Monday, January 31, 2005

This just in

Little pink plant now has a name. Against my suggestion of Pinky, Wendy opted to go with Martha. The baby naming is taking place tomorrow at Mac's Milk. The first ten guests get a free slushy.

Here is Wendy's little plant. She has no name. She's nameless. But at least she's claiming her fame online.

Cacque and Palmy. After a successful soil update hopefully they will regain the lustre and health of their youth. I'll keep you posted.

Goodbye January

We've made it past 100 visitors and I experienced a good deed this afternoon. What could be finer? I needed to repot my two desk plants, a four year old cactus and a brand new palm tree so I dropped by Westdale Florist to see if they had soil. They gave me a little grocery bag of it without charge! Now little Cacque and Palmy are sitting comfortably in fresh soil and if ever faced with the choice I will always choose Westdale Florist over Cottage Florist.

Though I may be statistically screwed I am definitely artistically amazing, and ready for my midterm tomorrow.

A bientot.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

How it all began: Installment 4

Now we get to my parent's reaction to the idea. I held off telling them. Then I told them. They didn't like it. So I sent them the following email:

Hi Parents,
I know you're not thrilled about this South Korea, but maybe looking at this webpage will warm you up to the idea. Look at the testimonial section particularly, and read what people have to say about their experiences. There's lots of information, and this company seems very reputable.

My father promptly responded and basically said that I should look more into it. I wrote back with the following:

Thanks Dad, I appreciate you taking this seriously. I know what you and Mum are probably thinking, besides the safety concern; that this is a waste of time and is not related to my future career, etc. Well I know how typical it is for us to think that way in our society, that everything has to be part of the goal. We are so incredibly driven to work towards the future. But what about right now? I don't want to get dragged along from school to school to work. To retirement. I want to experience the world and to grow as a person; to have a good understanding of myself so that I can make informed decisions about how I want to spend my life. I am young now and will only be this way for a short time. I don't want to miss out on anything, and I don't think that one year is a very long time. I am incredibly excited about the prospect of not only living and working in an exceptionally foreign country, but travelling to the surrounding countries that I likely will not have another opportunity to visit. China, Japan, Thailand... So, try to put behind you the Western ideas that one must 'go, go, go', and that any time spent elsewhere is a waste. I think that if anything I will be ahead of the game by doing this. But I promise to do all the research I can to make sure that I end up at a place that is safe, honest, and everything else. Just wanted to let you know how I feel. Love, Jess

My father responded:


I understand everything that you have said. I do understand how you feel. I hope you understand how I feel. You want to travel and explore, by all means take a month, travel, take two and travel. but keep your education going till you reach your final goal. You always have the time to travel and explore later. Do a bit each year. If you become an academic, you will have plenty of time available to travel the world.

You make it sound that I only believe in work, work work with no fun. You could not be further from the truth. For your information I have travelled to more places around the world than anyone else you know. I understand and appreciate your desires. I believe that you can easily accomplish both. I do know from my own experience that everyone reaches a wall whereby further schooling becomes intolerable. I don't want you to hit this wall before you have accomplished everything you want to. The travel and excitement can come after grad school.

Do you think you will be too old at this time? Is this the problem?

You need to really think this through very carefully. I do not support this adventure for you at this time. It may fine for Darcy but I very much believe its not the right thing for you to do at this time. I have some other thoughts to share with you when we are together in person.

Love always, Dad

And my mother's reaction:

Dear Jess,

I can see that Dad is very worried about your idea of going to S. Korea. He is very disappointed in your choice of locations and your extending your studies. He feels you have such good potential academically and that your potential will be diminished if you waste a year doing something which you really have shown no interest in doing and actually have expressed not enjoying teaching or children. Without teachers training and working with a new culture, you might actually find it very frustrating and difficult and he thinks that you will be disappointed in the living standards and find a year a very long period plus it could be very difficult and tiring work. I think he would rather see you spend your May to Aug travelling as a student would and then return to school. I think he would even prefer to help you out financially than see you put your studies behind schedule and perhaps find yourself stuck in an unhappy/dangerous situation.

I have spoken to two people about this type of work. One was a student who was working here and she was working in a school where the principal was sexually harassing the children. She reported it but they did nothing about it. She tried to get a new ticket to return and to quit the job and even had difficulty arranging this. Another person I know who I talked to recently said his friend's son went to Japan recently and is returning after three weeks as he is very unhappy there with the job and the conditions of the job. I do not know any further details.

Moving on to graduate school in a bigger city could be so exciting for you. You don't have to know exactly what you want to do initially. Your decision could evolve over time or you could go to a career counselling service to help you with your decision about where to go from here. In general, we both feel very concerned about your plans, we feel that you have such potential and although school may be a little boring now, graduate school will bring with it so many new people and experiences, location etc. If you want an adventure elsewhere apply to graduate school oversees or out west. If you are getting A's you will most likely get a scholarship. At least you will continue your journey in expanding your horizons and mingling with intellectual people who will inspire you.

You are ahead of schedule and should be proud of it. I wish I had all the good stuff going for me when I was your age. Don't take it for granted and lose your momentum. I hope you understand what we are feeling. We are so proudof you, we love you a bunch and we really worry about your safety. As you see travelling in dangerous areas can be very risky. You were very luckythat you did not face some of the tragedies which happen in Israel on a regular basis. I hope you understand.

Love Mom

I know this is a brutally long post but if you made it this far, I hope you found it interesting. It is a perfect example of this attitude that so many of us hold. What's 'wasting a year' supposed to mean? It's living a year! What do they mean, putting things on hold? This is making things happen. They want me to finish my education, meet a man, make babies... Egads. That will happen soon enough. For now I just want to live as me for a while. To go places and do things. Maybe I'm being overly naive and idealistic, but the way I see it, thinking in terms of wasting and using years is kind of insane. Unless you spend it sitting around in front of a television watching reality shows. It's an interesting topic, this. Discuss.


Instant or Quick?

And finally, breakfast from the other day. Mmm mmm. Livin' the good life over here. Posted by Hello

Betsy? Suzette?

While I'm posting pictures, here is one of the new vehicle. Not a great shot, but one nonetheless. No name has been selected as of yet.

Don't moo at a carrot eating toddler

This one goes out to you, brother Rick. I'll never forget that Bonheur painted this, "Ploughing of the Nivernais" in 1849. Yes, oh yes, there are cows dancing on a hot tin roof. Forty nine of them. Posted by Hello

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks the one week anniversary of On My Way, previously known as Undecided and still up for debate. In case you were itching to know, On My Way refers to the line from Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard". It's a scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-with-tears-streaming-down your-face kind of song. For me at least. You can also think of the Proclaimer's song "I'm On My Way" featured in Shrek, which seems to be playing in my head more often than not these days. Either way, I think both are appropriate for my blogging purposes. Studying for my art midterm today so things are chugging along kind of slowly. Chug chug chug.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I love when a crowd sings together

Went with Wendy to see an Israeli film tonight at Bloor cinema about the struggle of new immigrants from Morocco and India, as well as the human struggle of growing up, love, and family. We felt nostalgic for Israel after our summer backpacking adventure across the country. We bought Israeli chocolate that we enjoyed this summer. Mine has pop rocks embedded into milk chocolate. Genius!

The exciting part of the evening, though, was eating my second Korean meal ever! I felt I should get an idea of what I'm up for. A couple of years ago I went to a Korean BBQ where you cooked meats and fish right there on the table. It was alright but at the time I remember thinking that too much work was invovled. I know a cook can make my food much better than I can.

Tonight we went to this little fast food type place called Yummy! on Bloor St. just East of Bathurst. Who knew there was a little Korea right here in the city? I guess a lot of people knew... but I didn't. I had a beef stirfry at the recommendation of the friendly young fellow working behind the counter. He suggested we make it spicy if I was to get accustomed to true Korean food. I agreed. Wendy had chicken stirfry but without the spice.

It was a huge portion for only $6.00. It came with a large serving of tasty white rice, as well as three side dishes that I've heard so much about; pickled something, tofu something, and kimchi! The famous kimchi! I have bad news to report. I didn't like it. It was cold and vinegary, and I don't really like things that are vinegary. I hope to get used to it and grow to love it though. I won't give up on you, kimchi!

I'm even more excited now because it was really very delicious and delicious things make me happy to be alive. Ha! Yes, it's sadly true. Wendy has a friend who doesn't get pleasure out of food. Is that possible?

I should have brought a camera to capture the moment. Alas, I did not.

By the way, my title is unrelated to this post, but don't you agree? That makes me happy to be alive too.


I have just tasted heaven and I will never go back. So I'm at my parents house/my home in Toronto and I snuck into their left over Christmas gift chocolates stash. If you haven't already tried Confetteria Raffaello by Ferrero you haven't lived. Coconut shavings wrapped around a little ball full of mysterious creamy goodness. A crisp almond inside. Wow. I have one more that I will treasure.. until I eat it in three minutes.

How it all began: Installment three

The first question my skeptics ask is why do you want to go to Asia?

My response is usually that I want to see the world, experience other cultures, and they're hiring English teachers over there. Most people from Canada tend to do the backpacking-through-Europe thing and feel satisfied with themselves after that. I figure that I can see Europe at any time, but the opportunites to go as far as Asia will be slim once I get wrapped up in things.

The next question that one might wonder is why Korea? People do not understand the choice because when thinking of Asia it is often Japan or China that come to mind.

There are a few reasons why we chose Korea (and South Korea at that... ). First of all, I met a girl last year at this time who went there and loved it so much that she was going back to learn Korean. Since then I've met countless people who have went or who know someone who went and who found it incredible. Then, when looking at the Footprints site it seemed as though Korea was a better deal for us. The employers offer return airfare from Canada to Korea, an apartment paid for, a salary of about 18,000,000 to 21,000,000 won (which translates to $1,800 to $2,100 Canadian) a month, and about ten paid vacation days. With the only expenses being food and entertainment it's a pretty good deal. Plus, Japan has a higher cost of living. Then again they probably pay their teachers enough to make up for the difference.

Anyway, we kind of got stuck on the idea of going to Korea and so that is the plan. While we're there I hope to be able to travel to a lot of the surrounding countries, particularly Japan, China, and Thailand. I'm not sure if I'll travel to these places during my year of teaching, or if I will take a month afterwards to do extra travelling before returning to Canada. We shall see what seems most appropriate.

Next up: Dealing with my parent's reaction... (Mom and Dad, this must be discussed. My dedicated readers depend on the whole truth. Ha ha.)

The night

Just got back from a movie and drinks with some friends and then friends of friends.

Saw "The Aviator" a little bit late. I liked it overall, mostly because of the sountrack. I thought the acting was pretty good but the cutting was choppy and really not very well done. Definitely won't be added to my favourites list, but was worth the $6.50 student discount price at Westdale theatre.

Then went for drinks at a badly redone bar with $2.00 half pints. Two idiot guys we knew from residence joined us and talked about stupid things we've all heard talked about before. Like how hot it is to see two girls kiss. And the rules of urinal usage.

On a happy note I drove my new-used Honda Civic tonight a little bit. I like it, even though it's small. It's a nice looking car and it does the trick. I'll be sure to post a picture of it sometime soon, but just be aware that it looks like any other 2002 silver Civic that you see filling the streets. Filling, I tell you! They're everywhere.

Okay, enough dribble. Goodnight.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I'm a killer teaching assistant

I'm destined to be a great teacher. Today I had my students smiling and laughing, and hardly yawning at all. The best part of it is that I actually had a sizeable turnout with ten seats filled. You see, it's a real problem when, for a first year intro sociology class, the tutorials are made non-mandatory and are held on Friday afternoons. Who would bother to come? Last semester I brought in a depresssingly small attendence of maybe 3-5 students per class. This semester I have turned over a new leaf. I even got a transfer student from another tutorial, likely because the word is out on the street of my greatness. Ha. Maybe it's because I try to learn their names.

The class was about gender inequality today, which I think is an important issue to cover properly. Everyone runs in the opposite direction of anything "feminist" but there are serious inequalities that we face in society that have to be portrayed in a way that is not radical and off-putting.

Hopefully I managed that.

Art class ended early because my prof looked like she was going to vomit all over the floor. We have a test on Tuesday for which I have to memorize about 30 artists, work titles, and specific dates. Century or decade will not be accepted. I'm screwed. And I already have plans for the weekend.

Now I have one more tutorial to run (let's hope for double digits!) and then a meeting with my stats classmates (all four of them) to discuss the near-impossible homework for the week.

Another week's done gone.


We're starting a revolution! Well maybe not, but in any case there have been 29 visitors since I added the stats counter on Wednesday evening. That's some serious numbers people, keep it up! And I haven't even told most of my friends about it... The average length of visit jumped from one minute to three minutes and twenty-nine seconds. Now THAT's dedication. I fear this is becoming an addiction as I lie in bed thinking about what my next post will be like. Oh well, it's better than crack.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Walking home

The following things made me smile on my walk home from school tonight:

1) When I slipped on a banana peel. I really did, and they're really slippery.

2) The shoes that hang from the telephone wire. There are about seven or eight pairs hanging and the number keeps growing. I think they look very... nostalgic.

3) The hearts that are carved into the snow along my route home. I don't know who drew them or why, but they line the snowbanks and make me wonder.

4) A guy running his dog down the middle of the road. His dog held tight to his own leash.

5) The igloo that someone built on their front lawn. I wonder what it's like inside. Gotta love Canada.

6) A Ryan Adams song that came up randomly on my ipod. It's called "Gonna Make You Love Me" and it's great "walking home at night" music.

The minus-a million weather and my untied shoe were a bit of a hinderance but besides that all is well.

Now I must plan for my tutorials. I hate planning for them. Every Thursday night is a pain. I'm going to make a GREAT teacher!

I am a referree

I have been asked to write a reference letter for a professor! What a change - usually it is me asking for letters from professors and I always feel guilty and embarassed about it. The tables have turned... Dr. Cuneo is up for a Lifetime Achievement Award and he submitted my name as one of the students he has worked with.

I had included the letter but it was long and boring and useless, so I took it out. One exceptionally lucky visitor got to appreciate it - check out his glowing review. If you feel like you missed out, drop me an email and I'll send it along without delay!

One year

One year ago today my heart suffered its most painful crack to date. One year! I have never had such a salient marker that would show me how fast time passes by. I can remember all the details of last year's today. The waiting, the telephone call, the decision. The blankness, the overwhelming desire to sleep, the feeling of extreme loss. Over this one year I was very sad. That sadness became something else that I cannot name and then slipped into happiness, probably sometime in Israel. Today, one year later, I am happier with myself than ever before. Not to say that things in my life are overly exciting and stimulating, but I feel as though the struggle to regain happiness forced me to come to a better understanding of who I am, what I want and need, and how I intend to live my life. So that's that.

It is truly incredible that this year is over. I spoke to him on the phone last night at midnight, merely as a coincidence. Happy anniversary, I called when I answered my phone at 12:00 exactly. What gift is traditional for this special landmark?

Look at 'em rise

Wow, already 11 viewers and it hasn't even been one full day. I am famous already. Actually, the average length of visit is only at about one minute so really we're not taking over the world just yet. I know! Maybe instead of just watching the count rise I should try actually posting something of interest. What a concept.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

New stats counter

If you scroll to the bottom of the main page you will see my new additon: a stats counter! Just click on it and you will see interesting stats about my visitors. That is, once I start getting some. :)

How it all began: Installment two

[EDIT: Footprints ended up doing a very poor job. Read posts later in June to find out more.]

So after making the decision and telling D'Arcy that I'd join her, we started the hunt for a reputable recruiter through which to land a job. I think I must have typed "teach English in Korea" into Google and came quickly upon a company called Footprints Recruiting ( Their website looked pretty professional to me, and they are based in Canada so I thought they seemed good.

I know, I know. I've heard all the horror stories about terrible recruiters who are unreliable and who set you up with terrible schools. Just because I know doesn't mean I did anything about it. Just kidding, I did look into Footprints somewhat... tried to find them on the Better Business Bureau of Vancouver, searched for them on Dave's ESL cafe, read their testimonials. Everything checked out pretty well as far as reputable and recruiter in the same sentence possibly can.

I filled out a quick online application and within a day or two I got a response from one of their representatives named Kara. She basically let me know everything that I would need to send to them to get the ball rolling: three letters of reference, a cover letter and resume, and a lesson plan. Not too difficult. I got the letters of reference (from two professors and an ex-employer) and updated my resume. The reference letters were sent via e-mail directly by my referees so when Kara received them she emailed me to let me know and to set up a telephone interview. I found that funny because I hadn't even sent in my resume, cover letter, or lesson plan yet.

I sent in the cover letter and resume and never ended up doing a lesson plan.

The phone interview went without a hitch. Kara was extremely friendly and easy to talk to. Her questions were very straight forward: Why do you want to do this, what about a professor that you have had made you like them, what qualitites do you possess that make you a good teacher, what travelling experience do you have, would you feel like you are bringing your culture to them or vice versa, etc. In truth, most of the half an hour interview was me asking her questions about various things. At the end of the conversation she told me that I have been approved as a Footprints teacher. Alright! Really, I think they accept anyone who speaks without an accent and who holds a degree, but who's asking.

Since the interview, which I guess took place in December, I have been in contact with Ben Glickman a little bit. He will be the one who finds D'Arcy (who was also approved) and me teaching positions. He asked some questions and will be in touch closer to our departure date (which is in June sometime after graduation).

The only other contact I have had with them up until this point is this week, when I emailed to get some recommendations for a good quality TESL course that I may take in May. They responded very quickly with a substantial list of Toronto area programs. So far I'm very happy with Footprints Recruiting. If anyone knows anything more about them, or if you have had some experience with them, let me know.

So that is the story of how I found a recruiter. Next on the list: Why Korea???

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What was I thinking?

Just spent the last four hours practicing my self-presentation as an intelligent undergraduate student successfully keeping up with the big cats in a PhD stats course. Bah! I understand nothing! I don't remember ever learning so many letters representing numbers in regards to statistical inference. My prof doesn't crack a smile and keeps up with a monotone lecture the entire class. How can this be?!?! Luckily, it appears that my fellow classmates struggle just as hard to maintain an appearance of wakefulness.

I'm sick and my nose is dripping constantly. I have a kleenex box with me.

Just one more class for my hellish day and I can go home and catch up on the lost sleep from last night, when it felt like I lay awake from 1:30 until 5:00 or so.

I'm know I promised that this would be a Korea related blog, but so far there are limited Korea related events occuring in my life. I'll get to it in due time.

Monday, January 24, 2005

And to you, too.

Did I forget to mention we also traded in this thing? I can't say I have any fond memories of this car, except avoiding being seen in it, and driving to school with Rick one day when he had a bad cold, counting the number of times he coughed during the 4 minute drive. I think it was about 60. Must have been a record! Posted by Hello

Good-bye, old friend

Today we said good-bye to our good friend Vernon (Vroom Vroom Vernon to some). As I drove from our house to the dealership, memories flashed through my mind: the time I sideswiped a parked car when I only had my learner's permit, how I used to get boyfriends to drive me around in my own car, when Rick thought he could plough through the bump of snow at the end of the driveway. Sigh. And the more recent times spent together, learning to be a confident and skilled highway and city streets driver, not to mention gracing the 401 and 403 more often than I'd care to count. As I made the final drive, with a funny sound coming from somewhere when I was idyling, a fast-leaking gas line, and an open trunk that was banging up and down, I had nothing but fond memories. But it was time to say good-bye. Posted by Hello

How it all began - Installment one

Instead of writing the essay that is due tomorrow I think I will update all my dedicated readers (mom...) on the process that got me to where I am today in terms of deciding to go to Korea.

My intention for the last few years has been to finish my undergraduate degree in sociology and proceed to a graduate program, perhaps in demography or something a little more practical than, say, sociology of the family. Then I backpacked around Israel this summer and learned a few things. Maybe they're cliche things, but I think they're important. I want to see the world. I don't want to be sucked through a vacuum of school then school then work then retirement. I want to seize opportunities and adventure before settling down. That's a bit of the background info.

At some point my friend D'Arcy said casually, "hey Jess, wanna go teach English is Asia after we graduate?"

At the time I thought that I couldn't break away from the academic stream so I smiled and said something along the lines of "wouldn't that be nice."

Then one chilly October evening over coffee, another friend Jordana wondered what kind of summer job she would get because she wanted to do something memorable. I realized that this summer is the beginning of reality. May through August are no longer a four month taste of the drudgery of the working world where I pranced through an office place, pitied the poor souls stuck there indefinitely, and felt close to tears every Sunday night. This May is when life really began.

I tossed and turned that night in bed, considering my options. By morning I had decided to go to Korea.

Tune in next time for installment 2: Finding a recruiter (I know, you just can't wait)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

My first photo post

This is Oliver. He is my first photo post! Good ol' Oli-boy... Posted by Hello

My first post

This is a test.

It is January 23rd at 3:21 in the afternoon. In five months time I will be leaving for Korea to be yet another Canadian English teacher in Seoul (or somewhere). This blog will document the process, starting now.

First things first. I need a blog name. Got any suggestions?