Old News

Yonsei's Indoor Pool on the Second Floor (taken with my digital camera and my new SD card)
August 7, 2007: UPDATE 2
Well, Junhyeong cancelled (but let me know in advance). So I decided to head over to the pool and see what it's like. However, it turns out that they cannot accept cash, and I must buy a 2,500 won pass from the Korean Language Institute. That errand would have taken 40 minutes, and the pool would have been almost closed by then. I'll go another time. For other foreign students, know the following:
The pool is open from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM.
You can buy a pass at the KLI for 2,500 won. They don't accept cash.

A Park (Shenyang)

A Bicycle Parked Next to a Live Chicken (Shenyang)

This is art, and I'm mad that it didn't come out very well. Someone or something completely ripped this chicken limb-from-limb in the bloodiest, most gruesome fashion, then scattered a deck of playing cards all over the bloody chicken parts! This is gothic art at its finest! (Dalian)

This is Dalian Airport. Not realizing that Dalian Airport is not a 24-hour airport, I fell asleep on a bench. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and realized that I'd been locked in the airport! I wandered around for several hours, curiously observing what a Chinese airport is like at night. I saw workers sleeping on tables, etc. It was pretty cool. (Dalian)

August 7, 2007
Well, there isn't much to report. I was looking through my China trip pictures and decided to post four more. This brings the total China pictures to 24. There's really nothing else worth seeing, so don't count on anymore until I actually move there.

Today, I'm meeting Junhyeong at 3:00 PM and then I'm taking a very extensive Korean test from 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM for University of Maryland research.

Our CELTA Class on the Last Day (taken on Andrew's camera by a mystery person)
August 6, 2007
Well, if everything continues to work out, I think I'll be fine. I took the online SDV 100 exam. As my faithful readers are aware, I've been trying to take an online NOVA test for the longest time, and due to numerous technological glitches, I have gone to the KLI to have the exam proctored by Yim Bang-wool a gazillion times, only to have a new technological error surface each time.

Finally, last night, I borrowed Paul's laptop and was determined to try logging into the test through wireless at the KLI. I went there and finally got it all set up -- using NESPOT, you can get the internet, but it's 3,300 won an hour. The KLI has free wireless, but they don't have any information on it, and the guy who runs it is on leave.

However, just when I'd gone to the trouble of borrowing Paul's laptop and getting the stuff set up, I realized that NOVA has removed the block on Yonsei. So basically, I just logged onto a regular Yonsei computer and took the test, the way I'd originally intended.

I don't know if it went through or not, and I don't know how well I did (I have a hunch I did all right). Until I see a grade, I can't be sure it worked, but I think it did.

Also, my Pentium III with Windows XP started working again, THANK GOD. I have no clue why it started working again -- it just did. The good news is that most of my files seem to be intact, so I can back them up now, in case this is the last time it ever chooses to boot up. If it continues to function correctly, I won't have to turn to that SHITTY Linux distribution (Damn Small Linux).

I bought a new USB drive and SD memory card today, as well, so it looks like I can start posting pictures that I'VE taken again, instead of using the pictures of other people. My new SD memory card is 512 megs, and cost 7,800 won. This is in contrast to the old one, which was 128 megs and cost more.

I want to work on the format for the news page of this website. I don't like the current format for the following reason:
Every time I post a text-only news article, it blocks out the pretty picture from the previous article. For example, that beautiful, National Geographic-quality photo of the frog on the lily was only up there for a day before being displaced. Therefore, pretty soon, I'm going to implement a two-column system in which one column holds pictures and the other news items. That way, if my last cool picture was 10 days ago, and I have made news updates every day, you'll still be able to see the picture the moment you log into the site. You'll see what I mean.

August 5, 2007
I'm mildly pissed. I missed the TOPIK (Korean Proficiency Test) registration deadline. You have to register by 7/31 for the 9/16 test. Isn't that retarded?

Oh well, it's no huge deal. I can probably still pass the KLPT with a Level 4. Even if I don't, I'll have two years in Yanbian to pass it, during which my Korean will hopefully improve. Since I don't see going to college in Korea to be a realistically attainable goal (for the near future) either from the standpoint of my proficiency or my financial resources, my TOPIK score isn't that urgent. Even if I passed it with a Level 4, it's not like I'd be able to understand classes taught by old ajeosshis speaking half-deranged proto-Korean or read textbooks that make use of a 40,000-word Chinese-derived vocabulary.

The second thing that pissed me off was that after I'd typed all this out, Linux, the world's shittiest operating system, crashed again, so I had to retype all this.

Well, tomorrow at 3:00, I'm going to try to take a NOVA online exam again -- I'm sure THAT will go off without a hitch...

August 4, 2007: UPDATE 2
Quick Quiz: I got this picture by:
A) stealing it from National Geographic.
B) downloading it from a national parks wesbite.
C) taking it myself, using Mijung's camera phone, on Mr. Song's farm.

The correct answer is C!

August 4, 2007
Neither of my computers is working, so I am making this update from the Golden Pond computer. One computer needed to be turned on and off like 20 times to get it to boot. I initially realized that the problem could be remedied by banging it. Eventually, I banged it a few too many times, and now it doesn't boot past a certain point. The other PC was working more or less fine, except that the OS on the hard drive was Windows 98. Therefore, I'd boot it up with a Linux CD-based distribution. However, Linux (at least that distribution) is extremely buggy and crashes even more than Windows. I'd use Windows 98, except that it can't connect to the internet in its current state, without drivers, nor can it get more than 16 colors. I've been using Linux on that PC, but I can't watch YouTube videos or do anything fun with it, because all the Mozilla Firefox files are on the CD, and I can't install plug-ins to the CD. Then, recently, the CD-ROM drive would sometimes stop working.

Both my computers are pieces of shit. One of them boots occasionally (you can choose Linux or Windows 98 -- two crappy OSes). The other one doesn't boot at all.

Every time I move, some new problem occurs on one of my computers. Moving is terrible for PCs. I would buy a new computer, but I don't have the money in my budget. It's most frustrating.

August 3, 2007
Well, CELTA's finally over, at least I hope. Apparently James and Andrew didn't recommend anyone for failure, so unless Cambridge University vetoes their recommendation, I should have a shiny new CELTA certificate in 2-3 weeks.

The last day was very drawn out. It was supposed to end at 1:15 PM with a class lunch, but I still had a bunch of cold evaluations to write from my lessons -- FIVE of them! I had forgotten to do some, and put some off, and it came back and bit me in the butt today. Then I thought I could get away with a few quick fixes on Assignment #3 and get Andrew's approval on it. I was WRONG. Andrew just kept on coming up with new things to add or change! In the end, he gave me a pass, but I was there for about three hours after most of the other people had left. Still, I'm grateful that he had the patience and didn't get mad about it. He just kept on sending me back to the computer. I guess I did learn a thing or two about it. Passing the assignment is theoretically optional, but I didn't want to be a slacker and just say "okay, just fail me already," so I kept plugging away at it.

Assignment #3 was basically my own, custom lesson plan, based on a piece of authentic material (not something designed for learners). I chose a satirical Onion article about the Burning Man festival. It was really high level, but I bet that if I'd taught it to my "intermediate" class, they actually would have roughly understood it, because they are awesome.

Anyways, a large section of the world has probably just been opened to me for work -- although a lot of these places will theoretically hire any American, the CELTA certificate makes a HUGE difference, apparently.

What am I going to do during my nearly two-month break? Wow, I the possibilities are huge. I haven't had a break this long from school/work in years, probably. Here are some ideas:
Start a martial art, because you can't count on the police.
Consolidate what I've learned in Korean so far -- what I learned in the States, and Yonsei levels 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Consolidate what I've learned for CELTA.

Here are some wilder ideas that can be mixed with the above:
Become a beach bum for the last month of the summer, and camp out on a beach in my little tent every night.
Download the CLEP study guides and start preparing for CLEP exams (which will allow me to earn college credit very cheaply).
Enroll in a Chinese hagwon and get a basic command of Chinese.

Well, it's a vacation for me now, and the possibilities are endless. What should I do? I'll have to think about it nice and hard.

Just now, it started raining like crazy and a whole section of the floor here at Golden Pond flooded. It was incredible.

July 30, 2007
Well, I went to CELTA today. What a drag day. It was just so boring, it was seriously one of the most boring times in my life, ever. I didn't teach today, so we literally sat there and discussed Sora's and Tania's lessons for like an hour and a half. That was the climax of the boringness. I wanted to just go home and sleep.

However, if I go to bed, I'll sleep clear until tomorrow when I need to get up and go to CELTA again. If I do that, I can't do my homework or have free time. So I'm staying awake.

I just played Super Mario 64 on my Nintendo DS. It is a great game. I beat Bowser for the first time. Every time he spit fire, the flames would turn into coins, so I just kept him going until I had 100 coins -- and then was disappointed to find out that 100 coins does not yield a star in the Bowser stage. Well, I unlocked the basement to Princess Peach's castle, and tried the cave level, which was kind of lame, and I didn't get any stars by doing it. Then I tried a level that I'd avoided on purpose. It was a level in which the intro picture was a fire demon. I had figured "this is some dumb haunted house level." I hate haunted house levels. I don't know why, but I much prefer levels set on tropical islands or in grassy fields. However, this fire demon level was COOL. It was actually not a haunted house level, but a level of fiery pits with awesome Indian-sounding music playing in the background. I stayed in that level for a while and got three power stars, so I'm now up to 24. The original game apparently had 120 (of which 105 were necessary to complete it). However, I've seen screenshots showing 150 in the manual for the Korean DS version...

Anyways, the Indian music is so cool, I'm going to leave the game on to serenade me while I'm doing my homework and lesson prep.

Us Helping Jeff Celebrate His Last Night in Korea at a Samgyeopsal Restaurant
July 29, 2007
I'm really disappointed that I don't have pictures to show my readers. I lost most of my pictures, so I don't have any except this one to show you (courtesy of Jeff on Facebook). I had some GREAT ones of the beach on Incheon Airport's little island. I've never seen anything like it before -- the tide lets out and there are just these mud flats as far as the eye can see, and today the fog was thicker than I've ever seen in my life, so it was really weird and ethereal. I took lots of pictures of things I saw on the beach, like a giant anchor, boats, a crab, a cuttlefish bone, etc. However, the batteries on my camera ran out and the memory cleared, and now I have nothing to show for my trip. I'm really disappointed about that.

As for other news (okay, actually the reason we went to Incheon), me and Mijung were seeing Jeff off at the airport. Jeff had stayed at our guest house for three months.

We went to the airport and saw him off and then went to that beach. In the car, I did some Mario 64 and made some good progress. I now have 16 stars! This DS is truly awesome. I may not need a console to hook up to the TV for a while. The DS has so many hits on it and the screens are so nice, it feels just as good as playing on a TV.

July 28, 2007: UPDATE 2
Okay, I have my Nintendo DS in-hand! It was a mere 65,000 won ($70.85). It's really awesome -- nice 3D graphics, two backlit screens, and the ability to chat with other NDS users nearby. I was initially scared I wouldn't be able to find one so cheap, since the original Nintendo DS was never officially released in Korea. I thought it was just DS Lites -- the smaller, more expensive model, but functionally, just the same. I asked around about DS Lites, and I was hearing 140,000 won, 145,000 won, etc. Finally, I made it over to the used video games market and asked around about the old style, and found one for a mere 65,000 won (after finding some others that were in the 70,000 to 80,000 range). I decided to buy the 65,000 won Nintendo DS.

Mario 64 was expensive. Apparently, it was only released in Korea a day or two ago. I saw a Japanese version for 30,000 won, but decided to go with the 35,000 won version that's in Korean, since my Korean is WAY better than my Japanese. So for 95,000 won ($103.55) I have my own Nintendo DS and Mario 64. Yahoo!

The game is great, as I remembered it. I have three stars so far, which is more than any friend would let me get before snatching the controller away from me. However, I don't think the graphics look as smooth. I think the 3D models are more or less the same, but the textures are a little bit more jagged, not smoothed down like the N64 version. It's just a minor, minor thing, but I felt like commenting. It's like they tried to rewrite Mario 64 to run on a PlayStation. The game seems to play exactly the same as the N64 version, except for the annoyance of having to play as Yoshi at first, until you *find* Mario -- since I still haven't found him, this is aggravating, because I'd really rather play as Mario.

Overall, though, I'm glad I bought the game system that will soon be the system of Dragon Quest IX and Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings. It's been a tough decision, deciding between the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS. They're both great handheld systems, and I don't think even Squaresoft knows which one to write games for -- they both have a roughly equal market share. I see a lot more games that I like for the NDS, though, at this very moment. Kyungwon lending me his DS Lite finally tipped the scales for me -- DS all the way.

The Entourage
July 28, 2007
Soon, I will set out for Yongsan to get myself Mario 64. I'll also need a system to play it on. I'm a little bit afraid that because of Korea's extensive tariffs and taxes on imports (especially Japanese) a Nintendo DS system is going to be really expensive. If that's the case, I might get an N64 and Mario 64 instead. I just want to play Mario 64.

As for other news, Drew uploaded some cool photos to Facebook of us hanging around in Lushunkou, China. The one on the left is the time we were followed by a big group of enthusiastic school children.

July 27, 2007
Well, I gave my eighth lesson today. It was my first 60-minute CELTA English teaching lesson and was actually a mild success! I estimate I've taught about five hours under scrutiny. I know this may not sound like a lot, but they give you A LOT of feedback and you need to incorporate that feedback. I've also done some unevaluated lessons.

I think I'll pass the course, but since the scoring is still ambiguous, I'm not really sure if I will or not. However, there was no conference between me and the instructors this week, so according to the CELTA assessor, I'm probably doing all right.

Damn, I hope I pass this course. According to Tania, who's been in Korea teaching English for four years, having CELTA certification means you get an automatic 100,000 won a month raise in your salary if you work at a public school. That's 1,200,000 won extra a year.

I've decided to go to Yongsan tomorrow and buy a Nintendo DS and Mario 64 DS, if the two aren't too expensive. I've been having this craving to play Mario 64. I have played it at friends' houses for at least 10 years, but never owned my own copy, and the controller was always wrestled away from me. It looks like so much fun. I don't buy enough entertainment. I need to be buying more.

I also need to buy some CLEP study guides, because I want to pass some CLEP tests and get some nearly-free college credit. I think I'll go extra heavy on the history tests because, quite frankly, history is easier than science or math. I just need a ton of cheap college credit.

July 26, 2007
Well, today I went to school, and fortunately didn't have to teach. At lunch time, I met Mijung at the subway station, and went to a law office, where we wrote a contract that she'd pay me back 5,000,000 won (over $5,000) within one month. Then we went to the bank and I loaned her 5,000,000 won (okay, technically 4,900,000 won, since I'd had to pay some fees to get it here, etc). I know it sounds crazy to make a loan that big, but she needs it or Golden Pond will go under, and she says she can repay it within 15 days (though the contract we wrote and had notarized gives her a month).

I'm a little bit worried, but if she doesn't pay, according to the lawyer, I have the right to sell her stuff. I trust Mijung, but when it's that much money, you have to cover your ass.

So basically, I own a 1/4 share in Golden Pond for the next month. I'm an owner. Yes, I own 1/4 of a Korean youth hostel. Can YOU say that?

I decided to stop by MY youth hostel this evening to bid Milly and Jeff farewell, but neither of them were there, and when I called Bongdo about it, he said "we'll be back within an hour." Well, I have a ton of work to do, so I had to leave.

I have to do Assignment #3 for CELTA (which will take a long time), as well as plan my first ever 60-minute lesson. I've done a total of five 40-minute lessons, but I've never hit the one-hour mark before. That's incredibly long.

I hope I do well, because the teacher seemed very irritated at me when I left "early" (I actually left slightly late, but his lesson was going into overtime).

July 25, 2007
If you only read one news article on this page, you might want to choose this one, because it's important. I've been thinking over the past few weeks, and I've decided that I may need to change my path a little bit.

I had originally said "I'm going to learn Korean and go to a good Korean university like Yonsei and get my degree there." It's a good idea, and quite possible -- but it means I'll be broke for about the next five years.

You see, I still need to get my Korean level up to KLPT Level 4. That's easy, and I bet I can do that within the next few months. However, I still don't think I'm anywhere near being able to read and understand a real textbook or understand a real professor (especially since those guys are old ajeosshis who talk funny). So I think I have at least another year to go until university entrance. Then I enter the university of my choice, and spend another four years getting my degree, because the Korean language credits I earned at Yonsei don't transfer over (except for 6 of them, which are history credits earned in Yonsei levels 5 and 6).

This means I'd get my degree at the age of 25, and be broke the whole way. That's just not acceptable. I want to start living a little bit sooner than that.

Therefore, I'm going to go with a Plan B. Some of you will think "that's a stupid plan, that's so unoriginal and un-Charlie-like" but it's what needs to be done.

I'm going to finish at Yonsei Korean Language Institute, and then go to Yanbian, the place I'd said I wouldn't go. However, rather than teaching English there 25 hours a week like I'd originally thought of, I'll find a job that lets me teach the minimum -- maybe 12 hours a week.

Using my part-time job to get a long-term visa to stay in China, I'll stay there for about two years and earn my degree online. There are three different colleges in the US that operate online that have extremely liberal transfer requirements, yet they're still accredited by the government. They are: Charter Oak State College, Excelsior College, and Thomas Edison State College.

I will transfer as many credits to those as possible. I should get 36 credit hours for my Korean classes and 3 credit hours for an AP test I took a long time ago. That will leave me with 81 credit hours to go, which I will earn over the course of two years through NOVA, CLEP, etc. I will transfer them to the online university of my choice and have a degree by the age of 23, not 25.

Though it won't be a great degree by any means, it'll be A degree, the minimum requirement to work in Korea (well, there are other ways, but there is pretty much no way to turn a profit from those). I figure that the degree, the CELTA certificate I'm working on now, and two years of part-time teaching experience in China should be enough to net me a decent hagwon job in South Korea. I can return to South Korea in 2010 and net myself about $20,000 in one year -- then get my REAL bachelor's degree from Yonsei, SNU, or another DECENT school -- this time being able to support myself while studying, thanks to the cheapo bachelor's degree that lets me legally teach.

I know the concept of going through a US-based online degree program is pretty average-sounding, but really, I don't want to wait until I'm 25 (or, gasp, even older) to get a bachelor's degree. I realize that's about the age most Korean men get it because they have to do military service, but I feel pity for their rigid and difficult lives, and don't plan to live like that.

Therefore, under the current plan, I'll spend about eight more months in Korea, and then I'm off to Yanbian. I'll come back to this country with a high-paying hagwon job and start living the high life!

July 24, 2007: UPDATE 3
Well, I've got the creeping crud again, but it's not as bad as last time. Aside from feeling worn-out and having a runny nose and weird temperature fluctuations like getting hot on the subway, today has been a pretty good day.

I didn't need to do a lesson today for CELTA. I have to do one tomorrow, but it seems like it'll be an easy one.

The most important part of the day was getting permission to stay in Korea an additional 60 days, meaning that I don't have to fly to Japan and back this weekend -- possibly not have any mandatory visits to Japan at all. I'm cool until September 28. I bet that after that, I can convert my status to D-4 (student visa) again.

Basically, I just walked into the immigration office, picked a number and waited a long time, and told the officer my case, and only asked for an extension until the 13th of August (10 days after CELTA ends) but he was cool and was like "do you want 60 days?" and he stamped my passport for 30,000 won. I realize that if you're from Canada or a European country, you're like "you had to PAY for that?" but US citizens don't get the special treatment that you guys do.

July 24, 2007: UPDATE 2
Wow, I'm not even out the door yet, and I already have an update. I forgot to mention that I got a "to Standard" on my lesson yesterday, which is good, because I was really worried about the "Not to Standard" that I got late last week.

The grading scale for this CELTA course is still a mystery to me. I think it's basically an issue of whether your instructor thinks you should be approved or not. I know that they have a system of fail more than two written assignments and fail the course (there are only seven), and I know that last term, someone passed the course after failing three lessons, but that's all I know. The assignments seem pretty easy, and I've now passed five lessons, so I guess I only need to pass two more. Really, though, the grading system is a mystery to me. I'm not aiming for anything higher than a pass -- there are higher ranks, but then again, there are also people in the class who've been teaching EFL (and other subjects, in the case of Tania and Sora) for years. My 3 hours and 20 minutes of supervised practice don't quite equate to years spent teaching EFL, so I'm kind of figuring the advanced passes will go to the other folks. That's okay with me, they deserve it more.

July 24, 2007
Most of the time, waking up in the morning is a horrible, annoying thing. The alarm is screaming at you to wake up, even though your body doesn't want to. There are lots of people already up, just ready to heap requests on you or annoy you in other ways. Most of the time, waking up early is pretty shitty. I bet if they did a study on people who get woken up by their alarms every morning, they'd find those people lived shorter, more miserable lives.

However, on rare occasion, such as today, waking up early is fun.

The conditions for a perfect early start to my day are these: I must've woken up naturally (because I was well-rested) and there can't be any annoying other people buzzing around creating problems. Today was like that. :-)

I woke up just before 5:00 AM, and got a nice breakfast from the stove of chicken soup of some sort and tofu of some sort on rice. It's good, but I needed to heat it up, because Koreans usually leave stuff on the stove until it literally rots (I have seen Mijung do this multiple times). So you have to heat it up and hope you killed all the germs. It tastes good, though.

I won't have to go to class for another three or four hours. I can just plunk around on my computer and watch TV and eat. Man, waking up early can be fun if you just get those two conditions right.

July 21, 2007
I'm going to irritate you by telling you about something really great that's free, then not telling you how to get it. I'm going to tantalize you.

I'm in a computer room right now. There are 40 computers here. It's a Saturday afternoon, and NO ONE else is in the room. Basically, I get 40 computers to myself.

It's okay for basically anyone to use these computers. It's completely free. I could bring 39 friends up here and have a LAN party.

Of course, you'll probably never know where it is, because I'm not telling. If I told you where the computer lab is, you'd come here. Then you'd bring your friends. Then it'd be famous, and everyone'd be trying to get in here.

So for now, sorry, my completely free, completely empty computer room's location is going to stay a secret.

As for other news, I'm preparing like crazy for the next lesson at CELTA because I got a "Not to Standard" on my last evaluated lesson. I've gotten "to Standard" on 4/5 of them, but I'm worried about starting a negative trend. My teachers don't seem too worried, but agree that I need to improve some. As one of my teachers put it, my progress for someone who's never taught before is more or less "normal," especially when you consider that my main language experience comes from Yonsei, which is basically the complete antithesis of the CELTA method. I was given a "to Standard" overall on my midterm evaluation, but I need to keep working pretty hard if I want to keep that "to Standard" rating.

On Monday, I'm teaching elementary students. This is to say they probably know about 1,000 or so English words, but not enough to be in Pre-Intermediate. They're going to be more challenging to get through to (I can't use Korean) but I believe it's a little bit more of a fair evaluation, because the so-called "intermediates" are actually advanced, which means that the things we're assigned to "teach" them are almost always things they already know. The elementary students will provide much more opportunity to actually teach.

The lesson I'm delivering is on giving directions. There's going to be a tape exercise in which a person describes the route they took to get somewhere, and students will need to organize some cards with pictures on them in the right order. Then they're going to do a fill-in-the-blanks assignment in which they write a little story about the trip the speaker's car went on. I'm going to have to pre-teach them vocabulary like "park" and "church" in case they don't know those things, as well as elicit vocabulary relating to directions. I'm actually a little bit worried about fitting the lesson into just 20 minutes. However, my worries are probably unfounded, since my last three lessons have ended prematurely.

I watched the elementary students yesterday instead of the intermediates, and one thing that I noticed was that they make a lot of mistakes in which they use a vocabulary word that's close to what we're looking for, but not quite right in a humorous way. For example, when Euna was teaching, here are two things I noticed:
She showed a picture with a pitchfork in it and asked what it was, and one of the guys said "trident!"
She showed a photograph of an old, bald person, and one of the guys said "skinhead!"

July 20, 2007
Well, I'm at the central library for Yonsei University. I'm hogging a stand-up public access terminal. If anyone asks, I'll let them use it, but so far, all people have done is stand behind me and wait.

I have moved to a new hasukjip -- the ajumma notified me that a new room is open that's 280,000 won a month (40,000 won cheaper than my old place) and includes meals (not just rice and occasional kimchi). Needless to say I sprang for it. She even offered to move me in with her car. She's such a gem. The new room is smaller and doesn't have a veranda, but I'd rather have 40,000 extra won in my pocket and need to go out for meals less frequently.

As for CELTA, I will be delivering a lesson on Monday to the elementary-level class. So far, I've just taught intermediates. This will be an interesting challenge. I'm not allowed to speak Korean, by the way. That's really frowned upon in the English-teaching scene.

Well, I'd better get off this computer. I've overstayed my welcome on here, I think. :-)

July 19, 2007
Well, it's just after 5:00 AM on Thursday. I have an evaluated CELTA lesson today, so I'd best get preparing. I want it to be a clear victory unlike the last one, which was barely a pass. I'm going to make some nice visuals and a worksheet that isn't straight from the book, and I'm going to memorize the schedule of activities that we're supposed to do so I can always be on the ball.

Aside from that, I'm making a quick breakfast. I'm making jjajangbap. So I'm preparing rice in the rice cooker, and I have my jjajang sauce on hand. Jjajang sauce and curry sauce are so cheap, I've been eating A LOT of that stuff lately. I'm going to have to eat something else, or I'll turn into a gigantic jjajang.

Some Structure on Yanbian University Campus
July 17, 2007
Well, there certainly are a lot of pictures that need to be posted since I got my disposable camera developed! I wrote up a rather text-light, image-heavy document on Yanbian University. You can find it here or by clicking on the "Documents" button.

As for other news, I didn't win the TI programming competition on www.calcg.org. Michael Cimino won for my division. It's okay, though. I hadn't expected to win. My program was bloated, and the evaluators evidently thought Cimino's program was better because it probably doesn't eat up 4% of a calculator's RAM just for doing RPN, like mine does.

Boryeong Mud Festival -- read the article!

Wow, look, it's Charlie teaching actual students!

July 16, 2007
I just wrote a synopsis and review of the trip to Boryeong Mud Festival in Daecheon with Jeff and Milly. Click on "Documents" in the top frame, and then click "Boryeong Mud Festival."

Alternatively, you can just click here.

As for other news, I just barely passed with a "to Standard" on my CELTA English lesson today. That's not too great, but I've had a hell of a time over the past day for reasons that I'd rather not go into, and had to prepare the whole thing, pretty much, at lunch time. That won't happen again.

July 15, 2007
Well, I'm at an internet cafe on the beach in Boryeong County, Daecheon. This is Day 2 of the famous Boryeong Mud Festival -- the Burning Man of Korea.

I had online assignments due today at 2:00 PM, so that's why I'm in front of a screen at the beach. I got them done, and now I'm going to use my remaining time to update you. I tried to find an internet cafe, and the first three I investigated were just empty buildings, or closed. Finally, I found this one.

Basically, me and Jeff and Milly took the train to Daecheon, then got on a bus and went to the beach, where the mud festival is held.

We've gone swimming, which is a huge deal for me because I don't think I've been swimming in over a year. The beach is nice and clean.

The fly on my pants has been ruined. I wrestled a Korean dude in a match of ssireum (Korean wrestling) last night. I WON! Of course, I probably was ignorant of the rules and did something dirty, and he was probably just too much of a good sport to speak up about it. However, now my pants don't have a working fly, so they're held up only by a safety pin donated by Milly.

The hotel is a ripoff, but this is the single most busy weekend of the year in Boryeong, so I can understand why. Our room was 80,000 won, which we split three-way. To avoid high food costs, we got our food at grocery stores and brought it back to the place and ate it -- I had some Cheetos, jjajang, and rice, with a bottle of soju.

Once we got oiled up with our beverages (me and Jeff with soju, Milly with baekseju) we headed to the beach and walked around. My Korean skillz got us talking with a group of Koreans in their early to mid 20s. Before I knew it, we were drinking makgeolli, good old Korean Hite beer, and soju, of course. Milly was, at first, disconcerted that all the Korean girls were petting her hair and saying "oooooh!" but she got used to it. She was a big hit with them. It turns out these folks were from Seoul, here to enjoy the festival, just like us. One of the girls was from Shinchon. I don't even know her name, but she says she's my "yeoja chingu" now (means "girlfriend" but Koreans use this MUCH less seriously than westerners). So we're apparently going to go out on another date when we get back to Shinchon. I'm cynical enough to know how this is going to end, but I haven't had any serious let-downs by black-hearted Korean girls lately, and really need a dose to remind myself how cruel they are.

As for the mud aspect of the festival, it seems somewhat disappointing so far. There are mud attractions, but there's only so much you can do in mud. Yesterday, we hung out in a pool filled with muddy water. I got somewhat muddy, and got mud in my ears, so I couldn't hear properly for about a half hour.

It's great to be in beachfront honky tonk again, though. This really reminds me of Virginia beach, except that it's way easier to make friends with the other sun worshippers because we have the foreigner gimmick. Well, it's time to sign off, meet Jeff and Milly, and go get some MUD!

July 13, 2007
Today was Friday. In regard to my CELTA class, I had to do a lesson, but it wasn't graded.

I had decided to wait until the 1-hour lunch before the lesson to prepare, because I figured "if it takes me more than one hour to prepare a 40-minute lesson, a 25- to 30-hour standard teaching job will be too time consuming." I was shocked to discover that the lesson was based on a worksheet I didn't even have. Finally, after 28 minutes, I found it in a book and xeroxed it. I had 32 minutes left to prepare. Fortunately, it was a really easy and fun lesson to prepare, and I got it done in spite of only having 32 minutes.

I was actually looking forward to giving the lesson. I waited through Sora's lesson, and then Tania's lesson. Then it was my turn.

However, it turns out the students had to leave in eight minutes. Yes, that's right, my 40-minute fun lesson was truncated to eight minutes. How do you adapt your class to fit into eight minutes? We went slightly past the time they had quoted (about five minutes beyond). The students would write sentences to prompts, fold the paper over, and pass it to their neighbors, who would continue the stories. Here's an example of one such story:
She was a firefighter. She was very brave She loves her job.
He is gentle, warm-hearted, considerate and smile a lot.
They met at the coffee shop.
She's living in Vancouver. She works for Canada BANK. She's feeling he's not a right person to her
he was laying down on the grass. he though the woman is so strick and boring
They talked about traveling, music and other things
She liked his consideration, positive attitude for life.
He thought she was a warm-hearted person.
They have been friends for since then by now.

In regard to other news, I am going to the Boryeong Mud Festival tomorrow morning with Jeff (long-term stayer at the guesthouse, has also lived in Korea for over a year) and Milly (studies Korean art at university in England, and came here for some reason related to that). I'll need to spend some of that trip doing work for my CELTA course, etc. Life sure is busy.

July 12, 2007
It's time for a new page. The last page had a shocking 25 articles.

Today I taught another English lesson for my CELTA course. I didn't realize until yesterday afternoon that I had to teach it, but still managed to prepare. It didn't go very well, BUT I got a "to Standard" rating anyway, while one of the other three people in my group failed, so I'm not feeling as worried about next week when the bar is raised. This lesson was on comparatives (teaching them to change adjectives like "noisy" to "noisier"). I also taught them some transportation words.

I must say, there are a lot of differences between American and British English. Seriously, on all the activities, there's some way that my dialect differs from the one that the instructor uses. Anytime a word ends in an r, or that kind of thing, it changes my answer to one that doesn't match those of the instructor or the people from Australia, New Zealand, and of course, the British instructor. There are countless grammatical differences. Yesterday, I was required to teach the word "A to Z" (a map used in London that's indexed). I wrote on my lesson evaluation that "I was able to lead a full and fulfilling life for 20 years without knowing what an A-Z was." I don't really mind that my dialect is a constant source of controversy -- it's kind of interesting. There haven't been any fights over it or anything. Words are just pronounced very differently, and grammar is very different. If someone asks you "do you have your self evaluation sheet?" you are supposed to reply "I have" in British English, whereas it's "I do" in American English. There are lots of little things like that. The International Phonetic Alphabet used for British English is different from the one used for American English. The British English subset is called "Received Pronunciation (RP)" and the American one is called "General American (GA)." Canadians' dialect are on the borderline between the two. However, Mr. Forrest points out that American English is actually closer to "the original English." He says British English, as well, had the -r sound on the ends of words that end in r until about 200 years ago. That was a major split between British English and American English. According to Mr. Forrest, Shakespeare probably talked a lot more like a modern American than a modern Brit -- Shakespeare pronounced the r's for their full value like Americans do.

Tomorrow, I have to teach again, but it's not an evaluated lesson, and Mr. Forrest may not even be in the room. I can do whatever I bloody well want. I can throw a snack party. I'm going to wash my good clothes tonight and go in there dressed well tomorrow, and have one of my CELTA classmates take my photograph teaching a group of people. I think that'd be a great thing to show a future employer. Often owners of English schools don't know jack shit about English. For example, in China, I walked into an English school and talked to the owner and described to her that I was taking a CELTA course this summer. When I stopped talking, she was like "I don't understand. Are you asking about the pay?" Seriously, I need a photograph to show them, because the standard of English is so low in various parts of Asia that you cannot verbally communicate the value of an intensive, 170+ hour TEFL course administered by a Cambridge University licensed center (centre) unless you show them pictures and other graphical things.

In the case of that air-headed English school owner in Yanbian, China, who thought I was asking about the pay when I was actually telling her I was going to get CELTA certified -- I had to explain it to her in Korean. I know resorting to a second language is a BAD approach to take when talking to potential hagwon owner (whose classes you need to teach in English) but she wasn't going to hire me if all she thought I had was a high school diploma. What would you do in a position like that?

Sorry there are no photos. It's all the fault of that thief in China. I have a disposable camera, but I'm waiting for two things before I get it developed:
I want to take about five pictures of the beautiful Bongwonsa (Buddhist temple area near Namsan) during the day.
I want to take a few pictures of my CELTA course, both for this site and for future employment: probably about five.