Thursday, May 28, 2009

What a Day!

Today when I woke up, I had to take my temperature and send it off so that the company knows that I do not have a fever. When I flushed the toilet, I realized that there was no water in the apartment because it sounded different. Therefore, I was unable to take a shower in the morning. This had happened before and I had to use bottled water from the fridge to get clean. Needless to say, that was a very cold shower. I did not have enough water this time and I did not have to go to work so I decided to wait until the water came back on. Throughout the day I kept checking to see if the water had come back on but it hadn't. Finally, I decided to go to Family Mart, which is a convenience store that is on practically every block her in Korea. I had to go out dirty and with a mask on which probably made people think I'm sick but I don't know them so what do I care. I told the man downstairs that there was no water and he told me that it would be back on at 6:00. It came back on before then but the water was a bit brown when I first turned it on. The shower water and the kitchen sink water quickly went clear, but the bathroom sink water took quite a while to go clear. I even gave up and turned it off but then later when I turned it on it was clear. Throughout the day I have been typing letters to my students. The company decided that since we were getting paid for this week but not teaching, that we had to type letters to all the students and their parents. It has been taking quite a while. The letters to the students are meant to be personal letters. I end up saying about the same thing in every one. The letters to the parents are basically progress reports. I've been typing quite a bit today. I've been shut-in because I don't like to go outside right now. I don't like to wear the mask when I go outside. This is going to be a boring week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

LG Twins vs. Lotte Giants

April 26, I went to a baseball game here in Pusan. It was my first time going to one here and only the second time that I had ever been to a baseball game. I went more for the experience than out of interest in baseball. The game was supposed to start at 5:00, but then it got changed to 2:00 so that it could be broadcast on TV. We did not know until late that morning and so I got there about a half an hour late. At the baseball game, there were no hotdogs that I can remember, but they sold dried squid. In addition, there was a man in a chicken head selling chicken. Towards the end of the game, some people were passing out orange plastic bags, like grocery bags, that said Lotte Giants on them. The bags were for garbage, but before using them for that purpose, people put them on their heads. It does not sound as bad as it seems. To do what they did, one fills the bag with air and then ties it once so that the air cannot escape and then pulls the handles down until they fit over the ears. It looks a bit silly, but not as much when everybody does it.

There were a few events that were attention-getting. One of the batters got hit hard in the arm. Another player broke the bat and the part that he was not holding flew to first base. The biggest excitement was that #10 Lee Dae Ho (이대호) hit a home run and one of the students from the academy where I teach caught that ball. I did not see it, but apparently he brought it into the school. It was not one of my students; I taught this student for only a month last summer.

We Interrupt This Class. . .

Yesterday started out as a normal Monday; however, it quickly changed. In the middle of the first class, the branch manager came in and told me that we were going to have a week vacation because of swine flu in Seoul and the possibility of spreading it to the children. She then, in Korean, told the kids that we had the week off and their faces lit up. Later, another teacher asked me if I had heard the news. Within the last five minutes of class, my co-teacher came to my class to tell me and to tell the kids because she did not know that we already knew. The first group of kids were supposed to be there until 4:00 p.m. but they left at 3:15. After that, the phones were ringing off the hook and the Korean staff and Korean teachers had to inform parents about the cancellation of classes. There were some students who did not know and came to the hagwon but then were told there were no classes.

Because of the fear of swine flu, I have to take some precautions. I am prohibited from going into work. I have to take my temperature at 10:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. and then send the readings to the manager so she can send them to the headquarters in Pusan and then onto Seoul. I'm supposed to stay at home and if I do go out in public, then I have to wear a mask. There is a fear that foreigners will pass it around and in addition, it is believed that foreigners do not have as good an immune system as the Koreans because a lot of new teachers get sick when they first come to Korea. I cannot leave Pusan.

As a result of this, I have to write letters to all the students and parents. It will take a while because I have so many students. Luckily, this is a paid mandatory vacation. At first it looked like nobody was getting anything for this week off, but I will. I don't want to stay at home all this time, but the advantage to that is that I don't have to wear a mask.