Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cell Phones

In South Korea, most people have cell phones, including kids down to age six and seven (maybe younger? I don't know any younger kids). I'm pretty sure that every kid at Langcon Academy has one. That may sound like a problem at first, but since cell phones are more popular than credit card debt is in the US, it's not any more special to have a cell phone than, say, wearing pants. I've only had to tell students not to use their phones during class twice since I've been here, and in both cases the student was calling his mother. Any other times, the students were using their far more advanced cell phone's built-in translator to look up a Korean word in English. Oh, and, bonus: there's no "f" sound in the Korean language, so cell phones are pronounced "cell pone" (since cell phones originated in the West, Koreans just adapted the US term).
Another thing about cell phones, and Korean culture in general, is the mixture of normal adults and kid stuff that I can't think of a good word do describe. Okay, scenario: picture a Korean businessman, dressed in a full suit and tie. His shoes are shined, his hair is well-cut, and his face could not be any more serious. You're walking toward him, when you hear the sound of babies giggling, mixed with background music from Rainbow Brite or Hello Kitty or unicorns or other "girly" kid stuff, coming from his pocket. It's his cell phone. He nonchalantly reaches into his pocket and pulls out his shiny black device, which seems to suit his outward appearance; of course, except for the babies giggling, and the pink rubber Hello Kitty face hanging off the phone. Seriously. Almost as common as cell phones are the cell phone hangy-thingies, of which I own two. Heck, when Gina and I got our cell phones a few weeks ago, they told us that we could each pick out one for free (they call free stuff "service" in Korea, so they gave us service). I picked out some frog rubber-headed hangy-thingy because I though it looked neat, and Gina told me it was Hello Kitty's or Strawberry Shortcake's best friend, or something like that. I don't use it, though; I use a "bobojo" hangy-thingy that I bought in Guam, with a little black-beaded man next to a little black-beaded girl wearing a red grass skirt, and an oval with "Guam" stamped on it. Much cooler than Hello Kitty.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Made It!

I'm writing today from Suwon City, South Korea! The three flights and all the airport waiting just flew by!

Just kidding!

From when Gina and I left Sheboygan to when we arrived at our school in Suwon, we clocked around 30 hours of travel time. Actually, most of the trip went quickly except for the last two legs, which were the 12-hour flight from San Francisco to Incheon airport in Seoul, where neither of us slept much at all, and the two-hour car ride from the airport, where all we wanted to do was pass out on a bed and sleep for a zillion years or so. And we did!

I meant didn't. Instead, we were taken to our school and introduced to the staff, managers and headmaster, all of whom were very well-dressed in formal clothes. We were dressed like balls in our airplane/travel clothes, consisting of jeans and a shirt. After that we walked to our new apartment, which was fully furnished just like we were promised!

Nope. And I promise I'm done with the jokes. Maybe.

We were promised a double apartment with a refrigerator, gas range, TV, washing machine, cooking and eating utinsils and, most importantly, a bed. Was there a bed? No, there was definitely no bed. We're hoping to get a bed today at the earliest, but probably tomorrow or sometime next week. We just slept on the floor.

Today, Saturday, has been loads better. We've gone shopping at a few grocery stores, bought new stuff for our apartment, and are leaving right now for lunch. Check back soon!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Whoa, is this for real?

So yeah, I have a new life starting tomorrow.

How often does anyone get to say that, and really mean it? I'd bet the farm on "not too often."

Gina and I received and printed our plane tickets yesterday, which means this whole crap-ton of anticipation, planning and packing that we've been doing for the last year is actually for something real! On Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 6:40 am, my girlfriend Gina and I will fly out from Milwaukee, stop in Chicago, stop again in San Francisco, then land at the Incheon International airport in Seoul, South Korea at 5:50 pm, on Friday the 28th. It'll be 22 hours of travel time, throwing us 14 hours into the future.

Holy balls, I'm packed and I can't wait.