Thursday, April 26, 2012

For me, The Age of the Scooter has ended, and The Age of the Motorcycle has begun.  A couple weekends ago I sold my well loved scooter to my friend Nathan and bought a sweet 125cc Daelim Roadwin motorcycle from my friend Pat.

Pretty sweet eh?
Why would I do such a drastic thing so close to the ending of my time here in Pohang?  I did it for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it makes me look much cooler than my scooter did - think Tom Cruise Mission Impossible cool - that's how cool I look.  Also, it has gears, which make it much funner to ride.  But the main reason that I bought this motorbike is because I plan on The Age of the Motorcycle lasting longer than my time in Korea.  My contract is finished here at the end of June, and many people would take this chance to travel around Asia a little more.  But I mostly just want to go home as soon as I can - I have a nephew to hang out with.  So that's what I'm going to do.  But that's not the only reason; this also helps me save money for my Mega Motorbike Mission.  Here's the plan: When I get home, I'm going to buy a super cool motorbike, maybe something like this:
A Honda Shadow - 750cc
Then, after our family camping trip in August, I'm going to head west.  I've never been past Manitoba, and I'd really like to see more of Canada.  After getting to Vancouver, I'm going to follow the coast south and visit friends along the way.  My goal is to make it all the way down to Gallup, New Mexico before heading back home.  That's the plan.  I'm pretty excited about it.

In other news, something else drastic has occurred over here - something I'm not so excited about.  Alisa's one year contract with Poly is finished and she's gone home!  She will be coming back to Pohang in a month to teach at another academy (one with much less hours), but having her not here has been somewhat traumatic for me.  I should have been prepared for the change, but I guess I wasn't.  I feel pretty lonely without her - school is much quieter and I've lost my hangout buddy.  Her not being here made me realize how much time we spent together - practically every day for the past year.  So that's got me feeling sad these days, but I guess change is a part of life.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, April 6, 2012

Before coming to Korea, when I had decided to teach abroad, I pursued the option of teaching in the United Arab Emirates.  I was even offered a job teaching in the emirate Abu Dhabi.  I would have made a lot more money if I had taken the job, but after researching it a little and thinking about it, I felt more comfortable choosing Korea over the UAE.  It didn't really register at the time, but looking back at this decision, I think the fact that Islam is the UAE's state religion was a factor in me feeling less comfortable choosing to live there.  Now, after almost two years in Korea, I almost want to re-apply for a position in Abu Dhabi because I think that I am much more prepared to handle the differences of living in the UAE.
But what I want to write about here is how, now that I'm here in Korea, I can't help compare my experience in Korea to what my experience could have been in Abu Dhabi had I taken the job there.
Well, one stark difference hit me when I was standing outside the bus terminal with my friends last weekend.  We were going to get on a bus heading toward GyeungJu where we were going to go on a hike.  But our trip was delayed due to some terminally tardy companions.  So we were waiting outside the bus terminal and were having the hardest time communicating with each other because kitty-corner to the bus terminal a new cell phone store was opening up and they were having some sort of grand opening, which are big here in Korea.  This grand opening included full time 'bowers'.  A group of five of them stood on the corner in their uniforms and bowed to the cars passing by.  This grand opening also included repetative dance music being played VERY LOUDLY!!!!!! (emphasis on loudly).  We were across the intersection and, as I said, I could hardly here the guy next to me talking.  I was baffled by how the bowers, who were standing next to the speakers, or anyone else in a 10 km radius could be ok with this ear-crushing music.
In contrast to this experience, I imagine if I was standing on a corner in a town in Abu Dhabi last weekend, instead one in Pohang, South Korea, it would not have been this terribly loud dance music proclaiming the call to the 'consumeristic religion' (that indeed is in full force here in Korea) that I would have been hearing, but instead perhaps I would have heard a much quieter call to daily prayers from the mosk accross the intersection.

So we headed to GyeungJu and hiked up a pretty steep hill which had a number of budhist carvings along the way.  It was so great to be out in the sun.  Spring is finally arriving slowly and surely.

A good one of Alisa and I on the way up.

The group of us on the top.
Thanks for reading,