Sunday, June 25, 2006

Traveling Abroad

When I came to South Korea, I was naive about the world. Thought I knew everything.... well not facts (geography, history, pop culture, ...) but thought I completely understood people and how the world worked. I was wrong.

I definitely didn't know anything about South Korea, as an American who's media fed about the evils of North Korea and their desire for Nuclear Power. I thought I'd live in a beaten-down "traditional home" and be the only foreigner in my city. Didn't realize how westernized and industrialized Korea's become, with some financial assistance from Western Powers. Though much of Korea's traditional culture has been preserved, a woman is usually only seen wearing a hanbouk on holidays or Weddings. Many restaurants now have forks to accompany their chopsticks. And most people speak a little English. Hence, the flood of foreign teachers in Korea. I've met so many people over the past year ... some of the most interesting characters I've ever encountered. I usually hate or love them, because they fall into 2 very distinct categories: those who are running from something and those who are running to (searching for something more). Unfortunately, most foreigners here are looking to escape the problems they've created back in their home countries. It frightens me to hear a teacher of little children say they came to Korea b/c it's "drug free" and the best way to quit cold turkey. Or that they couldn't find girlfriends at home and heard Asian women flock to Western men. Sad, but true. Well I've weeded out the weirdos and met some great companions who, like myself, have come for the experience. To be part of a different culture, learn the language and ways of other people. To teach. To travel.

a little HISTORY lesson: Korea was invaded and ruled by Japan from 1910 until the end of World War II in 1945. On August 10, 1945 the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to divide Korea along the 38th parallel (Japanese forces north of that line would surrender to the Soviet Union, those south to the United States)

The Korean War, ( June 25,1950 - July 27, 1953) started as a civil war between North and South Korea. The north was communist and was backed up by the Soviet Union. The U.S. and U.N. "saved" South Korea when they were nearly defeated by the North. American opinion was "solidly behind the venture", however Truman failed to obtain a declaration of war from Congress before sending troops to Korea. Our troops have been here ever since; though I hear we're removing them soon. Hmmm. I'm supposed to visit the DMZ next year with friends.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dae Ha Ming Guk!!!

which translates to Korea ,

but in literal terms it means

"Great Nation.”

{red sports teams}

I recently went to another Hanwha Eagles game here in Daejeon with some friends. We lost because of a bad call at the end and the fans waited outside the gates for the umpire. Guess Koreans aren't always peaceful.
Then there were the WORLD CUP SOCCER games, which were crazy! The people of this country take the world cup VERY seriously! You could hear cheers all throughout the dongs. Woke me up once! I love the people of this country, so I became an instant fan of the
Red Devils.
Our school gave us shirts and my students put Korean Flag tattoos all over me; I bought a red hankerchief to put my hair up and went to my friend Jenny's "foreigner's bar" to watch the game against Switzerland... which knocked us out of the tournament. Their goalie was like a superhero on crack. We lost 2-0.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bug Museum

There's a famous science park here in Daejeon with various exhibits, called Expo Park. We've been to body world, we're going to the water park soon, and we recently visited the bug museum. It was interesting. I adore butterflies with a passion. I prefer to see them flying (like the conservatory I visited with my sister, Angela, near Niagra Falls in Canada.) But now I've had the chance to appreciate the details and vast differences withing the species. There are SO many kinds of bugs out there I never knew exhisted: BIG, SCARY insects I would've mistaken for aliens had I ever chanced upon them in nature. OH MY GOD, you wouldn't believe the size of some of the bugs in Indonesia (East Asia), Malaysia(Southeast Asia), India (South Asia), Ecuador (South America), and other Nations. We even got to hold some live ones.

There were several of these beasts made of metal scraps just outside the museum. They were cool, but I couldn't make the connection with bugs.
The students seemed to grow more excited over everyday things than the actual exhibit. That's what I love about them. They were more interested in the ants crawling around while we waited for our bus than the bugs pinned down inside the museum. I also made the mistake of swinging from the trees and acting like a monkey. Now every day the kids chase me through the halls screaming, "TEACHER, MONKEY!!!"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wednesday, June 07, 2006