offended is that she actually did make romantic gestures quite a bit, just that they were small gifts placed in a bag on my doorknob as an almost utter replacement for anything physical during the last two weeks. Actually, that's not even why I broke up with her (at least she had some level of thoughtfulness, something many of my girlfriends can't say). I mainly broke up with her because when I wanted to talk to her in a civil fashion on Saturday night, she was ridiculously belligerent and then was ridiculously belligerent again the next day. She could have averted being dumped if she'd been willing to discuss the issue like a reasonable human being on either Saturday or Sunday. Anyways, I'm not sure whether I should just completely avoid her, or whether I should put a bag on her doorknob with her favorite candy (Snickers Bars) and a note that says "I hope we can get along, I still respect you." If I do this, it might just make things worse by making it harder for her to recover (it's easier to put a former boyfriend/girlfriend out of one's mind if he/she has become an enemy than if he/she says "let's be friends"). I don't know, personally I think I was already pretty nice in my three post-breakup text messages, and she didn't respond, so it's pretty clear where she stands.

    On the other hand, (in fact the last few days) have been good for the following reasons:

  • The specialist at Excelsior College has officially approved me for graduation with an Associate of Arts, and my official Degree Completion Date was marked as May 29, 2009. This is much more definite than just having my guidance counselor approve me for graduation — now that the specialist has checked it off, I don't think there will be any further review, I just need to wait for the diploma to be officially conferred on July 17.
  • I am now a Top 10 contributor on Yahoo! Answers (Korea forum), to the best of my knowledge. And my number of "Best Answers" are over 50%. That's pretty good. Most people don't have percentages that high.

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