Sunday, December 30, 2007



I'm very sporadic with my postings and if I said I will try to post more I would probably be lying ... haha.  Things have been great here.  It's snowing quite heavily here in Daejeon, which is odd ... it seems everyone felt it only snows, "a little" but I'm looking out there and it's coming down pretty heavy ... but then again I'm from Florida so my perspective is off a bit.  

Just got back from a week in Thailand.  An interesting place is a great way to describe it.  We first went to Bangkok for about two days before our flight into Phuket (poo-ket) ... a times the country reminded me of my travels in India or of Mexico as well.  Bangkok is of course a highly modernized city with some interesting sites to see.  While there we visited the largest street market I've ever seen where all things from soap to shoes to puppies were all sold by hundreds possibly even thousands of vendors.  I bought only a couple of things, Reef sandals for about 4 dollars, a shirt for a buck 50 ... everything was cheap.  Later on in the trip in Phuket I bought two Polo shirts for $2.50 each ... I know you can't find that deal anywhere.  They are probably rejects from a factory somewhere or simply not real at all.  

I will be writing more about the trip in the coming days.  There are many stories to tell and thoughts to share about all that I saw and witnessed.  So for now I'll leave you with the photos at the top ... this was a one day trip we went on for sightseeing of beautiful islands and snorkeling, as you can see, in some of the most crystal clear water I've ever seen.  If I were to ever go back to Thailand, I would simply make it a diving trip and spent all my time on the islands.  They are truly beautiful.  We even went to the same island where "The Beach" was filmed.  There ... that'll leave you intrigued for a while.  I hope your holidays have been good.  


Saturday, December 1, 2007

a flood ...

just after I posted my last ... well ... post.  I was catching up on some grading I had been neglecting and set my foot down in just the right spot on my floor to hear the soft squish of my sandal catching the incoming tide into my room.  Confused as always these days I look over my shoulder to see my laundry room overflowing ... yeah what fun!  So what do I do?  I jump into action and start throwing towels on the floor ... in no particular order to do any good really just throwing ... I even started taking my clothes off and throwing them at the laps of water getting closer and closer to meaningful stuff.  

Long story shortened ... and many towels later ... I now have a slightly cleaner floor than I did this morning ... and I held back the tide ... and I finished grading my papers too ... all on a otherwise lazy Saturday.  No picture for this ... nothing exciting to look at really.  I think we've all seen what water looks like on the floor.  And no, even my sweet camera skills can't make that look special.  On another note ... the Korean word for camera still sounds like camera ... so there you go, I teaching you Korean now!  Exciting.  Take care!

Friday, November 30, 2007

something new ...

Above: these are two of my friends from school: Amy (left) and Tahara (right).

So I've recently observed how long my arms are.  I've never really noticed it before ... every time I go to tae kwon do and train there is a huge wall-length mirror and more and more I'm slowly realizing just how truly long my arms are.  Honestly if I let them hang down my side I can nearly touch my knees, only short by 6 inches or so.  I think I might be an ape ... knuckles dragging on the ground and all.  Perhaps I am the missing link.  Weird I know.  

And another thing ... everyday I take a shower and after my shower I clean my ears out with a Q-tip.  Every day there is something in there.  What's the deal with that?  Back home I would only clean them out once or twice a week and there would hardly be anything in there ... now everyday I'm pulling some goop out ... maybe I should start making candles to sell back home to supplement my income.      

hope you are well wherever you are today!


Saturday, November 24, 2007

on fall and death ...

now that fall is pretty much coming to a close ... all of the beautiful leaves have fallen off the trees and there are only a few remainders of the season left ... I thought I would share my thoughts on the beauty of it and just what I've been thinking about in light of this truly being my "first" fall in such a vast and different place from what I'm used to.

I have to ask the question why is it that that when leaves die, they are so beautiful ... it's almost as if the landmarks of nature ... trees ... are bidding farewell before the coming winter and biting cold that comes with it. I've never seen such amazing and striking colors as I've seen as during the fall. The crispness of the air is sometimes painful to my lungs but the clarity at which we can view things around us is all together amazing. I wonder in these thoughts of what this means to us when in just one year, for myself and for my family, we have experienced so much loss and victory in the short time of a few months. I see the death I see in nature as a thing of beauty, I do not believe many people can dispute this. We love to go to places where the leaves change color and simply gaze at it; it's the beauty in this that captures our attention and holds it for the entire season. But I cannot say the same for death in human terms. Most of the time I feel as if it is anything but beautiful ... rather more painful, gripping, heart wrenching, sorrow-filled, and other terms that describe this event that happens to us all. Even trying to look for the signs in nature while looking forward ... the coming winter is filled with cold air and the trees are seemingly dead ... but then after the winter and the death comes new life. It seems that even nature itself bears witness to the life that comes after death is one of beauty and joy and comfort even.

My family this year we have seen many go into that death but I've found that in witnessing nature perform its natural course and the hope that comes after the cold, dark night of our souls ... these are the things that make fall and winter and finally spring beautiful. We have seen giants in our lives pass and we have seen new life born with George Allen Randall.

So I say these things not to depress but hopefully to encourage. And after all these are just my thoughts on what I've been thinking about over the last few months during my time here.  

I hope you've had a great Thanksgiving back home.  I had some very delicious duck with some friends and went hiking this weekend on a beautiful island on the southern coast of Korea.  Truly I've found this land beautiful.  Sometimes it reminds me of the Appalachians around Tennessee or Kentucky and other times it's totally foreign to me.  The island we were on was how I pictured Ireland ... I've have to post them soon for you to see.  But ones at the top are from the hiking trip I took two weeks ago near the very end of the leaves falling off the trees.  

Take care where ever you are!

Monday, November 5, 2007


sorry I haven't been able to post in a while ... I've tried to but the connection keeps crapping out ... but now it seems for the moment I'm back. It seems the blog site won't let me post photos right now so maybe later with some good Halloween shots.

Things here are about as normal as they can be. Fall is in fully swing and it's rather cold out for me. I'm getting used to it however; I've bought some warm clothes and some gear for when I'm riding my bike all around town. I've still got a few more things to get but for now I'm pretty well set with warmth and some relative security from the cold chill of the fall air.

Ok, hope all is well with you because all is well with me. I'll write more soon when I have more time.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

taekwon anyone?

some thoughts I've had on learning martial arts and learning more about myself in the process ... my Korean teacher told me recently that taking taekwondo is a great investment for me into the Korean culture ... for several reasons but namely because it was invented here in Korea and also for the reason she told me the formation and process of it represents the national Korean character ... and this I can see is true looking at the various patterns we must learn to advance further and further are named after founding individuals and various beliefs held by the collective Korean mindset.

But the thing I like, aside from the "fighting" aspect of it is that it promotes inner strength before the outer strength ... that truly you can have the outer strength but if you have no inner fortitude then you are still weak. This has been an interesting revelation to me simply because it seems so opposite in the "natural" world of things and objects and muscles and so-called "tough guys." It is not the outer strength that defines a person but what they possess inwardly.

As often as I do I think of home and I wonder and ponder what things help form the American mindset and "inner strength" that seems very widespread in the Asian cultures. What are the things the define my friends and families' mindset? Where do we truly get our strength from? Is it our jobs? Our education? Our friends? Our family? Our various beliefs and religions? I could go on and on I'm sure ... Just thoughts I guess and intriguing questions ...

I would love to hear what you feel helps define our national character?

ps: I haven't been able to post any nice fall pics I said I had taken I think because I need to size them down a bit, they take a really long time to load ... sorry!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

and now the negative ...

I wanted to share a couple of experiences I had that weren't exactly pleasant ... I realize that most of posts I have usually have something positive and unique that happen to me over here. Well I want to take a more balanced approach to this blog-writing thing so I figure I'll share a couple of instances, however brief, that have helped to define my experience here as one that has been "interesting."

Let me say this first, this has only happened twice and I've almost been here 3 months so I don't want my family to worry or think twice about my safety here. For my countless hours here a grand total of about 30 minutes have been unpleasant but nonetheless I will share those 30 akward moments with you all.

After leaving taekwondo, on both occasions, I had the luck of running into a few intoxicated older Korean men who felt either bold or just arrogant enough to try their English speaking skills on unsuspecting-John. For me, this is at the end of a long and trying day of teaching and then working out. I'm usually in a fairly friendly mood so I'll say "hello" in Korean if they say hello to me. At any rate, the first encounter wasn't bad other than the smell of alcohol and the rough and broken English and several akward moments in the elevator. The second however is another story. This guy stops me in the street as I'm walking to my bike and wants to shake my hand. So I say "hello" and he grabs my hand hardily and shakes it and then proceeds to hold on to it for the next 20 minutes or so. This was a bit strange but I know the Korean culture is all about touching and being close so I thought a little hand holding was a bit strange but I was close to my bike and knew if things got out of hand I could easily do something about it. All this guy knew in English was "nice to meet you," "you are handsome," and "you are friend." In truth I knew about as much Korean ... I told him I was an American and teaching English in Daejeon and that it was nice to meet him too. After about 10 minutes of the going-no-where conversation I wanted to leave and this guy wouldn't have it ... I could decipher if he wanted me to have a drink with him or if he wanted me to hang out with him back at his place or to go meet his sister ... I had no idea what he was getting at. Then he seemed to get pissed because I was giving him the cold-shoulder and walking away, keep in mind we are still in contact or he is still holding on to some part of me like my arm or my jacket. Then he proceeds to pull his finger out in a gun-type position and act like he wants to shoot me. In hindsight, at this point I should have just broke his arm and walked away but regardless lesson learned right? In the end, a Korean who was standing near enough to see what was going on just told me to leave and I complied. As I'm leaving he yells something like "little brother" or maybe another curse at me and I go off into the night without his and releaved.

So ... what did I learn from this? Obviously not everyone is friendly to foriegners, espeically when they are drunk and that I shouldn't be afraid to walk away, forcefully if necessary, when I come across someone who wants to "talk" to me and carry on about nothing at all. So a good lesson for sure! But not to worry, I'm a white belt in taekwondo! haha.

peace and grace to you!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall in Daejeon

here are some pics I've taken with my new sweet camera ... I love it. Today was great ... no work, cool weather, all the time in the world ... nothing to do but look for something beautiful and take a picture of it. I took a whole lot more than I could put up on the blog site, I'm sure they'll make it up sometime in the future.

There was something I didn't photograph but that made me laugh ... in the middle of the city I see this huge pile of poo ... I'm not talking just big ... I mean, I seriously considered the fact that wild bears may be roaming the streets this thing was so huge. Anyways, I restrained from photographing it and forever to my shame I'm sure ... ha! I will always be unsure what kind of animal or "human" was able to produce this kind of thing. I know ... lovely stuff right?

Ok, all is well. It's cold here, really cold. This, I suppose, is my first "real" Fall season and it's rather nice now that I've gotten used to it. It seems that I'm constantly on the hunt for some warm clothes and most all the stores haven't really yet put the winter stuff out there. Next weekend I'm going to brave it in the elements doing some hiking ... should be a good time.

Hope this blog finds you well and in good health!

Peace to you!


Saturday, October 13, 2007

my kids

here is a current picture of my kindergarten kids ... I have two classes and they are mostly 5 and 6 years old. They are all cute and some can be little monsters, as to be expected ... but I love them all and they are fun to be with. This day we went to the park to draw some pictures and play games ... I know, I know, life is so very hard over here.

My co-teacher, Sonya is in one of the pictures, she's a great teacher and helps me out alot with teaching and other various Korean things I don't understand. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 11, 2007


I know, I know ... it's been sooo very long since I've last wrote. I will not apoligize ... I was sick and I was very, very busy with work. And I'm stubborn, so that's the end of that.

The picture above ... I must give credit where credit is due ... the picture was taken by one of my fellow co-teachers Simon Nicholson who is from Scotland. He is obviously quite the photographer for those of you who enjoy ticking your eyes with pretty sights ... here is some of his work he has posted on the internet ...

So ... what's new ... well, I'm just now getting over a pretty bad flu-cold-virus-disease-coughing-fever-hot-cold ... cold ... you get the picture here. I would image I picked this up from my kids at school considering they touch everything and everyone and then come up and touch me and want me to hug them ... it's the circle of life it cannot be stopped my friends. So after my battle with the killer sickness I'm not starting to feel better and just in time for some amazing weather. It's in the 60's pretty much everyday, which is the equivilant of the Florida winters back home. Needless to say, I need to invest in a larger jacket and maybe some long underwear.

I'm still learning Korean ... I can read pretty well now so at this point I'm working on vocabulary and expanding my knowledge of grammar and basic social situations. I wowed the parents at my last parent-teacher meeting by saying "my name is John, I'm an American, it's nice to meet you." This sounds so little but trust me, it was quite a mouthful of symbols and words. Luckily, I've got so many Korean teachers backing me up that they are at all times constantly willing to correct and help me out. I should be fluent in no time! ha!

Other news ... I've given up my desire to purchase a motorcycle ... for now. ha! Kidding. I like the biking around, it gets me where I need to go and I don't have to deal with too much traffic, except the random Korean who doesn't see me and steps right in front of me. In that case the bell is useless and I have to hope in already dull brakes.

Ok, this is all for now folks ... most of the busy-ness has slowed down at school so hopefully I should be writing more in the coming weeks. I did make plans for Xmas though, Bangkok and then onto Phuket, pronouned pu-ket, yes I got a laugh out of that one too. I will take lots of great pics of the tropical paradise and send them home, do not worry! Until the next time! Grace and Peace to you!


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

ha ...

I really should blog something soon ...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

more country-side and Jochiwon

here are some photos of where I went for the Korean Thanksgiving called Jochiwon ... it was a 25 minute train ride away from Daejeon and was, as you can see in the pictures, a quickly developing city. For the most part this is a farming community and their major crops are peaches and pears among others. The weather is starting to get very, very nice ... cool in the evening and dry during the day ... I don't miss the Florida heat at all.

In other news, I really want to buy a motorcycle. In the end I probably won't, but it just looks like so much fun. And! they are pretty cheap here. I'm sure I'll get some responces back from this comment, so don't worry concerned family and friends, I haven't bought one as of yet ... muahaha! Seriously it just looks like fun!

My 5 days off from work have been very, very nice and full of rest and relaxation. Until the next time ...


Monday, September 24, 2007

country-side photos ...

here are some photos I took while doing some off-road biking with some fellow teachers ... You'll notice the way I threw my bike by the way side in a hasty fashion ... the trail was fun for sure, got a little muddy but do plan to attack it this week again ... we found a weird hobbit farm, I'll have to take some pics soon to show you.

Apparently along this trail is a dog farm (wonder what that is) ... I'll let know you know once we find it and check it out ...


Sunday, September 23, 2007

new languages ... 존 미첼

So I've been learning Korean for about 3 weeks now and already I can read most of what I see. Don't be too impressed ... I read it really, really slowly and for the most part I have no idea what I'm saying. When I'm watching TV and trying to sound out the symbols to make the sounds I can usually only get the first sound out before it disappears and onto the next phrase. So I usually will try to read signs I see on the road.

Something I've clearly realized through all of this is that it is iimmensely easier to learn the language once submerged in the culture than to go to school and learn it. I think we probably all remember the high school language requirements ... in Florida we had at least two years of Spanish ... most of which none of us remember. But here, surrounded by people who do not speak English, the simple level of communication drops to a small contingent of people who I know, mostly those from the West. And while this has been good for a time, it does get old. After all I am hear to experience a new culture and to learn everyday something new the world and it's people are teaching me. This past week I asked my most advanced class if they like studying English ... and emphatically they all said a resounding, "No." This is no suprise to me as it is difficult to master any language when you are constantly not speaking in it except one or two hours a couple of times a week. I got my point across to them by telling them about my experience with Spanish and now with Korean and that if they choose to decide to go to the West and go to school or live and work there, they will be greatly rewarded with their hard work in their present schooling.

With all that being said I have a much greater appreciation and respect for those who can speak two languages, or even more. The ability to communicate with people who are not your "own" people is a great reward and one that I hope I can accomplish before my time is up abroad. I keep thinking back to my time in India where the children we met with could speak 3 or 4 languages and this was simply a requirement put on them by the school. Granted it makes their schooling much more difficult but it also opens up tremendous opportunities for them later in life to be able to travel and communicate with others all over the world. There is a joke about all this, I know I've probably told it to one or two of you and some of you probably have heard it: what do you call someone who speaks 4 languages - Indian ... what do you call someone who speak 3 languages - tri-lingual ... what do you call someone who speaks 2 languages - bi-lingual ... and what do you call someone who speaks one language? American. Laughs all around. But it is a sad fact I think. I do not think this will inspire anyone to learn a new language or anything of the sort. These are just my thoughts on the importance of communication between people groups and simply the value of it too.

There is one Western teacher here who is fluent in Korean and I have, and believe many Koreans have, respect for the time, effort and patience he put into learning that language so he can simply commuicate with the people here.

So to my friends at Wesley back home, I know many of you wish and desire to travel abroad ... I cannot stress enough the grave importance of learning that language. Perhaps you are like me and will on a whim go somewhere unexpected ... I urge you to learn that language when you arrive in that place, find someone who will teach you and also let them teach you about their culture. Something my Korean teacher does is we will get food after our lesson and it's always a traditional Korean dish, and I will be honest, everytime we eat I am a bit nervous as I don't know what to expect. The other night I ate whole shrimp without peeling it, squid, octopus, various fish parts like intestines ... they truly eat everything except the bones. But it was great and new and different ... and a little scary. I figure if they can eat it so can I.

존 미첼 ... in case you are wondering what this is all about ... This is just my first and last name in Korean. The first symbol is John, and the second and third are MI - Chill ... that's pretty much what it sounds like. There are many English words that are simply transliterated like movies and some fruits and veggies. It's pretty funny to sound out the Korean way of saying Harry Potter, simply because they replace there R's with an L sound. Anyways, it's fun and interesting.

Sorry no new pics this time ... will try to get some soon!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

a quick thanks ...

to all my close friends and family who have sent me care packages ... they are a blessing in so many ways ... and they remind me just how much I am loved ... which is always a great reminder. So ... thanks!

In the meantime ... I've been thinking up some good topics to share with you on the blog ... when I have a little more time I'll be writing soon about learning Korean, teaching little ones, taking taekwondo, riding a bike in a large city, and many, many other weird and interesting things ...

sorry no picture this time ... although I'm sure there will be some funny ones coming up with Chusok around the corner; I've been trying on some interesting traditional Korean clothing called Han-Bok they are making all the teachers wear this Friday, so stay tuned for that as well.

much love to you!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

hmmm ...

here's the thing ... I know people like to check the blog to see what's happening in my life ... truthfully I do wish I could say so many amazing and cool things. But I have to be honest, things have been pretty normal here for the last couple of weeks. Although I did get a new bike. And ... my class schedule is kind of an endurance challenge at times ... and ... I'm really, really starting to have more respect for my teachers in the past now that I'm having to do report cards ... and ... I'm still doing taekwondo ... hmmm ... what else ... what else ... that's the pic of my sweet new bike ... I love it and it came equipped with a nifty little bell that I can ring at peopl instead of yelling, "get out of my way!" The bell doesn't exactly chime with tones of masculinity but it does the job nonetheless. Actually, here's a story ... apparently when it rains my bell doesn't work really well ... or at all to be exact ... so this lady steps right out in front of me and I start ringing it like a madman with issues, she doesn't hear it I swerve last minute to miss her, it was great. Don't fret though, while the traffic here is hazardous to health in general, I've been rather safe and they mostly watch out for people walking and people on bikes. It's truly fun.

here's something ... next week I may go through my first typhoon ... exciting I know. It's exaclty like a hurricane but it's called a typhoon so ... I know it's nothing like what we usually get in S Florida and it has been raining here the last couple of days, which makes it really difficult to ride my bike. I'm learning, I think, to take joy in the simple things in life ... I don't have a car so if I want to get somewhere of distance I have to hop in a cab, but getting a bike changed all that, now it's actually kind of fun going places and exploring the newness of my home here in Daejeon. Tomorrow I might actually go see the World Cup stadium they built when the Cup was here in 2002. It's only 5km away ... holy crap that's another thing ... thanks to the American school system, everything here is in metric ... shoe sizes, all kinds of distances, my height is in cm which I don't really know, and a slew of other things. Luckily I have a conversion calculator on my computer ... but still, perhaps one day the US will convert to metric ... it's funny how the small things make so many differences in our lives.

I know I'm kind of rambling here so I'll just keep going with it ... today I saw the Bourne Ultimatum with some friends, the movies here come out about a month and a half after they come out in the states. It was a good one, I recommend seeing it if you haven't already.

I do have some interesting events coming up in the next couple of weeks that I'll be able to post about and share some cool photos hopefully. Chusok, which is the Korean Thanksgiving ... at work they are getting us Han Bok, which is a Korean traditional dress for the holiday, not sure what it looks like but I'm sure it'll be interesting. Also, we get 3 days off of school so I'm going to try to go to Seoul and see what it all about. If I can I'll hopefully tour the DMZ, the safe parts of course ... see some of the old historical palaces, and do whatever it is that tourists do there. I'll be sure to keep you updated on the trip. Still don't have word yet on what I'm doing for Xmas yet ... sitting on a beach in some exotic land no doubt ... haha!

Ok, that's all for now folks ... hope you are well!


Saturday, September 8, 2007

my pics of my new home town

hola everyone! these are some pictures of my neighborhood ... basically what I see everyday and night as I walk to work and then walk home to sleep and do it all again. Exciting, I know! Most all of the businesses are resturants and convience-type stores that are run by "mom and pop" type establishments. Plus, the general market here for business is flooded with so many of each, the prices are low and nothing is that expensive so it's nice if I need something small and don't want to go all the way to E-mart downtown.

Things are going well and smoothly with work and Tae kwon do. That's probably why I haven't written in a few days. So to all my readers who are chomping at the bit asking yourself day and night, "why isn't he writing?!?! ahhhhh!" I know this happens don't deny it! ha!

I'm still enjoying Tae kwon do. The people there are really nice and eveyrone wants to meet me because I'm probably one of the only white person they've met in a while. My instructors say I have good form and I'm a quick learner ... who knew!? So far I've learned some cool punches and blocks. I can't wait to do the cool spin kicks. I think we begin sparring with each other at the next belt up. I'll probably get my butt kicked, but that's how I learn in truth.

The weather here is unreal! I wish you could be here right now. It's like it is in the late Fall early Winter in FLA. Dry, low heat, low humidity ... it's soooo nice. Speaking of it being nice outside, I'm about to go for my first Korean language lesson. One of the teachers at my school is going to teach me, I hope I can stick with it. I know I lose intrest when I have to put some work into learning something new like a language that's difficult. I'll let you know how that goes.

Other than that ... things are well. I hope you are well! Write me and let me know sometime, I love hearing from friends back home ... also, if you want to talk with me without cost, download Skype on your computer. It's a free program in which we can talk to each other over the net ... it's not like talking on the phone per se but the quality is good enough and plus it's free to talk over the net and it doesn't cost a thing. Plus, I have a camera on my compy so you can see me and if you have a camera, we can talk like I'm not on the other side of the world. You can find my screen name, its JohnM416 ... and that's it, you'll find me and we can chat. Let me know if any of you have this program and let me know your name so I can put your name on my account.

Hope to hear from you soon!

love and grace to you!


p.s. Chris, your posts are hillarious ... keep them coming ... and yes, I was in Beverly Hills Ninja.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

training has begun!!!!!

Yes I'm pointing to you! You are next my friend! To answer your questions ... yes, Tae kwon do has begun ... and ... yes I broke that board I'm holding. Although not with my head, I broke it while I was at the place ... and with my foot. If they send me the picture I be sure to post it.

First, I get sweet looking fighting clothes .. which, I look pretty fierce in ... and it's a lot of fun. The people there are really nice and helpful and they are fun to work with. One of the Masters, yes Masters, speaks English really well so I train with him. So far I've only learned to kick and punch and do some business stuff like bow and the ready stance and breathing techniques and such. I think it takes a little over a month to go a belt up so who knows ... if I can stick with it I could be pretty far along in the end. I thought it would be something really different than just getting in a gym and throwing some weights around. Tae kwon do was founded in Korea so why not learn some sweet moves while I'm here right? Be very afraid when I come home ... very afraid.

Other than this, nothing too big has been going on lately. It's been raining for a week and a half and it's just slowly bumming me out. The weather has been quite nice becuase the sun has been hidden but the wetness of everything is just not fun. At school things are going well. I had one student say some curse words he learned from a pocket dictionary he had and he shouted it out in one class ... I will admit it was funny but I had to stop him and tell him it was a bad thing to say. After this, he proceeded to figure out how to say he wants to go number 2, which during the assignment we were doing he answered one of the dialog question of "what do you want to do?" and he answered "I want to go poop!" I just kind of smiled and moved on, it was funny though. In my kindergarten class, the kids there are taking a liking to me well enough. The boys love to fight and punch as hard as they can, to test their strength and to see if they can do some damage on a bigger guy than them. I let them get away with some of it ... but then sometimes they are right at the height just below my waist so on a number of occasions I've taken a fist or a running head-butt to the crochal region ... which is great. Sorry I don't have any pictures of that to share.

Ok, that is all for now. miss you all! more to come!

Grace and peace to you!


Thursday, August 30, 2007

cool pic

Here is a cool picture one of my co-teachers took ... this is a big road ... as you can see ... between my neighborhood and the where the school is. I thought you would enjoy what I see everyday. Although it never looks this cool, even at night ... perhaps I need new eyes or just a cool camera. I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, August 27, 2007

this is funny ...

I want you to look closely at both of the photos I posted here ... This a brochure that the school has just put out about their new library. I guess it's a rather new and nice feature so they want all the parents and others to know about it.

So ... just to let you know ... my career as a model has begun ... and in Korea! haha! I will sign a bunch of copies and send them home so you can start selling them on Ebay. I would like a portion of the proceeds though, my manager will be in touch with you. Who even knows where this will lead ... besides more laughs ... perahaps you will see my face on the side of a bus or some hip new fad that will make you want to vomit ... I have new goals for my life now. Enjoy!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

and the winner is ...

ok, some of you have participated in my re-naming of the blog contest and I must say I was happy with some of the results and some where funny but there is no way that I would put that up as a blog name, Steve Mersinger I'm talking to you buddy!

So ... the winner is ... Molly! She dug down deep and got super creatvie with "The Adventures of J-Mitch" which I like, and seeing as how most friends lovingly call me this from time to time, I will go with it. Good job Molls! I will send you a phone card soon!

Other than that, nothing new to report.

But possibly coming soon ... I am thinking about taking Tae kwon do ... I figure while I'm hear to teach and observe a new culture, why not learn how to kick some ass while I'm at it? I think if I stick with it, I could be a black belt by next summer time, just in time to come home and clean up everyone who's out of line back home! So watch yourself ... me and Chuck Norris will come knockin' and there'll be hell to pay! ha!

I'll let you know what I decide soon ...

Enjoy the random photo I took with my lappy camera!


Saturday, August 25, 2007

random info

So the photos are the updated and "improved" status of my apartment. And if you are wondering ... that's right, I have tin foil on my windows, I love the sun up at 530am and everything but this is the cheapest and most cost effective way of keeping the sun out so I can sleep the whole night through! I know it probably looks silly and I truly have to laugh at myself ... but the curtains were like 40 bucks! I'll get curtains when I get married, so until then ... it's foil that does the job! (sorry if you are grossed out by the pic of my bathroom, I just wanted to show you what it looks like!)

Moving on ... things have been good with me. This past week I do believe I finally have gotten over my jet lag. I still am getting used to the still bed, my back doesn't hurt when I wake up which is a good thing but still getting used to things in general. I do not have anything amazing and exciting to report ... just some random cultural things I have found to be interesting and to keep my readers occupied for a bit longer until something cool happens to me ... wait, what am I talking about, I'm living in South Korea! So I hope you are able to laugh and raise an eyebrow with interest as you read ...

- with the exception of the grocery store, there are no lines in South Korea, you either take a number and sit down or you just push your way to the front ... so that makes a fun time anywhere you go.

- the parking situation here is like any big city ... scarce ... so everywhere there is double parking. The interesting thing is that every, or almost every car, has the owners cell number in plain view on the dash so if you need it moved, rather than towed, you call the number and have them move it. Or you can simply push the car out of the way ... most of the people who are double parked simply leave their car in neutral so people can push them around and move them out of the way. Now that is trust!

- when I give something to someone who I respect, I give it to them with my right hand and support it with my left, this is a sign of respect.

- it's polite to slurp your noodles and soup and to eat with your mouth open, it's shows that you are enjoying it ...

- you never tip when you eat out ... this is considered rude and implies that your server is not making enough money to support him/herself ... this I like!

- it is not polite to look someone in the eye who you do not know, it is considered disrespectful.

- there are two channels on the TV that are specifially for "video game sporting events." I'm sure this will catch on in America soon ... so you can enjoy it too!

Ok, that's all that comes to mind right now. Oh yes ... to my family and friends I was thinking about coming home during the week I had off for Christmas but after thinking about it, I think it would be a long trip for such a short time so I will not be coming home during Christmas this year ... sorry! I'm not sure exactly what I am doing, possibly sitting on a beach in Thailand but I will let you know and take lots of pictures. I will miss everyone during the holiday season but I know I will see everyone again in good time. So that pretty much updates you on my life for the moment.

Take Care!


Monday, August 20, 2007

... thoughts ...

These are some recent photos of a little trip I took with some co-teachers to a river nearby Daejeon to go for a swim ... the water was great and the weather was hot enough to make us pant for the cool and refreshing waters. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of the river or of the bridge where we were near ... I can assure you that it was a name long enough for me to just forget about because I knew neither I nor my friends/family back home could say it either! ha! (the two on the right are from Canada, the young man in the Manchester United jersey, a British football club, is from Scotland, and the guy on the left is from Bangalore, India ... a rather international mix I would say.

Now for the real reason of this post ... finally! I love the Koreans sense of community. We drove up and down the river looking for less populated areas where we could swim and be "alone" from the kids and throngs of people. We must have stopped by half a dozen people on the road and asked them where we could go and they all pointed us back in the direction of the bridge, where we ended regardless of our search. This at first was rather annoying, but then it dawned on me how much they love to be around one another. We in the West love our space, our individualistic freedom, our sense of ownership and separate-ness from the masses ... yet what do I see when I think of this ... all the truly lonely and disconnected people in America. Ok, I'm not preaching ... back to the story ... South Korea is home to something like 12 of the largest churches in the world, one is close to a million people in Seoul. I don't think they hate to be alone, but more like they just love to be around one another. Even if they don't know each other. They certainly didn't know us as outsiders to their culture, but as soon as we walked up, as we got many intriguing looks we also got many smiles and waves of greeting. Now, I don't know what kind of person you are with regards to community like this but I'm the kind where I truly do love to be around good company but I do need my time alone to do my "own thing" whatever that is. As I ponder on what this means for the culture and society as a whole and how it makes up the collective psyche of all the communities of South Korea, it seems to come to a result of truly being that "good neighbor" or even giving itself to the loving thy neighbor mindset where there is no room for fear of someone unknown to you. I have only been here a short time, but there doesn't seem to be as much fear in the people that I come across on my daily activities, which I love and is very disarming to me.

So that's all I really wanted to write, just thoughts on community as I've witnessed here. If I learn nothing else from this point on, I will have felt blessed to have learned what I have this far into my journey.

Grace and Peace to you!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The basics aren't so basic anymore ...

Today was offically my first day to get some things done in my new villa ... needing to get grocerys and various things that just don't come with the place, like laundry detergent and a mattress pad ... so today was a day off due to the Korean holiday Independence Day and I decided to venture out and get some things picked up, also I knew this would help with my settling in feeling, which as it turns out, it does.

Last night I hung out with some friends from work and got home around midnight, I was beat and I didn't wake up until noon today ... just a note, I don't usually sleep that late and I knew my body needed it to fight off sickness and exhaustion. So I was glad for the long and needed rest. After I got going I hailed a cab and asked to be taken to the E-mart, which as I said before is about the same as a Super Target back home. As far as public transportation works around here, it's a bit of a change of pace for the most part. I walk to and from work and if I need to get anywhere outside of a mile from my place, I have to take a cab or bus or subway. There are lots of cars here so I'm not sure what percentage of people actually drive and which don't, I think alot don't. For the most part, the Korean taxi drivers don't speak English so I just say the name of the place I need to go and hope he understands what I'm saying, I've been lucky so far. My friends Andrew and Christina, a married couple from the school, have these neat little flash cards with the various destination in both English and Korean, they are pretty handy and hopefully I'll be able to secure a set for myself.

Shopping itself was easy enough, you have to pay 100 Won to use a cart, which you get back after you use it and when you buy grocerys you have to pay for each plastic bag, which is rather a smart way of doing things while considering the environment. Most places I've been to have ample opportunity to recycle and you basically have to separate your trash when you go to throw it away. I like this aspect of the culture, they respect the small things we can do and just learn to adapt if it is something of "huge" burden like having to buy plastic bags for grocerys. Back to my shopping experience ... for the most part, the western food was easy to find and purchase, I bought some PB and J and also some bread. Although items like butter are pretty expensive so I waited to go to Costco for that one. As I said before, alot of the food that is considered traditional Korean is seafood and so you'll see unique items in the food isles like octopus or squid or eels. On a side note, I had some octopus last night with dinner and I must say it was rather good ... truthfully it didn't taste like anything much, and it was a little strange looking at it and then putting it in your mouth, tentacles and head and brains and all ... I would recommend it though, try something new!

Moving on ... after the regular grocery store, my friend Andrew and I traveled to Costco to pick up a few specific items you can't find at regular grocery stores. You know the place, everything is in bulk and truly this has been the only place I've actually felt like I was back home, weird I know. So now I'm pretty well set with a tonage of spagetti, a Korean favorite ... seriously ... and other things like raisins and cheese and some M&M's ... yummy. I am going to try to make an effort to get more Korean food on a regular basis, it's very healthy and sometimes can be an adventure itself just eating it! And as I said before, it's really, really cheap.

After I got some laundry detergent I have finally been able to get some clothes cleaned. My place came with a washer but no dryer so I just have to hang my clothes out to dry, which takes a little while because there isn't any room outside to place my clothes so I just have to improvise with what I have and hang my clothes here and there and everywhere.

My bathroom, or washroom as the Koreans call it, is pretty small and basic. No shower or tub like we have in the West, just a hand-held nozzle while you just stand there in front of your sink, next to you toilet taking a shower. All and all my bathroom is about 4 by 4 feet and the whole thing serves as a multi-purpose room, it's hasn't been too hard really to get used to it but I could imagine it would if you like to do stuff and have a process of bathing like some of my friends in the States! Actually I'm enjoying everything and all the new adventures I seem to go on daily, everything is new and here it's like I'm learning how to live more simply, even though I thought I lived rather simply in the States! I really enjoy public transportation but it does have it's draw-backs like going to the grocery story and having to carry your stuff to the cab, then to your apartment when you don't know how to direct the driver to your place yet. I like the Koreans view on life and living, they seem to be always ready for a good laugh and don't seem to be easily offened, even by forigeners.

In September I've got a bit of a holiday called Chusok, which is basically the same as Thanksgiving back home so this'll be a chance for a bit of travel. I don't have too much of a desire to go into China or Japan but North Korea sounds inviting and from what I hear, American are actually allowed into Pyongyang. To my family: it's totally safe, one of my friends at work went and she said it's super-structured, like only a Communist government could and it's simply and utterly interesting. So it I do end up going I'm sure it'll be a blast. If not, no worries, I'm just as happy to explore the mountains that surround Daejeon. There aren't any towering peaks like in the Western States but it does remind me of the Appalachians in the Eastern US. I'll let you know the closer it gets, the break is still about a month off.

For all who read this I have a little reader participation for you ... I would like to rename my blog ... now I know I could do this and rename is something weird and obscure or try to be deep and meaningful but that's just not my specialty thus "Living Abroad." So if you have 5 seconds and would like to give me a hand and help me rename this thing I will send the winner a calling card just so they can call me up! Yeaaa! I know, I know, it's an amazing prize, I know. But I thought it might be fun and interesting to see what people think I could call this other than "living abroad," that seems so "captain obvious." Or ... if you do like the Living Abroad title, then you should be ashamed of yourself ... I'm kidding ... funny though.

Grace and peace to you all!


Monday, August 13, 2007


Hey everyone! Sorry it has taken me so long to post ... well ... anything on the blog site ... I've been over here in Daejeon for about a week and I just now got into my new villa tonight literally a couple of hours ago as I write this! It's got basically everything I need, kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, small living room with TV ... I still have to get my phone hooked up ... I'm actually "borrowing" this wireless signal off someone in the building. So for those of you who really want to talk to me, have some patience and hopefully I'll be getting a phone number by the end of this week, possibly sooner.

As I said before it has been officially one week. Although I will be honest and tell you it's felt more like 2 months already ... so much has happened in that little short time of seven days ... I've gone through ever emotion there is to have in the midst of culture shock ... love, hate, confusion (lots of that), joy, happiness, sadness, loneliness, closeness ... the list can go on and on I'm sure. I truly do not know where to begin to tell you all that has happened, there are so many things and my thougts on the each are equally diverse. From culture to food to the people to my co-workers to the new people I've been meeting randomly through simply being a foriegner.

Where to begin ... where to begin ...

Let's first talk about the food ... although I'm still getting used to most of it, it's all rather healthy. I do believe the Koreans eat anything that comes out of the ocean, well everything except the sand and water of course. There are octopus, squid, jellyfish, seaweed, the list goes on. I did find that when I ate Korean food and then came back to Western food, my stomach was wrecked from the oils and overall greasiness of it all. Much of the food here is very cheap, you can get a large meal for about 4 or 5 dollars and it's considered rude to tip.

Now on to Daejeon itself ... the city here is great. It's a very modern and advanced city to be living in and another upside of that is that my villa and school where I work are very close to the stores that I will need to get me through the year, like E-mart, which is like Super-Target. Oh yes, I don't want to forget the fact that there are tons of opportunities for "American food" should I feel that I'm missing out. There are pizza places everywhere, I saw a TGI Fridays yesterday, of course there is McDonalds, KFC, Popeys, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Subway, and I think I saw someone eating Burger King food today at work. So in that respect I'm sure I'll be ok. Another that's rather nice about living over here is the technology is a little more advanced than what we have in America. The digital cameras are a bit cheaper too, which is nice and the cell phones are pretty much right out of the factory being so close to Japan.

I've learned only how to say a few things like the area where I live so as to catch a taxi home and 'hello' and 'thank you.' So I would say I've got just enough to get by, although I still do use my hands to make gestures like telephone or bag or something like that. The people here are nice enough and they can tell I'm clearly American. Most people over here like Americans, though they may not like our governmental leaders ... suprise, suprise. I work with lots of Canadians which has been pretty fun. As you may have guessed, they say "Aaa" alot and they are all great and loving people, willing to help me out whenever they can. I've also met some folks from the States and also from Africa and Europe who are working here.

As for the teaching situation ... it gets better daily. Everyday I learn something more about my teaching abilities and about the kids I am teaching, what works, what doesn't work. In the morning I teach kindergarten and in the afternoon older kids in elementary and up into middle school age. Somedays I love them all and somedays the little ones are so, so much easier than the older ones. All my classes are taught in English and for the most part they do well, althought it is basically a lesson in frustration to try and have a conversation with any of them. But it's ok, there are also English speaking Korean teachers here too, they are fun to chat with and are all very nice.

When I get some pictures of my kids I'll post them on the blog ... other than that, it's about all I can think to write. I will be writing more soon I think. I miss you all my friends and family! I will let you know a number you can phone me at soon enough, just a little more patience. Buy those calilng cards! Grace and peace to all of you!


Friday, August 3, 2007

On my way ...

Hello, hello all!

I am writing to you from Atlanta, GA ... where I will remain for the rest of today and will catch my flight to Seoul tomorrow afternoon. I had to stay over in Atlanta because I didn't have my passport and visa intact ... so now that I do ... I can finally decompress a bit. Plus I've got this amazing hotel room for one night with lots of time to just relax and think about things to come.

Crazy adventures are already abounding ... I have to be honest though, you should have seen me lugging my two gigantic 50-pound duffle bags to the bus terminal, it must have been a sight. Thankfully I'm able to drop off my luggage at the hotel and go with my backpack into the downtown area. On my way to downtown I find out my taxi driver is from Ghana, which is interesting and we strike up conversation about traveling and living abroad, he of course is the one living abroad from his home and I, on the other hand, am heading out myself. We finally find the building where the Consulate is located ... downtown Atlanta is crazy and nice at the same time, like any big city I suppose. After I picked up my visa, which was a huge relief, I grabbed a bite at the mall and just as I'm sitting down by myself, two random strangers ask if they can sit with me and I end up having lunch with a nice married couple from Las Vegas. Apparently there are at least a million conferences going on in downtown Atlanta so after I told them what I was doing here we continued on the small talk until I finished up and said good bye.

At this point, I fairly amazed just at traveling this short distance and the overall kindness of complete strangers. Maybe I have some sign on my head that says, "HEY, I'm here by myself, COME TALK TO ME!" And that's not the end ... as I leave lunch to pick up a cab back to my hotel, yet another random person strikes up a conversation with me and decides to walk with me for the next couple of blocks and helps me find where all the cabbies are located. It was funny, we talked about a little bit of everything and when I found a cab and decided to take off he gave me a big hug, probably just for talking to him and spending a few minutes of my day to chat ... and this was all before noon people! What a day already ...

What am I doing now, you ask? I'll field that question ... besides writing this little blog, I'm just relaxing and enjoying my last few hours in the States. Up to this point, I've been a little nervous about traveling by myself, but today is just another example that all I need to do is look around me and there I will find a new friend. That sounds pretty cheesy. Hang with me though, I'm only working on about 2 hours of sleep.

I should be arriving into the Incheon Airport at 5 pm Sunday, where I will then get on a bus for 3 hours to travel south to Daejeon. Then, Monday morning is my first day of work. I'll probably be going through training and orientation. My friend Steve and I figured out it will take me about 20 days to get adjusted to the new time zone, only 13 hours ahead. So if you really, really want to know about the future, don't read those horoscope things, just call me and I will tell you what's it's like.

Well that's all for now ... I will write more once I get to South Korea and get a little settled. I'm sure I'll have lots to write about. So until then ...

And in case you were wondering ... I didn't have an interesting picture this time, so I chose Molly's dog Lucy to do the blog justice ... probably the cutest dog, ever!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pre-trip jitters

That's right, I said jitters. I haven't actually left the States yet. I do plan on boarding that plane next Friday around 9 in the morning ... but between here and then, I've got a ton of stuff to get done: store all my stuff I'm leaving behind, store my car, call the bank, cell phone, oh yes-actually secure my visa to work over there (that's a big one), car insurance, credit cards, etc. Isn't this fun so far? Yes, the answer is yes my friend.

So this will be my first of many posts, hopefully many posts that is. And what's a good blogger without some kind of a picture to go with it? We will call this one "pre-flight excitment."

If you are one of my friends or family who I am leaving behind while I explore the world outside of the US, I will miss you dearly and I hope to hear from you either through this site or email me!