04 August 2008

Sin(chon) City

It feels so good to have actually started working in Sinchon! Finally starting to actually settle properly is wonderful, and it's great to be in this really cool, fun area (I'm so lucky to have actually got my first choice of branches anyway, and Sinchon is such a sought after destination). Having to commute from Naksongdae is a little annoying, but that won't be for too much longer at least.

One sad thing is that the fact that I'm moving (to the company housing in Hongdae, which is smack bang in the centre of the student district, as well as being a really cool area in terms of music, bars and clubs) is that I'll be taking someone else's apartment. A lot of the native speaker teachers are leaving pretty soon. The guy I replaced, Law, seemed really fun (and British), and now Jes, 2.0 and Dick are all going to be leaving in quick succession. It really kind of sucks because I get on really well with Jes and 2.0, and although I didn't get to spend much time with Law he seemed like a great guy too. He's actually gone on a motorbike trip (complete with video camera) to Jeju island at the moment, but he's coming back to Seoul soon. Jes is going back to the States for health and family reasons (and taking his ridiculously cute, if overly fond of my crotch, dog Soju with him), but all things being equal he should be back in September. Law and Jes are planning on getting jobs together relatively nearby and 2.0 will probably do a similar thing, plus he's dating our assistant manager, so it's not as if I'll never see them again. The fact that the staff were leaving en masse made me a bit worried (it doesn't really fill you with confidence), but they're mostly leaving just because they can get better paid jobs now that they've got a couple of years experience here under their belts.

Mostly Dick just seems to be following them. Nobody likes him very much. He was so rude to me when I first met him, and Y (who started about a month before me) said he was exactly the same with her, and then he ended up being her partner! To be fair every day since then he's made a lot of effort to be really nice to me, and randomly wrote down my name for me in Hangeul without me asking (it's just a little thing, but it is quite sweet and helpful). I feel a bit sorry for him because I think that he just doesn't really understand how to interact with people properly, but he's just so fucking condescending and smug all the time. It's weird to hear Jes being (relatively) vitriolic about Dick cos he's just one of those incredibly genial, easy going people who gets along with absolutely everyone and never seems to see the bad side in anyone.

The other native speakers, Dar and S, are staying put, at least for the time being!

The partner situation is a bit messed up as a result of all these changes, my partner was K, it's now mostly Clairebear (who sadly doesn't look anything like Hayden Panettiere, cos believe me I'd be all over that), but I think will switch back to K in a couple of weeks when Jes leaves. K is really fun and easy to get on with (actually she spent five years in England, but has carefully cultivated an American accent as it's more popular here- however she always slips when she says the word 'British'). When we go out though she always wants to be the centre of attention, which can be a bit tiring. It isn't hard for her to get attention by any means, she's stunningly gorgeous (she's rejected my marriage proposals so far on the grounds that our difference in ages is too great, but I'll persevere!), poised and an amazing dancer. She put this to great advantage the other night when she tried to get off with (and get drinks off of) two of Jes' friends at the same time. We were all glad that she was keeping Rus away since he's an annoying drunk, but we didn't like the fact that she was messing Scotty about. I normally don't like people who run around screaming "what up dawg?!" but Scotty's a Canadian on a mission to be as obnoxious as possible while claiming to be a citizen of the US. He also wears tartan trousers, cries about his girlfriend in public and offered to sleep on the floor for me. He's awesome.

As for the other Korean teachers, I get on really well with Y and love going out dancing with her (even if she has pretty appalling taste in guys!). Ser is also really fun (and practically has corporate sponsorship from the Korean air industry). Clairebear and Is are both real sweethearts, but they're kind of our resident 'good girls' and can barely finish a beer. I'd love to see the job description for the manager and assistant manager positions. Hans seems to think his job is mostly 'take the staff out for lots of food and booze; force feed the staff a lot of watermelon; fuel the staff's polo addiction; do not enforce any rules whatsoever' and D seems to think her entire job consists of running around in short skirts and patting people good naturedly. It's a great place to work as a result, everything is incredibly chilled. Also because I'm a girl I practically count as one of the Korean teachers so nobody cares what I wear which is excellent.

I haven't had too many lessons lately, partly because a lot of the university students (a large part of our clientele) are off enjoying their summer vacations, and also because I'm the newbie. I've been enjoying the down time, especially because I sometimes really need to have a nap (we have bunk beds!) when the drunkeness, hangovers and sleep-deprivation catch up with me. The joys of work are added to by absolutely awesome reception staff, it sounds like a little thing but it just makes work a lot easier and more fun. Lin was actually my first student in the mock lesson and she can be a bit solemn but she's really nice, V is totally insane but in a great way (and she has the best laugh ever!) and Raf speaks brilliant English which means that everything goes really smoothly (she came with me to set up a bank account, for example). We also have a lot of restaurants which deliver yummy, cheap food- which I appreciate an awful lot when I can't even be bothered to stumble out of the staff room and its comfy beds.

I offer some illustrative pictures filched from others for your delectation:

I wonder if you can tell which one I am? From left to right (excluding me) are Y, V, Lin and Christine (who has now left).

S and I being especially photogenic.

This is Computer Guy after Hans poured an excessive amount of soju into his beer and made him drink it, followed by a few shots for good measure. This is why Hans is an awesome boss.

I'm going to ban myself from writing about books, at least for a little while, I tried to write a short round-up of what I'd been reading in the last month and instead wrote three fairly long entries. Literature makes me long-winded; books make me babble! However, I would like to add one, oh just one, teeny point that I forgot about Atlas Shrugs- I really liked this quote:

"I like to think of fire held in a man's hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips. I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great things have come from such hours. When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind--and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression."
I don't smoke, but I find myself agreeing with the guy from the newsstand here. At least a burning cigarette fits entirely for me with the image of a great man that he's suggesting, probably along with a glass of whiskey. Plus it just makes me think of Tex Williams, and I doubt that that can ever be a bad thing.

Anyway I'm planning on doing a monthly book round-up post from here on out. The Buffy comics don't count as books however, so there may be something incredibly lengthy about them soon.

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