Sunday, January 20, 2008

Looking For A Job?

I can't believe it but Shinjin is actually looking for someone to fill my position for next year already. It totally doesn't seem like it's been a whole year, and I know it's cliche' but time really does fly. I thought that putting the classified add up on my blog would be interesting for everyone to see. Here is what they're looking for...

Shinjin Science Technology Academy is currently looking for English teaching instructors. We want sincere and experienced native speakers. If you are interested, please send a copy of your resume, diploma, teaching credentials, TESOL certificate, and a recent picture of yourself to the address below. Job description is as follows.

-Preferred Qualifications
1. M.A. or B.A. (if possible, Education or English major is preferred)
2. TESOL / TEFL certificate and ESL / EFL teaching experience
3. An enthusiastic and good cross-cultural personality preferred

Kim, Joong- KI
Email: Phone: 02-355-6709
Mobile: 010-3708-6844

Shinjin Science Technology Academy
114-1, Eungam1-dong, Eunpyeong-gu
Seoul, Korea. Postcode 122-010

© Conditions & Benefits

a. Contract Length: 1-year minimum (Renewable, if needed)
b. Initial Employment date starts: March 1st, 2008 – Feb, 28th ,2009

1. Monthly Salary: 2.4 million won (some 2,500 U.S. dollars)
2. Class hours: approx. 20 hrs/week
3. Work days: Monday to Friday (8a.m to 4:30 p.m)
4. Work Place: Eungam1-dong, Eunpyeong- gu, Seoul
5. Holidays: approx. 5 weeks of paid vacation will be given : two weeks during summer vacation and three weeks during winter vacation.

Airfare (economy class) will be paid from your location to Seoul upon your acceptance to our school.
ΓΈ Contract Completion Bonus: Paid Flight Home

School offers private spacious housing close to school
(furnished, two bedroom, living room, kitchen and washroom)

School will pay 50% of Medical insurance.
School will pay 50% of the compulsory payment to the national pension fund.
School will pay one-time settlement allowance of 300,000 won.
Part of everyday luncheon expenses will be met.

-Application Deadline

Jan. 18, 2008

I've actually done a bunch of interviews for the school already and there are some really good candidates. I just hope the people who replace Rachel and I like the job as much as I did.

Alright, I'm off to go pick up my parents at the airport. Yup, Mr. and Mrs. Kroll are on their way to Asia as we speak. I have 2 weeks of quality family time ahead of me, one week as a tour guide of Seoul and the next as a tourist in China. Can't wait, and I am looking forward to blogging about it all as soon as I can. I'm sure there will be plenty tell.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Snap Back to (a sad) Reality

Well after all those happy posts about Karl in Korea I feel maybe it's about time we got back to reality. You know, life isn't all just vacations, parties, and holidays (even though I wish it was) there are some real issues too. Last night, on a regular Saturday I was hit by one of those issues. An issue I didn't see coming, maybe due to ignorance, maybe due to denial, or maybe just because I didn't know it could happen to me, but it did.

I grew up in a white, upper-middle class family, in a white town, with predominantly white friends. That isn't exactly the recipe for racial discrimination in America, it's quite the opposite actually. To be honest my background might be the anti-discrimination profile. So obviously I didn't know too much about the issue personally. You read about it, see it in movies, magazines, news papers, but nothing really rings the reality bell as loud as personal experience.

This past weekend I went out with my best and closest Korean friend, who also happens to be a woman. She took me out to Apgujeong, which is another hot spot in Seoul with a good nightlife scene. It's a nicer area than where I normally go out; places like Iteawon, Hongdae, or Sinchon. We had a meal and drinks surrounded by what seemed to be Seoul's exclusive swanky youth. Now while I'm used to being the only white person around my neighborhood, when I'm out on the town there are usually other foreigners around, but in Apgujeong I didn't see any other people who weren't Asian. It was just me, yet I didn't feel out of place. I was with a friend, out to dinner, just like I had been many times before, and it was really nice. But that wasn't where the night ended. We decided to go to Iteawon to meet up with some of our other friends.

We went to the only Irish pub I know in Seoul, Wolfhounds. I've been to Wolfhounds plenty of times but right as we sat down, meeting up with Jeff, Alex, Kyeonghe and Jinjew, it was impossible not to notice the drunk women sitting at the table next to us. They were just being obnoxious. You know when drunk people butt into other tables conversations, sing too loud, and dance in their seats? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about, That's what we were dealing with. But then they started taking pictures of us. Two drunk women were taking pictures of me and my friends and I found it quiet offensive for a flash to be going off every couple of moments, from a few feet away, during our conversations. When I asked her to stop she very maturely replied "No, who cares?". Obviously she had communication difficulties because she couldn't put together that someone who asks you to stop obviously cares about what you're doing. Either way, I hoped that would be the end of it but it wasn't.

She said she wanted the pictures for her blog (ironic huh?) to show how messed up it is to see white guys with Korean girls. Those words were my first actual taste of discrimination. I realize it doesn't sound like much now but it's such a hard feeling to describe how I felt when I heard it. I knew that those words hurt my friends, made us all feel uncomfortable, like we shouldn't be talking together, out together, seen together, or even friends just because our skin color was different. It instantly made my heart beat race. There wasn't a logical response that came to mind because it was clouded by anger, so I wanted to think of something witty to say, but nothing I could think of saying would change the color of our skin. It was a helpless feeling.

The only thing I was able to get out while I stared at this woman was "How old are you?" Her response made me wince on so many different levels. She paused, looked me square in the eye and said "I'm thirty" (My face: ohhhhhh :/ ). It just seemed unfortunate for so many reasons:
1 - because she didn't look a day under 40, and I felt bad that she felt she needed to lie about her age.
2 - then again, maybe she wasn't lying and she just looks horrifyingly old for her age.
3 - either way, a "thirty" year old woman out at a bar, drunk, with only a female friend as company on a Saturday night, in SOUTH KOREA no less, must have a ton of relationship issues.
4 - I also winced for myself. How could a woman who had expressed no signs of intellect thus far make me feel bad about myself?

I think I should be stronger than that, I thought I was, but I felt bad none the less. I couldn't take her words back, lord knows I tried to take her camera (but I can't really do much to a "thirty" year old woman when it all comes down to it, now can I). I had to give back her camera, I had to try and be amicable with her, and I had to endure her drunken justifications of her prejudiced point of view, in childlike English, and aided by body language because she thought our Korean friends, who speak English, couldn't understand her without it (which only angered me more).

By the end of it I felt bad for her because she was so ignorant, but she repeatedly protested how she was "not judgmental" through it all. Then again maybe I don't know what judgmental means (definition: having or displaying an excessively critical point of view). If sitting next to people you don't know and telling them they don't belong together while making them feel extremely uncomfortable isn't judgmental then maybe I should call it what it really is, racist.

I have some closing thoughts on this experience:

- I am well aware that what I went through is nothing, I repeat NOTHING, compared to what other people have endured, but maybe we all can learn a little something about tolerance, I did, and I feel it's a lesson always worth sharing.

- Her closing line to me was, "In 'the South' you couldn't get a woman." This statement made me wince once again (I was praying that she was Canadian). No, all jokes aside, I am worried for America when a person from "the South" can come all the way to South Korea and still carry such ingrained prejudices with them.

- Even when I did stand out as the only foreigner in an entire restaurant, on this night, I didn't feel out of place. It took an American to make me feel like I didn't belong.

- I'm sorry my friends had to go through that. I wish I could have done more.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Out In the Cold with Hot Carl

I don't know if there are too many slide shows up but if you think so please tell me and I'll try to cut back on them. As for now, I'm only getting good comments about them, so here's another.

This is Karl and I at all of the memorable sites around Seoul:

It was great to have you Karl, thanks for coming, and I'm already looking forward to our next trip together.

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Years '08 'Korean Style'

Wow!!! What a New Year's celebration. Who would have ever seen this coming. If someone would have told me I'd be ringing in the '08 new year in Seoul, South Korea, a year and a half ago I would have thought they were crazy. But it's hard to think that I could have had a better 2007.

As far as 2007 goes, memorable moments were at a premium:

-Quiting my first job after college. A job that allowed me to work for a year in New York City, and in the entertainment industry; two things I had wanted to do since I was a little kid.

-Almost 2 job free months in NYC where I tutored people from Korea, Brazil, Mexico, and Columbia and met some truly wonderful people.

-Moving to the other side of the world.-Becoming a High School English teacher (who would have seen that coming?).

-Traveling to Thailand and Cambodia where I saw some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet and one of the seven wonders of the world, Angkor Wat.

-Going to France for a week with my family, seeing world famous sights, meeting some of my brothers wonderful friends, and seeing my brother getting married in one of the best and weddings I could ever imagine.

-Mud Fest! Need I say more?

-Making really close friends far from home.

-And last but not least, getting a big greasy Italian to come around the world and experience life "Korean Style" for a week. Thanks Karl.

Outside of that, I was also able to save a substantial amount of money and gather a whole slew of life experiences. I always love new years time because I'm totally sentimental and I can't get enough of all the "year in review" shows. For the world 2007 had some ups and downs, but for me, 2007 was a blast.

Now it all begins again. Can I make 2008 even better? It's not going to be an easy task but I'm up for the challenge.

Enjoy the slide show of New Year's Eve 2008 live from Seoul. There was supposed to be a larger group of us, but we had a lot of people back out at the last second due to the extreme cold and/or large crowd. Everyone we told that we were going to Jongak (like Time Square) said it would NOT be fun. "Too many people", "No room", "No move", "Fall and die, maybe", "Too cold", were all warnings that we heard from everyone, but today I can tell you, they didn't know what they were talking about.

It was cold but not too cold. It was crowded but not too crowded, and it was a ton of fun! It is something I'm so glad I did, and would suggest all others living in Seoul to give it a try at least once. Take a look for yourself.

Monday, January 7, 2008

My Birthday In Korea

Ok, where were we? Day two of Karl's trip to Korea, right.

Day two was supposed to be the day Karl got to meet all the teachers at my school and we'd all celebrate my birthday together.

Karl arrived on the last day of school at Shinjin, but the principal planned a faculty trip to a nearby island the next day. On this island we would all do some hiking, eating, drinking, and bathing...real Korean style. I thought it would be a great experience for Karl, and a good chance for him to get exposed to what and who I've been living with this past year. However, since this was a school function, I made sure to ask months in advance if it would be ok for Karl to join us, and they assured me that he was welcome with open arms. Well apparently the open arms closed the day before the trip. Some of the faculty had a problem with a "non-teacher" joining our little trip. So at the last minute I had to pull out and instead of meeting my teachers, Karl had to settle for kicking a few back with Kim Jong Il in the picture above. By the way Karl, I think Kimmy was a little uncomfortable with how close you got in that shot.

*As a side note: Mr. Heller came down with the flu and couldn't go on the trip either, and since Heller and I pulled out, so did Rachel, meaning there were no white teachers on the teachers trip. I thought that was unfortunate.*

So with the surprise free day we had to come up with something new to do on the fly. I showed Karl the neighborhood, Emart, and some more local cuisine before we got back on the fun track.

At night some of the locals bought me a surprise birthday cake, and we played some "Apples to Apples" which is a very fun game, if you like to argue (thank you very much). After we finished our cake, and the furious game, we hit up a Korean foreigner right of passage, "Club Night". Club Night is held on the last Friday of every month in Hongdae, the downtown area around Hongik University. It costs $20 or 20,000 won to get a bracelet that gains you entrance to every club in town. I've been hearing about Club Night since the week I got to Korea, but I hadn't made it there yet myself. I'm not that big of a "club guy", that is, unless it's my birthday apparently.

Hahah, check out the pictures, and I'll continue the whirlwind tail of Karl in Korea again tomorrow.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Annyeonghi Kaseyo (Goodbye in Korean)

It seems like a month ago when I saw the countdown to Karl's arrival hit Nonuple zeros (nine zeros), but in actuality it's just been an action packed week. It's hard to believe that my best friend has already come and gone to the other side of the world to see me, but he has. I put Karl on a bus to the airport just yesterday, and I'm glad to say that I got an email confirming his safe arrival back in Dirty Jersey just hours ago.

But since the day he arrived in Seoul I hadn't had a chance to blog so there is a lot to catch up on. Palace's, parties, club night, birthdays, New Years, Seoul Tower, shopping, bus rides, subway rides, ball pits, and just saying "eating" as a topic doesn't give what we did the justice it deserves.

I was right when I said "Capt'n Karl is here...and he's all business." He came knowing that he had only one week to experience everything Korea had to offer so we had to get right to work. But I wanted Karl to see not only what Korea had to offer but what my experience in Korea has been like too. So the night he arrived I took him to a local restaurant where my friends joined us for what most foreigners consider their favorite Korean dish, Daeji Galbi. Daeji Galbi is barbecued pork ribs, and pretty much everyone likes them in Korea.

After dinner we headed to my apartment for some after dinner drinks and what was supposed to be a calm first night, for Karl to recover from his flight, turned into a
full blown welcoming party.

Karl got his first tastes of Korean alcohol; Soju, Macoli, and the local beers, Cass, Hite, and OB. Plus, he also got introduced to his KING SIZED BED that I got for him to sleep on while he was here. It was an all around good night. But it was just night number one. Take a look and check back soon for updates.