Friday, September 9, 2011

Teaching and Learning

Welcome to Korea. Usually I write my blogs chronologically, but today I'm going to go for a more didactic approach to enlighten you on how exactly I see Korea. At it's core Korea is disciplined and industrial, but the undertones of the culture lead me to believe there is a soft and jovial core. If I could sum up my experiences so far in Korea it would be undoubtedly positive. I have a modern and comfortable apartment in the Jukjeon area of Yongin City (about 45 minutes from Seoul), am teaching at a reputable school, and have enough freedom to quench my insatiable traveling thirst. I'm in Korea at the perfect time of my life, and I say this because as a child the structure of Korean culture may or may not have stifled any or all of my creative juices. Where to begin? Well, I should probably begin with an exaggerated sigh of relief as I am finally writing again after a long hiatus. I have a gut feeling it has to do with me being back on the road again. So, welcome. Anybody who knows me has acknowledged my sometimes ridiculous appetite, and thus we begin with food and beverage.

Daeji Galbi, or in English "Heaven"

Well, If you didn't have an appetite before arriving at this blog, then you do now. You have just entered the realm of Korean BBQ...sweet baby Jesus. The succulent feast I have displayed above is headlined by the delicious daeji galbi, or pork ribs. Surrounding this delight is kimchi, onion, and garlic. I actually heard somewhere that Korea consumes more garlic than any other country on the planet, and I'm no longer surprised. The BBQ is situated in the middle of your table, which gives you the privilege of grilling your meat to perfection every time. Then, you can take a piece of the pork, garlic, and onion if you so choose, and wrap it into a lovely leaf of lettuce (pictured right). You'll also notice a cold beverage known as beer acting as a sturdy side kick in that photo, and I assure you I will comment further on that in a moment. The food in Korea is nothing short of delicious. Oddly enough, I wasn't the biggest fan of Korean food in Toronto, but oh how that has changed. The food is cheap, delicious, and tastes like it is injected with a few mega-tonnes of flavour. When I am old, decrepit, and losing my sense of taste, then I will take the first flight over to Korea and give my taste buds an instant revival. I will undoubtedly comment on food further, but for now I will leave you with a few photos for some pondering value.
Bibimbap (Rice, Beef, Sprouts, Flying Fish Roe, and delicious)

Chamchi Kimbap (Tuna, Ham, Crab, Egg, Radish, Burdock Root, Carrot, and Cheap)

Alright kids, let's talk beverage. Firstly, I should mention I've grown a strong attachment to tea already. Hot or cold, it tends to be fantastic. I've had a cold barley tea in the Insadong area of Seoul that was great, but also had a variety of cleansing green teas. Yesterday, we were debating whether it was cheaper to buy beer from the store, or from the bars in pitchers or towers. That is a wonderful reality of Korea, and especially wonderful if you consider the dim prospects I was faced with for cheap alcohol in Norway. The beer isn't remarkably good here, but coming from Canada I was spoiled like a newborn babe with our beer, so let's just say I'm biased. There are also a variety of cultural drinking games which make Korea an ideal place to go out. Not to mention the Karaoke bars here are absolutely fantastic. On Wednesday, Bri and I went out with the other two teachers and rented out a private Karaoke room for two hours. We wailed on the microphones all night, and only left when they informed us that they wouldn't sell us any more time as the sun was soon to rise. I simply can't describe or encompass the hilarity of it all with words, so kindly wait for the pictures to arrive. Speaking of pitchers.
This 3000ml demon will only cost you about 12 dollars.

It wouldn't be fair to mention beverages without talking a little bit about the illustrious Soju. Soju has a comparable taste to Vodka, but in no ways a comparable price (unless you're in Poland). A small bottle of Soju will generally run you about 2000 won, or around 2 dollars for you quick currency converters. It certainly adds an added kick to any night out in Korea. Korean drinking games also cater to this mysterious liquid.

I planned on covering the spectrum of Korean topics, but it's quickly becoming evident that I won't be able too. Blog paranoia sets in, and you worry that, like any lengthy BBC article, the reader may stop reading half way through after getting the gist. So I'll save transportation, culture, teaching and Seoul itself for another tale. However, it would be an insult if I didn't broach the topic of Korean music.

Korean music is simply priceless. It's everywhere, and it's priceless. It really all depends where you are to determine what you will hear. Almost all shopping centres tend to play this soothing classical music, which lends itself to the passive aggressive nature of Korea. The markets and grocery stores are often as packed as Toronto rush hour traffic, so the music definitely has a crucial place for its calming effect. Karaoke obviously gives you free reign for music choice, but the heavyweight champion of Korean music is K-POP! (Korean pop). Believe it or not, we actually have a K-Pop on demand channel on our TV, and I can assure you it will get remarkable use. We actually spent the latter half of one evening enjoying Korean beers and K-Pop in our friends apartment. This music has unlimited potential for entertainment. I find myself slowly starting to get addicted to the incredibly catchy riffs. Curious? Check out this current K-Pop tune (hint: it's my favourite). It is entitled Rolly Polly by T-ara.

I've just finished a full week of teaching long hours (although absolutely loving it), so it's time to catch some rest. However, this experience so far has taught me that if I can't do some travel writing (fingers crossed), then teaching is 100 percent for me. It's an enlightening experience to be simultaneously teaching and learning in a foreign land full of possibilities.

1 comment:

  1. I just love your witty writing, Korea sounds amazing and I am quite jealous of all your continued travels. Cheers my friend, say hi to Bri for me :) - Meredith