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!