Sunday, August 31, 2008

Anti-Calculus Toothpaste?!

This is my favorite theme, and one that I'm sure will recur often... Engrish! If you've never been to Asia, English is all the rage. It is associated with globalization, modernization, prosperity and status. But competance is generally poor and proofreading apparently absent. So everything from t-shirts to store names and product marketing end up with totally bizarre, and often quite funny, English. Here are two of my favorites thus far.

View from the Living Room

The title of this blog comes mostly from the idea that we each have our own perception of, and perspective on, reality. Whether reality exists independently of the observer or not, each of us clearly perceives it differently - based on our experiences, cultural values, expectations, and so on. So the title View from Gangwon-do (the name of the province in which we are living and teaching) is based on the fact that my ramblings might be of interest because I'm seeing different things day-in and day-out than those of you on the other side of the world, and also because my perception of the world from here will be different than it was when I was in the US, and different from yours. More different, I would guess, than the people you encounter on a daily basis, since their experiences are more closely paralleling yours.

But I also picked it this morning because of how striking the view from our apartment is. I had to choke back the tears when I opened the blinds this morning. The entire south wall of our living room is glass, which should be great. Yet we're planning on covering it with a tapestry. Here's is the view out of our 15 x 8 foot living room window:

Koreans have an amazing ability to make thier residences look like penatentiaries.

The view from my office (that's right, my office... we have been blessed with a 3-bedroom apartment, so I have an office for the first time in my life!) is slightly better, though through a much smaller window.

I'll post soon about our arrival in Samcheok, our first night of dinner and drinking with our bosses and co-workers, what we know about our school, and our day out yesterday with a co-worker. But for now the score is +1 for a nice 3-bedroom apartment, and -1 for a view of prison walls.

Who am I? And Why am I Blogging?

Hello! Anyeong hasaeyo! My name is Michael, and I just moved from Boulder, Colorado in the US to Samcheok, Gangwon-do in South Korea. I will be living here for the next year, working as an English Teacher in a public elementary school in a small town called Dogye.

I'm starting this blog as a public record of my experiences, pictures, and wonderings this year. You can expect to read plenty about the oddities (from my western perspective) of Korean culture, ranging, at least, from fascination to frustration. I imagine I'll be posting lots of pictures, as the visual difference between Korea and Colorado is vast, and hard to represent in words. If only I could offer the smells and tastes of Korea here!

But more than being about Korea, this will also be about me and my path. For quite a while I've thought it would be helpful for me to post my goals and progress in a public place (to hold myself accountable and motivate me) and now seems as good a time as any. I'll track what I'm reading, how I'm spending my time and where I think I'm going as I understand it. If it's interesting to you, great. If it only provides me a record of my consciousness and the motivation that comes from public accessibility, that's ok too.

Before this morning, I was on the fence about blogging. Teaching should keep me plenty busy, and on top of that, I'm already developing another website about the health benefits of a natural diet. And then there are hobbies, fitness, my relationship, friends, learning Korean language, learning taekwondo, and finding time to keep myself sane in the midst of all that. So what pushed me over the edge to start this blog? I've often noticed syncronicities between my life and one of my favorite blogs, written by Steve Pavlina. So when Steve offered a free, pre-release copy of his book to anyone with a blog with decent readership who would review his book, I couldn't resist.

To get the free copy of the book, I have exactly one month to get my readership up to a respectable level. So please, come back often. I'll keep it fresh and interesting. Leave comments, refer your friends and feel free to leave me feedback. Until next time, anyeonghi kasaeyo.