Posts Tagged 'frustrations'

I wish I could say this was unusual…

My supervisor is INSANE

So, my school just moved me to a house that is 20 minutes drive from anywhere, including the bus terminal that I have to get to to go to several of my schools. One of the conditions of me letting them move me so far away was that they help me get a scooter, as without one, I am SOL and unable to teach. Naturally, I have to get a license for my scooter/motorcycle. The driving school is at 1pm on Tuesday, and is 3 hours. Unfortunately, on Tuesday afternoons I have a 1 hour teacher’s workshop that I teach, though it’s quite informal and borderline optional. The teachers said they would be okay with moving it, but the supervisor refused to let me move it. Instead, she wants me to take the driving class that is on Wednesday at 1pm, and since the driving hagwon is an hour away, and I would get back from the classes at 5pm, approximately the time that the paperwork is due at the police station, SHE HAS CALLED THE POLICE STATION AND ASKED THEM TO STAY OPEN LATER. This woman is insane. My co-teacher kept telling her on the phone “no, she cannot take the class that day – the paperwork is due that day” but she kept saying that she’d call and get the police station to stay open an extra hour. Yeah, enjoy that pipe dream while it lasts, lady. 

Anyway, just thought you’d enjoy an example of Korean insanity. 

*Edit: The story gets even better! They’re letting me take that day as a “sick day”, to go take the classes. They won’t move a 1 hour teacher’s workshop, but they’ll let me use a sick day to get out of a full day’s work. What the hell?

Make it stop…

The Koreans are having a farewell party two floors below my room here, and they have been drinking and singing karaoke for the last…5 hours. They have been singing so loudly that I can hear the lyrics through my floor.

Did I somehow magically transport back to my first year of college? Oh, no, that’s right, Koreans have the maturity levels and behavioral patterns of college freshmen when you put bottles of soju in their hands.

Plus, I am so tired of being treated as if I’m some sort of social pariah for turning down offers of soju, or more than a first cup of beer. I don’t particularly enjoy getting drunk, and I definitely don’t enjoy the way Koreans socialize when they drink, and I really wish that they would just stop pestering me when I say “no thank you, I’m fine”. Maybe I should start telling them it’s “against my beliefs” or that “I don’t deal well with alcohol”, or something, just to get them to go away. I can’t exactly say “You turn into irritating teenagers when you drink, so the reason I’m only having one beer is so I can get out of here as quickly as possible without completely offending you.” to them, but man, sometimes I really, really want to.

Okay, sorry, just had to get that out.

“Teachaa wear purple bras! I see her!”

Awkward moment a little while ago:

It started pouring down rain, and I realized that I had laundry out on the line (dryers are a luxury only for the majorly rich here) attempting to dry. I was wearing a pair of boxers and my bra, and ran outside into the rain to drag the laundry in. As I was frantically trying to undo the pins, I heard laughing, and looked up to see that two of my students, one boy, one girl, were standing on the small ledge that looks into my house’s courtyard, laughing at me.

Great. Never gonna live this one down.

I love living in the countryside, but the fact that I see my students EVERYWHERE means that I have very little privacy, which can actually get quite exhausting, over time, and often is actively irritating. This is a prime example, as is hearing “Teachaa, what beer you drink?” the next day at school after they see me sitting outside the Family Mart with the other foreigners, drinking. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about it, other than to continue to teach them that just because we’re foreigners doesn’t make their actions suddenly not rude.

There will be more on this topic later.


I went to Gagye beach today after work (and will write more about that later). I was going to take the 12:30 bus, but at 12, right as I was packing my bag, my co-teacher FINALLY arrived at my door (after several days of emails and phone calls going unanswered) to tell me that they were going to move my stuff out of my apartment but that they had lost the key I gave them. >.< I had one last box to take to Lisa’s, so I went with her, and took my stuff to Lisa’s and watched them move my stuff out. They took everything out of the apartment, which bodes well for the place being remodeled on the inside as it was rumored might happen. I really hope that’s the case, as that would mean no more mold, hopefully lineoleum that is attached to the floor, a grate on the drain in my bathroom floor, and no more mystery smells coming from under my kitchen cabinets. My fingers are crossed.

An Update!


Sorry for being so irregular with my updates.  I have been jumping through endless bureaucratic hoops in regards to my job, and it has left me with not much inclination to write about it elsewhere.  I will simply sum it all up by stating that in the last month or so, I have threatened to quit my job three times, I have threatened to get my boss fired twice, I have gotten my boss’s boss in hot water, and I now have the personal cell phone number of the director of secondary education for THE ENTIRE PROVINCE.  When will administrations learn that it is rarely ever a good idea to try to jerk me around?  I just end up making sure that it bites them in the ass.

The end result is that I’m now being paid $500 a month more than I initially was, I am being moved from my grody apartment to a house on a mountainside (which I will have all to myself!), and they are paying for me to buy a scooter/moped/motorcycle to compensate for the fact that my house is in a village of about 500 people about 15 minutes away from the main town (and any sort of groceries, etc).

Marc is now here, which has been helping my mood a lot.  What has *not* been helping my mood is the fact that it’s been a week since I’ve had heating oil, and thus a week since I’ve had hot water.  There is only one place that delivers oil to my building, and every time I go down to talk to them, they keep saying “Tomorrow, tomorrow…” which is getting a little tiresome.  But, things like this are sort of a fact of life, since I basically live in the third world part of a second world country.

Marc and I at Namdoseokseong Fortress

Cute Dogs and Cultural Revelations

I need to figure out how to befriend the family that lives in the house next door to my apartment building.  They have three adult Jindo-gae, one adolescent one, and a few puppies.  They are all really adorable (especially the puppies), and I want to take some photos of them.  Maybe I can get my co-teacher to translate for me, or something.  The dogs are everywhere on this island, and they’re generally very sweet when they’re not guarding property.  I had two of them run up to me yesterday while I was out walking (they sort of run wild in the town), and they laid down and let me pet them.  I have yet to meet one that is not a total sweetheart.  It’s too bad that it’s illegal to take these dogs outside the country (they are a national treasure), because I could totally see myself with one of these as a pet.  They remind me of Akitas (one of my favourite breeds), but smaller and less aggressive.  If I get to know the ones here, maybe I will look for a breeder in the US.  There are a few out there, but not many, as you have to basically apply to the Korean government to get permission to export them from the country.

My current concern is how to get money.  Korea is a very cash-based society, and I have discovered that the ATMs here do not accept Mastercard, which is what my debit card is.  My credit card is not currently set up to be able to get “cash advances” from ATMs, so I’m not entirely sure what the hell I’m going to do.  I exchanged about $100 at the airport, and I have about $60 that I can exchange here on Monday, but other than that…I don’t really have anything.  In a week or two I get my settlement allowance, which is $300, but it’s going to be a long week or two if I have to live on $60.  It’s doable, but difficult.  If I only needed to buy food, that would be fine, but I really would like to buy myself a non-sketchy blanket, and a lamp, at least.   I had Marc call my parents last night at like 4am their time to tell them what’s up, and so hopefully they called the bank and figured out what I can do.  Without access to a phone or regular internet, I am very limited in what I can do regarding stuff back in the US.

I have been pleasantly surprised at what I am able to get here, regarding food.  I had been told that yogurt was rare, and that American candy was virtually non-existent, among other things.  When I was at the grocery store yesterday, they had three different varieties of yogurt, and they had Dove chocolate (and Lindt!) and Snickers bars.  I expected there to be Coke here, but there’s also Fanta and Mountain Dew.  Most of these import items are priced similarly to what they cost in the US, thought there are other American items that are available but less common, and they cost a fortune.  For instance, I found a pint of Haagen Daaz ice cream yesterday for almost $9.  I don’t mind Korean food, and much of it is not very difficult to make, so it’s not too bad.  I think I will miss pasta though – I didn’t see any in the grocery store, or even any flour, for that matter.  There’s a “French” (I’m skeptical) bakery in town that had bread, and I may go down there today to check it out.  Even if it’s not very good, it’s better than no bread at all.  I found a microwavable meal that claims to be spaghetti, so we’ll see if it really is anything like the real stuff.  Again, I’d rather have sub-par pasta than none at all.  I never really noticed how wheat-flour-based the western diet is until now.  Everything here is based on rice, and it makes a huge difference.

On the effects of humidity in sub-tropical Korea…

Having grown up in Houston, where it’s so humid you can basically feel the atmosphere on your skin, I thought I would be prepared for the humidity here.  I was wrong.  Well, partly, anyway.  I am fine with the humidity itself, especially since the nights are cooler due to the proximity of the town to the ocean.  However, what I was not prepared for was how the Koreans deal with it.  Or rather, how they don’t.

Koreans, as far as I can tell, are not big fans of air conditioning, and they’re not overly fond of oscillating fans either.  The result is that when you walk into a store or restaurant (or, for that matter, my apartment), the air is virtually the same as it is outside, and, in restaurants, frequently slightly warmer.  It is good that I spent three summers living in Boston, where most people don’t have air conditioning either, or this would be an even bigger shock to my system. 
The other side effect of this seeming lack of concern about the humidity is that the town as a whole is very dingy and moldy.  Thankfully it does not appear to be any of the bad kinds of mold, but I will not be surprised if I return to the US with a mold allergy next summer.  They don’t seem to take too much care of their buildings, letting mold grow not only on the outer walls but sometimes the inner walls as well.
When you combine this with their habit of throwing trash on the street (which I find odd, considering this country is generally obsessed with recycling everything) and of urinating on the walls, it means that the town as a whole has quite a distinct smell.  I wouldn’t quite qualify it as a “stench” just yet (we’ll see if I say that when August rolls around), but it is definitely not something I would prefer to be smelling as I wander around getting food from street markets.  Thankfully, I’d estimate that you can’t walk more than two miles in any given direction without hitting a mountain of some sort, so I’m hoping that in the afternoons after school I can go hiking, or take a bus to the pretty beach I keep seeing in pictures.  That way I’ll be able to minimize the amount of time I end up spending in the town itself.   
I had forgotten that rural Asia is not like rural America.  Well, perhaps it is similar to rural West Virginia, or one of the more depressed central-South states, but it is certainly not like rural New England or even rural Louisiana, for that matter.  I think that this strange combination of neon lights and run-down-buildings is probably the biggest piece of culture shock that I have experienced thus far.

I am considering purchasing a moped of some sort, depending on how much they cost, at some point, provided that I can sell it when I leave.  I need to figure out how far away the beach is, but I think that having a moped would allow me a great deal more freedom in moving around the island.  I don’t think I would use it here in town all that much, but I could certainly see it being useful to get around to the other little villages.  I will have to ask around and determine how much they cost.  I may not get one because it will probably take a couple months for me to have enough money saved for it and to pay for my part of Marc’s trip here to Korea, but we shall see.  I think that being able to go somewhere other than the town on my own schedule, even if it’s just to another dingy village, would probably make me feel less claustrophobic.

December 2019
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