blogging because.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


...what have I found?
Many, many things.

1) You have not 'raged' until you have descended 6 floors sub street level and experienced a packed club, neon lights and the aggressive, unrelenting pound of the base. 
Cocoon @ Hongdae
2) Karaoke is underrated and never over done.
3) Always opt for a Turkish kebab at 5:00am versus a McDeal. 
4) Pain is beauty. Or is it beauty is pain...?
6 hours in a stacked Oxford pump?
5) Good food, company and conversation will forever be a winning combination. 
man candy at our bon voyage dinner
6) Seize the day, regardless of the time, place and weather.
7) Remember your roots. Peace and perseverance.
Korean War Memorial
8) Size does matter. 
and size 10 sucks
9) Always pack more than one map.
10) Travelling is simply the best education.

Inspired by Chousuk Seoul 2010.

Monday, September 27, 2010

a classroom comparison

To date the majority of my posts have showcased the differences between East and West, however, I have yet to highlight how classroom life varies in Busan from my own educational experience in Toronto. The most notable are:

1) Washrooms. Staff and students alike share these facilities. It would be an exaggeration even to say that stalls are divided by sex. On more than one occasion I've been forced to engage in conversation with one of my students mid #1 or #2 - fortunately a plywood door separated toilet and urinal. What is more, there is only one western style toilet in the entire building. In the event that it is occupied, I am shit out of luck (ha), and face 2 options a) hold it and refrain from subsequent water intake or b) straddle a porcelain hole ('squatter') in the ground. Tell me how squatting is possible wearing jeans/spandex/stockings without getting completely naked?

2) Bells. The all too familiar chime that beckoned us in from recess as kids, ushered us to move onto our next class in high school or symbolized freedom at 3:30pm does not exist in Korea. Instead, classical music fills the halls at Seongnam Elementary (and from what I've gathered everywhere else too) every 45 minutes. I am sure there is some academic rationale behind this, but one would think that replaying the same several bars would do very little for one neurological stimulation? For me, I just want to put my head phones on and block it out...

3) Lunch. I have accepted that rice and kim chi are a meal time staple, however the day that the ever changing mystery meat finds its way onto my plate...deport me. Perhaps its the claustrophobic atmosphere of the cafeteria, or the fact that I have to sit beside children that I know have not washed their hands. If you are looking for a quick fix and rapid weight loss, move to Korea in the Summer.

concrete beach - UWO
4) Curb appeal. Busan feels like what I imagined living in an Asian city would be: congested, cramped, chaotic and culturally alive. After a year here, I know I will walk away with an authentic experience. Nonetheless, despite the vibrancy of a lot of architecture in Busan, schools are quite simplistic and blend into the grey Pacific horizon. These characteristics pose a sharp contrast to what I know back home. What attracted me to Branksome and Western was the fact that you could feel the history in the beautifully preserved campus buildings and manicured green landscape. I suppose if the latter is all you know, then you don't know what you are missing...the outside the classroom richness. Sad really.

Jeongju University

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

such great heights

Well, as per usual this week brought many new discoveries:

1) I have a roof!...Seems rather obvious, I know, I just assumed that to gain enterance to this fabulous space I would have to be a VIP i.e. the landlord. False. Saturday night me and a group of friends chilled with the sparkling Busan horizion as our back drop before heading to Vinyl Underground where we listened live reggae and indie music.
2) Korean barbeque is growing on me. A friend came to visit from Gwangju and took the girls and I out for a traditional Korean bbq dinner. I was a little shocked to learn that we would be cooking our meal at our table. Naturally I left it to the professionals a.k.a the friend who has 6 months more experience in Korea than I do and just rolled with it. I must live by the mindset that when in Korea I 'do as the Koreans do'
3) My landlord, Mr. So. is simply the best. Despite the fact that he sports the same shirt everyday this man is a complete gem. In addition to his regular building duties, he is also an accomplished hair dresser. One night when Kym and I were getting organized to go out, he stopped by and noticed that I was straigtening my bangs. Before I could resist he had thrown his things on the bed and took charge of the styling. The man did a 5 star job. Who knew?

Monday, September 6, 2010

you never stop learning

Well after moving into what (I hope) will be my permanent apartment I have been able to properly unwind and get settled. #504 is starting to feel like home and just needs a few more personal touches.

We did this weekend in style. Spent the Saturday on the beach, a little slice of heaven. Tucked between rolling, lush mountains, Tanya, Kym and I met up with some new friends and spent some much needed time relaxing. The designated beach season is over at the end of August so we essentially had the white sand all to ourselves - huge plus. That said, a few families ventured out and the kids were too cute for words fighting over the yellow inner tubes. Dancing was on the agenda for Saturday night and we went hard. We rendezvoused with our fellow EPIK teachers at Keno-Eye in the Kyungsung Dea University district and had a blast. Right behind the DJ booth there was a chalk board - you created the play list, genius!
Rolled out of bed Sunday and forced myself to make the much needed trip to excursion I swear took at least one year off my life. Lesson: do not go to big box stores on the weekend. Ever. After 2 hours trying to navigate through the overflowing aisles, Tanya and I proudly sauntered up to the cash desk only to discover you cannot use a regular Visa, only your Costco credit or cash. Steam was pouring out my ears - this would have been helpful to know before we started our shop. In the end we were able to access our Canadian accounts and all was fine, and I able to take my $30.00 brick of Parmesan cheese home with me. SCORE.

Now, I am at school midway through working week 2 and I am starting to find my footing. I am in limbo somewhere between culture shock and the honeymoon phase of this journey. Living in a foreign country, in a city where I am a visible minority as brought a whole new meaning to the sentiment 'take each day for what it is.' I am constantly learning and acquiring tricks to make things easier and find great solice in little personal victories (i.e. successfully reloading my subway card - alone!).

Cheers to new beginnings and ongoing education.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


After a short lived courtship, I will be parting ways tomorrow and leaving the roach motel, or as it was so affectionately labelled, the shoebox. I have seen my new place and I am hopeful it will house nothing but good memories.