Today was pretty warm and rainy, not much going on besides cleaning my bathroom and some shopping at yet another giant department store.
I've uploaded a few more photos, hopefully I'l have my alien resident card by Tuesday and I'll have internet at home by the end of the week. If anyone wants my phone number drop me an e-mail. It's a bit expensive to call here I'd imagine, but I'll get around to calling everyone once I've got a normal phone.
I've had a couple of interesting cultural experiences during the past couple of weeks. The first was a Friday night outing to a noraebang (singing room.) It's sort of like karaoke but in a living room-sized room with tables, benches and a wall of video screens. There are funky lights and I think ours had a smoke machine, but nobody turned it on. They managed to get me up to sing twice. For my first number I sang My Way (Frank Sinatra) , it felt like it went on for about 10 minutes, my second choice was Play That Funky Music (Wild Cherry) and after that I felt like someone had taken hot irons to my vocal cords. It was a lot of fun and I can see how it is particular to Korean culture. Koreans seem to be really group and family oriented and they tend to seem shy out of a desire to not make a mistake or embarass themselves. A Korean explained to me that noraebang is a bonding activity, Koreans can get together with friends and sing without fear of embarassment. Makes sense to me; I did karaoke once at a bar back home (*cough*Sundance*cough*) with a bunch of people from an ad agency I was working with. Of course three of us got on stage, very drunk and realised that any one of us knew about one third of the lyrics of Mustang Sally. It was pretty funny. The Korean guy (an adult student of mine) who was telling me about noraebang said that the Korean perception is that many Westerners are much more bold in what they will do because they seem to have less fear of embarassment. I'm not sure that's true, and I told him so, but at the same time I'm starting to see how it might actually be true. I think some of my co-teachers (Koreans) are somewhat in awe of the fact that I'll get on the subway and go to a new corner of the city with just a map and my itty-bitty compass (I bought one because coming out of the subway is pretty disorienting, especially if you have no idea where you are.)
A few nights ago I went for dinner and some bowling with a group of Koreans. One of my adult students asked me out to dinner with his boss and co-workers (I think they wanted to see if they could get me to teach them privately: no dice, too risky right now.) His boss kept calling me 'Korean' or 'new Korean' because I ate like a Korean, and ate everything that was brought to the table. It was a damned good meal: kamjatang (potato stew), it's a thick soupy stew with potatoes, greens, and lengths of pork backbone with lots of meat kinda like ribs. It wasn't terribly spicy and afterwards the waitress brings a bunch of rice and seaweed and turns the soup leavings into a thick fried rice that's really great. After dinner we went to a bowling alley on the fifth floor of a building (Korean buildings are pretty heavy duty, lots of heavy concrete) They play ten-pin bowling here, as opposed to five-pin bolwing back home. I was hopelessly uncoordinated but I had a great time. When I got home I watched The Big Lebowski, it just seemed to be the thing to do.
I'm on a new schedule now, working 0630-0830 and then 1500-1830. Yes, many of you who know me will have a hard time believing that I get up at 0530 and I'm actually teaching classes by 0630!!! I barely believe it myself. I could have gotten out of it since it's not what my contract states, but it didn't seem fair to the school since I only had one adult student in the evening, now I have four adult students in the mornings.
And that note I'm off to home and bed, it's 10:30 pm here now.