Old News

May 20, 2007
Well, it's early Sunday morning. I woke up really early. Anyways, I just wanted to let you all know that I was looking up words from my Yonsei notes today, and this one popped out:
Courtesy of Naver

Yes, that's right, "hohwan" means "a disaster caused by tigers." Yes, Yonsei sure knows which words to prioritize as must-learn when instructing us. My new goal is to use this word at least once per day.

Now, I have a question. I'd imagine that by default, "hohwan" means a situation in which there are so many tigers, people have to worry about being attacked. However, what if the disaster caused by tigers is not directly related to the tigers' violent nature? Like, what if a couple tigers are accidentally mistaken for North Korean soldiers crossing the DMZ, and it starts World War III? That is indeed a disaster caused by tigers, but is it hohwan?

Some customer to Golden Pond brought this package of candy from China, and it had this guy on it. Either his head is turned 180 degrees or he has a front butt.
May 18, 2007


I got a phone call today on my cell phone. The KLPT (Korean Language Proficiency Test) results came out. I GOT A 3! Yes, that's right, I am now ONE LEVEL AWAY FROM COLLEGE ENTRANCE!

I just barely did it, too. I got 300 points, which is the minimum for a 3. If I had missed one more question, it would have been a two. Wow, all I need to do now is raise my score by 50 points (one level) and I'm there! YES YES YES!!!

May 17, 2007
Went to class.
Had lunch with Sonmyeong, Bongnyeong, and Naomi, then we had a meeting to prepare for tomorrow's small speaking test. At lunch, Bongnyeong brought her language exchange partner (Yujin), who goes to Ewha Women's University. She just happened to know my language exchange partner (Junhyeong), because they have shared three different classes. Wow, small world! So I'm meeting with Bongnyeong tomorrow for a Chinese language exchange, but Yujin will be coming too. I guess they'll just have to fight over me.
Now I'm going to take a nap and then wake up and memorize my section for the small speaking test (worth only 10% of my speaking grade).

May 16, 2007

The Deal on Yanbian University

If I go to Yanji to teach English, I will be close to Yanbian University (Korean: Yeonbyeon-Daehak). Yanbian University has large amount of classes in Korean and includes a Korean intensive language institute, as well. Mijung called them on my behalf today, and found out the following information:
The class is three hours a day (8:00 AM - 11:00 AM). This is one hour a day less than Yonsei.
The tuition is 13,000 RMB a year. By today's exchange rate, that's $1693.06. That's approximately 1/4 of what I'm currently paying Yonsei.
The next course for which I'm eligible starts in August. I need to apply (and probably pay, too) by July 3.
It's no problem that I'm American. However, Yanbian University has several agreements with North Korean universities that I may not be able to take advantage of. That's the surprise of the century.

So basically, I work three hours a day at Paul's English (in the evening), and go to class for three hours a day (in the morning). I get better and better at Korean and earn money at the same time. I win at life.

Rena, Sonmyeong, Me and Jangok (everyone in this picture is from my Level 4 class). Thank you, Eri Shimada, for taking the pictures last Thursday night.
May 15, 2007
Okay, here's another pointless update. This update is really just for me -- in ten years, I can look a this update and say "a-ha, now I remember what life was like back then." Here's a summary of my day:
I pulled an all-nighter (Kazue and I were drinking makgeolli and chatting). She went to bed, but I had work to do. I responded to some e-mails, did the majority of my homework, and did some research on Northern Virginia Community College's online campus. I found out some things that I wish I'd known earlier, but I still think it's possible to get an associate's degree through them, which is good. However, I will need to pay international shipping on their overpriced textbooks, and will need to go to the hassle of getting a teacher here to proctor my exams. Even so, it seems possible.
A little bit before 8:00 AM, Kazue and I said goodbye. I'm going to miss her, she is cool. I hope we can see each other again.
I went to school, which is unremarkable. We had listening practice, and I got a 60% (passing). These days, getting a passing score on a listening practice exam keeps me from being pissed.
I met with Naomi and Son-myeong after school, and we had lunch in the underground cafeteria. However, I did not stay for our group project meeting. They said I could go home since I had pulled an all-nighter. I was overjoyed. I like both of them, but their LTP accents, coupled with my poor listening comprehension make understanding them extremely difficult. I don't think it's really helpful if I attend the meetings, since I can't really communicate with them.
I came home and plopped into bed. About four hours after commencing sleep, the door bell kept on ringing and ringing and ringing. So I got out of bed and answered it. It turned out to be some Italian guest who needed to be checked in, and I was the only staff member home, so I had to check him in. Long story short, I was up for long enough checking him in that I couldn't get back to sleep, which sucked, because now I'll be tired for the rest of the day.
During the evening, I responded to some Facebook wall posts (including one from THOMAS KING, a friend who I haven't had contact with in well over a decade). I also introduced Mijung to some Rammstein music, because she LOVED my performance of Du Hast at the noraebang the other night. She actually favorited the YouTube Du Hast video! It turns out that when she was growing up in a small town in South Jeolla Province, she listened to a lot of heavy metal. I just find it hilarious that Mijung, a Korean woman with an interest in traditional Korean medicine and making Korean quilts (she's making one right behind me right now) could have an appreciation for Rammstein, but she does. Wow, that's awesome.
Well, now I need to catch up on my studies. Because another C test average is not really acceptable!

May 14, 2007
Formerly, I had posted something really cynical about how 99% of women treat me like a doormat. I still believe this is true, but this evening's situation that had me completely down on the world's female population actually ended up working out satisfactorily, so I'm not going to name names or do anything like that. Therefore, I hid the original post. However, I still do not have a girlfriend, and wish I could either have one, or withdraw from the game and just study, play video games, and work. I wish I didn't constantly have a stream of women being hurled at me who are mostly going to treat me like crap. Have a nice morning.

May 11, 2007
Well, I'd probably better keep this short because I need to get my homework done (it's after 8:30 AM and class starts at 9:00). Here's my summary of the events that have unfolded since yesterday's post:
I studied A LOT in the computer lab (or at least it felt like a lot).
I ran into Eunchong on the street while looking for Synnara Records (the meeting place for the class dinner). Apparently he didn't have an overwhelmingly positive Sogang experience, either. Interesting.
I met me mates at Synnara records, then we spent forever waiting for a STRAGGLER (and you know who you are)!
We went and had samgyeopsal at the regular place where it has been done for countless Yonsei generations, and then went to a noraebang. Most of us had something to drink, including me.
Me and Jang-ok (dude from Shandong) agreed to do a language exchange (English/Chinese), because he wants to learn English, and I need to learn a little bit of Chinese before I go to China. Jang-ok is THE PIMPMASTER.
Me and Bong-nyeong agreed to start language exchanging on Wednesdays. She's from Harbin. She's also incredibly hot. Since I have two language exchange partners at evenly-spaced intervals of the week, I should learn Chinese quickly enough to survive in Yanbian.
I was in no condition to go home, but Son-myeong, the awesomest dude on earth (always knew he was cool) let me crash on the floor of his hasukjip.
I ran into Teacher Jeong in the hallway this morning, and we talked about stuff, and then she asked me if I had a cold. No, I spent all night drinking traditional Korean tea.

May 10, 2007

Today hasn't been very remarkable yet. I got up, I went to school, and now I'm in the 6th floor computer lab in the Korean Language Institute. Tonight, I'm going to have dinner with my classmates at 8:00 (we're going to meet at Shinnara Records and go somewhere to eat).

For those of you who still aren't aware (if you don't know this, you obviously haven't talked to me in a while, if ever) I'm planning to make a temporary move to Yanji, Yanbian Province, China to teach English. Here is my rationale for doing this:
Put money back into the bank.
Take a break from full-time study at Yonsei, but in an area in which Korean is still widely spoken (Yanbian borders North Korea). I'm really tired of studying Korean full-time. I need a breather. I still plan to study, just not spend four hours a day in class.
Since I won't be studying at Yonsei, I will have free time to get my associate degree (through Northern Virginia Community College's online campus), which will somewhat increase my employment options in Asia.
I will get ESL experience, which is important, since most of the jobs open to westerners in Asia are ESL jobs. This will make me several times more employable.
I'm tired of living like a poor person, because of South Korea's ridiculous foreigner-control regulations (can't work a D-4 visa). Once in China, I will be making a salary that will be several times what the average person makes. Therefore, I can go back to living in my own room, not sharing, and maybe have enough money to import some stuff (I've been craving some Star Trek, and an income means I can order stuff from Amazon.com guilt-free).
I can hire a Korean tutor in Yanji super cheaply!

My plan (maybe somewhat ambitious) is this:
Get substantial ESL experience (six months to two years, depending on how long I stay).
Get enough money to survive university in South Korea. If I stay in Yanbian for two years, that'll scarcely be buffer money. If I stay for two years, that could very well pay 100% of my tuition.
Have enough of a breather from 20-hour-a-week Korean study to study something else, for a change (I intend to get my associate degree from NVCC's online campus, although I'm not sure what in).
I intend to get a substantially larger Korean vocabulary.

I have found a job in Yanji, but things aren't finalized yet (this won't be set in stone until I have my Z [foreign teacher] visa). According to what they've told me (and this has been backed up by a westerner who worked there) they expect a lot of working hours (25), but the pay is relatively good. Since the working hours are spread over six days, it's only about three hours a day. They're in the afternoons and evenings, which means I can do whatever I want in the mornings and early afternoons -- take classes at Yanbian University, etc. I plan to go and start working in mid to late June.

Click any image for a larger version!

This picture is of me borrowing that guy's (left) light saber before the night of partying.

Shooters Cocks, a Bar

Lazy Bone, an actual Korean band that I've heard of before, was at the assembly at Yonsei!

Click here for a short clip I took of Lazy Bone at the assembly!

This is a video that I took of MC Sniper at the assembly.

May 3-4, 2007

The Extremely Long Day

I woke up at about 8:00 AM on March 3. I would not end up going to bed until about 3:00 or 4:00 PM on March 4. So basically, I was up for a more than 30-hour day filled with good things and bad things.

The first thing I did in my super long, no-sleep mega-day was to wake up, go to Yonsei, and take the listening exam. I could tell just sitting there that it was a tough exam, but theoretically passable. Then I took the writing exam, which just seemed dead easy at first, until I got to the massive section in which you have to use their weird grammar patterns. That brought my score down, but I was still confident that I passed it.

Then I went home, determined to take a nap. However, some of my buddies wanted to get some beer or some soju and celebrate life, so I agreed, since I had just finished all my tests, and I wouldn't have to worry about the consequences the next day of not being in my best shape. We got three bottles of soju (for four people) and a 1.5 liter bottle of Chilsung Cider so the soju wouldn't taste as bad as it normally does. We all got kind of greased up and then decided to hit a club. This involved several train connections, because we wanted to reach Hongdae, but kept on missing the transfer stops. Finally, we made it and found some club that looked promising.

I remember saying before that I never planned to go to a club again, and I should have just obeyed my old advice. It seemed promising at first. Unlike the other club, lots of the Korean girls were willing to dance with me, at least when I had spoken to them in Korean. In fact, one very sweet girl bought me a 7,000 won Miller beer! Things were looking very, very good at that point. Then her boyfriend showed up! He was very nice and didn't hold anything against me, but suddenly that girl became a non-option. Eventually I found another girl who didn't seem to mind dancing and flirting with me. I figured "I already got a free drink, so if I buy this girl a drink, things will be equal." BAD IDEA. She chose an 8,000 won drink that was vodka mixed with something else. She didn't drink much of it (gave most of it to me), but I wouldn't have gotten anything else to drink had it not been for her, so I consider that money wasted. However, it was all for nothing, and only the beginning of a terrible segment of my day. We cut out and went to a samgyeopsal restaurant, where she ordered two portions of samgyeopsal (14,000 won). I was asking her a lot of questions, and she just kept on answering them with short responses. She wasn't asking ANYTHING about me. Well, I figured "maybe she's shy" and didn't worry THAT much. Then, I had to go to the bathroom. I wasn't in there long, but when I came out, she was gone. I asked the waitress where she was and the waitress said "she just went out." Yes, that's right, the bitch had left, leaving me with more samgyeopsal than I could have ever hoped to eat and a 14,000 won bill. So basically, Charles paid 22,000 won total for a girl who then just left. I thought I had a policy of not paying for the girl ever again. Just shows how when you've had too much to drink, you do stupid, stupid things. This is just another example of things that girls do to treat me like crap. The moral of the story (besides my general "women are evil and treat me like crap for some unknown reason") is that clubs are horrible places to meet girls, and I should have just never gone to the club in the first place, remembering what the old one was like.

My friends had left the club a long time ago, but I hadn't gone home (they'd been less "successful" than I). I was getting ready to go home, when a phone call arrived from one of my buddies, telling me that one of the guys I'd went with had, in a stroke of genius, left his passport at the club. They needed an interpreter and wanted me to take a taxi over there, so I did. It cost me a fair bit of money. When I arrived, they weren't there. I waited, and finally a call came -- the place was closed and I could just go back to what I was doing. Great, so they wasted my time, money, and any chance for me to sleep.

Then I went to school. This is where things started to look up. I got my test scores back:
Reading: 78%
Listening: 69%
Writing: 78.5%
Speaking: 88.7%
Average: 78.55%
These may not look like great grades, but quite frankly, I was worrying about passing all the tests, and I did. Level 4 is regarded to be the shock level -- this is where the difficulty suddenly ramps up (from now on, it's more incremental), and I survived the first test. If I get the same score on the next test, and get a decent participation score, I'll still get a B for this term. I wish the scores had been better, but I was relieved just to have passed. My listening score was low, but pretty much buys me an automatic pass -- with this, I can get as low as 51% on the next listening exam and still pass, so I have little to worry about in terms of passing. I was really pleased with speaking! That is the highest speaking score I've had since Level 1! Finally, I have a teacher who I think assesses my speaking fairly.

After only two hours of class, we had a whopping four-hour assembly. Its goal was to introduce us to Korean language exchange partners. This is wasted time for me, since I'm a native English speaker. I can get language exchange partners without even trying, since they always approach me. I guess that Chinese and Japanese people have a lot more problems with this. So that part was basically wasted, and I was intending to leave the assembly early, until suddenly, the famous Korean band, LAZY BONE, showed up! Holy shit! People have actually heard of them! Then, I looked on the program for the event, and saw that MC Sniper was coming too! Not that I'm a big fan or anything, but EVERYONE here has heard of MC Sniper. I ended up staying until the end of the assembly. Lazy Bone is great and I fully intend to get some of their music. MC Sniper was more just standard Korean rap, but their fame made their attendance alone amazing. At the end, they did a short rap about Yonsei!

After the assembly, I went home, and got some much-needed rest, and slept for probably 16 hours.

May 2, 2007

You Know, Because We Don't Have Enough Tests

Yep, that's right, midterms start this morning. It's between 1:00 AM and 2:00 AM right now. If I went to bed right now, I could get enough sleep not to be a zombie tomorrow. However, if I did that, I'd screw up pretty badly on the speaking exam. We are expected to write three essays, and memorize each one. Each essay, when recited, must be three minutes long. So basically, today, I need to write and memorize 9 minutes of material. If I do this correctly, I can collect most of the points on that section of the speaking exam (60% of the speaking exam, the other 40% being a standard interview). This will take me several hours. We've learned such useless grammar, I'm having real difficulty integrating any of it into my essays. Well, I've survived every test until now, and tomorrow's tests should be survivable, provided that I prepare. I'm afraid preparation is going to take precedence over sleep, and I'm just not going to sleep tonight. The nice thing about being on the kind of budget that I'm normally on is that I drink almost nothing caffeinated. Therefore, on the rare occasion that I need a boost, a little bit of caffeine goes a LONG way (Pepsi, I hate coffee).

Just to help myself organize, this is what I still have to do tonight (and then I'll be completely ready for this round of tests):
For the reading exam, re-read all of the stories. There are only six stories (about nine pages), so this will be relatively EASY. I have succeeded in memorizing nearly every single word related to the stories, so I should not suffer at all in terms of vocabulary. I feel pretty secure about the reading exam.
Write three essays, and memorize all of them for tomorrow's speaking exam.
Write down ten grammatical constructions that I can throw into the speaking exam to show that I've progressed since Level 3. I'll just kind of keep them on the brain and try to use them during my interview, although the interview counts for only 40%, so I could probably fail my interview and still pass the speaking section if my regurgitation was good enough.

I'll tell you, they make sure we work for our Korean. Foreigners get much easier access to Korean universities than Koreans do once they master Korean. However, learning Korean is probably even more difficult than the "Go-3-Byeong" period of Korean high school, so it's not like we're being handed anything on a silver platter.