If you want to teach English through the Korean Government: http://www.epik.go.kr
If you want to take a teaching certification do this now!
– my buddy Charlycheer on youtube posted a video about a groupon! $70 for a 160 hour online course. They are accreditated by IATEFL!! Just go and search ‘TESOL’ on groupon.com. They even offer demo videos you can watch to decide if you like it before starting the course!
I have been asked this by so many people here at school that I have just decided to do a post about it. I am pretty sure that I have talked about each of these locations in some way, but here we go….
As I have mentioned this is one of my least favorite areas due to the plethora of foreigners there, but it is also a great place to meet people from other countries. It has such a diverse group of people that it is completely possible for you to meet people from almost every continent. This is the reason why I put it on my list because it is kind of a special area in South Korea. Just make sure that you go with at least one other person because this place is not one of the safest areas. There are some not so safe zones and it is full of US military and Korean Police.
This is my second favorite place which is actually tough to say because I love this location. It has so much going on there and they have musicians that perform on the street. They have a lot of great restaurants and even though it is not Itaewon I feel that this area is geared more towards foreigners. Plus H & M is easy to locate and that’s the one store that has American sizes. Line 2, Exit 9. You will be amazed. There is also a park out there where people perform and many foreigners hang out in. You can also find lots of interesting jewelry and accessories here. This is where one of the language exchanges I go to is located and this also has some of the most popular night spots.
Now a lot of you may be thinking that it’s my favorite place due to the Gangnam Style song, but that is far from the case. When I first went to Gangnam I liked it a lot, but I did not think that it was very special. This is more of a place you go to at night because that is when everything is happening. If you thought in the music video it looked stylish well you should see some of the restaurants and clubs. From the outside you don’t expect things to look so great on the inside, but then you walk in and are wow’d. I like it for it’s classy aspects and the architecture of the buildings. Also my favorite baskin robbins is located here. Actually some of the most popular clubs in Seoul are located here and many have kpop stars that show up to them on weekends. There is also two language exchanges that I go to located here out of exit 11. It is actually a pretty long ride for me from Sinchon to Gangnam. It takes around 40 minutes just to get there and that’s depending on if no one gets stuck in the train doors because it has happened many times (thank goodness not to me).
Alright so there you have it. Some great locations that you can think about exploring. Each spot does have zones that are better than others. Be prepared to walk a lot once you get here, I really can’t stress that enough. If you are out of shape S. Korea will be your worst enemy because you won’t have the energy to really explore. Or you may take the initiative to get in shape and go out all the time (at least I hope that’s what you would do) just for the exercise.
Shop in the stations! I have found some super deals in the stations and they usually have better prices on items. On that note Gangnam station is also one of my favorite places to shop because it is so large and there are many stores. Once you get out…well I would suggest not really buying too much unless you have the money to spend because Gangnam is an expensive place.
7/15/13: Monday’s Thought
I have not wanted to talk about this too much, but there is an issue here. A very sad and noticeable issue. I can’t stand that when I asked a friend about homeless people I was told that S.Korea doesn’t have very many. The second day I was here I saw homeless people asleep by a major area of the city (it’s in my pictures). I was shocked that it was much like what I have seen in people’s New York pictures. My expectations for S. Korea being a country that had a very low homeless population severely declined after that day. No, I did not go out to seek the homeless in S. Korea, but I feel like there are so many. Maybe not all of the people are homeless, but they definitely have some major financial burdens to ask for money.
Here are just a few of the images that remain with me:
1: A man who had to be in his 60’s down in the subway terminal with one leg and a crutch lying next to him. He has a cardboard box and is thanking everyone as they walk by and bestowing a “God Bless You” as well. He is in very dirty clothes, and smells of something undesirable, but smiles like he has a mound of gold.
2. An elderly woman sitting on the steps halfway to the top of the subway shaking her box. She is saying something in Korean and you look at her face…she looks like she is half to tears and very desperate about that box. She is gripping it tightly, but as money is put in the box a sign of relief is heard and she thanks you until you can’t hear it anymore.
3. The most difficult image for me: I was in either Namdaemun or Dongdaemun market. There was a man, maybe late 60’s there that day. I heard a strange sound and I was really confused. It was music from a little box and I heard the sound of coin movement. I didn’t at first even notice the man until the noise got louder and I noticed a person walk up to him. This poor soul was on the ground with some type of rolling device underneath him. He had another rolling thing in front of him as he pushed that, he used his one leg to help him inch down the streets of this marketplace. I looked at this mans face. It was a face of someone who had worked hard there whole life and was now at a desperate point. I thought about many reasons why this man was out there doing that, but it didn’t matter to me. I wanted to help him. I would have put all my money in that box if I knew that it could help him have a better life, but of course I knew with him being out there that the money I had would not suffice. I put some money in that box and walked away wishing for a better world.
Almost everyday that I have left the school I have seen a homeless person. It really touches home because there was a time when my family had to be out on the side of the road asking for help. We were fortunate to get the help we needed in that time and were able to get back on our feet. I have always been grateful for the life I live and for those people who helped me along the way. I will continue to give to those who are less fortunate when I can.
I wrote a song called “Dead End” several years back…I wish I had my guitar because I would post it here. It is a song about being homeless here is the chorus: Lying on the street, was not what we had in mind. Dying from hunger, holding a sign. Clinging to trash, to try and stay warm. Homeless and helpless, we don’t deserve.
This is the bridge: Money in cans. Food in those pantries. I’m lying on the pavement, these two I can’t reach. Dead beat, no hope. Dead end. No joke. Back to sleep, to just repeat this endless cycle.
“Let your conscience be your guide.” -Jimnny Cricket
This means to always to what’s right and never do wrong. I believe we humans have a desire to always do good, so please let your heart/conscience steer you to do the right things as you go about your travels. If you feel that something seems questionable then don’t do it. Your mind, heart, and body can tell that something is wrong way before you actually realize that it is not good.
So…Yesterday was my Korean Pop singing class and it was not what I expected it to be. I thought the Professor might split us into several smaller groups based on song genre and have us learn a songs that way. Nope! We got something even better than I could have imagined. The class was split in half one group (the one I am in) goes from 10a-11 and the other from 11-12p. I am quite excited about this because we get to choose our own songs and he said it will be more like private lessons. I’m not exactly sure how the time would be split though, there are probably 18 people in the class and less than 10 minutes a person is not good enough. I already chose my song…well at least I thought I did. I was going to do G-Dragon’s “That XX” because I really enjoy love that song, not really the words of the song, but the flow of it. Now after really thinking about it and listening to more Korean music yesterday I realized that I should try to sing a woman’s song. I always try to stick to male songs because of the ease of transition, but I think I may do a song by Lyn or IU. I love both of their voices and they each have some great songs. My throat has been better and I think I can do it, but I will really have to take care of myself and work hard.
Korean Dance Style? Only because someone asked me about it…and Yes, it’s definitely different. I apologize in advance for this poor explanation…
So I went out last night to Itaewon for a language exchange meetup which was held at a bar. I really wanted to try to capture some video of the people dancing at the club so you can see what I am about to tell you, but I realized how strange that may be. Plus when I tried on my phone it was too dark and there was no way I was going to turn my camera light on because that just seems super creepy. Anyway, there is no real way to say this except they dance really strangely. I feel like a horrible person because all I can do is laugh and it’s not fair to them because that’s what they know. I was actually told that shuffling is very old here, but that’s what we still do in the states. They now say they do “sexy” dancing, but what I have seen would not fit into my mind for that word. I really want to put up a video of me doing the types of dances they do, but I know I wouldn’t even be able to do it right. How do I know? Because I already tried! HAHA, I wanted to bring it to you and show you some how, but I can’t even do it right. They do a lot of interesting movements with there legs and arms. There is this one thing that I just started calling body bobbing because it reminds me of a fishing bobble going up and down, but as much as I try to do it…I can’t! It’s some type of Korean magical dance that looks really amazing, but I can’t do it. It’s the one move I see that I want to learn, but it just must be a Korean body thing. Oh something that has kind of bothered me here is that guy friends….dance on each other. I have seen it first hand! I was really shocked and I even went the next step to ask the guy if that is normal and he said yes, a lot of guy friends do that. I don’t know about you, but if you are a guy and started trying to dance on your guy friend in the states you would probably get beat up. This actually makes me love Koreans more because they have a completely different view of sexuality and I sometimes wish that my mind wasn’t so skewed from the US way of thinking.
What about the girls Ren!? How do they dance?
Glad you asked me…I’ll talk about it next time….
The Korean female style of dance consists of swaying with friends. You will rarely see a Korean girl alone and if she is alone that means that her male counterpart just went to the restroom or to get drinks. Some do have more moves than just swaying, but it mostly consists of that, fist pumping, and jumping. Both sexes really enjoy singing really loudly to their favorite songs just like us Americans. Now if there is a couple you will see your typical “grinding” dance moves and you will probably see more PDA than you bargained for. I’m not the biggest fan of PDA in club setting especially since drinking is involved. I don’t know about you, but I always worry about other people and if they will be okay. I’ve seen guys grabbing girls and dragging them around with the girls trying to push them off. In the US I would stop the guy, but here I see it so much that I don’t know what to do. My brain and heart are not communicating the same in that situation so I don’t do anything, but watch and make sure that nothing strange happens. I have asked several girls if they were okay before and one of them did say they wanted to get away from a guy so I helped them.
I want so badly to bring you a video of these dance moves so I will try to see what I can do.
Learn some dance moves: I noticed that Koreans pick up dancing so quickly and a lot of times if you show them something new they will do it with you. You should just practice some basic things and if you have no rhythm it’s okay as long as you move around.
Prepare your mind: I don’t really know what I meant while typing this, but I guess I’m trying to say that you will see and hear a lot of things that are not in your realm of “normal.” I think the best way to combat this is to be very open to new things. Try new foods, listen to new music, explore, and don’t be afraid to get your feet wet. Traveling to a new country would not be worth it if you didn’t try to take in as many new experiences as possible. Yes there may be challenges along the way, but just take a deep breath and you can make it.
Until next time…
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