Monday, January 31, 2005


It seems that every time I make it home, I spent afternoons roaming the shops and Department Stores. I guess this due to the novelty factor of being able to wander around looking at stuff, be it clothes, music or the latest electronic gadget without being stalked and stared at during the duration of the visit to that particular store. It's great - just being left to look around without being harrassed, the only time you have contact with the assistant is when you ask then for another size or something ...

Alas, each time I am home, I do feel that I need to stock up on this, that and the next thing. The mindset being that I can't get that in Korea. Strictly speaking, thats not completely true but I convince myself that thats the case to stop me from feeling guilty when spending a small fortune on a couple of shirts for University - it my defence, Korean shirts, and ties for that matter, are crap!

It doesn't just stop with clothes, it's music as well. I know for a fact that I couldn't get a certain CD in Korea, so I had to buy it ... although, the only CD i really want isn't released until the 14th of February.nightmare.


Even being away from home for any length of time, it is surprisingly easy to get back into the swing of things ... but then I think that must be a purely language thing. Being able to call anybody you like or go somewhere and actually ask meaningful questions or request information is something that you take for granted without even thinking about it.

tODAY for example - I had to take a trip to the Bank in order to get get my Bank Card and Credit Card replaced as both had expired. I was in and out of the Bank in 10 minutes, completely satisified with all my probelms taken care of ... now, if that was to happen in Korea, I would be in real trouble and I probably would havee left the Bank wondering if I had actually taken care of everything that needed to be taken care of.

But, I guess that comes with the territory. The solution - move home or learn more Korean. Both options don't particularly fill me with glee ...

Sunday, January 30, 2005


Word of the week: 'English'

Surrounded by it, once again. Admittly, a rough, coarse version of it but one that I understand fully with no funny stresses or hybrids.

Phrase of the week: Every single phrase uttered ... and understanding everything. Perfectly.

Sight of the week: 'Health'

Brought to my attention on the wednesday night stagger home was a grown Korean man standing outside a restaurant. Nothing unusual in that. However, the then proceeded to turn around and take a leek next to the front door of the restaurant. Not only was he on the street doing this but he was in full view of all the people in the restaurant who were eating at the time. Some people have no shame.

Song of the week: 'Somebody told me' by the Killers

Like 1995 all over again but with a Las Vegas makeover. A song to tap your feet to.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Have to admit that I do really like being home ... I really do miss my mates, oh yeah, and my family!

Plus, Edinburgh is hard to beat. As much as I feel that Cheonan is 'home'. Edinburgh is where the heart is. I honestly don't think there is a city like it. Where else would you get 10,000 maroon clad 'adults' singing at the top of their voices 'You're just a bunch of sheep shagging bastards' to which the response from the 3,000 red clad 'sheep shaggers' was 'We're just a bunch of sheep shagging bastards!'Classic.see, football isn't just about 22 men kicking around a ball. It's much deeper than that ... it's tribal.

Friday, January 28, 2005


'Ladies and Gentleman, this is your Captain speaking ...'It's always reassuring to know that your Captain actually exists and is happy to let you know how things are progressing. It's the small things that I like. I like to know that we are cruising at an altitude of 38,000 feet and that our ground speed is 600 mph. I like to know that we will be flying over Ulan Bataar, through Siberia before heading towards East Finland then straight to Amsterdam. I like to know that I should keep my seat beat fastened at all times and I especially like the map on the T.V. which tells you where you are ... But all these touches don't particularly make me feel any safer. I feel ever single movement of the airplane. Even the slightest twitch sees me making a grab for my arm rests. I hear the slightest change in engine tone. I'm not sure when this irriational 'fear' began. I actually like flying. I like to sit at the window are just stare at the sky and the land below but these days, I'm just alittle more nervous which is just stupid since flying is statistically the safest method of transportation and given that I've flown alot in the last few years.

Anyway, dull would sum up the flight with nothing worthy of note occuring. There wasn't even alot of talent to look at ... alas, at least I had some decent music!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I had high hopes for today. I was intent on getting myself organised for going home. I had wanted to get all my clothes packed along with everthing else I was going to take home but in the end what did I actually spend most of my time doing ... trying to create a decent mix for my mp3. Clearly, my priorities might not be exactly spot on but the fact remains - you have a 10 hour flight with nowhere really to go during that time.You might get a decent movie or 2 but that is never a guarantee. Also, the option of sleep remains but the likehood of getting any are slim at best. So, what are your options?Reading or listening to music. I have the book but I don't have th music.Clearly I had to get on the case.notaneasytask...


Heard the most unbelievable thing today ... one of my friends lives and works at a School in Seoul. It had been agreed that she could stay 1 month beyond her contact which would she her complete the full academic year - it runs from March to February here - and it seemed everything was fine.butno.she was called into the Directors office on monday evening and told that actually, her last day was to be this friday ... 4 days ways ... and that she had to move out of her School provided apartment by sunday ... 6 days away.

At home, such action would be illegal but here, the rules of the game mean that their aren't any rules of the game. Although not exactly common, it's not completely unheard of. At the end of day most teachers here are simply a commodity given that the majority of the Schools are essentially businesses out to make as much money as possible. A School is considered more attractive if it has a 'foreign' teacher. And since the School is responsible for the teachers Visa, they can pretty much do what the like. Hence, this particular espisode.

I could spend hours going into the pros and cons but I'm not going to. All I will say is that I live in another country, so its best to at least try to understand the host country even if one doesn't necessarily agree with it.

Anyway, home in 2 days. Whoohoo ...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Holy calamity screaming insanity ... I had arranged to get both my telephone and internet reconnected today and was told that the respective people would arrive 'by lunchtime'. Lunchtime came. And went. No-one. Finally, around 1pm the telephone guy arrived and connected the telephone. Literally all he did was plug the bloody telephone in and low and behold it worked - I could have done that!

2pm arrived, 2.30, then 3pm ... finally the other guy arrived to connect the internet. In my old apartment, the guy managed to complete everything in around 5 minutes. Clearly an expert in his field. But, today the guy was here for over an hour trying to connect it. He was clearly not an expert. He was trying to connect everything but it just wouldn't happen. He was mumbling something about the fact that it was my laptops fault ... eh, no mate, it's you. You're crap. I suggested that maybe he needed to change the I.P. - like I know what i'm talking about - that idea was scoffed at. He then wanted to get another guy to come and fix the probelm ... and I had to pay for it. Clearly, being Scottish. meant that that wasn't going to happen. Finally, he got on the phone to his Boss ... then suddenly 'aaaaah mata mata mata ...' The penny dropped.

Within 2 minutes of this, the internet was connected.

What had been the probelm? He hadn't changed the I.P.

Surely ... for a telecommunications 'expert' that would be the 1st thing you would do when connecting a customer. It's like me forgetting to use nouns when teaching. Perhaps i'm being harsh but what an idiot.

Anyway, Burns night tonight ... alas, haggis, neeps and tatties are not on the menu. Instead kimchi, rice, tofu and some kimbab will have to do. I'm sure the Bard himself would have had something to say had he been acquainted with the delights of 'spicy cabbage'.

"Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!"

Monday, January 24, 2005


Bad is meant to the 'worst day of the year'. Some Professor has created a formula which predits that tday, Monday 24th January is the worst day. Clearly, this guy has had too much time of his hands but his equation takes into account factors like the weather, debt, motivation, the time passed since christmas and monthly salary. All of which points to today. So, if you want to be miserable, then please do - it's allowed.

Wouldn't it be awful if your birthday was today ... how bad would you feel!?!

Actually, today has been o.k. Not spectacular but by no means the 'worst'. The new apartment is looking good - everything is in and working with no major dramas so far. In fact, i'm quite liking it so far including the keypad on the door. It's great. I don't need to worry about losing the key. Although i'm hoping it's not one of these '3 attempts' things whereby you have 3 attempts to get the correct code. If you don't, you are locked out. That wouldn't be good. {hmm ... maybe I should use the key after all ...}

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Word of the week: 'Freedom'

Apparantly Bush used this word 27 times during his 17 minute Inauguration Speech. He's starting to sound like a broken record. Some advice for you mate ... let the masses in your own country have freedom and not the 'freedom' allowed by the neo-cons. If you successfully attain that goal, then maybe, just maybe you will have a mandate to spread this 'freedom' around.

Phrase of the week: 'Am I rude?'

Spoken by an un-named women after having alittle too much to drink. The answer? A definite, 100% 'Yes'.

Sight of the week: 'Riot'

I switched on the T.V. last night to see a bunch of beshevelled looking men hurling punches, chairs, tables etc at riot police in the largest train station in Seoul ... as it turns out, these men were actually all homeless. It seems as if the previous night, 2 homeless men were found dead in the train station. They believe that the police were involved in some way, hence the protests. It was reported that many of the men were arrested as a result. They were probably quite happy since it meant they had a free bed for the night and probably a free breakfast as well.

Song of the week: 'Music is my radar' by Blur

Generally, when bands release a 'Best of ...' a random 'new' song appears on it presumably to boost sales. Anyway, this was the 'new' song on Blurs. Alittle under-rated but supported by a great Kubrick-esque retro styled video.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Friday, January 21, 2005


This report was on the B.B.C.'s website this morning ...

US right attacks SpongeBob video

US conservative groups are up in arms over a music video featuring children's TV heroes such as the cheerful cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants.

Focus on the Family and other groups say the video - a remake of the Sister Sledge hit, We Are Family - is a vehicle for pro-gay propaganda.

The video's makers plan to mail it to US schools in the spring to promote tolerance and diversity. They say the attack is based on a misunderstanding. The video also features children's favourites like Bob the Builder, along with characters from Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.

But James Dobson, founder of right-wing Christian group Focus on the Family, singled out SpongeBob at a black-tie dinner in Washington in the run-up to President Bush's inauguration, the New York Times said.

SpongeBob - who appears on the children's cable channel Nickelodeon - is seen as an icon for adult gay men in the US, apparently because he regularly holds hands with his sidekick Patrick.
His creators deny that he is gay, but he is not the first such character to cause controversy.
In 1999 conservatives claimed handbag-carrying Teletubby Tinky Winky, an import from the UK, was a bad role-model.

Nile Rodgers, who wrote the song and is founder of the We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) which released the new video, says it is intended to help teach children the values of co-operation and unity.

"We believe that this is the essential first step to loving thy neighbour," he said. "And the fun and exciting format makes it a lesson that's easy for children to learn."

But conservatives say it sees the video as a cunning attempt to promote homosexuality.
They point to the fact that the WAFF is linked to a pledge being promoted by some liberal groups which includes a recognition of tolerance of sexual identity.

"We see the video as an insidious means by which the organisation is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids," Paul Batura, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, told the New York Times.

Mr Rodgers said the groups may have confused his foundation with an unrelated organisation with a similar name that supports gay youth.

WAFF spokesman Mark Barondeso told the newspaper that anyone who thought the video promoted homosexuality "needs to visit their doctor and get their medication increased".

Has the world gone
crazy or something ... it's a cartoon character. This character isn't even a real 'person'!

The quote by Paul Batura must be up their with one of the stupidest things i've heard- and living in Korea, that takes some beating - he say's "... potentially brainwashing kids ..." What - into 'becoming gay'?!?

You can just imagine some regular 8 year boy waking up one morning and deciding to become gay because SpongeBob, the Muppets and Bob the Builder appear in a video!

To quote Tom Hanks in 'Big' ... 'I don't get it'.

The world is getting more dangerous with every passing day. The fundamentalists are back. I wonder who is next on their 'hitlist'. Last week it was the B.B.C for showing Jerry Springer - The Musical, this week SpongeBob and Kermit, next week it'll be Bagpuss or even that arch anti-christ Tom who just won't leave that mouse alone.

Why don't they make a stand against something meaningful like eradicating poverty or racism or 3rd World Debt instead of attacking a cartoon character.PATHETIC.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


The trials and tribulations of moving apartment. I've managed to throw out all the really non-essential stuff<alot> whilst all the non-essential stuff is packed<alittle>. Also, I have a mental note of where the essential things are going to be packed<most of it>, so when the time comes, it will be easier to pack. Of course, that all sounds great in theory but in practice - hmm, thats a different matter. I'm sure something won't go to plan like I actually don't have a new apartment to move into!

I've been trying to get to the gym alot more recently. It's not that i'm a fitness fanatic but it's something to do, plus it's 2 minutes from my apartment. Anyway, there is such a mixed bag of people who go even though it's not actually open to the general public. I've noticed that their seems to be more 'non-students' loitering. I guess these are the people who live next to the campus. These people bring their entire families to the gym. It's like a day out or something with the grandmother peddling away on a bike - i'm scared she might get too excited and either 1. fall off the bike or 2. have a heart attack, the father strutting around the free weights area acting as if he owns the weights. Usually the mother and the daughters can be found on the treadmill gently breaking into a swift walk whilst the sons run around trying out every machine. This isn't just 1 particular family, there are about 3 or 4 families who do exactly the same thing. I wonder if it's in their genes or if they have pre-planned routine conceived whilst they are having dinner. Also, their are the usual number of young men trying to get fit and healthy. Unfortunately, no ladies. Their is this 1 particular guy who seems to be very fond of his stomach. Usually he does about a million sit-ups after which he wanders around the gym with his uncovered stomach showing. This pattern is always laced with about a minute standing infront of the mirror patting and caressing his stomach. Strange. Or perhaps it's me who is strange for even noticing ... this same guy is probably saying 'that foreign bloke, he's well strange - all he seems to do is __________'!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Well ... it seems like Scotland did actually get some snow. Good for you. We are still waiting for it here although I thought we might get some last might since it did start to sleet alas, it didn't amount to anything.

I'm always surprised by just how unprepared Scotland is for snow. I was reading reports of villages being cut off or major roads being closed all because there was an inch of snow ... what would happen if there really was a snow storm?!? It's as if the whole country grinds to a halt because of it and I really don't understand why. I mean, it's not like Scotland is a hot country, close to the equator. It's the next country down from Iceland for god sake. Surely the name gives us some idea of it's climate ... but no. Very year is the same. Do we hear of Russia or Canada or even Korea grinding to a halt because of it?

no.Why?Because they are organised.

I see that Hugh Jackman is the new favourite to become the next 007 with Clive Owen 2nd followed by Ewan McGregor. Of course, Pierce was fine ... probably the 2nd best Bond but he was getting 'old' and because of that he had to be retired. Another outing might have been 1 too many in much the same way that Roger should have been retired after Octopussy and not given his licence for the crap 'A view to a kill'. To be honest, I have no idea who it will be. It wouldn't surprise me if some relative unknown got the part. Of course, I've already got a job, so would be unavailable for the position for at least a year ... but, I'm open to offers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


I'm beginning to get organised for the big move this weekend. I'm hoping that I don't have too much to move but it's amazing how much 'junk' that just seems to appear from nowhere. I found a Bible lurking ... where on earth did that come from?!?

I have packed up a couple of boxes so far but the probelm is that the stuff I want to get packed, is the stuff that i'm going to need during the course of the week. 'Stuff' like clothes, plates and cups etc. so realistically there isn't that much more I can do until the end of the week.hmm.

I saw on the news that a large part of Korea was under snow. Alas, we haven't had any which is disappointing. I do like the snow but only for a day or so. Once it freezes over and makes it impossible to walk, that's when I don't like it - epecially when you go head over heels infront of a big group of Koreans. You try to stand up as if you are fine but in actual fact, you have just broke your foot or something equally painful.

It will be just my luck that it will snow the night before I travel back to Scotland and i'll end up missing out on all the fun ...

Monday, January 17, 2005


Received an E-mail from one of the administrators here at the University. She was informing us that their was to be a 'blackout' on Campus next sunday from 1pm to 5pm which probably means no water or electricity but could mean all manner of things. I was alittle worried about this especially since 1pm is around the time I seriously consider getting up and dressed. Alas, I don't care because I will have moved by then! I think that this 'blackout' happened once before a few months ago ... I was having a shower when the water pressure started to decrease and decrease and decrease. I tried really hard to get de-soaped but I just wasn't quick enough. So, i'm standing there like an idiot, covered in shampoo with no water and needing to head to class. Thankfully, the water returned within 5 minutes but 'panic' had set in ...

Actually, this 'no water' thing did happen when I was at Little America. It wasn't just our Apartment complex but the whole neighbourhood which was without water for 2 days. Thankfully, we had a couple of days notice - which WAS surprising - to prepare ourselves. But, the School wasn't, so on the 2nd day, we couldn't use the toliets because there was no water. That was one long, uncomfortable day ...

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Word of the week: 'Please'

The 3 day window in which the students could request that I change their grades only brought 3 students knocking on my door. Not bad considering I have 450 students! Alas, 1 student was flatly declined. 1 student was changed on the grounds that I had made the mistake and the other student ... well, we'll just not talk about him!

Phrase of the week: 'Harry the Nazi'

What a man ... doesn't this guy think? Eh, hello ... you represent Britain both at home and internationally but he wears a costume representing an army that killed quite alot of his countryman, not to mention countless numbers of others. Oh yeah ... and 2 weeks before the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. If you're reading this Harry, what was wrong with the Batman costume?!?

Sight of the week: 'Netizens'

Actually, I hadn't come across this word before. Apparantly it is a combination of Net users and citizens. Anyway, you can't physically see them but you can see their work on the Internet. The big story this week week was that Korean Netiviens had locked onto an English Teachers website which had postings painting Korea and themselves in a bad light. Without going into detail, the 'locals' are not impressed and there seems to be a large surge of anti-Western feeling as a result of this website, most of which has been instigated by these Netizens.

Song of the week: 'This fire' by Franz Ferdinand

'This fire is out of control ...' sings Alex Kapranos. Seems strangely apt given the actions of a minority of the 'locals'.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


No further positive sightings of the ducks have been made. The rumour must be true. Someone has stolen them. I would like to believe that they have just flown away to somewhere warmer but this being Korea, it is highly likely that they have been made into duck stew ...

Speaking of 'flying off', I've booked my flights back to Scotland - leaving here on the 28th and returning to Korea on the 9th of February. Not a long trip back but probably as long as my bank account can cope with. Flying with K.L.M. which is fine. It could have been with an un-named German Airline which might not have been a very comfortable 10 hour flight.

Before that however, I have to move apartment. 1 week today. Can't wait actually. Not just to get back to civilisation but to the hustle and bustle of city life. Country dwelling has it's merits but for this particular part of my life, it's not really where I want to be.

But, even before that, I need to organise my class syllabus for the forthcoming semester. Actually, 7 of my 8 classes are organised. The 8th class though isn't organised yet but then thats due to 'external' factors and not my own laziness (!) ... Firstly, I'm waiting to get my copy of the textbook back from an un-named Korean English teacher who is currently hogging the book. So, Kate, get your finger out - I need the book back NOW. And secondly, I'm waiting for the publisher to get back to me regarding the textbooks' availability. It'll be just my luck that I won't get the book back and the publisher won't get back to me ...

See that, my apatheticness (is there such a word!?!) is lifting!

Friday, January 14, 2005


.... moan.i guess i should be thankful for what i've got and to all intents and purposes i am, since many people are in a far worse situation than my own but then i suppose everything is relative and that you are (usually) a product of your surroundings but ...

it seems like i'm completely stuck in limbo. dying to move house but can't until next week. and dying to get home but can't because i've got to move next week. it's like have i have all these exciting things on the horizon but i just can't get to that horizon. and in the meantime i'm just floating around - doing this and that with no real aim or purpose. take today for example, it's just after 2pm and i'm not dressed, not showered, have done nothing ... if it was sunday, then o.k. but it's friday. the week hasn't even finshed. it's as if i've suddenly become apathetic just because i've got a spare week.

realistically, there are mountains of things i could be doing - learning korean, hiking, planning next semester even cleaning my apartment. but no. i'm doing absolutely nothing. perhaps this week is my 'real' holiday. once this week is finished, i'll get it back and all the 'things' i should be doing will get done.

anyway, i read that some blogger in scotland got sacked from his job because he was complaining about his job even although he didn't name names or reveal where he worked. i guess i should be more careful in future ...

Thursday, January 13, 2005


I previously wrote about a bunch of ducks that lived next to my apartment complex. I saw them the other day heading towards me - 'Here we go again' I was thinking - but they weren't quite fast enough to catch up with me ... actually, that was the last time I saw them.

BUT ... I heard some disturbing, as yet unconfirmed reports about these ducks today.

One of the Universities' maintence men has been spotted feeding the ducks on a number of occasions. It is reported that he's not just feeding them the cast off's from his kimbab or sandwich or whatever he has for his lunch, he's feeding them man size portions. Perhaps, he feels sorry for these birds since it must be difficult to get food these particularly since they don't have the money to buy things from the local supermarket. Anyway, it has also been alleged that this very same maintence man was spotted making a grab for one of the ducks. I suspect he doesn't want a duck for a pet ...

Of course, I should remind you that these are all alleged sightings - however, the only explanation must be that this brute has systematically fed these ducks everyday in order to fatten them up with the sole intention of catching them and taking them home for dinner ... and I'm not talking about 'as guests'!

So, at present, I'm on a right-the-clock duck surveillance mission. If anything has happened to these ducks, I'll find out. Even if nothing has happened to these ducks, I'll find out. It's a difficult mission but I feel I'm the only member of the teaching staff capable of getting to the bottom of this clearly explosive situation.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


I received a call from one of my student's today. Her English is unusually good since she had spent time in Australia. She had called on behalf of one of her classmates who I had given an 'F'. I had given him an 'F' becasue he wasn't a good student and his level of English dictated that he was a borderline pass/fail student. He also hadn't completed one of the homework assignments.

Anyway, I told her that I wasn't going to change his grade because he hadn't completed this assignment plus if he had had a probelm, then why did he wait until now to contact me? So, I stood firm and was secretly really impressed with myself for doing so!

Alas, 15 minutes later, there is a knock at my office door. It's him - the student I failed. I tell him i'm not changing his grade. 'Normal' students accept this and leave. He doesn't. He stays. He just stands there, not saying anything whilst looking sorry for himself. I wonder if he actually understands what I'm trying to tell him, so I take him to the English Department Assistant so that she can tell him the situation. Bad move. She tells him but then their is some probelm in that this is his final semester and that if I give him this 'F' he will not be able to Graduate (). I remain firm. If it was that important, why wait until now?

But, he doesn't leave. Again, he stands. The Assistant gets on with her thing whilst I do my thing. Still he stands. Silent but there. I'm starting to question my hardline stance. I ask the Assistant about my options. She says that its my decision. Not exactly what I wanted to hear.

Finally, I Crumble ... I tell him if he completed my homework within the next hour, I would grade it. A grin the size of Korea flashes from his face. He literally runs out of the office.

I'm gutted.

So, 44 minutes later he has it completed. It's alright - passable but only just. I change his grade. It looks like he wants to kiss me - I'm not having that, so I usher him out of my office.


I'm not taking anymore calls or E-mails from students ever again ...

Monday, January 10, 2005


In an earlier post, I mentioned that the 1st question a taxi driver usually asks you, is whether or not you are American. I've never had a taxi driver ask 'Are you Russian?' or 'Are you Canadian?' or even 'Are you Egyptian?'

It seems as if, if you are of 'western' appearance, you are instantly thought of as 'American'. I suspect that taxi drivers are not the only ones who seem to make instant generalisations. Today, I went to the supermarket only to hear a teenager mumble 'There's an American' when I walked past. When I first arrived in Korea, it really didn't bother that much because it was a sign of my Korean getting better but now, it's tiresome. In fact, it annoys me. Yes, i'm fully aware that i'm not Korean. No, i'm not from another planet and yes, I do understand what you say. So, I turned to this teenager, gave him a look and asked him if he was Japanese. Strangely, he didn't respond.

Such generalisations are pretty common. I'm sure that most Koreans think that the majority of teachers here drink, stay out late and try to pick up girls but by the same token, many teachers here believe that Korean men simply work, drink soju and try to pick up girls.

I guess it's a question of understanding, not just from us 'Americans' but from our hosts as well.

Anyway, as predicted Celtic defeated Rangers yesterday in the Scottish Cup. I'm only going to report the result and will refrain from the usual gloating after all, it's only a game of football!

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Word of the week: 'Pyeong'

Korean lesson#1. A 'pyeong' is a unit of size. Here in Korea apartments and houses' are measured in pyeong. A pyeong is equal to 3.3 Sq. metres so my office is 6 pyeong, my new apartment is 13 pyeong. Some apartments can be as large as 62 pyeong which is massive. So, in my quest to move apartment, this word has been used alot.

Phrase of the week: 'Drain the main vein'

I had never heard this before. Clearly it must be American. I would go into a detailed explanation of it's meaning but all i'll say is 'i'm going to the bathroom' is the phrase the civilised world uses.

Sight of the week: The sight of my signed name on a legally binding piece of paper. I guess adulthood finally starts now.

Song of the week: 'Olio' by the Rapture

A dark, brooding mix of piano, high-hat, pulsing bass and Cure-esque vocals. American electronic music does exist. Cracking.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


Seems like it's Cup day back at home. The chance for the small football teams to beat the big teams. Looking at the fixture list, their seems to be a couple of tricky games with a struggling Dundee United travelling to in form Gretna whilst Hearts meet Partick at Firhill. Although, it's difficult to see any major upset - such is the nature of football in Scotland these days. Perhaps the last major 'shock' was Inverness, then a 1st Division team travelling to Celtic Park and winning 3 - 1. The less said about that, the better with a certain fat Aussie refusing to go out for the 2nd half after throwing his boots at the Boss.

Speaking of which, the 'big' one is tomorrow with Celtic meeting Rangers. Rangers haven't won at Celtic Park since 1999 but beat us the last time we met. It could be that whoever wins that match, might well go on to lift the trophy in May. Although, some reports suggest that it could be Hibs' year but they have been saying that since the last time they won ... back in 1902!

Anyway, I had an older student visit my office yesterday. He's in his 40's and is a 'businessman' by trade - whatever that means. To cut a long story short, I failed him because he was crap. Not just alittle bit crap but he was totally crap. My tests aren't that difficult but he was awful. So, he came to my office with his friend. They were trying to get me to change his grade. Apparantly their were some mitigating circumstances which caused him to be totally crap. Somehow, I remained strong and told him that I wasn't going to change his grade. Thankfully, he didn't beat me up or anything and left my office with something resmbling a smile on his face. I'm hoping that I don't have him next semester for his resit but knowing my luck, I probably will.

Hopefully, that will be the last of the 'please, please, please change my grade' sessions for this semester.

And to 'N' ... you're still way ahead in the 'commitment' stakes!

Friday, January 07, 2005


I wrote either in the week about my current housing 'issues' and that it's not that easy living where I live in the middle of the country. At the time, it seemed like an easy chioce to make - move apartments. Of course, it's not that simple particularly when you can't just pick up a telephone and call some Estate Agents also their is the added worry that you will encounter probelms because you are - I don't really want to say 'foreign' but that is the only word that covers it since you are either 'Korean' or 'foreign' in many peoples eyes.

But, that has been overcome and I'm moving apartment ... and to be honest, i'm delighted!

We viewed apartments closer to University but weren't all that impressed with them but finally we viewed a newly build block of apartments and we were impressed. The apartment is new. It comes with 2 floors (an upstairs!), a new refrigerator, a new washing machine and a new air conditioner. In fact, I don't actually need to buy anything which was a big selling point. And, it's on the 13th floor. Alittle higher up than I would want but then beggers can't be choosers

And for those who know Cheonan, it is very, very close to the downtown area. Infact, i'm moving into the tallest building in Cheonan which is literally across the road from YaWoori - towards the tollgate.

Here is a link to how it looks:

So, today, I signed for it and can move in 2 weeks. Of course, I'll have to pay rent but considering I haven't paid rent for 3 years, I can't complain. Plus, it's much, much closer to civilisation.

I'm currently in shock but it is too good an opportunity to pass up ...

My own apartment ... the cheek of it!

Thursday, January 06, 2005


I got a taxi the other day. Not exacting an earth shattering event but this one was different. I should have noticed something was wrong from the manner in which he pulled up beside me. Alas, it was cold and I was tired, so I got in. I usually find their are 4 different types of taxi driver.
No.1=The taxi driver who doesn't speak to you. He is the no-nonsense driver. You tell him where is go and he takes you. No questions asked. No.2=The taxi driver who is the opposite of number1. He talks. Usually his 1st question is cold and direct, something along the lines of 'Where are you from?' Once you clarify that you are not American, then he becomes less cold and more friendly. And that is the probelm. He won't shut up regardless of how much Korean you don't understand. No.3=The taxi driver who can be either number 1 or 2 PLUS he could be the type who actually obeys the 'rules of the road'. So, for example he considers his life and the life of his passenger(s) which in many ways is very considerate on his part. No.4= Again, he can be either number 1 or 2 but with the added extra that he considers the 'rules of the road' to be an inconvenience to him driving and getting his passenger(s) to their destination in the fastest possible time. For example, red lights are only a suggestion to slow down and make sure that it is safe to continue.

Anyway, this particular taxi was a mixture of all 4. One minute he is on his horn, the next he's asking how old I am. Next he is waiting for the lights to change and finally, he is quiet ... not even saying goodbye.

I wonder what they are taught at 'taxi school'. Actually, i'm not even sure if there is a 'taxi school'.

Hardly surprising ...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


And so, the holiday continues. I woke up this morning and actually didn't really know what day it was. With having no class, it's easy to lose track since everyday seems like a sunday ...

I just received a bunch of textbooks from Oxford University Press. I guess it's their way of saying 'please choose our books for you classes'. They have sent about 35 which was nice of them. If nothing else, they will fill the bookselves up in my office which are looking alittle bare. Who knows, I might even use them next semester.

I heard this 'joke' today. O.K. here goes ...

A North Korean man and a South Korean man meet for dinner. They go to some expensive restaurant. They both sit down and start to look at the menu. Finally, the waiter comes to take their orders. He says 'Excuse me gentlemen, may I take your order?' The North Korean man asks 'What is Spaghetti'? The South Korean man asks 'What is 'Excuse me'?'

Well, it made me smile!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


I have this 'mate' who is 3 years old. I'm not talking about his mental age or anything ... he is actually 3 years old!

Anyway, he leads such a cool and carefree life. He has no worries in the world. If he's happy, you know. If he's angry, you know. If he's hungry, you know. If he needs the bathroom, you know. Even when he's not around, you know he's not around because it's so quiet.

It's almost like he is a little dictator with everyone else around him seeing to his own personal needs, whims and actions.

It's amazing - These days, I could never get away with throwing major tantrums because I had to get a haircut or demand that someone reads from the dinosaur book whilst i'm sitting on the toilet ... with the door open!

But, he's alot of fun and for pure comedy, he is unbeatable. He even had the cheek to tell me off because I mis-pronounced some really complicated Dinosaur name. I tried my best - bearing in mind that the word was written in Korean.

And the irony of it all ... at 3 years old, he still speaks better Korean than me.

Monday, January 03, 2005


Currently, I live on Campus. It's a nice campus with alot of open spaces and alot of greenery which is surrounded by fields and a mountain. Next to campus is a little, tiny village which is a mix of farmers and, during term time, students. It's usually quite a busy place with people, cars, buses and noise.

However, outwith term time, it's less busy. On weekdays there are the usual flow of University employees but on weekends, nothing. It's like a ghost town. As if time has stopped. There are virtually no people, virtually no cars, virtually no buses and it's almost devoid of noise. Just walking around is a very strange experience. It's like their is a world outside that you are completely cut off from. You can see it but you can't actually get to it.

Of course, their are people who enjoy the silence, the isolation and the lack of anything. For me that's a probelm - I can't say that I particularly enjoy it. The scenary - yes, the cleaner air - yes but the fact that I can't just get a bus or a taxi to somewhere or go to the supermarket - no.

Also, jumping ahead to the new semester. I have no classes on this campus. All my classes are 50 minutes away on the Shuttle Bus. In another city. The thought of having to 'waste' 2 hours everyday travelling is not a pleasant one. In fact, it fills me with dread.

Options. 1. Stay where I am. 2. Move.

In black and white, it seems like an easy choice ...

Sunday, January 02, 2005


Word of the week: 'Review'

The one week of the year when the other weeks of the year are more important.

Phrase of the week: 'Happy New Year'

For obvious reasons. Although, it seems to be lost on many people here. Not only in terms of language but due to the fact that new year is actually in febuary!

Sight of the week: 'Ducks'

I thought that might have been passing through on their way to somewhere warmer. Alas, they have returned. I think they went on a day trip or something but they have returned to annoy me.

Song of the week: 'Walkie Talkie' by DJ Shadow

Oh my god. Enough bass to shake the room. And shake, it did.

Saturday, January 01, 2005


11.59.56 31st
11.59.57 31st
11.59.58 31st
11.59.59 31st
12.00.00 1st
12.00.01 1st
12.00.02 1st
12.00.03 1st I'm always amazed by the level of excitment, happiness, depression, indifference and all the other range of emotions which people go through, just as these 7 seconds elapse. For a brief instant, it's as if you really believe that something will happen. That something will be different or perhaps that a life changing 'thing' will happen. But then, as that instant passes, you are aware that actually, everything is as it was. The place you are at, the people around you, the clothes you are wearing, the mood you are in. All, strangely similiar.

One person said 'I don't feel any different.'

At that is it. You don't. You hope it will but you fear that it won't.

Alas, it's 2005. It's a new year.

So, let's begin it like we want it to continue. In a happy, postive way. If that can be achieved, then it will be a good year.

I hope it is for you ...