Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy Teacher Once Again

Got some much better news than the last time someone here started with, "Samantha, by the way...". Looks like I get vacation afterall! I'll tell you what, I was fuming mad over the fact they were going to take my vacation away and they actually did some rearranging of it but I like it better this new way. I actually lose 1 day total but it's much better. Instead of Christmas day off, work 26th, then 27th-3rd off I now get the 25th-1st off straight. That's what I'm talking about! Now, unfortunately, I don't think Al gets much of anything besides Christmas and the 1st so not sure what I'm going to do. Maybe we'll go to Seoul for a weekend or something :) Either way, HAPPY HAPPY SAM.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What the what?

I've just received some extremely unsatisfying news from my school. Before I continue, I'll say that as far as a job goes, I have nothing to complain about. The children, yes, all the time, because 80% of them are evil minions but the JOB itself presents no stress or strain or any additional work on my part other than showing up for 5 1/2 hours a day and making my way to a few classrooms to teach during a small portion of that. I never get asked to do things I don't want to, I don't have to do anything extra-curricular, I don't have to take tests home to grade. All in all, they leave me alone and let me do my thing and I get good holidays.

Wait...holidays you say?

As far as teaching in Korea goes, the holidays/vacation time BLOW huge penis. Compared to Japan, you get barely a fraction. In a basic contract in each country it's 10 days compared to roughly 5-6 weeks minimum. That's an enormous difference, but, hey I knew that before coming in here, made my peace with it and learned to accept it for a year.

As I mentioned in my last post, It's 11 weeks (now 10, it's Friday night! Yay!) until my next day off work on December 19th. Then I get Christmas day, work the 26th, then are off from the 27th to the 3rd of January. Not too shabby and significantly better than most teachers. Well, all that is in the past. I was informed today (by an equally unhappy Korean teacher) that because of the two days we missed because of the typhoons they are taking away our winter vacation. Completely. As in I get Christmas day off and New Year's Day off and that's all. I don't know how two days of typhoons transformed into eight precious days of vacation taken away from me but there is nothing I can do. All I know is that I went from not having a complaint in the world about my job to seriously, seriously hating the school I work for within a few seconds. It's ridiculous and outrageous and I'm still fuming with anger as I type this. It's midnight and I was told at like 5:30. Yeah, I care deeply about my vacation time...


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy Chuseok!

Well, my blissful holiday is done and over with. Chuseok is the Korean version of Thanksgiving, including the nutty travel part. People schlep up and down the country to get to Grandma's house for a traditional dinner. Though, in Korea, I think it's a little more...well, stressful than in the United States for many reasons. Yes, of course in the US there are always parents who berate their kids for not being married yet/successful/"why aren't you giving me grandkids?" and it really just makes the whole idea of going home for the holidays unbearable. But, truly, it's not the norm and although holidays can sometimes be stressful, it's more of the cooking/cleaning/present buying/having 100 people in the house part. In Korea, (or really, many places in Asia in general) if you're 30 and unmarried and/or have a job your parents don't approve of the holidays are going to be downright dreadful for you because your parents find your life completely unacceptable. Even if you are married, from what I understand, family gatherings are just something to shudder at and get through as quickly as possible as opposed to a happy occasion. No, not every single Korean/Japanese/Chinese family is like this but it's more the rule than the exception. If your parents aren't happy, you shouldn't be either and that's just the way it is around here.

Seeing as how it's not my Thanksgiving, Al and I headed up for another weekend in Seoul. Because of the mass amounts of people going here and there, every single train was sold out so we flew. Got there in a solid 50 minutes with an English newspaper on the plane to boot. Nothing but pretty sky the whole way there.

Since this was our seven year anniversary weekend of being together we decided to skip the crappy hostel and stay in a pimp hotel. We chose a Novotel like a 10 minute walk from the station in a rather undesirable area, but hey, it was the cheapest nice place so we jumped on the deal I found on Agoda (the only place to find hotels, truth). The weekend went by quickly. We really didn't do much but relax and shop a bit. I had another three hour, wallet-emptying round at Forever 21 which had me all smiles and very perky for the rest of the trip. The one thing we did do this time up was go to the Seoul Zoo! Now, I love zoos. I've been to more than a few of them and I really enjoy myself there. I figured for a zoo in one of the biggest cities in the world it would be pretty amazing but I was kind of disappointed. I mean, don't get me wrong it was super nice to walk around and see the animals but it really needs some upgrading and it was quite a bit run down in a lot of areas. They had a lot of animals but they seemed to be living in really unhappy conditions, unfortunately. Here are some zoo animals for your enjoyment:

We went to the zoo on our last few hours before we had to catch our flight out. We got one of the last planes to Busan so we could enjoy our day so it was already dark and the zoo was closing by the time we left. Unfortunate because that meant that around dusk all the giraffes weren't out and about. They have this tall podium like thing that is giraffe height and if you're lucky they come over to it where you can feed them and such. I would've loved to do that! Oh, well.
We left the zoo with very little time to spare for getting to the airport so we got on the express subway train there and ran every chance we got. We finally got there and through the very little security area (we were at Seoul's smaller airport, Gimpo, not Incheon) we got to the gate and lo and behold, our flight was delayed. And delayed again. And again. I don't think we got home until midnight and we were supposed to arrive at 10:00 or something like that.
Since we only went to Seoul from Saturday to Monday we still had two glorious days of vacation stretched out before us. Thinking back on it, I really don't think we did much of anything besides lie around and watch movies and that's quite okay with me.
We both had to work on Thursday and Friday but since that included a whopping total of about 9 hours of teaching for me it was truly like not even having to work. Then it was the weekend again!
On Friday we had a party here at our house. A lot of us get paid all around the same time so we're usually all broke around the same time as well. Since this was the last weekend before payday we decided to just have everyone over here for some food and cheap fun.
 I put some pork in the crock pot and made some BBQ, Abbey brought over some cole slaw for it and John and Ryan made baked beans and potato salad. (They are all from NC) We had us one delicious Southern meal. Since our neighbor moved out we kept the music up loud and late until a few of us decided to go to the karaoke joint across the street. I, once again, got a 100 on "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and we, once again, were out until sunrise singing our faces off. It never fails.
On Saturday, Al and I walked down to Pizza Hut to get some real food and decided to stop at the Cat Cafe on the way home. O.M.G. Coffee, cake, cats.
Now THAT'S entertainment. Too bad I don't think it could ever work in the US because of all the health and sanitary regulations that come along with it. Shame.
Al has been wanting to just get on a random bus and ride around the city, so on Sunday that's what we did. Personally, I always feel like a pauper when I take the bus so I try to avoid it but I've come to realize that apart from the wreckless, terrifying driving it's actually a pretty good time. So we got on the first empty bus that came (#50), went straight to the back and plopped ourselves in for a nice ride. We followed the red subway line up to Nopo and then got on some highway. At that point we started to get a little nervous as to where we were headed and then saw some signs like an hour later saying we've arrived in Yangsan. Oops! That's up in the mountains where you can go to ski. Went a little farther than initially planned but we got off and walked around for a bit. Not much to see and seemed a little depressing (though the mountains were pretty) so we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for a Sunday treat then waited on bus 50 to make its loop around and pick us up again. Once we got home we realized that we had gone all the way to Yangsan and back for like under $6 total. I like buses now.
Needless to say it was a VERY relaxing, fun holiday. Now there are eleven straight weeks of work without a day off in sight until December 19th. God help me.