Tag Archives: Itaewon

Simple Summer Pleasures

17 Jul

It’s the end of the day on Thursday, the last day of my “weekend” as I prepare to begin a new work week.  It’s been a somewhat relaxing weekend filled with the many familiar rhythms I have become acquainted with in my time in South Korea – the 2220 bus that takes me from English Village directly to Seoul; shopping for friendly and familiar food at2200 bus the foreign markets in Itaewon; riding the subway in Seoul while watching the sea of Korean faces mesmerized by their smart phones.  These are some of the things that have become the simple landscape of my life here in Korea.

I was thinking today that, aside from a few trips home, I have not lived in the United States for more than three years now.  That is amazing to me and it’s hard to believe it is true.  The other day I Skyped home to chat with my family and had the pleasure of receiving questions about being in Korea from my four very engaged nephews.  “What are the kids like in South Korea?” and “Why do they want to learn English?” were some of the sea of questions.  It was fun for me that they were interested and I was grateful that I could share this with them.

When I started this journey just over three years ago, buying a ticket to Germany felt like buying a ticket to the moon. Even still, a few years later buying a ticket to Korea felt like I was preparing to… I don’t know… travel through time.  While in earnest my international life has been quite modest, I am grateful for the “normalness” of it that has started to sink in over the years.  Buying or considering buying a ticket to visit a new country, while still exciting and sometimes a bit scary for me, is also something that feels totally available and accessible to me.  That is new.  And for that, I am grateful.

Don’t get me wrong, I do still “wonder” when I will return to the States and sometimes wish to swim in more familiar waters.  Occasionally I miss the accessibility I feel in the States simply because I can speak the language and read the street signs. But for now, I continue with my international journey.

My day today consisted of a quick trip to Seoul and some simple pleasures in the summer heat.  A little grocery shopping in Itaewon and also a little shoe shopping. The shoe shopping part did not take long as the shoes I liked were not available for my size 8 American feet. Disheartening… but not unusual in Korea.

I also treated myself to a therapeutic massage… doing my best to ease and tend to the tension I tend to carry with great commitment.  I went to a new place today called Create Wellness on the main strip in Itaewon.  My American conditioning is still disheartened when I walk into an office on a balmy summer afternoon and there is no air conditioning.  Even so, the staff was kind and friendly and the massage was excellent and my body heaved a sigh of relief as I exited the office.  I then easily made my way back to Paju and English Village.

We have a hearty handful of new teachers arriving lately at English Village.  As we haven’t hired in a while, most of the teachers here have been at English Village at least a year or longer.  It is good to have some new faces and energy around.  I see many of them observing with a timid or sceptic’s eye, adjusting to their new environment.  In many ways, English Village is a strange slice of life and it can take some time to adapt to its ways.

Good night for now from the balmy (but not yet rainy) lands of Paju English Village.  Thanks for reading and as you know, it’s always good to hear from you!



Little People

1 Jun

It’s a Saturday evening in Paju City, South Korea.  It’s a quiet night at English Village and once again I am grateful for the luxury of a warm spring day and gentle cool evening.  I think I am still defrosting from the long cold Paju winter. The warmth of the sun continues to feel new… and welcome and satisfying.

The typical pattern of work life in English Village has had a new beat this week.  Gratefully, we had a much-needed break with a few days of light teaching with just one or two classes a day. Our students this week have been mostly elementary students, much different from the regular diet of middle school students and the recent weeks of high school and college students. I still remember the first elementary class I taught this week.  When I walked in I was startled by how… little they were.  I did my best to recover from the slight shock and proceeded to teach the lesson.

The second half of the week we had a more regular pace of classes with another elementary school group.  This group was quite good with their English and mostly good attitudes as well.  I even had one student who had spent two years in Australia.  She was quite comfortable with her English and when she would respond to a question she would stand up and announce her answer eloquently to me and the class. Of course, some classes had the expected high level of elementary school ENERGY that must be released in some way!

I piloted a new lesson I created this week with the elementary students.  It’s an English lesson on adjectives for an upcoming month-long program in August called VIP.  Here at English Village we create our own lessons, then “try them out” or pilot them, then make any necessary changes before the lesson continues to be used.  I had a pretty good time creating this lesson (with the help of many other EV teachers).  It’s a mystery sort of lesson where students learn and practice some basic adjectives to describe people.  Next they watch a series of short videos we created of the “EV Bandit” (EV, that’s English Village) perpetrating a few innocent crimes.  Guided by a worksheet, the students choose adjectives that accurately describe the bandit to help “identify and catch him”. My first run this week of the lesson went quite well.  The students were bright and participated whole-heartedly.  They seemed to enjoy the lesson.

Today I made my regular journey to Seoul and my (as of recently) weekly trip to the chiropractor.  Afterwards I treated myself to a little lunch.  I have been craving sushi for some time lately.  Granted I need to travel a little further east to get the good stuff, but it seems it is still possible to get sushi in South Korea.  I went to a place called Alilgato in Itaewon, an expat friendly area of Seoul.

They began the meal with a delicious cup of miso soup. I kept it simple and ordered two sushi rolls – a spicy salmon roll and a California roll.  They were beautifully created and quickly delivered to my table.  Both rolls were truly scrumptious and a real treat as I haven’t had sushi since I left the United States two years ago.

Tomorrow, Sunday, is the monthly World Peace Prayer Meeting for my Buddhist SGI group in Seoul.  It is also the last meeting of one of our members before she and her family return to the US.  After my meeting I look forward to returning to Paju for a juicy afternoon relaxing at home, doing a little cooking and just taking it easy in the fresh spring weather before a new work week arrives.

Cheers to everyone from Paju City!  As always, feel free to write and say hello!

%d bloggers like this: