Monday, February 25, 2008
Monday, April 09, 2007
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
more reflections - culture shock in reverse
what's been interesting is the disorientation to my own culture i've felt at various times over the past week. i was a bit surprised by this since i was only gone for five weeks. my other overseas experiences have been much longer (one year), so i expected disorientation with that length of stay. however, i wasn't really expecting it with this one, but it's definitely been there. for example, driving a car has been an interesting experience. more so than riding my bike, although yesterday in about 10 minutes i nearly ran off the side of the road and nearly ran into three other bikers. i guess i forgot that when you're riding, you can't look around at the signts. i guess i got used to this with all the walking and bus riding we did while in pusan. what also has contributed to the disorientation is the comparisons i've tried not to make but still do of certain things in this culture with the same things in the korean culture. it seems that now that i'm back in my own culture, it's easier to "romanticise" the other culture, which i found myself doing with the american culture while i was in pusan. it's pretty interesting how our brains process the information about a new place and what it does with that.
i mentioned in a previous post that at some points the experience seems surreal and that i'm afraid i'll forget about it. however, i've found that talking/chatting/e-mailing with people who are still there or who were there and went through the same experience keeps it alive. i've received several e-mails from students, one who is considering coming to the states to study. it seems the course had a remarkable impact on him. wow! e-mail from friends i made while there keeps me in the loop of what's going on in their daily/weekly lives. then chatting/talking with some of the team members, lisya and charm, and dr. h has helped to continue processing the experience.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
now that i'm home, i realize what a great experience it was to go to pusan and teach at pnu this summer. what i find interesting is how being back in my own culture is helping me to have a better understanding of my experience in pusan. for example, when i went for a run today, i noticed how the cars would yield to me. in pusan, it was the opposite, and i was curious as to why this is. i speculated that because there are fewer pedestrians in columbus than there are cars, pedestrians have the right-of-way. whereas in a place like pusan, that's densely populated and cars are quite expensive to own and maintain, there are more pedestrians. so vehicles yielding to them would cause a traffic jam. from experiencing this in my own culture, it seemed that i was able to better understand why it's done differently in the korean culture. i'll be interested to see if i notice other aspects of this culture that help me to construct meaning in the korean culture.
as i continue to process my pusan experience, it seems to me that i'm coming away from this with more understanding of the korean culture, particularly in regards to how important the issue of face is in the culture and how the fact that korea was a "closed" nation for a long time still seems to influence the culture today. i think this comes from talking with culture "experts" (a.k.a. the students) and watching the people.
- a special thanks to my dad who supported my decision to do this and loyally and meticulously read all my blog entries and even responded to a few. thanks, pop!
- to dr. h for masterminding the idea of a joint tesol certificate program between osu and pnu. without this, the summer wouldn't have been as exciting; for all the virtual support and encouragement prior to his arrival and for all the face-to-face support and encouragement while in pusan
- to cherepaha for his loyalty in reading and responding to my blogs; for sharing his insight on my teaching pedagogy and the use of technology in the efl classroom; mostly, for introducing me to blogging (and podcasting) - i think i'm now an blog-addict!
- to the students in the p, n and u classes who diligently read and responded to my blog - thanks for the creative postings!
- to all who responded to my blog via e-mail (alice, asha, chris, clint, craig, jerry, joseph, maj, michael, "n" and shandler) - loved your thoughts. hope you didn't mind if i posted some of them. they were too good not to share.
- to the team - charm, stuart and lisya - it was great working and living with you! i learned a lot (about myself) through this. it definitely is an experience i won't forget. to charm - thanks for sharing your knowledge about the asian culture and other practical things like how to use the washing machine, buying an ethernet cable, etc.; for sharing your food, especially the sky flakes, peanut butter and mini purple muffins; for the cleaning tips; for endless shopping trips - i don't think i hate shopping as much now; for the new nail color - love it!; etc. to stuart - thanks for the handouts on extensive reading from the tesol academy in seoul; for all the travel brochures; for having the patience (and courage) to live with three women for a month! you're a champ!; for "holding the door"; etc. to lisya - thanks for initiating discussions about our teaching; for sharing your teaching ideas; for the proposal and article collaboration projects - it's so easy working with you; for our night walks; for photo sharing - turkey is so beautiful! i really hope i can visit you there some day in the near future; for blogging with me; for cafe conversations and chipmunk watching; for motivating me to work on my dissertation; for inspiring me with your spirit and your view of "the glass being half full" no matter what the situation; for enduring unsustainable conversations with me; for sharing a bathroom; etc. (miss you, chicka!) to everyone, thanks for laughing at my endless jokes, even though they weren't always funny. (i hope they were at least sometimes funny. ;))
Monday, August 14, 2006
it felt really good to be back in the u.s. actually, in some ways, it didn't seem like i had left. it was a little surreal. i got up in the morning in pusan, flew for a long time, then ended up back in the states. i know that i've been gone, but because there really isn't anything here that tells me where i was, it almost seems like i wasn't. kinda strange.
clint was there at the airport to pick me up. thanks, clint! :) we came back to my apartment to do some unloading and unpacking and then headed out to get something to eat. of the following, what type of food do you think i had for my first meal back in the states:
- A. American
- B. Korean
- C. Mexican
- D. Chinese
now that i'm back, i have to figure out how i'm going to spend the rest of the summer. ;)
*thanks to 'cherepaha' for bringing this to my attention
Sunday, August 13, 2006
the last day
today is my last day in pusan. it's almost hard to believe that the experience is over. i still can remember the day i arrived - it was right after the typhoon had hit and the rain was still here. stuart and eun-a, one of the students came to pick me up from the airport... today was sunny and hot, like all the days have been for about the past two weeks. i spent most of the day packing. late afternoon, lisya and i went out to the pnu shopping district to buy some last minute gifts and souveniers. (charm and stuart already left) we also had dinner together at a small restaurant near the university. we ordered our favorite dishes - mandu (dumplings), bibimbab, and sundubu. it was a good way to spend the last day of our time in pusan.
Friday, August 11, 2006
food, food, and more food
min-cheol, the guy i've been going to church with, and i went out for dinner tonight. it was a kind of farewell dinner. we went to a place near the pnu campus that serves duck. i had peking duck when i lived in china, but never tried it in korea, so even though he reminded me of my supposed vegetarianism, i employed my flexibility and joined him for duck. this restaurant was one of those where you cook on your table. the duck was quite delicious, although a little greasy. and there was so much food - several panchan and different types of sauces to dip the duck in . when we first got to the restaurant, there was no one else there. however, it quickly filled up. the food was delicious. the only thing i didn't like about the place was the loud music that was playing the entire time. it was very difficult to talk to min-cheol during the meal. the owner was a very energetic woman who was either running from table to table to cook the duck or behind the counter chopping more duck to be cooked.
after we had paid for the meal and were exiting the restaurant, she followed us out to spray us down with some kind of scent that was to cover the smell of the bbq. min-cheol told me that it was a kind of marketing strategy to get customers to come and not worry about smelling like bbq afterwards. it was interesting. after we left the restaurant, we wandered around the shopping district near pnu and eventually ended up at a pub, where we ordered a korean plum wine and anju, snacks to eat with it. i couldn't believe that we were ordering and eating more food after all that we had at dinner just 30 minutes prior, however, once it came, it was hard to resist. the panchan came first. this consisted of soft tofu, salad and caterpillars. yes, caterpillars. now i've tried everything. i saw these at several food vendors on the street, but had no idea what they were. they definitely looked like some kind of insect, but i didn't know what kind and didn't want to know. however, min-cheol, despite not knowing the english word for them, gave me enough info. for me to be able to figure out that they were in fact caterpillars. soon after the panchan were brought out, there was also a spicy seafood soup brought out. it was delicious. again, i couldn't believe that we were eating again after all that we had, but it all tasted so good, it was hard not too. again, i know it may seem like i spent my entire time here eating, but really, i haven't. ;)
at the finish
today was the last day of the course, so instead of having class, we planned a common gathering of all three classes, p, n and u, in p's classroom, because it had the best a/c and sound system of all three, for a potluck and performance. it was a really nice ending to a pretty tumultuous month. several students in all three classes prepared something entertaining, mostly in the form of a role play, the content of which highlighted what the students had learned during the past month as well as the distinct teaching styles of the four of us. it was really neat to see how the students displayed all they learned in such a creative way. many of the students incorporated the slang they learned from the simpson's episodes we watched in class and talked about or the o-h-i-o cheer that i taught them. they also imitated all of the teachers. their imitation of me included "hey guys" and "ja, ja", two expressions that i commonly use. the first reflecting my chicago accent; the second reflecting the influence of my second language (can you guess what that might be?!? ;)) on my first language. surprisingly, one of the students gave a presentation on her own. the others were done either with a partner or as a group. she is a briliant sketch artist and took time to draw each of the teachers. her presentation of her sketches was a kind of guessing game which she designed using powerpoint. she set it up so that only some parts of each person were displayed first and the audience had to guess who. after this, a full black and white was shown and then a color. it was so well done. the presentations took up most of the morning, although stuart had a part where he gave prizes to the students who had the highest scores on the final presentations in his classes. around noon, we had lunch, which consisted mostly of cakes, snacks and drinks. we took a lot of photos and ended up spending the rest of the time talking with students and finally saying our goodbyes. we left feeling pretty positive and were glad that the final day of the program ended on a good note. it was almost surreal that we were finally finished with the course. it was hard to believe that it was over. for some reasons, it seemed like the course lasted years; however, for other reasons, it seemed like it lasted only a couple days. i think it's still too soon to say how things went over all. i need a bit more time to process all that happened in the past month. during the party, i talked briefly with dr. h about the future of the program. it seems like there is a future for it for both osu and pnu. :) he also said that osu is extending the invitation for teachers beyond doctoral students in the department of second and foreign language. i was surprised to hear that. i think it's a great idea to open it up to others who may want the opportunity to spend time teaching in korea.