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Racing snails

Well, life moves on at its own pace. It seems like not much has happened lately, but actually there’s a few things worth noting here.

I spoke to the hagwon director’s brother (who’s one of our teachers) the other day. He said I’d get three days holiday in April or May, but they couldn’t tell an exact date yet. We’ve already had two days off this year (not including national holidays), so the fact that it’s three days doesn’t bother me. The vagueness regarding the date should do, but I’m not cynical enough to suspect the hagwon of lying to me about it.

I’d also asked about the renewal of my contract, and he said that they likewise couldn’t tell me because they would have to know how many students they’d have. The term starting on Monday will last until the end of May, and my contract runs until June. It’s annoying that I don’t have any certainty about this – if only because I know that I ought to be looking for other jobs just in case. I want to do two consecutive years in Korea, and I think I’d be happy staying at E-Castle. I suppose I should start doing more to prove myself a useful member of the team.

Botond had his last day at our hagwon on Thursday (Friday was one of our days off), as did at least two of the Korean teachers – the widely disliked senior teacher (by foreigners, anyway), Sunny, and the much nicer Eun-yeong. From Monday we’ll have at least one new Korean teacher and a new foreign teacher – an American called Sandy.

Last night (at the time of writing – who knows when I’ll actually upload this) I had my test for blue belt at taekwondo. This was a strangely depressing experience – but then last time was, too. On the previous Wednesday I tried to ask my sabeomnim about one of the moves (or combination thereof) that I was supposed to do. I texted her about it and she didn’t reply. On Thursday I tried calling her – also no reply.

The move I was trying to get her to describe more specifically wasn’t really that complex, but with an exact definition to practice to before I would have performed it better than I did. I did carry off the two pumsae that I was required to do pretty well. On the other hand there was another movement that I feel I haven’t had enough instruction in for me to do it well.

As with my previous test I was required to break some flimsy boards – which, again, hadn’t been covered at all in class. I did a left and right roundhouse kick and made pieces of board fly off to the side. Two right side kicks proved easy enough, but I needed three attempts on a left side kick.

Unlike last time, there was no audience whatsoever, and my sabeomnim tested me herself, taking notes as she did so. She gave me some feedback, too. My side kicks were too low, although, at 32 and having been doing taekwondo for only a few months, I don’t think there’s much I can do about my lack of flexibility. She also said my gihap (‘spirit shout’) was late, but I’m sure the students and masters also often perform the gihap just after the kick, punch or block.

I’m to be given a result on Wednesday. I left in a dark mood, ignoring one of the expert students when she said goodbye to me.

I resolved to go for a long walk. Shortly in to this I remembered that we hadn’t talked about meeting the master who’d left the other week, so I called I Sabeomnim to suggest we all go out for drinks some time. Strangely enough, she answered and she responded positively, although she said she and the old master were busy giving tests. This made me feel a bit happier. On reflection, though, it seems like her response to anything I suggest is that she wants to but she’s busy, and maybe next month.

I walked for a couple of hours hoping to get lost. I found myself in some unfamiliar territory beyond the bus routes to Hagye Station, but I semi-purposely wandered in a long loop and ended up returning to the vicinity of Hagye. It was a little before midnight so I decided to investigate the Hagye branch of Homeplus (you’ll remember that Homeplus is co-owned by Samsung and Tesco and was my number one choice for shopping when I lived in Ansan). I bought two large boxes of Tesco cornflakes (yay!) and had a short conversation in Korean with a boy who stopped next to me on the long, sloping escalator.

Homeplus turns out to be about twenty minutes walk away – about twice the distance to Lotte Mart, and in the same direction. I’ve resolved never to shop at Lotte Mart again. At home, having skipped breakfast by virtue of not having run out of both cornflakes and milk, I ate a couple of enormous servings of Great British cereal from a cooking bowl.

I missed my Korean class last week and was late to today’s class (I skipped breakfast again so I wasn’t too late). I haven’t been enjoying as much as I had before; there are a couple new American students in the class that I feel slightly intimidated by for no good reason. But anyway, today we finished the level one textbook, next week we start a new book with a new teacher.

I’ve been thinking today (prompted by the fact that in the previous month I saved a grand total of ₩300,000 – about £150) that I might stop going to the classes and instead find someone to teach me Korean in exchange for me teaching them English. I could ask one or two of the Korean teachers at work if they know anyone. I haven’t asked any of them about getting someone for a private class (for money) because it’s illegal (though many foreigners do it) and I don’t want them having something to hold over me. This is rather more innocent, though.

I’d noticed recently that the clip attachment bit on the strap of my new laptop case was starting to resemble the the one that came apart minutes after I bought it. This morning I took a few minutes to loop one of my black hairbands through the attachment and clip. And whaddaya know, shortly after my Korean class, the attachment popped out of the hole in which it’s supposed to pivot. My hairband saved the day.

Categories: Employment, Learning, Life
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