Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No School This Week!

This week I get a break. The break was scheduled for this week because Monday was Lunar New Year's, which is the same day as the Chinese New Year. Korea has the same Zodiac animals as China as well. I decided that since I spent 2,000,000 won during the last vacation (for LASIK) that I would not take any major trips during this vacation. So, I'm spending this vacation at home resting, as well as doing activities around Pusan and one or two day trips in Korea.

Today, I went to the Busan Aquarium, home to 50,000 critters. It is about a 15-minute walk from where I live. It is located at Haeundae Beach, the most famous beach in South Korea. I did not take any pictures but I some neat things. There are penguins and an otter family. There were lots of different fish there as well. I chose not to, but there was the option to go in a boat in the tank where they keep the sharks. There were a lot of young families at the aquarium today.

It will be interesting to see how things will be at work after we get back from the vacation. One of the Korean teachers quit after a month because she is moving to Dubai to become a flight attendant for Emirates Airlines. In addition, we will have a new manager because our old manager no longer works for our academy. This next one will be the third manager that I will have worked under since starting June 30. It will be exciting to meet the new manager.

My New Favorite Food cont'd.

I discovered on Friday that there is a difference between Japanese donkkas and Korean donkkas. I like the Japanese-style donkkas much better than I like the Korean donkkas. One of the other teachers and I ordered from a different restaurant and this one had Korean style donkkas. The Japanese ones are already cut when one gets them. The Korean ones are not. The Japanese ones are much crispier than the Korean ones. The meat was not as good a quality as the Japanese ones that I had had before. The Korean one that I had was more like a breaded sausage patty soaked in sauce. The Japanese ones are more like a fried pork chop with no bones and the fat trimmed from it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's Like Christmas Shopping

This afternoon, I went to Home Plus, which was a mistake since today is Sunday. There were so many people there shopping. These were mostly families. In Korea, many people have to work on Saturday, so Sunday is the day that they can spend time together as a family. Most weddings in Korea are on Sunday for that reason. I imagine that part of the reason that there were so many shoppers is that Solar (Lunar New Year's) is next weekend. This holiday and Chuseok are the big gift-giving holidays. Christmas gifts are given just to children and they do not receive nearly the number of presents that American children get. In Home Plus and E-Mart, some of the workers wear traditional Korean dress at work because they are the consultants for the Solar gifts. The traditional gifts given for these two holidays are practical gifts, not like some of the worthless, dust-collecting junk that people in America give. Fruit boxes are common as well as packages of SPAM or assorted sized of anchovies. Other gifts that people give include boxes that have toothpaste, shampoo, soap, lotion in one package. In one part of E-Mart, there are lots of socks in boxes. When you see the ones that you want to buy for somebody, just pick up the box that is already wrapped and ready to go. Rolls of wrapping paper are not very common here because any wrapped gift that somebody would give is already wrapped prior to purchase. The gifts that people give here are not ones that will just end up in a storage unit somewhere. People can wear or eat their gifts and if they are not wearable or edible, then they can use it to stay clean.

Answer to the latest poll question

What is Hello in Korean?

  • annyeong haseyo (안녕 하세요)-3
  • annyeong-hi gaseyo (안녕히 가세요)-0
  • gamsa hamnida (감사 합니다)-0
  • annyeong-hi gyeseyo (안녕히 계세요)-0

The correct answer is annyeong haseyo (아녕 하세요). Annyeong-hi gaseyo (안녕히 가세요) is a goodbye spoken to the person who is leaving. Gamsa hamnida (감사 합니다) means thank you. Annyeong-hi gyeseyo (안녕히 계세요) is a goodbye spoken to the person who is staying.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Are You Taller Than a 5th Grader?

Many people think that all Asians are short, but here in Korea, that is not the case. There are some short people, but there are also some tall people. As a whole, the Koreans are taller than the Ecuadorians. Here, it is not uncommon to see a man who is over six feet tall. The women are not short either. Some of the fifth graders are not much shorter than me. Some of them are only four or five inches shorter. While in Ecuador, we went to a school a few times and the students that we were working with were fifth graders. Those fifth graders were smaller than the fifth graders that I have in my classes now. It is the difference in the nutrition that they are getting. Many of the older people here a quite short. Middle-aged people are about an average height. People who are over six feet are mostly in their 20s or early 30s. In Ecuador, almost nobody was more than six feet tall. The people who were my height or shorter were quite numerous. South Korea is a developed country and Ecuador is not.


One thing I've noticed since I arrived, is the lack of body hair that Koreans have. In the summer, I would see men wearing shorts and they did not have much hair on their legs. I have not seen much hair on people's arms either. Very few men have a beard or mustache. Only once have I seen a Korean man with more than a couple day's worth of stubble. Most of them don't even have that much. Recently, I decided to remove the hair on my arms because one of the kids said that I had a lot of hair on my arms and asked if I was a man. That's one thing I do not want anybody to think about me. The stores do not sell much in the way of hair removal products. There are no women's shaving cream or gel. There is not much to choose from for men's shaving cream either. Koreans do not have much in the way of eyelashes either.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My New Favorite Food

Since I came to Korea, I have eaten donkkas (돈까스), which is fried pork cutlets. The picture on the right shows what they are. They are boneless pieces of pork that are covered in breading and then deep-fat fried. They are served with pork cutlet sauce, rice, and soup. I eat them at least once at week at a Japanese noodle restaurant around the corner from my apartment. I was never a big fan of meat, but this dish is delicious. Tuesday, at work, we ordered this take-out dish. When ordering food in Korea, the food does not come on disposable dishes. Instead, the delivery man comes back later to pick up the dishes. Only when ordering pizza or fried chicken does the food come on disposable plates. Monday, we ordered Korean food, and I learned that sometimes Korean restaurants recycle the side dishes. This is so the restauarants can make a profit. It is not very common for people to sue other people. This is evidenced in the Korean barbecue restaurants. There are grills in the middle of each table and the waiters bring out the meat and you cook it yourself. The last time we went there for a company dinner I thought that a place like that would not survive in America because people would sue because they got burned and/or they got sick because they did not cook the meat well enough. In Korea, (and China), people use the same chopsticks for eating and getting food off the plates that everybody gets food from.

What A Waste!

That is exactly what I am not thinking about my communication degree. There have been some changes in the procedures at the school. In thinking about these changes, I have been able to go back to my communication degree to explain to myself why the communication culture of the branch has changed. The theories that I learned in Human Communication Theory are proving to be invaluable in this time of transition. I can think of a few theories that apply to this situation. For example, I can think of Dramatism of Kenneth Burke to explain scapegoating to myself. (Kenneth Burke was the maternal grandfather of singer Harry Chapin, whose most famous song is "Cat's in the Cradle." Here's a video that I took off of YouTube that has the song on it.)

The most important theory for this series of events is Critical Theory of Commnication in Organizations. The change of one person and that person's style has completely changed the working environment. My communication classes have also helped me to know about Asian society, since Asian and Western cultures have different communication styles.

Happy New Year!

It is now 2009 here in Korea. It has been for nearly two hours. I do not have to work today, but instead, I have to work on Saturday. I do not have any big plans for the day other than relaxing and trying to go to bed at a good time. I've been working a lot this week, but my Tuesday/Thursday schedule is much easier than my Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule because I don't have as many classes and the classes are smaller.