Monday, 25 April 2011

Ticking along

Today is my penultimate series at my academy. Luckily my schedule has hardly changed and it's the best of any of the teachers. I still have four proper breaks in the week but one of my classes has been replaced with a brand new one, the lowest level we teach. I am hoping to have a lot of fun with them but expect to be very tired.

For the past two weeks the Middle school classes have been a series of tests for them and afterwards we would go over some of the answers. This changes today and we go back tothe normal reading classes where the students didn't do enough studying beforehand so find the class very difficult. I only teach two Middle school groups a week. Halleujah.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Shaking my head

Just back from a hike with my wife, and a nice hike it was too. We're trying to cut down on any excesses before we leave and to lose some weight. It's not going to be easy but if I cut down on the booze then I think it's possible expecially if we exercise more.

On the way to our hike we passed a petrol station (gas station) and a guy there was smoking close to where they pump the petrol (not in the shop/booth). I was fuming - pun intended - bcause I've seen this too many times for my liking. I don't go past these places every day but I've witnessed it far too often. I just don't know why some people here do it.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Starting to pack

With just over six weeks to go we've started to get cracking on the things we need to do before we depart Korea. Over the weekend we bought our plane tickets and last night we started packing. It's going to take a while to sort everything out so why not start now?

There are several ways of posting things and we're going for two options. The first is to send some things by EMS which is recorded delivery that requires a signature. You also get a text message when the package has arrived at its destination. That is a bit expensive but ensures your package gets there within a week. My wife be sending some of her clothes, bags and shoes I think this way. The people at the post office told us the maximum weight of a package by EMS is 10kg and that would cost 87,000won which is roughly £50. I think that is more than reasonable.

The other way we will be sending things is by boat. This can take between thirty-ninety days but is much cheaper. Packages start from a 2kg box costing 12,000won and go up 2,000won per kg. We packed a 13kg box like this last night which should cost us 34,000won or £19. I think I will be sending some books and asorted items that way in order to have a fairly light suitcase for travelling.

One of the things I'm looking forward to doing is throwing away a bunch of clothes that I've been wearing for the past three and a half years. I feel like I've been wearing the same clothes every week so it will be great to get home, buy some new things and look different to the 'Gavin teacher' role that I play five times a week. I've already set aside the things I am going to throw away in June from the clothes I will be taking with me.

This morning I booked our hotel for Hong Kong. It's been an exciting few days without actually 'doing' anything.

Gentlemanly Korean notebook

Saturday, 16 April 2011

No turning back

Today we dropped by a travel agen that we've used several times and bought our plane tickets for the UK. We got a good price that I was more than happy to pay. It's now official, we'll be leaving Korea on June 2nd.

We're headed to Hong Kong for a few days before arriving home. I'm in desperate need of a holiday so a few relaxing days will do me the power of good. In an ideal world we'd be sunning ourselves on a beach in somewhere like Thailand but funds are a bit limited and there's plenty of time for that in the future.

So just over six weeks to go. Time has been flying by lately. It feels great to be leaving though. Something to look forward to. I'll be leaving Korea on good terms. Now our attention turns to dealing with the mountain of stuff we have in our apartment that we need to bring to England. You really do accumulate a lot over the years.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Thinking time

Last week at taekwondo the Master asked me what I job I was going to do when I go back home in June. I told him I don't know. He asked if my family was rich and of course I said no. He then laughed, but in a good way. He must think I'm crazy to leave my job. So what am I going to do when I go back home? I don't know. It's a question I have been putting off for over five years. The plan has always been to stay here just that little bit longer. But for a few years now I've known that I will be going home at some stage. That time is almost here. I don't know what I want to do but I know I need some rest. I'm all played out right now. Excluding the National holidays (some of which I don't even get in my contract) I think I've had less than twenty days off in the past three and half years. I would like to take some time off from working. The economy in the UK is pretty bad right now. People are struggling for jobs. This is one of the reasons I've delayed coming home. I've been able to put some money away so that my wife and I will have a bit of a cushion and don't need to start working straight away. Having said that I don't want to see all that money just evaporate. One option would be to go back and study, maybe to do a Masters. That would take a one or two year commitment with no promise of a job and I may not be able to take that gamble. I've got some thinking to do.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Paying goodbye

Yesterday I went to taekwondo and paid my usual monthly fee of 60,000won (£34). This is, I think, the last month I'll be doing taekwondo here, or perhaps anywhere. I now won't be here for the June test. There is little point me training in May because Diana, my training partner is changing branches this month so she won't be there and as I'm not taking the test I won't feel good practicising for something that I won't be able to do. Perhaps this is short sighted of me.

I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I've been doing some form of martial arts in Korea for three and a half years. I've done OK, got three black belts and learned a lot and had fun every single day. My body has taken a beating at times though. When I did hapkido I used to wake nearly every morning with aches and pains and it would always take a few minutes for my body to adjust. My feet will enjoy the rest too. So many times I've hurt them, split open my toes where they join my foot (which is painful) countless times. I won't miss the bruises either.

But I will miss the people I have met, trained with and had fun with. I will miss the routine, the discipline and the thrill of impovement. I've been lucky enough to see a different side to Koreans and enjoyed their hospitality and friendship. It's been a big part of my days for the past few years. Something to look forward to. Something to aim for. Time is often your enemy in Korea. As a teacher you have too much of it so need to try and fill it productively and I think I have. I'm hoping the next three weeks will be good. After that I will be busy planning my move.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Almost, but not quite

A nice gentle opener to the class.

Me: "What pet would you like?"

Student: "I want a pet square."

Me: "....."

Student: "I want a pet square. They live in the trees."

Me: "Oh, you want a pet squirrel!"


Yesterday. One study sentence was 'We pull into a gas staton for some fuel'

Me: "What is fuel?"

Student: "Car..... yummy yummy"

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Cheeky landlady

My wife just got a call from our landlady asking us if we could lend her two million won (£1,142). After my wife politely told her we could not she then asked if she could borrow one million won (£571) instead. Staggered at this request, my wife again exaplained that it would just not be possible. This comes the day after we paid the rent. I've had bad landlords here in Korea but this takes things up a notch.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Spousal visa success

Relief and joy. They were the overwhelming feelings today in Seoul. We headed there early to get the results of her spousal visa application. And my wife now has a two year visa for the UK. I was pacing the corridor as my wife was in the Visa centre opening her package and we got the result we were desperate for. Much to our surprise the visa was processed within 24 hours of it arriving in Manila. Now we can plan ahead for our future. We've already started looking at flights home.

So, two months to go. Time is slipping away very quickly and I'll be back in the North of England in just a few weeks from now. In truth I am happy to go but know I will miss the place which has been my home for over five years a lot. I have taken my job as far as I can as things stand. I am tired of the work and need a break, need a challenge and importantly a change of scenery. We're both very happy with today's result and can now move on to stuff like sending things back to the UK. But I don't think things will take too long to sort out. I think my next few weeks will be a lot of fun. How can they not be with this beautiful weather?

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