Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tuttle Update

1) I gathered with friends at 맥주뚜껑, or Maekchu Dduggeong, in Sinjeongnegeori, for a 4th of July celebration, complete with chili dogs, potato salad, chips, salsa, cake and more cake. In addition to the usual suspects, we were joined by my new friend Lynn and her daughter Annie. PS: We missed you, Kevin.

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I spent all evening Wednesday in preparation, mainly of the chili. I started at E-Mart, where I found enough proper ingredients to finish there as well--mainly in the "Internation Foods" section they have these days: I got two different cans of chili beans, two different jars of salsa, dried superhot red peppers (they didn't have canned chipotles in sauce, or cumin), and Tabasco. Plus produce (onions and jalapeno peppers), plus fresh ground hanu sirloin--they didn't have any ground pork or ground lamb, which is what I think makes my chili so so fine! Still, it ended up being pretty decent. Here's a pic of simmering chili:

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Happy 237th Birthday, America! (Love Annie's shirt!)

2) While traipsing around my neighborhood today in the heat of a July afternoon, I was rewarded by a vendor's stall with a pair of fabulous hats. The first one, I have no idea what it means; the second one, I understand all too well!

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3) Either I have to take back some of the unkind things I have thought and said about my Vice-Principal, or I am being set up for an enormous ass-f*cking. Background: I had to change my plans for my summer vacation by a couple of days because the VP, upon reading the contract we (SMOE and I) had previously entered into, realized I had to do five weeks of camp--this is typically three weeks in the winter, two weeks in the summer. I knew I had only done two weeks last winter, but figured the school was just cool that way--rather like my old school, which never even once made me do "desk-warming".

Anyway, when she realized I owed them a week of camp, the VP added a week to my summer obligations, after I had already got my plans "approved"--turned in weeks previous with no comment. Now, I can't--and won't--argue that I don't owe a week of camp, but I will argue that I am owed a week of vacation. And I did.

It goes through a few iterations, but what happens is that the VP suggests or approves (I don't know which, because I'm not in on the discussions) that I can take my five days owed vacation during the last week of spring semester--an actual week of school! When I realize this, I actually decline: I've not missed a single day of classes in the five years I've been in Korea (and for that matter quite a few years before). It seems bizarre to me that it's okay to miss real school, where I teach 100 or so kids a day, in order to meet class with probably ten or twelve kids (the same 10 or 12) for a week of camp. While I think my vacation is quite important, it's not as important as my actual teaching duties.

My main co-teacher insisted that it wasn't an issue, because as I knew, we will finish our book-work the second-last week, and collect up the books until second semester. We are only going to watch a movie in all the classes, she told me: Jack the Giant Killer, as it turns out. It's true that I don't really need to be present for that. Further, the co-teacher of my after school classes also told me I should feel fine to use this week.

 photo lp_book_zpse8ea2aa2.jpg 4) The upshot is that I will be spending five nights in Kota Kinabalu from July 13 to July 19. This is the part of Malaysia on the island of Borneo, so I plan to soak up Malay culture, eat great food, and spend time communing with wild plants and animals. But we'll see what happens.

How did I pick KK? you ask. Well, I didn't--I trusted Ken at Unique Travel, who found a few reasonably-priced fares for me on short notice, and this was the place I haven't been. The ticket price was W608,800, which translates to about $600. Plus, about that again, top-side, in hotel, activities, food and alcohol. After umpteen years in America busting my ass, could I possibly just shrug and say, "Book it, Dano Ken!" No! I would have to scrimp and save for a year or two before I could imagine splurging $1000 on a foreign trip.

5) And, as noted, I've already got 9 nights booked and paid for in August at my spot in Koh Samui, Thailand, for my regularly planned vacation (the one cut short by the addition of an extra week of summer camp).

So, despite my early difficulties adapting to the elementary school, I seem to have "won over" my main co-teachers, and have even gotten the VP to acknowledge my worth to some extent. I still feel considerable pressure to be awesome (as I did at Youngil as well) but I'm seeing this as a victory. Always bearing in mind, though, that this situation could turn south at any time, and always remembering that the SMOE NSET program is a time-limited phenomenon.


John from Daejeon said...

608,800 won is closer to $500 than $600. I just changed over a big chunk and am still light-headed over the won's lack of purchasing power against the dollar.

Have fun on your trip.

Tuttle said...

Yeah, you're correct, JFD.
Since I don't use dollars at all, I'm not precise about the exchange rate, sticking to the general 1000 W = $1 thing that is generally true over longer time periods.

OTOH, when I'm traveling somewhere from Korea, I am quite exact about the W to RM/dong/NT/RMB/yen/PHP/etc exchange rate.