Thursday, June 30, 2005

What have I done?!?

Now that I've had a good cry over all your thoughtful comments and emails, I try to summarize the last few hours as best I can. I'm sitting on the faux wooden floor of my rather adorable apartment after being awake for more hours than I care to count.

I slept for two hours on Tuesday night and maybe two hours in total on the brutally long plane ride(s). The first leg of the journey, from Toronto to Vancouver, had me sitting next to an exceptionally friendly Korean man on his way back from Lima, Peru. We spent five, yes five hours going through my various Korea books and practicing vocab. I think he was working on his English while I worked on my Korean, but I appreciated his interest and warmth. He shaved his face with an electric razor blade as our plane made its descent.

Between landing and taking off for Korea I chatted with another foreigner at the gate who was heading towards some city I know nothing about to teach an adult split shift and reunite with his Korean girlfriend. He seemed cool and we exchanged email addresses. A grade ten boy overheard us chatting in English and joined in the conversation. It was some kind of friendly atmosphere, let me tell you.

On the plane I was seated next to a 12 year old Korean girl whose parents have sent her away to live with her aunt and uncle in Calgary so she can have a good life. We spent the 11 hour plane ride chatting about The Hatchet and Harry Potter, playing hangman and SOS, and doing other 12 year oldy type things. I also quickly retrieved gravol from the stewardess when Tina threatened vomit.

I arrived in Korea with popping ears and an aching behind, not to mention the return of my cold that hasn't gone away since before Mexico. My nose is full and my throat isn't far behind. Walking along with my vocabulary friend from the first flight, I attempted to pop my ears clear. Somehow this caused extreme dizziness and I had to stop myself from fainting by grabbing onto a bar. I felt like crap for a five second instant and then everything was okay.

My director who's name I have yet to recall, picked me up at the airport holding a name sign of course. He looked a little hesitant at the sight of me. Maybe it was because I'm a giant. Maybe it was because I was sweating like crazy because of the dang humidity, or maybe because I neglected to follow Paul's advice of applying lipgloss or something before meeting him. Ugh.

The drive from the airport to Suji took about two hours. Two hours I'd rather have spent plucking each hair out of my head one by one. Awkward conversation, uncomfortable sinuses, and a terribly jet-lagged self made me want to crawl into a ball and sleep for hours.

Finally we arrived at the school where I met two fellow teachers who seem very warm and welcoming and got a look at the facility. It's very charming and well equipped - just wait till I take some pictures. The colours, the computer room and gym... all very nice.

Then, horror upon horrors, my boss took my out for dinner. I ate some nasty cheese based spaghetti and we conversed about breakfast cereal.

I was then taken to my room where I now am, my bags full, as well as my head. I'm exhausted and am about to hit the hay. Hooray for an internet connection in my room. Hooray for a cute apartment and school.

Boo for a long walk to school. Boo for an uncomfortable experience with director. Boo for teaching tomorrow... did I forget to mention that? Yeah. I'm starting tomorrow.

I miss you guys.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

On my way

Well guys, this is it. Take a deep breath. I'm leaving tomorrow. I'm about to voluntarily throw myself into a completely foreign country where it will be a struggle to buy groceries, find my way, and ask for help. Signs will mean nothing to me, I know of three Korean dishes that are guaranteed delicious, and teaching, well, what can I say about teaching when I know nothing about it?

Last year before I left for Israel I sent an email to friends and family:

"I don't know exactly what to expect, but I'm hoping that this trip will provide for me something that I'm looking for. I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for; maybe adventure, maybe responsibility, maybe inspiration, maybe distraction. Whatever it is, I'm sure I'll find at least something. If nothing else, there's always falafel."

Those feelings still apply. I'm not sure that I'll ever find what I'm looking for but with every new experience, whether good or bad, I know that I am growing and becoming. All I want is to continue doing that.

If nothing else, there's always kimchi.

PS: For everyone who's reading this, whether I know you or not, leave a comment please! I'd love some arrival inspiration. (In case you don't know, click on 'comments' and choose 'other' to sign your name).

Speak to you soon, pals.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Notice the error... ha ha.



Apparently Blogger has improved. Let's test it.

Oooh, posting pictures just got... well, not much easier but different.

Still trying to pack. It's coming along relatively well.

Look who's here

I guess this is really happening, eh? Two very important pieces of paper arrived today, the first one being my plane ticket. Yee-haw! I didn't have to pay a cent for this sucker. Thanks Mr. Kim director man. The other important document that arrived is my sealed transcripts. The Korean goverment has recently implemented a new requirement for the E-2 visa of sealed, not loose, university transcripts. Upon discovering this news I sent in a request to the office of the registrar on Monday, indicating that I wanted them sent by courier. They didn't arrive all week so I called the office on Friday to see what was going on. Apparently they failed to notice that request and had sent them through the regular mail. Thankfully they arrived today, just in time.

I've been seeing people and saying goodbye but still feeling rather apathetic to the whole thing. It's nice to see my friends and family and everytime I say goodbye to another person I get hit with this feeling of realization that this is happening now. Besides that I'm very calm and collected. Today I practiced my non-existant sewing skills, attaching my Canadian flag to my pack while listening to Canadian radio with pride. Ha. The rest of the day is open for whatever I decide. I think I should head to the bank to replace my interac card that was eaten by a machine in the subway a few months ago. Then I have to try to get my internet banking account up and running for once and for all. Then I have to do a load of laundry and figure out how in the world I can fit one year's worth of clothes into two relatively small bags. That'll be an adventure in itself.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Meet my brother Brian...

And his wife of one year, Shanna.



In love



Friday, June 24, 2005

The schedule

I'm leaving on Wednesday, June 29th at 8:30 in the morning. I will arrive in Vancouver, BC at 10:30 am local time (1:30 my time). I will depart Vancouver at 12:00pm and arrive at Incheon airport at 3:30pm local time on June 30th. That is 2:30am my time. The total traveling time including the layover, from 8:30am on June 29th to 2:30am on June 30th is eighteen hours.

I should receive my ticket via FedEx on Monday.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Okay, they're cute afterall

My mom was not going to let me get away to Korea before spending some time in one of her daycare's classrooms observing how her teachers manage the children. The children were extremely well behaved and sweet, helpful, cooporative and all of that other stuff. I liked them, they seemed to like me, so all is well. I'm not sure how much I learned but at least I know that I don't hate the little critters.

The latest correspondence from CWS indicates that Wednesday is more likely than Monday as far as departure goes. I've waited this long so it's not a big deal but unfortunately my momma can't bring me to the airport on that particular morning. Hopefully my dad can or I'll be taking a cab by my lonesome. :(

I bought a world map today. It's beautiful. And I'm thinking about paying Southeast Asia a visit next year around this time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Just in case you're interested


This Agreement is made between , herein referred to as "Instructor", and KID'S COLLEGE Suji Language Institute, herein referred to as "Employer", whose principle place of business is located on 2F, IT Plaza BD 257-2, SangHyun-Dong YongIn-city, Kyeong Ki Do, Korea.
Employer: KID'S COLLEGE Suji Language Institute

Instructor Name:

Date of Birth:





Position: English Conversation Teacher (or Instructor)

Period of Employment: One year
(Upon mutual agreement, period of Employment may be extended to 2 years)
From to
Revised Dec 12/2004
Employer’s Initials Instructor’s Initial
I. In consideration of mutual promises and agreement herein contained, KID'S COLLEGE
Suji Language Institute (hereafter referred to as the " Employer" ) employs
(hereafter referred to as the " Instructor" ). The
Instructor agrees to work for the Employer under the following terms hereby agreed
on by both parties.

II. The services to be performed, by the Instructor shall be that of a conversational
English Language Instructor & curriculum Research Assistant.

III. The Instructor shall commence his/her employment on . The
employment shall continue to unless terminated sooner as provided
herein, and for such further period as provided for herein, subject to the following

A. If as a result of willful and wanton negligence, gross negligence or intoxication, the
Instructor damages facilities, materials or other property belonging to Employer; or
causes damage to the institute and/or the image of the Employer, the Instructor shall
assume pecuniary liability in accordance with Korean Law. Furthermore, if the Instructor
violates any of the covenants of this agreement, the Employer has the right to terminate
this agreement at the time of the violation without further compensation or responsibility
to the Instructor.

B. If the Instructor seeks release from this contract, he/she must do so in writing at
least forty-five (45) days prior to the requested date of termination. Extenuating
circumstances, which might require termination of employment without prior notice,
will be handled on a case-by-case basis. In some cases instructors who have
given proper notice may be released earlier than 45 days upon the arrival of their
replacement (after the standard orientation period of four working days).

C. In the event of the death or total incapacity for business of either party hereto, or
upon the Employer ceasing to carry on said business, or becoming bankrupt, this
contract shall terminate. In case of the sickness of the Instructor or other reasons
causing him/her from attending to his/her duties for 4 workdays (without phone call
or valid proof), the Employer may terminate this agreement.

D. The Employer may terminate this contract at any time because of the Employer's
dissatisfaction over, violation of instructions or rules of the Institute, or failure of
Instructor to comply with any one of the agreements contained herein.
Employer’s Initials Instructor’s Initial
E. The Employer may terminate this contract if the services rendered by Instructor are
not satisfactory to the Employer, and the Employer shall be the sole judge of such
satisfaction. Services considered include, though are not limited to, adequate class
preparation, adherence to stated school policy, the effective presentation of class
lessons and the ability to work professionally with other staff members and supervisors.

IV. The Employer agrees:

A. Compensation will be paid monthly by the Employer. Any errors in compensation
shall be reported by written notice within one week of receipt of compensation.

B. Instructor(s) will be paid 2,100,000 won per month for the following job description:

Full Time Research/Curriculum Development/Substitution Student Review and
Assessment Instructor

Duties for this full time position include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Substitute teaching:

You will be required to be available to substitute teach for all level classes on an as
needed basis(teacher illness, teacher fill-in, special events, etc.) for whatever duration
is required by the circumstance. This will involve closely following the lesson plan of
the absent teacher (or creating a lesson plan if the circumstance dictates) in order to
insure consistency and maintaining the level and quality of instruction

* Curriculum Research and Development:

This aspect of the job will involve closely working with the head teacher in the ongoing
project of shaping and refining our over all academic program. It will involve a great deal
of reading, research, consulting with instructors to determine strengths and weaknesses
of the curriculum and recommendations for changes based on that input.

It will also involve finding supplementary material for theme classes (visual aides, arts & crafts,
relevant language arts activities ---- basically anything related to the theme that can be
effectively used in the classroom)

* Direct in -class review and assessment of all class levels:

Employer’s Initials Instructor’s Initial
This will involve in-class teaching time in the amount of approximately 50-60 hours a
month for the purpose of making accurate and objective student
assessment --- measuring outcomes. There will also need to be follow-up work done
individually with each instructor for feedback and recommendations and reporting to the
head teacher and director on the results of this process.

Some of the tools for assessment and review will be generated with the head teacher, but
may also come from teacher recommendations based on material that has previously been

* Additional job Duties will Include:

1. Assisting with miscellaneous teacher requests that don't require the attention of
Korean staff
2. Assisting with participating in and planning, organization and documenting of all
special events for future reference
3. Assisting with placement testing of incoming students and ongoing placement of
students for the purpose of recommending level changes
4. Assisting with and conducting teacher observations and evaluations for peer review
and feedback
5. Possible assumption of a regular Elementary afternoon class for the commensurate
additional pay

* Work schedule

The regular teaching hours(excluded lunch hours and break time) will be 30 contract hours per week (approximately 120 hours a month) Monday through Friday. If the instructor’s monthly teaching hours exceed 120, he/she will be paid an overtime rate of 25,000won an hour.

C. Not withstanding section B if the Instructor misses his/her work, then a deduction
will be made to the salary according to the time the Instructor has missed.

D. Taxes : Taxes will be deducted from the employer’s income in accordance to Korean law. Monthly pay is taxed, and the taxes will be deducted as income tax and residence tax on a monthly basis.(30,000~40,000won)

E. Medical Insurance : The employer is required to subscribe to thee Medical Insurance plan. Medical insurance is split 50/50, 50% is paid by the employee(approx. 43,000). After 30 to 45 days in Korea, the Employer agrees to provide Instructor with medical insurance. This delay is caused by the processing time involved in obtaining Korean medical insurance. The Instructor will be responsible for the cost of his or her own medical treatment until insurance is issued. Dental and eye care coverage is not included. Furthermore, life insurance coverage is not included.
Employer’s Initials Instructor’s Initial

F. The Employer will assign classes based on teacher performance, professionalism
and attendance record. Assignment of classes and substitute teaching assignments
is the sole prerogative of the Employer and is necessary to the effective operation
of the institute. Acceptance of these assignments by Instructors is mandatory.

G. Summer camp & winter camp (scheduled from Monday to Saturday, one in January,
one in August): Summer camp and winter camp are held each once a year.
Every staff & teacher should attend the camp for the union & good team-work.
(Naturally, every meal is provided by the employer.)

H. The Employer agrees to provide the Instructor with a round-trip ticket to Korea.

I. At the successful completion of one-year contract, the Instructor will receive
severance pay. Severance pay will be equivalent to one month's salary.

J. The Employer agrees to provide three sick-leave days to Instructors each year. On
the first three days per year on which an Instructor misses work he or she will be
paid in full for that day, with the following conditions. The Instructor must notify his
or her supervisor either the night before the absence, or as early as possible on
the morning of the absence. The Instructor must also present a doctor's note to his
or her supervisor on the day on which he or she returns to work. Unused sick days
may not valid reason, his or her contract may be terminated.

K. Instructors, on occasion, request an emergency leave in order to attend to urgent
matters in their home country. Since there is no substitute Instructor available, the
extended absence of Instructors creates a serious a problem for this institute.
Additionally, when requests for leaves coincide with holidays observed by the Employer,
such as Christmas, the potential for abuse, in order to extend existing vacation days,
compounds the seriousness of the situation. Therefore, any Instructor requesting a
leave of absence during his or her contract will be subject to a 30 percent deduction
from the Instructor's severance pay. Should a leave request coincide with a holiday
on which KID'S COLLEGE Suji Language Institute does not hold classes, the
percentage of this deduction will be raised to 50 percent.

Instructors will be given 2 weeks paid vacation during the period of this contract. One week will be given as summer vacation and one week will be given as winter vacation.
In addition, instructors will enjoy all Korean National holidays as days off.

L. The Employer will provide fully furnished housing for all instructors.
If, at the time the Instructor is hired by the Employer, all company apartments are
occupied the Instructor may either ask the Employer to provide on apartment or the
Instructor may arrange his or her own housing. Instructors who choose to provide

Employer’s initial Instructor’s initial

their own accommodations will be given a 300,000 won monthly housing allowance.
If, at the time the Instructor is hired by the Employer, company housing is available,
the Instructor is required to live in the company's apartment. Instructors living in
housing provided by the Employer will be required to pay a 400,000 won deposit
over the first two month of this contract to cover any possible future damage to
the apartment or unpaid bills left by the Instructor when the apartment is vacated.
The balance of the deposit will be returned after assessment has been made of
apartment damage and outstanding bills have been determined. In addition, an
Instructor may break the Housing Contract with one months' notice, but will remain
responsible for ½ of basic utilities until their old room is occupied by a new arrival.

M. Whenever possible, Instructors will be provided with an orientation period. This is
generally the Instructor's first 3-5 working days. during which the Instructor meets
with experienced Instructors, observes classes and becomes familiar with KID'S
COLLEGE Suji Language Institute teaching techniques and activities. On these
days, or for the period designated by the Employer as the training period, the
Instructor will be paid a training wage. This wage will be 7,000 won per class hour.
If circumstance dictates, Instructor will be paid 17,000 won per each 60minute hour
as determined by the sum total of class teaching minutes.

V. The Instructor agrees:

A. To teach any group assigned by the Employer and to participate in special activities
(such as over - nights 2 times per year, summer & winter camps, spring &fall picnics
and field trips 12 times per year)a required by the Employer.

B. To prepare for his/her classes on his/her own time. Class preparation and additional
Instructor responsibilities include researching and producing teaching materials, on
time submission of weekly lesson plans, monthly tracking reports, monthly progress
reports and attendance of quarterly, Monday morning teacher workshops and to
attend announced Teacher's Meetings. Failure to comply with the above on 3
occasions will subject Instructor to a 30 percent deduction from the Instructor's
severance pay. Three late submissions of any of these items will count as

C. To, at all times, follow the rules regulations set by the Employer and the Institute
director. To follow class schedules and activity schedules, to not dismiss, cancel
or begin classes late without the express consent of senior management. To submit
all progress reports, tracking reports, weekly lesson plans, or other requested work
on time. Instructors, who routinely fail to observe the rules of the institute will be
verbally notified by the supervisor, continued non-compliance would result in a

Employer’s initial Instructor’s initial

warning letter. Three warning letters in the period of one year will result in suspension
without pay, a reduction of teaching hours or termination.

D. To use the teaching materials supplied and recommended by the Employer. The
Instructor is encouraged to supplement these materials with other materials, but must
obtain prior approval from the Employer. All books, tools, craft supplies or other
materials issued by the Employer remain the property of the Employer and any must
be returned to KID'S COLLEGE Suji Language Institute when no longer required
to conduct class.

E. To perform his/her duties in a professional manner and refrain from conduct which
could damage the reputation of the Institute, including, but not limited to: conducting
class while smoking or under the influence of alcohol or illegal drug: making sexual
advances entering into sexual relationship with students or employees of the Institute;
conducting any business or accepting any funds without the express written consent
of the Institute; and borrowing or lending of funds or selling of items to students.

F. To reimburse the full cost of airplane ticket to the Employer, if the contract is
terminated for any reason within 6 months from commencing date of his/her contract.

G. To reimburse half of the cost of airplane ticket to the Employer, if the contract is
terminated for any reason after 6 months but within 12 months from commencing
date of his/her contract.

* Private teaching outside of KID'S COLLEGE Suji Language Institute is prohibited
without the written approval from the Employer. If the Instructor desires additional
employment, such interest shall be expressed in writing to Employer. Upon receipt
of such request, the Employer may, at its sole discretion, allow additional employment.
Any and all exceptions to this provision can and must be made by written consent
of the Employer.

*. Extremely short or revealing attire prohibited. Instructors are required to dress formally
for special events such as Graduation of Entrance Ceremonies. Male Instructors
shall wear a dress shirt, tie and slacks. Female Instructors shall wear dress, skirt or
slacks and an appropriate top.

* If the Instructor wishes to drive in Korea, an international driver's license is required.
The Instructor shall take full responsibility for any cost of acquiring a vehicle, the
maintenance of such vehicle, any insurance/fees of such vehicle, and shall hold the
Employer free from any harm and/or responsibility of and from such vehicle.

Employer’s initial Instructor’s initial
*. The Instructor accepts liability for any damages that arises out of the conduct of

The Instructor shall not at any time or in any manner, either directly of indirectly,
divulge or disclose to any person, firm or corporation in any manner whatsoever
any information concerning any matters affecting or relating to the business of the
Employer, including without limiting the generality of the foregoing, any of its
customers the prices it obtains or has obtained from the sale of, or at which it
sells or has sold, its products or services, or any other information concerning the
business of the Employer, its manner of operation, its plans, processes, or other
data without regard to whether all of the foregoing matters will be deemed
confidential, material, or important, the parties hereto stipulating that as between
them, the same are important, material, and confidential and gravely affect the
effective and successful conduct of the business of the Employer, and the Employer's
good will and that any breach of the terms of this paragraph shall be a material
breach of this Agreement.

VI. It is further agreed between the parties that:

A. The services to be rendered by the Institute are of a unique and original character
entitling the Institute to acknowledgement of this contract by injunction or other relief
in a court of equity.

B. No waiver or modification of this Agreement or of any covenant, condition, or
limitation herein contained shall be valid unless in writing and duly executed by the
party to be charged therewith and no evidence of any proceeding, arbitration, or
litigation between the parties hereto arising out of or affecting this Agreement, or
the rights or obligations of the parties hereunder, unless such waiver or
modification is in writing, duly executed a aforesaid, and the parties further agree
that the provisions of this Section may not be waived except as herein set forth.

C. Both parties have read the above conditions and agree to the terms contained
herein in good faith.

Employer’s initial Instructor’s initial

The Employer

Signed on 2005


Principal of KID'S COLLEGE Suji Language Institute

The Instructor

Signed on 2005


Instructor of KID'S COLLEGE Suji Language Institute

Housing Contract
This agreement between KID'S COLLEGE and is concerned with housing for teachers employed by KID'S COLLEGE. KID'S COLLEGE does not require that its teachers live in this housing. Teachers who choose to provide their own accommodations will be given a 300,000 won monthly housing allowance. Teachers choosing to live in housing provided by KID'S COLLEGE will be required to leave a 400,000 won deposit with KID'S COLLEGE to cover any damage to the apartment or unpaid bills left by the teacher when the apartment is vacated. The teacher will be required to pay the full amount of this deposit within the first 2 months of employment.

The apartment will be shared with another Instructor. The apartment must be kept clean and the appliances maintained in good working order. Instructors should report malfunctioning appliances or apartment damage to their supervisor as soon as possible. The apartment will be furnished with following: bed, cooking stove, refrigerator, hot & cold running water for bathing, a western style toilet, television, VCR, and washing machine. (Meals, utilities, telephone and incidental expenses are the sole responsibility of the Instructor) The Instructor shall be responsible for costs resulting from willful damage or neglect of said furniture and appliances as provided by Employer.

If, for any reason, the Instructor ceases to be employed by KID'S COLLEGE, the Instructor will be given 24 hours in which to vacate the apartment. The Instructor must set up an appointment with the manager of teachers to inspect the apartment prior to moving out, in order to establish the condition of the apartment. The information from this inspection will be used when calculating the amount of the housing deposit to be returned to the teacher. If the apartment requires cleaning or repair, these costs will be deducted from the teacher's deposit. In addition, an Instructor may break the Housing Contract with one months' notice, but will remain responsible for ½ of basic utilities until their old room is occupied by a new arrival - however long the duration of this period.

The procedure for returning the deposit to the teacher at the end of his or her housing contract will be as follows:
An average of the last three months total utility bills will be calculated. This amount will then be increased by 50 percent. If there is no damage to the apartment or its appliances, (as determined by the exit inspection) this amount will be held for payment of bills, the balance of the deposit will be returned to the teacher with his or her final pay cheque. After all of the bills for the apartment have been received (usually, 2 or 3 months) any remaining money will be wired to the Instructor's bank account.

Instructor's bank account #:
Barring changes in the employment status of the teacher, this contract confirms that housing will be provided from to
Signed (Employer) Date Signed (Instructor) Date

No news today

I'm still waiting on the plane ticket (and confirmation of my departure date) and contract which were supposed to be sent today. They'll probably come tomorrow.

Today was my last observation in a settlement class. There were quite a few Koreans in the class who said that Suji is a new middle class city with very tall buildings. Maybe my apartment will be on the twenty-somethingth floor. That would be interesting.

Went out today and said goodbye to some friends. I've been excited since December about this but right now, five days or so before I leave, I feel strange. Perhaps slightly numb. The part that worries me is the teaching because I really have very little experience with children and teaching. I was a swim instructor and taught lots of little kids but that feels like a lifetime ago. TAing was hardly relevant experience. I'm not sure that I like children. Why the hell am I doing this, you might ask? There are reasons but I'm not perfectly sure what they are.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

This here frog is ready to face the world. First step? A towering dog willing to give him the licking of a lifetime.

[edit: photo credited to Jordana P.; frog photographer extrordinaire]

Frog meets dog whilst on a log.

Early morning phone call

Paul woke me up at nine this morning to inform me that the school is excited and ready to hire me. The next step is to book a flight which CWS' travel agent is working on as we speak. My likely departure date? Monday! Ack!

Friends in Toronto: Keep Friday evening free! We must celebrate and bid farewell!

Kwinter attacked a frog in the woods today. That dumb frog hopped right towards her.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

You are the one for me, for me, formidable

I think I might have found a contract! I just got off the phone with a girl teaching at Mr. Kim's school. These were the questions I meant to ask. And some of the answers.


Do you like working there? What do you like most? What do you like least? (damn, forgot to ask this one)

How is the director? (Very friendly and English speaking.)

Does he pay on time, stick to the contract, treat you with respect? (yes, always)

How do the hours work? (9:45-6:25 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) 9:45 - 4:20 (Tuesday, Thursday)).

Is it that bad? (It's a lot of work but she seems gratified. She said that she gets paid for 30 hours but she's at work for 37.)

Are you forced to work overtime? (no)

How much extra can be made through overtime? (25000won/hour)

What do you wear to work? (damn, I forgot to ask that one too)

How do you like teaching Kindergarten? (You have the same kids everyday from morning until 2:30 or something. You run gym and computer and various other things. It's an English emmersion genuine Kindergarten class and you are their only teacher. Oh God. She seemed to like it. Apparently when she got there they spoke no English and now they can tell her what they did on the weekend, etc. etc. I think this is a good situation because they are not exhausted from a full day at their regular school. They also might not think they're wasting their time like older kids tend to.)

How big are the classes? (max 10. She has 8 kids)

Are there specific curriculum/guidelines or are you left to your own devices? (There is guidance... it will all work out.)


Do you like Suji? (Yes, she seemed to.)

Is there a big foreigner community there? (Huge, they're everywhere)

How long does it take you to get into Seoul? (Forty minutes or so)

How are the apartments? Far from school? Decently furnished? (They are all moving to new apartments in August because the school recently moved to a bigger location and the current leases are running out. So they're moving closer to the school. I hope they'll be nice...They come with all the standard furnishings. No DVD player. Garden State, I'll miss you. )

Overall, are you happy working there? (She sounded pretty happy with the situation. Her advice: make sure you know what you're getting into and that you really want to be here.)

My email to Paul at CWS:

Hi Paul,

I just talked to one of the teachers. AND... sounds good to me! Sign me up.


I don't know what happens next. Does he want to hire me for sure or do I still have to prove myself somehow? There's still the contract that has to be written and signed. If this one works out I'll be on my way in a week and a half.

Mr. Kim gives me a ring

I spoke with mysterious Mr. Kim. That's THE Mr. Kim to you. He's so friendly! I liked him quite a bit. Apparently he did his Master's in Washington and worked at Kraft Foods in breakfast cereal until he opened up his Hagwon a year ago. He said he thought running a school would be less stressful but every job has its stresses.

The job he's offering is located in Suji which is 20 minutes out of Kangnam which is 20 minutes out of central Seoul. Suji is fine. There is of course a problem, and that is the hours. The school is open from 9-ish to 6-ish. You teach forty minute classes and have twenty minute breaks (or is it ten?), and you have an hour lunch which is provided for you. I'm really not thrilled about the hours but Mr. Kim does seem quite nice and easy-going. He said (of course he said) that his school is the best and all his teachers are happy and say that this is the best school they've ever taught at. Well then. Despite my reluctance I agreed to talk to one of his teachers. If this really is such a great school then I'm willing to forgo the hours. I think. I guess I can always work until six, sleep for a few hours, then go out after. I don't know though. I much prefer the 2 to 9 schedules.

I'm really not clear on where he got my telephone number from exactly, though he knew about D'Arcy and myself and he knew that I wasn't thrilled about the hours/kindergarteners so I guess it must have been through CWS. Usually they tell me when a school is interested, and Mr. Kim mentioned some other recruiter that I don't know of. All very curious.

So I'll talk to this current teacher tomorrow and see what she has to say. The starting date of this job is July 1st.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Wipe your feet and blow your nose

Oli's feet

Oli's nose

Stocking up at Costco

I got 12 sticks of deodorant, way too much toothpaste, two things of Advil cold and sinus, two things of Nyquil, a bottle of nasal spray, a huge bottle of vitamin C, a four pack of 'wet ones', 16 razor blades, two huge boxes of tampons, a Brita pitcher that comes with two filters, five more filters, a box of forty granola bars and many packets of instant oatmeal. I think that's it for now. I still need some more too, but these are the only bulk items I think I need and can afford and have room for.

Still no news on the job. There was a message on my phone today from a Korean man looking for a teacher. He said he would call back later with more information. I have no idea who he is or where he got my telephone number from.

[UPDATE:] he called back twice while I was out tonight. My brother spoke to him. Mr. Kim is his name and when he didn't understand what my brother was saying he said "excuse me, your language is falling away from my ears." Hehe. My brother told him to call back tomorrow night at eleven. Who could this Mr. Kim be and what kind of job does he have to offer?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Still on the hunt

I turned down the job in Suwon because not only would I be the only foreign teacher but it is a brand new school. I don't want to deal with that kind of risk. It's high risk. So we're back to the drawing board.

Today I went for a haircut at a new salon and I was given a head, shoulder and neck massage. It was nice yet odd at the same time. I was glad I didn't have to make small talk with the hairdresser at least. I hate small talk with hairdressers and estheticians and all those people. But it's also uncomfotable to have someone servicing you like that without talking to them.

I'm bored so I started packing. You're allowed two bags weighing less than 30 kgs each (I think). So I have one duffel bag from summer camp, the size of which I do not know. And I have my big backpack from last summer's travels that is 95 litres. Really it's not that much space but I don't have that much stuff to bring. The duffel bag will hold all or most of my clothes and the backpack will hold my shoes, toiletries, and all that other stuff. I wonder what I'll miss the most from home. I can't think of anything specific that I'll really pine for. Some people crave chili powder or chocolate or Tim Horton's coffee but I don't care about any of that stuff so much. I'm not a brand dedicated girl unless you count my hair mousse. I think I'll be okay. For anyone overseas, what should I be sure to remember? I wonder if I should bring my soccer cleats and shin pads, though I haven't used them in years.

What's on the agenda tomorrow? Costco! Anyone feel like frisbee or soccer or something?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

He's 6'3''!

Lots of news today:

I got an increase on my credit limit - $2,500!!! Now I can afford a plane ticket home to Canada no problem should the need arise.

My dad got the store to replace my camera. He just walked in there, asked to speak to the manager, explained the situation, and voila! A new camera was presented. It's magic, I tell you. Thanks Dad!

Another job opportunity is on the horizon. This one has better hours but one minor problem. I would be the ONLY foreigner at the school. All the other teachers are Korean. The city is called Suwon and is relatively close to Seoul. D'Arcy would not be able to join me at that school but apparently there are plenty of Hagwons in the city.

The benefits of this kind of situation are that I would be forced to immerse myself more in Korean culture. I would probably learn more Korean and interact more with Koreans because I wouldn't have an immediate safety net of foreigners around me. I like the idea of a real cultural immersion, but I don't like the idea of loneliness. And I don't like the idea of pressure from the school since I'd be the only foreigner to point fingers at for decreased enrollment or something.

Maybe Paul HAS been reading my blog. Somehow the topic of height came up in our telephone conversation today. Weird. I guess I brought it up. It went like this:

Him: I think working for a female director is always better.
Me: Yeah, at least when you're a guy. It may be different for another female.
Him: True, but I'm sure you could handle it.
Me: Yeah, I'm probably taller than her anyway.
Him: How tall are you?
Me: Six feet, you?
Him: Mmmm... I'd say six three, six three and three quarters...
Me: (laughs out loud and thinks about marriage)

Also of interest is the fact that I could be leaving any day now. If a school and I decide to go ahead with a contract it could very well be only a matter of days before I'm out of here. I have to pack! I have to buy a year's worth of deodorant and hair mousse! I have to say goodbye! When I arrive in Korea I'll also have to do a visa run to Japan so that I can work legally since there won't be time to prepare the visa beforehand. Japan here I come!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Finally it rains in Toronto

Nothing too exciting to report. I spoke to Paul at Canadians with Seoul again today and I continue to be impressed with his friendliness. He's kind of chatty in a way that doesn't bother me at all. And I found his picture on the CWS website. Not too shabby... I wonder if he's reading this. Paul, you're hot. I wonder if he's tall enough. :)

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. He said there is another job opportunity with better hours - 3:30 to 9:30 or so. That suits me much more than 9 to 6. The problem with this job is that they don't need me until July 18th. I really want to get going sooner (before July) so that I have more time to travel after my year long contract is through. Paul's going to look into it and see what can be done. Maybe they can fly me over to Korea and I can just hang out there for a month before starting my job. Unlikely but appealing. In any case, I'd rather sacrifice timing for a better work environment. But I've waited long enough! And I'll go crazy if I stay here doing nothing.

Today what did I do? I saw a foreign (Israeli) flick called Campfire and I went for sushi with Jordana and our Mexico friends. That's all I did all day.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The joys of unemployment

I don't mind it at all. If only money wasn't an issue...

My camera is officially broken. I brought it back to the store that I bought it from (less than two months ago) and they said that they will repair it but it will take 4-6 weeks. But I'm leaving the country in two weeks, I replied. My only other option is to take it to the repair facility directly and that could take as little as two weeks. Before I do that I'm going to let my assertive/aggressive father try his hand at demanding a brand new camera in zero weeks. Go Dad go!

Did I mention that I'm a quitter? I called my doctor to make a "pre-Korea" appointment and the only date I could get was next Wednesday, when I am supposed to be doing my TESL practicum. Eureka! The perfect excuse to back down on the final component of the program. If, when I return from Korea, I decide that I want to stay in the ESL field, I can complete it then. If not, I will leave the field and nothing will be lost. Dumb decision, I know, but what can I say.

How come I've seen people spell Korea with a C? What's that about?

And to conclude this post, I've finally come up with a solution to my annoying nail-biting habit. (By the way, I have an annoying nail biting habit). It hit me when I suffered from my last cold and ear infection. If I simply think in terms of germ digestion, hopefully I'll be much less inclined to stick my grubby fingers in my mouth all the time, especially with the rumour that sickness strikes the new English teacher hard. I haven't bitten my nails in over a week. It's time to bring out whatever germ-a-phobe tendencies are lurking deep within my public toilet sitting, finger licking, drink sharing self.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Re: Korea with CWS!

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for writing. That's no problem. Essentially, it means we need to concentrate on finding a position with an afternoon/evening schedule. That way, you're working day will be more compressed. Don't feel bad about turning this job down. This whole process only works if you're honest with both us and yourself about what you're looking for in a job. Its been a pleasure dealing with you so far and I look forward to continuing. Don't worry, it won't take long to come up with a good fit. I'll be in touch tomorrow. Have a good day!


Isn't he nice? And speedy!

Oh, and by the way, the only reason why I come across as so afraid of abandonment is because of Footprint Ben's response to our refusal of the first job he offered us:

Best of luck to you both.


Back from the cottage

I'm back from D'Arcy's cottage where we swam, ate, and board gamed it up. Fun was had by all but something is wrong with my camera!!! I don't know what it could be. The first time it happened was Friday when I was sitting at the Walmart photostudio waiting for my passport photos to be printed. I screwed in my brand new tripod and turned on my camera. The LCD screen looked like it was zoomed all the way out and unfocused and the camera beeped loudly about four times before shutting itself off. When I got home I recharged the battery and all was well.

Then at the cottage it happened again and the battery was definitely not dead because I was able to turn it on in the play setting to view pictures but I still couldn't take any. I have no idea what the problem is. Do you? I don't think it has anything to do with the tripod. It wasn't screwed in the second time when the problem happened.

I did manage to take some pictures that you can see on flickr if you're interested.

Paul from CWS wrote back confirming the bad hours of this Cheonan job. So I sent him the following email:

Hi Paul,

Thanks a lot for getting back to me. To be completely honest with you, I don't feel very good about this job, mostly because of the hours. I've spoken to a number of people who are currently working in Korea and most are not working such long days, specifically days that start at 9am. I understand that I'd only be "working" for thirty hours but being at the school for 45 seems like a lot. I told Ryan that I would prefer later working hours when we first spoke on the phone.

I really don't mean to be difficult and I feel bad because you've gone through a lot of trouble already. I also don't want to discourage you from helping D'Arcy and myself out. We're really not that picky! We just want to end up in a positive situation. So I'm hoping you have some other job opportunities with later hours in a block of six or seven hours, preferably in a bigger city like Pusan, Ulsan or Seoul. It is not the end of the world if D'Arcy and I cannot teach at the same school, as long as we're in the same neighbourhood.

Again, I'm sorry if this makes you look bad to the school in Cheonan and I hope you don't give up on us.

Thanks a lot,


I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he doesn't just write us off as difficult clients. Really, he would make things easier for himself if he had showed me the specs of the job before having the school talk to me and get involved to the extent that it was. Let's see what happens.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Getting things done

Since there's no way I'm sending my original degree to Korea, I had to do a number of errands to make a photocopied version acceptable. The first step was last night actually, with an exciting trip to Kinko's. I forgot my passport under the photocopier but remained calm and retrieved it immediately.

Then today I met my Dad downtown so we could have his lawyer friend notarize a photocopy of my degree. This usually costs some amount of money (I think $20). Thank god for connections! I got three copies notarized just for kicks.

Then I went to the Korean consulate to get another notarization.

The Korean consulate in Toronto

This is the Korean consulate on the North East side of Avenue Rd. at St. Claire. In case you were curious.

My degree with notarization

This is the copy of my degree with the Notary Public stamp on the right and the Korean stamp and things on the left.

The Korean notarization

And finally, a close up of the Korean stamp for you curious folk, you.

I emailed CWS about my concern regarding the hours of that job. They haven't responded. I really hope they don't give up on me after one shot like Ben at stupid Footprints did.

I have to pack and leave for D'Arcy's cottage. Yay for friends with cottages.

Another call from Korea

I just spoke to a sweet sounding girl working at "Little America". She said that the school is quite large so there have been no problems (as far as she knows) in regards to payment and other things like that. She said the foreigner community is a tight knit group of about thirty in the city of Cheonan. Apparently we can wear jeans (yay!) and she didn't have much to say about housing except that it is small two-person apartments. I forgot to ask how close the apartments are to the school. On the bright side, internet is free at the school. On the downside, you are expected to be there from 9 until 6, but there are breaks between the classes, and there is a lunch break. That is much longer than I expected. And earlier. What the hell.

Tomorrow I'm off to the Korean consulate to get my photocopied degree stamped in preparation for my E2 visa. I guess I'll also hear from CWS about whether I got the job. But do I want this job?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Little America

They finally called. The school is called Little America. Great.

They asked me the following four questions:

Describe your personality.

Do you like children?

What teaching have you done?

What do you like to do?

Pretty easy, I'd say.

I asked how big the classes would be. They said ten students. I asked how many other foreign teachers they have. They said seven. I asked what the hours of the day are. They said nine to six. Nine to six?!?! That's insanity. I hope those are just the hours of operation...

In three hours I'll get a call from one of the current foreign teachers at the school.


Sitting, waiting, sweaty palmed, for the phone to ring. They are 17 minutes late and counting.

Spent the last few hours researching Cheonan. Looks like fun, I think.

Here is what I plan to ask about:

- class size
- name of school
- # of students enrolled at school
- # of teachers employed
- how long school has been in business
- hours of workday
- curriculum (presence of?)

That's all I've got. Now it's 8:49 and still no call. I have plans tonight at 9. Dang.

Observation #2

Today I went for my second observation of an English language course provided for new immigrants to Toronto. When I arrived there was a guy who is going through his practicum talking to the teacher. The practicum is the course component that I'm thinking of forgetting so I won't be eligible to get my TESL certificate. This guy was talking to the teacher telling him how he feels nauseous and near the breaking point. He looked like he was on his last leg. All the more reason for me to want to be a quitter. Though I doubt I'd get as stressed out.

The observation itself was a lot of fun. I spent my time chatting with the seven Koreans sitting around me, impressing them with my limited vocabulary. Actually, it was pretty funny because I'd say a word (like ajumma which means older woman) and they would stare at me blankly. I'd try again and they would burst out in a smile and say "Ahhh, ajumma!" in a completely different pronunciation than my own. I guess I have my work cut out for me. On the plus side, the woman beside me who's daughter went to Harvard told me that I look smart. She must be right.

Tonight I have an interview with the school in Choenon at 8:30. Whoopee!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Congratulations to me. And to my claw-hand.

Another job possibility

I spoke to Paul at Canadians with Seoul and he said that they have a possible job for D'Arcy and I with two positions available at the end of June and beginning of August. It's in a city called Cheonan which is an hour bus ride Southwest of Seoul. There are only 500,000 people in the city so I guess it's small in comparison to Seoul's ten million.

I'm expecting the people at the school to call sometime tonight or tomorrow night to interview me.

So far so good with CWS. They are friendly and quick. And they can't say enough nice things about Blake. Apparently he is the friendliest, easiest to work with guy they've met. Wow.

In other news, I emailed CCLCS to ask them about the repercussions if I don't do my teaching practicum. The response was this:

You will have until May of 2007 (2 years from the core class) to complete the programme without repeating it. After that, if you wish to get certification from us, you'll need to repeat everything (but you can appeal this on the basis of your experience teaching overseas).

In short, if you don't go through with the practicum, you will be fine for a couple of years. You can do it next year if you return for the summer or whenever. I would suggest getting the assignments in (even emailed from Korea after you settle in) to reduce marking fees.

Hmmm.. I'm ever so tempted to jump ship on the practicum. That way, if I return and want to continue in some capacity in the ESL field I can complete it and if not, well then, it doesn't matter.

The job in Choenon starts on June 25th. That's two and a half weeks from today.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Canadians with Seoul

I made a second attempt at contacting Blake's recruiter Canadians with Seoul. This time I got an immediate response from Ryan who asked for more information. We just spent about twenty minutes chatting on the phone and he seems very nice. Much more friendly and helpful than Ben over at Footprints. Forget Footprints.

D'Arcy is sending her information over right now and Ryan thinks that we could have a contract by the end of the week. I like him and feel good about this.

Tomorrow is my graduation so I will get my degree and be able to start getting my documents in order.

"Your ear is full of puss"

Music to my ears. There's nothing worse than going to emerge or a walk in clinic to find out that you're crazy and nothing is wrong with you.

I'm now stocked with amoxicillin and 30, make that 29, Tylenol 3's. I'll be taking those babies with me to Korea.

It's six o'clock and I haven't slept. I've just got to make a call to cancel my observation and then I'm going to let the codeine work its magic.


Two extra strength tylenols an hour ago have not dulled the pain. There's no way I can sleep this way. Only option is the emergency room. If it's a false alarm I'll be really pissed.

My ear hurts.

The ear is getting worse and I can't sleep. But not because of the ear. I know this is getting repetitive but my mind is racing with the sudden reality that I'm facing. For months the idea of Korea has been merely that; an idea. And now it is fast approaching.

Maybe I will forget the simulation. I don't really want to do it and Mrs. Rudolph told me I'd always be a quitter when I walked out of choir in grade six. If I do forget it I could be on a plane in two weeks time. Two weeks! Holy shit.

It's really not the end of the world if I forget the simulation. I still have the observations, the workshop on teaching overseas, and the six weeks of class time. Those are all very valuable experiences. And anyway, I won't be working with a population that's anywhere close to the settlement students. I'll be working with children.

Children. I don't know a damn thing about them. I don't even know if I like them. I was lying in bed wondering how in the hell I'll be able to teach them. The thought of getting into more regular exercise is also on my mind. Will I join a gym in Korea or frequent a pool? And the fact that D'Arcy won't join me for more than one full month. That's one month of being completely on my own.

Can you imagine how it will feel to sit on the airplane anticipating an entirely different life? An entirely different world?

What will I pack???

Man. I don't know how I'm going to sleep for the next few weeks. My ear hurts.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Project Runway rocks

I can't hear out of my left ear. I thought only kids get ear infections. Tomorrow I'm scheduled to do an observation in a settlement class as part of my TESL course but if memory serves and my prediction is correct, this plugged feeling will turn into a searing throb by 4 am.

Would it be incredibly stupid to be a TESL course dropout and leave for Korea before completing my simulation? The course cost lots of money but I've already had all the classroom hours. Does it matter? The certification will expire anyway in a couple of years and it's not like I intend on teaching as a career...

It would be incredibly stupid.

A view of the commerce grad ceremony from the cheap seats. AKA the seats you get when you arrive two minutes before it starts.

Rick in graduation garb making the parents proud.

Oh, it hurts to laugh. Happy graduation, brother Rick. You make us all so proud.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Congratulations on your new job!

If you recall, last week I received another possible job offer at a school in Ulsan. It sounded relatively interesting so I told Ben at Footprints Recruiting to send my file to the school. While I was in Mexico Ben emailed me to tell me that I had been offered the job. My response was this:

Hi Ben,

I’ve received your messages and I’m excited about the opportunity. I can confirm that I will be able to leave as early as the 24th of June. I would like to know about D’Arcy and whether the owner is aware ofher coming in August. Please let me know. Sorry about the strange punctuation, but I am currently in Mexico!

Best, Jessica

To my surprise I got the following response the next day. The subject was “Congratulations on your new job!”

Dear Jessica,

I am very pleased to hear you have accepted a position with ELC. That is great news, and congratulations on your new job! You are about to embark on a life changing experience. I have enclosed a document for you that details what needs to be done…

And it went on with further details. WHAT?!?! Had I agreed to the job? I certainly didn’t think so but in retrospect I guess my email is a bit ambiguous. I nearly had a heart attack when I read this email, though. Had I signed any contracts?? I quickly wrote back to clear up the misunderstanding, stressing the importance of D’Arcy’s ability to join me and also my desire to communicate with current teachers at the school. Ben told me to let him know when I have spoken to them and made my decision. Great, thanks for all the help, buddy. I emailed Mr. Park, the director of the school and haven’t heard back from him yet.

After all of this I looked at the contract that was attached to the “congratulations” email. Turns out the start date is for June 20th, they want me to pay for my own plane ticket which will later be reimbursed (when and where and how it doesn’t specify) and the vacation time is very unclear. I wrote back to Ben to tell him about my concerns with these issues. I think he might be getting annoyed with me, but frankly I’m getting annoyed with him. If he only listened to me in the first place things would be much easier for him.

So that’s where I stand right now. I’m waiting for a response from both Ben and Mr. Park, and D’Arcy for that matter (Darce, where are you?). I wonder if this contract will fall through. It’s okay, there will be others. I haven't heard anything from Shane at Canadian Connection either, but maybe D'Arcy has.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Welcome, new arrivals

For those of you just tuning in, here are a few important posts that will get you caught up on things.

1. How it all began
2. How it all began: installment two
3. Why Korea?
4. My parents' reaction
5. More about Korea
6. Making plans
7. The TESL interview
8. The first offers
9. Essentially bilingual
10. More on the job search front
11. More recruiters
12. Another interview
13. The latest
14. A real job offer

That should be more than enough for now.

Officially in existence

I just sent out the following email to fifty people in my address book.

Dear everybody,

Hello! I hope the summer is treating you well. I'm doing great having just returned from an impromptu trip to Mexico.

As most of you know I'm planning to leave for Korea for the year to teach English and see the world and perhaps get into a bit of mischief along the way. What most of you don't know is that I'm a closet internet geek with a blog, or a weblog, that I have had for the last few months in preparation for my impending year abroad. Now that my departure is approaching, I figured I'd share it with all of you.

The address is

Currently I'm in the process of negotiating a contract and I'm hoping to leave at the end of June. Feel free to read the archives to get yourself caught up or to start reading now or to not read at all.

Enjoy the summer months ahead. I know I will!

All the best,


Ack. It feels strange and a little scary. I pretend to be strong but really I'm jittery and nervous about leaving. Wait 'till I tell you what happened this week. ;)

Si ou no, yes or no?!?! Si!

I was going to write a long post all about my trip but I really don't feel like it. We had a very good time eating lots of food, swimming in the pool, and generally taking it easy.

The view from our back porch

I went with my friend Jordana who I've never travelled with before and everything went smoothly. We met two girls from Toronto who are pretty much our age and spent most of the trip with them which was great.

Me, Jordy, Karen, Ayelit

The resort itself, Royal Decameron, was quite large, beautifully maintained, and very comfortable, though I found the staff to be a bit less friendly than they were in Cuba. In fact, that's how I found the people (generally speaking). They weren't necessarily unfriendly, but they simply went about their jobs and were not too interested in saying hello or smiling all the time. I found it to be much like any American or Canadian resort would be if we had those kinds of things. Do we?

Speaking of generalizing people, the Western Canadians that populated the resort were crazy! That's all I can say.

The city of Puerto Vallarta was interesting and definitely had a Mexican feel but it was very Americanized. I don't know what I was expecting but I certainly wasn't disappointed.

On our way to Pipi's

We got really badly sunburned so we found some other fun things to do like painting pottery, which has made my life complete. :) Seriously, it was surprisingly relaxing and fun; a real trip highlight! And I feel so proud of my bowl. I love my bowl.

My bowl

We tried not to be overly sheltered by our all-inclusive resort so we visited a real grocery store (which was very similar to ours but with lower prices), we ate off the resort once, and we tried to chat with Mexicans about life in Mexico. Apparently Mexicans finish highschool at fourteen and can then decide whether or not to continue with education. That seems young to me. Javier, our bartender friend, started bartending at fourteen. Now he's twenty two.


What else can I say? It was a fun trip that I'm glad I took before the last stretch of time before I leave for Korea. Here are a few more of my favourite pictures from Mexico.

The Pacific


A family by the water

Macro mode!

Couchi couchi



Our rings!

Early morning at pool 5

So long, Mexico

Click on any photo to see it in a larger size, or to see the rest of the 220 that I took this week...

Oh, one more thing. I only had to charge my camera battery once this whole trip and I was constantly looking through the pictures. Yeah!! Sometimes the pictures turned out blurry though. Overall I'm impressed with my new toy.

Home sweet home

I'm back. The trip was great but I'm left with a cold that won't quit. The air conditioner and Mexican humidity did me in I guess. I'll post again later today with a rundown on the trip and also on interesting new Korea progressions. And I think I might go public tonight.

In the meantime, feel free to look at the pictures from Mexico. There are over two hundred of them!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Yesterday we went in to Puerta Vallarta and had the best Mexican lunch ever, including margaritas bigger than your face. Yes, yours! Mmm. I have been eating abundant amounts of food and look forward to coming home and getting back into a regular routine.

I slept terribly last night - freezing, then sweating, sore throat and achy body and head. I don{t know what{s wrong but I still feel lousy. Boo.

Breakfast time!