The QiRanger Adventures

Five Months…

with 2 comments

Five Months Later

Five Months Later

It seems like yesterday that I walked off the gantry and was processed through the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) Immigration line. A lot has changed, but more has remained the same. I came here looking for a new adventure and the opportunity to explore a new culture. I found both. While the challenges at work are enough to make you want to pull your hair out, I genuinely enjoy the teaching experience and have received answers as to what I want to do next in life. But before I get to some of my comments, let’s get to some questions I’ve received about my tenure over here.

JeffSon proposes the following question: Is it true that every part of the world you go to would be improved by 500% if you removed all of the people from it? I don’t know if that’s an accurate statement. I certainly think that some areas can be improved greatly by removing a large population. With the ROK being so condensed, you’re always bumping into people. Some fail to realize that nearly 50% of the country’s population live in the two major city areas.

SloeBombFizz wants to know: Are the kangaroos there dangerous? There are kangaroos here?

nurse asks: How is it different from here?…..I don’t mean the scenery…..the people….their ways of living… For the most part things across the ocean are similar. People live and work together like anywhere else. I’ve commented before on the built-in class system that stems from the ROK’s Confucianism history. That takes a little getting used to. In addition, because the job market is so tight, Koreans are willing to do anything to keep a job. No matter the hours or the pay, they will be loyal to the company, because they need the job and another one may be very hard to come by. Also, many Koreans really have no intention of ever leaving their homeland. They simply do not have any desire to see the world. Many Koreans are very friendly, taking foreigners under their wings and showing them around, buying them dinner, etc. It’s a great way to meet people. However, some Koreans really do not like foreigners and we are tolerated at best. They see us being here for one purpose only: teaching English. They would like us to stick to the schools and not go out in public. This can be seen in many aspects of society such as clubs that do not allow foreigners in at all or in the grocery market by school that does not sell food to foreigners.

Raptor_Alpha wants to know: What is one thing that you miss from home? (besides the obvious family/friend answer) I really don’t know. There’s nothing really that different about being here. Probably the one thing that I do miss is being able to go to the doctor without an interpreter. Good pizza and Mexican food are a close second.

What is one thing that you are surprised that you DO NOT miss? Well, I wasn’t all that drawn or tied into too many things back in the States. So I guess I am surprised that I don’t miss anything from back home and quite relish the thought of never returning.

If you didn’t have to teach….would you want to come back to Korea? If so, would you revisit the areas you have been OR would you venture to places that you haven’t? I don’t know if I would want to come back to this area. There is a lot to see and do in Korea and while I’m based near Seoul, I’m trying to see as much as I can. So if I would ever come back, I’d want to see another area.

Is there anyone over there that you would want to remain in contact with? I have met some great people here. A couple of great Koreans and look forward to remaining friends with them via the interwebs.

RBuffordTJ asks, What is your favorite thing to eat there? Do they have any drinks you have come to love as much as your coffee? Somehow I you’d pick out the food question. I really do like Korean Barbecue. The way the meat is seasoned and that you get to cook it for yourself is fantastic. As for a beverage… While I do like soju, nothing will ever take the place of coffee!

Heather asks, What is one of the most significant life lessons you have learned in your time in Korea? Without a doubt that when I rely on faith, everything comes out well. When there is a stressful situation or I am in need of guidance, having that conversation with the Lord and listening to His wisdom makes all the difference. That being said, I can also attest that all one really needs is life is a suitcase or two packed with clothes, a camera, and a laptop to have a great adventure. Pick a destination and go.

241Deal asks How do you prepare for class? That’s a hard one to answer, as so many classes can be different. In short, I just take a look at the lesson and see what is needed to meet the objectives. Sometimes its quite easy and other times it isn’t. I will say that when I first started teaching here, it took me about an hour to prepare. Now I can get ready in about 10 minutes because I’m so familiar with the materials.

thizizliz asks quite a bit about the children… Do they resent the pressure that is put on them? Or is that just life as they know it? Are these kids of upper income parents? Or do even middle and lower classes find a way to teach their kids English? I’m not sure what the income level of the parents are. Tuition at my school is about $300 per month (12 90-minutes lessons). Some of the kids hate learning English, as they see no benefit of doing so. These are the children that are either from very wealthy families that will never have to work in their lives or from ones that are not driven to learn. Those that are driven to learn are exceptional. If they don’t want to learn, then they resent being in class and their work-ethic shows that feeling. No matter the reason, the children accept their schedule. It’s just how life is.

PhrostCope asks Would/will you do it again? If so, would you do it in Korea again or elsewhere? Without a doubt. I love teaching and my next career certainly falls within that spectrum. Whould I choose Korea if I wanted to teach EFL again? I don’t know. It’s nothing against Korea, but more along the lines that I would want to experience a new culture. If I were to teach in Korea again, I’d choose another part of the country. After being in the Seoul area for a year, I’d want to try somewhere else.

Mountain Temple

Mountain Temple

13thDimension wonders…
what is the strangest thing you’ve seen? I really haven’t seen anything all that odd here. Maybe it’s because I’m used to traveling around and have been in Asia before. I do think it’s odd here that when you purchase an item in bulk it doesn’t save you any money.

what is the most beautiful thing you have seen? The mountain temples are stunning.

what is the worst thing you have seen? I haven’t seen it, and I don’t plan to do so, but I imagine the beating of the dogs for meat is right up there.



and what, if anything, has made you stop in your tracks (physically or mentally)? Nothing as of yet… although the boutique “Make Yourself Fucking Lovely” made me take a second look.

BrotherBearAZ asks So, How did you like the food? I love it!!!!!!!!

talismania wonders I’m curious if you’ve ever run into the Korean programming culture at all. For example, the game starcraft is rather big there, with two tv channels (OGN and MBC) having it on regularly. Just wondering what your thoughts were on this phenomenon. I have seen it and many of my students are obsessed with Starcraft. I don’t get it. I don’t get WoW either. But I really don’t get how playing Starcraft makes for great television. They way the commentators really get into things is amazing. But then again, this is a country that broadcasts games of Go.

PrincessDiana161 shares and asks I remember when I came to the US I found it extremely hard to figure out how 1 word could have to meaning. Like “she read a book” then the word “red”… i was so lost LOL… My students have similar problems too. Reading a passage and coming across read, wind, and lives will usually throw them for a loop until they get the context of the passage.

soulofbass says I really love teaching, i would like to know the worst experience and best experience you had teaching… Simply seeing the kids “get it” is amazing. I have this one pair of students and they were a bit slow on the uptake. We were discussing nouns and it was time for a test. The exam was to put the noun I mentioned into one of the four categories on their papers. To seem them get excited and shout out the answer while writing it down was fantastic. It really moved me. As far as the worst experience, I have to say that is dealing with management at the school They really have no clue what it means to learn. They are too busy chasing the all mighty Won and really aren’t thinking what makes the most sense from an educational perspective.

jacob7207 wonders Have you ever come across a student who was of mixed ethnicity in Korea? Yes I have. Chinese-Korean.

IAGuy06 asks Are there condom machines in the public bathrooms there? Nope. Not a one that I’ve seen.

Gimbap Roll

Gimbap Roll

Sabrnig inquires What is “American food” like in Korea, what is your favorite Korean treat? American food tastes pretty much the same, but is three times more expensive (except for the fast food places). My favorite treat is a nice little gimbab triangle you can pick up in a corner store. Although for dinner, I’ll sometimes have one or two of the larger rolls (see right).

What is the weather like, and is there more cool technology/tech-y toys? Weather is very similar to states in the west. Summer temperatures will approach 100F (38C), while the dead of winter will dip to 14F (-10C) for overnight lows. In January, the wind kicks in… and I hear that’s pretty bad.

thepotter asks What part of Korean culture whether it be traditions, technology, or social structure, would you like to see applied in the United States? I’d like to see the telecommunication infrastructure that the ROK has applied to the US and other countries. They are light years ahead of the US in that area.

GrahamAndFriends wonders I want to know about Korean food! Without a doubt, Korean fried chicken is the best in the world. I mean it.

OhCurt asks the all important question… Do they love ABBA as much as they should? Oh yes they do…


Written by Steve Miller

November 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Posted in General Update, Travel

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go make myself fucking lovely…

    John Lacey

    November 16, 2008 at 4:39 pm

  2. Hey thanks for putting my latest video on your page.

    “grocery market by school that does not sell food to foreigners”, you have got to be kidding.. talk about discrimination.

    It sounds like the trip is panning out to be everything you had hoped for, and it’s great that you are documenting your experience. I really enjoy your videos.



    November 17, 2008 at 12:20 am

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