links i find vital

where it all started for me! (btw it starts off with like a min of music)
a seoul radio station interview about bssk
a bunch of interviews with black expats in soko
find family on facebook: Brothas&Sistas of South Korea

Monday, November 03, 2008


it's around 8am or so. im on my way to the internet cafe, sporting jeans, a grey hoodie, funny black glasses and my backpack. an adjosshi (elder korean male) sporting a suit sees me in his peripheral vision and walks up to me, asking,
"Yes," I respond, respectfully, quietly.
"Did you vote?" he asks, leaning in, his eyes wide.
"Yes," I answer, not inexplicably feeling nervous... you run into a lot of drunks in the morning, drank dat soju, boy.
"When?" he demands.
"A few weeks ago, absentee ballot."
"Who did you vote for?"
"Obama," i say, respectfully, proudly.
The adjosshi nods his head affirmatively, pats me on the shoulder, and keeps on walking.

Friday, October 31, 2008

lil' picker upper

i went through a blue 6 month or so period. i was just in the world of hater-ation, annoyed with everything and everybody, feeling underrepresented, unappreciated, undervalued, by everyone, and i mean everyone: people in korea, people back home, people ive met/connected with anywhere ive ever been in my life. i withdrew from friends feeling like i had nothing or no one and everything in life was lame. but then i got re-medicated, got better. even nicer is when i find things like this, and i get over myself, knowing that even when i go through periods of self flagellating and questioning my work/worth: good things do happen, people connect, friendships are made, love is found, and a little teeny tiny bit of all of it is b/c of me and i need to quit whining already.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

useful websites

from eslcafe member polonius.

(Organic stuff)

Restaurant Guides

Translation/Learning Korean

Inter-city Travel

International Calling

World Time



Online English Newspapers/Magazines

Movie Cinema/Performing Arts

Touring/ Sightseeing
(Baseball Games)
(Baseball Games)

ESL Korea Discussion Forum

International Hospitals
-Dr. Sung's Obstetric and Gynecology Clinic
2nd Floor Chung Wha building, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Tel: 02-790-0802

Weather/Yellow Sand Levels


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

sorry, i was having a crappy day.

dude... im getting so annoyed w/people telling me i should go work for a public school!!!
ie Jo-Anna from this blog who left me a comment:
When I was applying to jobs in Korea, I thought it was really sketch that CDI doesn't offer health insurance. If you are working full time, I don't see how it is possible for them not to offer it. I feel as if someone should be complaining to labor board about this. But then again, CDI seems to give a pretty raw deal anyway. Making your find your own apartment and working holidays and weekends and such. If I were you... I'd look for a job with health insurance and apartment provided so you don't have to worry about key money and dumb stuff like that that english teachers here shouldn't have to worry about.... or at least get paid enough to make worrying about it worthwhile. It sounds like you have been working here long enough that you could be working in a public school or at least somewhere that pays more so that you can afford your own health insurance. Good luck with the health insurance stuff.
*pish* noob. she been here like a month, yo, please...

Ok, it certainly isn't a common or typical deal with cdi, i dont know if i'd call it a "raw deal" that you dont get the other benefits that other jobs offer. i guess i dont personally mind b/c it's not a surprise, they didnt trick me: they dont hire you and then say, "Opps, no benefits for you! SUCKER!" yo, i knew all this before i got hired. But it's a trade off, there are other things about my job that I love: the class structure, the organization of the company, never being paid late, small class sizes, rarely working mornings, a 6 hour work day...

and it's not like cdi is the only school people say to "watch out" for. i feel like ALL korea jobs are going to have something "shady" about them, something you dont like, b/c everyone has a complaint about their job. To me, cdi is like any other hourly job i'd have back home: i get paid for the hours i work. If I want a day off, i have to ask my boss, and i dont get paid that day. My job didnt give me housing, i pay the rent, it's my own place.

And i think i've been very clear that i would never suggest someone come work for cdi. i answer questions about my own personal experience with the company, but i dont endorse cdi. and i always preface my opinion with letting people know that this has been my only korea job, so i cant give a well rounded opinion.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

health insurance

it's illegal for your employer to not provide health insurance. i dont know how my job doesnt provide it, something about b/c we're contract workers. anyways, i didnt want to fight them about it, so i went to global village to ask about getting health insurance on my own.

they called around and told me that i can register for korean national health insurance as "self employed" but that i'd have to pay retroactively from my first arrival in korea feb 2007.

they told me where the nhi office in anyang is (anyang is where i live), gave the phone number and office hours, and they checked to make sure english would be available.

if youre reading my blog researching working at cdi: try to get insurance as soon as you get here. i'll update when i make it to the nhi office as to how much and what my insurance will cover. but even if you dont get insurace via nhi, you can get your own... i think footprints gives info on traveler's insurance. also see jo-anna's blog for info on insurace.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


taking taxis is common here... well, it really feels common in comparison to daygo, back home you only see taxis in the gaslamp
area on weekend nights.

<--deluxe taxi South Korea has three types of taxis. ordinary, deluxe, and taxis for differently-abled.

the “ordinary” taxis are yellow or green or white, the cap on top will vary in color as well. i think a blue cap means that the cab is company owned, and the white cap taxis are privately owned. i havent noticed a difference in service/price in either. the meter starts at 1,900 won during day time, and 2,500 after midnight, i think.

if you live outside of seoul, you'll see some taxis that are "seoul taxis" which mean they go to seoul only, so dont flag one down if youre only going down the street, b/c then the driver will slow down, yell "Seoul!" at you, and then drive away making you feel stupid.

a “model/deluxe” taxi is black with a yellow cap and bigger and much more expensive, you'll find them en mass by airports and hotels, and these drivers usually speak pretty good english. they always start at 4 bucks or something, day or night, plus deluxe are more willing to help you load luggage and such. regular drivers will probably just watch you struggling while they sittin in the front, peeking at you from the rear view mirror.

there is a red light in the front window that says something in korean, anyway if the light is red, it means the cab is available. hold your hand out, most seem slightly stick out an arm w/hand pointing downward, indicating for the driver to stop there, to hail a taxi.

simpliest way to grab them is to stand at a major street or in front of whatever large facility is in the area. if you see a line of taxis, you must take the front taxi in line as they're waiting in order, unless you want to take a deluxe taxi. avoid bus stops/police stations, taxis are technically not allowed to stop in front of them.

try to stand on the side of the street of the direction youre going. of course the driver can do a u-turn, but some may not stop or ask you to get out of the cab, so it's best to avoid it and stand on the proper street side. when you get in the taxi, get in the back and enter/exit on the right side. the left driver side passenger door is usually locked as a safety precaution. the meter may "jump" when youre in traffic; this is b/c the meter has switched to "charge per min" mode. it's an additional 100 won or so (10 cents) every 50 sec.

there are "call/reserve" taxis, available 24 hours. they're the same taxis on the streets, but they're affiliated w/a call center. the fee is 1,000 won. you can also reserve them for long distance rides. ive never used them, b/c i cant speak korean.

internet taxi reservations accept credit cards, but you have to reserve 4 hrs in advance. you can use them at 'rent a car" type thing where you have the driver drop you somewhere, wait, and bring you back; they provide 4/8 hour srvs based on meter... ive never used them.

sometimes cabs wont stop for you. dont take it personal. it could be b/c they're on their way to a fare already, or maybe they're not going in that particular direction, maybe their shift is over and they're going bk to dispatch or home, maybe they're a seoul taxi or only serve a specific geographic area. or maybe b/c youre a foreigner... you'll never know, so dont sweat it.

press 021330 on your cell phone for 24 hour free translation services.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

no degree

quick update: teach with 2 years of undergrad.
the laws are changing soon, you wont need a degree to teach english in korea. discussion on esl cafe.

Update: From the APC website: *Update on degree requirements:As of September, 2008 some provinces in Korea have arranged for an exception to the education requirements for the E-2 visa. Due to very high demand for English native speakers to teach in public schools, those with with two years full-time post-secondary study at an accredited university, community college, or vocational school in an English-speaking country are eligible for teaching employment visas. You must meet all the other visa requirements and your employment prospects will be limited to public schools in participating provinces only. We do have access to teaching positions in the public school system and we welcome applications from those interested in this new program.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

global village center

i dropped into the global village center in itaewon yesterday. it's next to the international clinic.

i was greeted with a super friendly hello, like the girl got up out of her chair and smiled big and cheered, "hello!" from across the room. :)

they had free internet access and some english books (fiction & non fiction) to loan, also for free.

they offer a lot of services for foreigners: help get a cell phone, help get an international drivers license, how to prepare your resume, translation services, how to separate your trash (you can get fined if you dont follow regulations), how to get a credit card, how to do your taxes, etc. I think any question a foreigner has, you can ask them.

i think these centers are all relatively new; most articles ive seen about them were written within the last couple of months. there are several locations, i know of one in yeonnam, one in yeoksam, one in seocho, one in inchon, one in itaewon, i think this here is their main website... at least, the logo looks the same. actually try this link, it's the sitemap and i think it's easier to navigate.

Monday, July 14, 2008

just in case

here in korea, i dont go around saying im a proud american, but i do say southern cali is my home and i do miss it sometimes.

i dont know much about the american military, but i do know that if north korea goes crazy and invades south korea, the american military here will come find and save me b/c im american. well, they're supposed to, anyway, so long as youre registered with the american embassy.

i of course have issues w/my country and some of our practices. but despite what your politics are or if you agree w/what america is/does, i think it best to register with the american embassy when you get here, just in case. if youre not on the army's list when they come in saving people, they cant help you. then wont you feel pretty silly?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

boryeong mud festival

in case anyone was wondering what's going on in south korea, that would be the Boryeong mud festival this coming weekend. and in case anyone was wondering if the Supa Dupa Fly Seoul Sista would be going, that answer would be Hell No.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


the number one question i get from sistas in cyberspace:
where can i get my hair done?
discussions going on on facebook and myspace.

this was never a question i had before coming here b/c i had locks at the time, and later sported a twa. for years now, my regimen consists solely of conditioner and baby lotion.

my hair history is different from most, perhaps. my father is black, my mother is philipino. my father being a man knew nothing about hair, additionally he was overseas when i was young, so my early years were spent with me thinking i was philipino. i didnt know black culture. i didnt grow up with the black american dichotomy of "good/bad" hair, didnt have that acculturation of altering one's hair, thus grew up with natural hair. i got my first perm (chemically straightened my hair) when i was 17, stopped when i was 20. started locking at 21. cut it all off for good at 31.

is it coincidence that every sista i know here keeps natural hair? i know of a few who braid, a couple who occasionally flat iron, but no one i know does perms. i dont think any of them ever would. im glad for it. this is how we can make changes in our culture: each of us one by one can make the choice. i would never call a sista out who does have straightened hair, although i do secretly question them in the back of my mind if they are rbg, if they love themselves. same thing when i see a black man with a non black woman: i would never say anything to him, but in the back of my mind, i am critiquing him (even tho i myself am a product of a biracial marriage, trip out).

do you know of the korean monopoly on the black american hair market? at first i was mad at korea, but now i am just annoyed at my people. it's up to us, we can choose what products to buy, where to buy them from. click here for the hair documentary by aren ranen, or better, buy the dvd at i really really really wish aron was black, tho, that wouldve been so cool. ah well. unrelated, here is my favorite hair blog:

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


what will your place look like? think smallish. lots of people post photos of their place, so do a google image search for officetel, or korea apartment.
here are pictures of an officetel bedroom and bathroom. officetels are one big room and a bathroom. so, first two shots are of the same room, and then the bathroom... yeah... more info here. and watch this:

Monday, June 30, 2008

where to be

before you take a job, you should ask which subway stop you'll be living closest to. i live in pyeongchon, off the blue line 4 towards oido (bottom middle left of the map, ignore the red arrow). i love where i live, but it can be hard b/c it sure is easier to socialize when you live in/close to seoul. im a 45 min subway ride south of itaewon. if i go out to a bar or club, or run late hanging out with friends, i have to be mindful of catching the last subway at 11pm-ish, or the last bus at midnight, to get home. if not, then im out all night and catch the first train in the morning around 5:30am, OR i can take a taxi, which can run 20$ on a good night, $30-something on a bad one. sometimes people stay in a hotel (i think love motels are 20 bucks a night?) or stay in a sauna which are 5 to 10 bucks i think.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

fan death

i dont know how to upload videos on blogger...
so, click this link to watch a video my friend made
about the dangers of fan death.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

anyang, pyeonchon

i live in anyang, in pyeongchon. it's 45 min south of itaewon on the subway. as of this writing (500 plus days of living in south korea/pyeongchon) ive done no site seeing here. yeah, im lame. there's no point to this post, i jsut wanted to put up those links in case i want to find them again.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

book: korea w/blk perspective

just helping out a friend, promoting. check his blog for updates. ~Supa Fly.
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 8:11:43 AM
Subject: It's Christoph from DC. Be included in a new book.
It’s Christoph from DC! I am contacting you to let you know that I am in the arduous process of writing a book. This book will pretty much be the first of its kind. The premise of this book, basically, has to do with “Living in Korea as a Black Person.” That is not the title. The title has not been finalized however that is what the book is about.

Obviously, it is impossible for me to present to the masses the many experiences a black person goes through and has gone through while residing here in Korea . In this book, I would like to display the many different happenings, experiences, misfortunes, benefits, love stories (with Koreans), marriages to Koreans, all of what has occurred as a result of being a black person in Korea.

I have collaborated with a reputable writing company that has a whole portfolio of experience when it comes to creatively piecing together a literary puzzle masterpiece such as this. They have pretty much guaranteed satisfaction to the point where this book really could become a project not just black people would be proud to read but Koreans and other nationalities as well. It is my goal to get this book in the hands of as many people as possible. I’m sure aspiring ESL teachers would like to read it just to get a heads up on what to expect.

I am asking you if you are interested in submitting one or two of your fondest, amazing, hard to believe memories and/or experiences you’ve had while living in Korea . Keep in mind that this book is intended to present the perspective of the African American. Lets show the Koreans how intelligent we are. I know that there may be some experiences and memories that may seem like it’s a little Korea-bashing so if you could just tone down textual tone of the situation. I’m not saying be fake but be respectful even if sometimes you feel like Koreans don’t deserve it.

Pictures, letters, notes, all will be great to supplement your story. The book will be written kind of like a narrative. So the story that you submit will be presented as is so please proofread and revise to the best of your ability. It will be revised in house and sent back to you for your approval. Please submit pictures and supplements that accurately and colorfully complement your story. Immediately following your story, will be your due credits. So along with your story, please submit your information (where you are from, blog address, where you stayed in Korea , your purpose for being in Korea , e.g. teacher,). When you submit pieces, we will get back with you, letting you know if your story aligns with the book’s angle or if we already have a story on that particular subject.

Be apart of history in the making. Go ahead and google books from black authors about Korea and see if you see any to date. I’m not saying there aren’t any out there but I haven’t found any to read. LETS DO IT!

P.S. My personal blog is below.
Christoph J. The Seoul of a Black Man
Travel with me as I expound on how, I, a black man, strives and thrives in Seoul, South Korea. Read along as I discuss, in literary manner, the many experiences and insights that will transform how I view life and the world as a whole.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

more blogs

yet another blog way better than mine, brian at

ive not been to many clubs here b/c my music tastes are not satisfied. i have been to harlem in gangnam ($20 to get in?) and kings club in itaewon. i think these two places may be where you'll see the most blk people in one place in south korea. miltary cant be caught out on the street after a certain hour, so if these clubs arent their first stop of the night, it's their last, and they stay until the morning. i find brian's critique of said clubs rather accurate. pero anywayss, do check out his blog for all kinds of info for things to do in korea: historical, social, restaurants, clubs, etc.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

well said

in answer to the constant question of possibly experiencing racism/discrimination if you move to korea:

"I never had any serious problems... If you can’t handle being black anywhere else in the world, I don’t see why you’d have an especially difficult time in Asia."

thank you iyori. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

described as "Davey and Goliath...meets South Park."

using the computer at home, i sometimes cant access some sites. there will be a message, something like "this is not available in your country" or something. i dont have this probem at work or at the internet cafes. anyway, im home and not allowed to watch moral orel. dammit. i could really use a laugh right now. maybe i can watch... something else... i dont know. man, if youre in the mood for moral orel, there is no other!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


hello blogworld. i am running out of oatmeal. my homegirl keena gave me the rest of hers before she left... *sniffle* i miss you, keena!!! anyways... im nearly out and now i dont konw what to do. i never ate oatmeal at home. but here it's like the perfect thing to eat for breakfast everyday. i must have more.

i know there is oatmeal to be bought at costco in seoul, but ive only been to one of the stores and damned if i can find my way back. they're all far for me, like an hour on the subway? i dont love oatmeal that much.

im sure some of the coworkers go... but im not asking them for help. a personal aside here: im really not game for asking anybody for anything these days. the last few times i needed help, i got none. and as a grown ass woman, it's really embarrassing to not be able to do things for yourself, which happens so often here being in a new place and unfamiliar with geography, customs, lanugage, etc. So im taking the punk way out, and asking my parents to send me oatmeal. BUT i did just learn that you can order costco online, to be delivered to your front door:

the websites are in english. but key money is still being pulled from my paycheck and loving parents make it easy to lean on them, so perhaps i'll try the website another time.

one of the last one on one times i got to spend with keena was going to costco, and she bought me my first costco hot dog. deeeee-licous.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

i wonder

these red levers under my sink... what are they for? are they supposed to be turned upward or downward? upward in winter, and down in summer? or UP all the time? OR DOWN all the time?

i dont know.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

tips for when youre brand spankin new

with thanks to seoul's own groove magazine.

  • pronunciation: korea is so homogenous. many residents are not used to having to decipher mispronounced korean words. to avoid confusion, have a k-friend write down your request (destination, item to buy, etc) to show to taxi drivers, store owners, whatevers.
  • atm: atms at banks are open from 8am to 10pm, they're not 24 hrs. some atms at convenience stores or subway stations may have 24 hr service, but their dependability is limited and they may not be in english.
  • phones: the local area code doesnt have to be dialed when calling from a landline or pay phone. however, area codes must always be included when using a cell phone.
  • phone etiquette: it is not uncommon for koreans to hang up the phone without saying "goodbye." A simple "ok, or "ya" or nothing at all is common practice for ending a phone call.
  • yes, no and maybe do not always mean yes, no, and maybe. in korea, yes could mean "yes, i heard what you said," and maybe would mean almost anything. double check with who youre talking to.
  • laughing: if you show anger or share sad news, koreans might respond with a smile or laugh. they're not laughing at you; this is their uncomfortable response to what they consider an awkward situation.
  • red ink: dont write someone's name in red ink b/c it's reguarded as an insult or unfriendly. you use red ink if you want someone to die...
  • No.4: some buildings dont have a 4th floor, or it'll say F instead of four. this is b/c 4 is a bad luck number, the korean word meaning four "sa" sounds like the chinese character for "death."
  • 24/7 free korea info in english: (02) 1330. they'll translate, give directions, ask them anything, they can answer. from your cell phone, dial 021330.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

question: getting hired

read all the emails/questions that i get here.
find more people to talk to here.

----- Original Message -------
From: a myspacer
Date: May 22, 2008 11:31 AM
I was wondering if you had any advice about getting hired..I am working through footprints recruiting right now (have you heard anything about them). I would like to be over there by the 2nd week in August that is my goal, trying to make the right steps to make that happen. Also besides Seoul what are some other major cities I should be looking into. Thanks in advance for the help. T

hi t. you dont need advice for getting hired, actually getting a job is pretty easy, as soon as you put your resume out, you'll have plenty of offers. footprints is a reputable agency, and they'll help you sift through your offers. when they tell you about a job, ask what subway station it's closest to. this will give you a sense of where you'll be. then you can get on the blk korea groups and see who's in the area, and get some better info.
as for what other steps you can do to get the job: footprints will help you. there have been many changes to the visa laws since i arrived, so i cant be much help to you on the technical side. if you've any other questions, do email me, im always around. ~i_teach.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

interesting website that i havent really looked at yet:

Sunday, May 11, 2008


i joined couch surfing is letting travelers stay with you for x number of days  and perhaps the host can show them around the town.

i just think it's a really great concept, and i want to support it. i joined the black travelers group, and a couple others for women and esl teachers. i dont think i would use it, tho, to stay at someone else's house...

the older i get, the more high maintenance i become. i remember my trip to europe and staying in filthy hostels with 20beds in a room, doing bucket baths in west africa. NOW, i would have to have hot running water, i have to have a flushing toilet, i would have to have my own room, none of this sharing/communal shiyat.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

other black folks in south korea

update 2009: the facebook group is the most active. use it, get other perspectives.

the myspace group i started way back when is around 100 members, and active, albeit lightly so. there are groups also on blackplanet, yahoo, and facebook. if you know where in korea you're going to be, maybe you could search around the profiles of people who are in the area, and get some inside info. sometimes i'll get emails and people will ask about jobs in sinchon, or haebongchon, or dageu or busan... dude, i live in pyeongchon, and it's all i know. sorry holmes.

to find more of us in seoul:


Thursday, May 01, 2008

the website is almost up and running, i was able to register today! so... you go do it too. ~supa fly

Saturday, April 26, 2008

maybe i should make an FAQ

a question from cyberspace, read it here.
read all the emails/questions that i get here.
find more people to talk to here.

Friday, April 18, 2008


you know what's super fun to do here in korea? go to a baseball game.
let neesa tell you all about it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

korean boys are cute

<---click to enlarge
i went out with some friends a couple weekends ago and oh my god, this place just had the cutest korean boys i've ever seen. these two were the waiters, i dont remember their names but oh wow they were super cute. read a little bit about it on my homegirls Kisha's blog.

click to enlarge--->
and damn, why she got to post the photos where i'm looking all confused and lost? b/c everybody here was ready for a picture except for me! b/c she was trying to keep me from my korean boyfriends, that's why. haters, all of them. >:(

i dont do much of a job posting real life on this website, like real experiences or what i do socially and all. my friends do a much better job, you can find some of their blogs here.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

calling korea

somebody in the states asked for my phone number, which i gave to them, then he asked me how to dial it. i didnt know. been here a year, and i had no idea! well, no one from home has ever called me either. anyway, i looked it up:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

student artwork

kanisha from my memory tera class drew this on the board last week.
a rather close likeness, really!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

what is cdi like?

read all the emails/questions that i get here.
find more people to talk to here.

Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 5:24:22 AM
Subject: Question about Teaching with CDI in Korea

Hi! My name is T and I love your blog. It actually encouraged me a lot despite all the negative comments I read on Dave's ESL Forum about being black and living/working in Korea. hi t. thank you, expat jane's interview did the same for me. read/listen here.

I am actually going through EO Recruiting company. I don't know if you have ever heard of them, but I have my first phone interview with them this Friday, and if successful, I will have the follow up interview with an HR representative from CDI. I was just wondering, first, if you have any tips for the interview process. I am applying for it from overseas and I've read about the things you may or may not have to do. no specific advice. be yourself. dont curse.

Second, I know it's not required but I don't have any teaching experience. I used to volunteer teaching English to the international students at my University but that is as far as it goes. definitely mention that in your interview.

Are there a lot of teachers over there who have little to no teaching experience? yes, many.

I was wondering how successful they were. everyone varies. it does seem that those w/more experience do better, but i think that's b/c of experience dealing w/children and classroom setting.

I am actually pretty confident in my abilities to learn and become and good teacher for the students. I have been very excited about teaching English overseas. At first I wanted to go to Japan because I speak the language and lived there for 5 years. I love it over there but I wanted to try something new. sounds good to me. japan is only a two hour plane ride away.

I also study Korean during my free-time and really want to learn more about the culture, despite all the things I've heard about race and so on. It's not just Korea but a lot of Asia that is xenophobic and don't really like foreigners, in general. Anyways, I'm talking about the things you already know of I'm sure ^_^ By the way, are you still living in Korea? yes, just renewed my contract, i'll be here for another year at least until feb 2009.

Most of the entries I found in the blog were quite some time ago. Well at least in 2007. Do you still work for CDI and is it still good according to your standards? there are good things. ive never been paid late. once you learn the class structure, teaching there can be easy. i have a lot of issues w/my job and w/the company, of course, but none so bad that it made me want to quit. overall, i am happy there, but it's because i love the kids, and now after being there a year, teaching the classes are much smoother and i have a lot of fun at work. but dont take just my word for it. a pretty good discussion about it on eslcafe here.

I've also heard some negative things about it recently but it won't discourage me from applying and trying to work there. I've already been turned down from a few teaching eikaiwas in Japan but I won't give up. japan turned me down a few times too. meh.

I've dec ided I really want to pursue a job in Korea just because it is a new experience and it would be a challenge for me. Anyways, I appreciate your blog very much and it was really inspiring. A lot of helpful information was on there. Sorry for writing you a novel...haha Hope all is well and once again, thank you! aint nothing. hit me up anytime. and pls check out others here in korea, check their blogs here.

my cat calendar

dear readers, if you have friends abroad, send them mail. even if it's just a postcard saying hi. getting mail from home is so awesome. one time a girlfriend sent me some bit o honey, it was the most wonderful thing to find in my mailbox.

for xmas, my homegirl cheryl sent me some gifts, including a cat desk calendar (i really miss my cats). not the kind of thing i'd have as decor in my home, but i did put it on my desk at work.

sooo many students asked where i got it, and when i told them it was a present from home, each conversation would have, "teacher, i will give money and your friend buy me one too." cute.

things like this can get distracting, but assert yourself and tell the students they may look at it/ask about it at break time, and "right now is class time. Work first." it got to be a competition as to who got to keep that days page of the calendar. then the students starting writing their names on the pages, calling dibbs and eagerly awaiting the day thier page came. it's super cute.

Monday, March 10, 2008

a year plus later

ive gotten many a request for an update, wow, i feel like a celebrity!! i do keep another blog about some minor everyday shizz, in the form of the emails i send to my parents, if you're just really dying to know more about me. stalkers.

in february i finished my one year contract at cdi. i saw 3 runners (teachers who stop showing up to work w/no notice, usually they leave the country & go back home), 3 people get fired, and multiple transfers (teachers requesting or getting sent to a different location). of the 8 or so new teachers that i came in with a year ago, 2 of them finished their contracts.

cdi offered to re-sign me, with no raise. *puh* this is my fault tho, for being technically tardy multiple times. we're to log in on the computer 20 min before class, and i would do a late log in maybe 1 or 2 times a month. update: i asked for and got a raise 6 mo later, holla!

I got a top score of "S" teacher last term, which entitled me to a 1 million won bonus! i didnt get that either, b/c of my tardies. And now that it's been a year, im responsible for my own key money, which i of course dont have saved up, so 1 million won is being pulled out of my paycheck every month for the next 5 months until my key money is paid. i get it back when i move out of the apartment.

with all the above, i feel like a sucker sometimes for re-signing, but honest to goddess, i still love working there. i love the kids. and now that i know the structure, teaching is not labor intensive at all. my prep time for class is 30 min tops, if i take a nap and write left handed. the classes are 3 hours long, but i dont care b/c i love that i only have two sets of kids a day, i feel like i really know my kids. i work 6 hours a day, and i dont take work home with me. i love that i never have to set my alarm clock b/c my work day doesnt start until 4pm. and in my year here, i've never been paid late.

if youre super duper into making money, you could make bank w/cdi. if your score as a top ranked teacher, you get a bonus of 1 million won, second highest set of teachers get 500,000 won, and opportunities for these bonuses are every three months. since class doesnt start until 4pm, you could do (illegal) private lessons in the morning/afternoon (i hear people charge minimum 50$ an hour), with the summer and winter time come cdi "intensive" classes where one month you teach in the morning AND afternoon, but you'll pull a paycheck of over 5 grand. you get paid more if you work your way up to "Head Instructor" but with more work/responsibilities of course. btw, i do none of the above b/c i like my work load as it is and i value my free time.

would i tell people they should come work for cdi? no. i have plenty of gripes about my job. we dont get a year end bonus, we dont get holidays off, we dont get free housing, we dont get health insurance, we dont get paid vacation, we sometimes have to come to mandatory meetings and arent compensated for them. ive seen and experienced things that i thought were unfair. and maybe you wont get easy peasy classes to teach like i do, maybe you'll have these beast classes that require a few hours of prep. im lucky right now, but i fo sho have some coworkers who arent and their workloads are monsters.

so kiddies, check out all kinds of different jobs and pick what works for you. but i do like cdi enough that i'm staying, at least for another year. i have fun at work, the kids are awesome. i love walking down the hallway and seeing a student wave wildly saying, "Oh! Hello Sister Sha!!!!" im happy where i am, things is good. :)

Friday, February 08, 2008

yes, i complain about the cold, A LOT.

the thing i wish i bought the second i got here-->
i have them now, and i friggin love them.

my homegirl emailed me, she's thinking about coming to korea, and told me she appreciates how i say a lot of neutral things and positive things about my experience here. thass cool. i do get the blues here, guys, real bad, but i make efforts not to write it here, b/c really dont we all get the blues, anywhere/everywhere, anyway? fo reals.

soooo... she teased me and said the blogs were great, except it seems that i hate the cold b/c i complain about it a lot. and yeah, i do.

i grew up in southern cali! ive never known cold like this before, not like this where i have to live in it every single day. it's mostly just me; my colleagues, tho they complain of the cold as well, dont let it stop them from doing things, experiencing korea. some coworkers are in north korea right now, taking advantage of the holiday weekend. i am, of course, at the internet cafe where it's warm. and then i'll go home, a mere 100 meters away, to my warm apartment.

i bought these wonderful earmuffs in itaewon yesterday for 3,ooo won. they're available in a wide variety of colors, camaflouge for example.

why oh why didnt i get them sooner. they're awesome.

today in seoul it is 32 °F / 2 °C
in san diego is it 65° F /18° C

when i go out, i put on long johns under my clothes, a scarf to wrap around my face and ears, gloves for my hands, and a sour face to match my attitude.

Friday, February 01, 2008

relax. have a drink.

you can also sit on the lawn furniture they have in front
of the convenience stores and drink as many, many, bored,
and lonely foreigners do. not me, tho... yet.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

eating when i first got here

when i first got here, i was put in a nice hotel and told training starts on monday. i think i arrived on a saturday night? and i had nothing to eat, and was pretty timid about finding a place.

well, i did try... i remember going into a place that looked like a restaurant, and i smiled said i wanted to eat, i made the international "eat" gesture w/putting my hand to my mouth. and the guy said, "No." i was so embarrassed, i left and didnt go anywhere by myself to eat for months. maybe he thought i was a beggar, maybe he didnt want to deal w/someone who didnt speak korean, maybe he hated my glasses, who knows...

look for convenience stores. Places like Family Mart, Buy The Way, or GS Mart. 7-11 is here as well. it's cheaper of course to buy at a proper grocery store (big bottles of water are around 2-3,000 won {$2-3}, but you can buy a whole pack of 6 for under $5 at emart). BUT if youre fresh off the plane like i was, you just want something to eat and drink.

ramen is easiest and cheapest. a big ol' cup of ramen is under one dollar (around 750-900 won). at the store, they have hot water dispensers and chopsticks gratis, sometimes you'll see students standing at a little table slurping down their noodles before their next hogwan. spaghetti ramen is my favorite. ramen bokki is good too, but a tad spicy. most of the ramens are spicy. if youre a baby about spicy/hot like i am, buy a milk or yogurt or something dairy to go along with your food to sooth the palette.

also good to try are these little triangles. they're seaweed with rice inside and some sort of filling. i cant read korean and it's a gamble when i buy them as to what i'm getting, but ive never had one that i didnt like. i always hope for the tuna. they are also under a dollar, maybe 900 won or so.

there's fruit and veggies to buy too, but if it's the right season, you can walk around and see a truck parked w/a guy selling fruit. the tangerines this year were fucking awesome. the apples are bomb, and some other fruit that tastes like a sweet pear, but it's round. i thought it was a vegetable. take a gamble and buy an assortment of things, it's fun, es un adventura, si mon.

my hotel had a hot/cold water dispenser, so i bought ramen en mass and kept them in my room... b/c again, i am from southern cali and the cold here made me never leave my room unless i absolutely had to.

also look for a "fast food" chain called Hansot. they're little lunch counters, they have pictures on the menu and you can just point to what you want, it's wonderful. food there runs from $1.50 to $6.00, most meals i spent around three. you get a tray of rice and whatevers. as i was so sick of ramen when i found hansot, it was the most delicious food i'd ever eaten in my life.

in pink, a typical Hansot meal

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

fish cakes are yummy

this is my new favorite thing to eat in korea. they're "fish cakes."

i dont know how to ask for them, but usually you'll be walking around and you'll see a truck, or cart, or a stand set up, sometimes in front of a restaurant. they'll have these skewers in boiling water, and on these skewers are these beige strips. they dont look good, but they so are. you can take a little cup also, and drink the soup (the liquid the skewers sit in).

they're only about 500 won each... 50cent. you can spray them w/soy sauce or brush it with whatever sauce they have sitting in front. you eat it there, and them leave them the stick. which i hope they at least rinse off before they use them again. or maybe you can walk off with the stick? i dont know, i always eat it then and there like everyone else does.

Monday, January 28, 2008

my utility/maintenance bill

update 04/08: please note that the korean won and the US dollar has been fluctuating lately, be sure to check current conversion rate.

i dont know why my first bill was so friggin high. i guess i was stuck w/some of the last persons bill... oh, and i didnt even GET a bill the first couple of months, actually, so it looks like they charged me all at once. jerks.

anyway, in an officetel, you pay a maintenance bill which includes utilities, water, electricity, and keeping the common areas clean. so, these are my bills from my moving in up until whenever.

some of my coworkers have had extremely high bills: i remember one month my bill was 150 something, and the couple who lived in the next building had a bill of over 300. others who swear they never use the heater/air conditioner (whereas i had the ondol all all the time in winter and constantly used the ac in summer) have bills comparable to mine. so, i dont know, i guess it depends on the building you live in? since so many people email asking me about bills, ive posted this, but dont assume your situation will be the same. ive friends who live in houses or apartments or villas, and their bills are 20,000 won. Yes, i said TWENTY. go figure.

i moved
to a

in my place in jamsil, i get a bill from Korea Electric Power Corporation, a bill from Daehan City Gas Company, and another bill that i think is water.

electric bill


Electric bill


electric bill



gas bill


gas bill


gas bill










Tuesday, January 01, 2008

how ise feelin right now

i dont know what this is a picture of, it comes up when you do a google image search for "first anniversary." pretty hot.

holy cow, here i is near 11 months later! happy new year!

my contract is up in february, i'd like to go home and visit family/friends, and i definitely want to come back to teach again. probably at the same school, i like the job, i like the kids there.

i have plenty of gripes about my job and korea in general of course, but you all can find lots of that on other blogs.

but anyways, as i get blue for just a hot second, here is what i miss right now (excluding friends and family):

  1. the san diego weather. it's so cold here right now, my ears ache, my face hurts where my glasses are resting on my cheeks/nose, i dont go outside, i cant, it's torture.
  2. soy rolled tacos from el zarape. hmmm...
  3. familiarity. knowing where everything is and how to get everywhere.
  4. harar. ever since ive been here, ive had a reoccurring dream that im in san diego, rushing to get to harar b/c i want to eat the no.17 one more time before i go back to korea. and then i wake up all the way, realizing im nowhere near my favorite restaurant.
  5. my cats.
  6. the clubs i frequented that played hip hop i loved. btw jean grae is the number one emcee in the world.