Home to If I Had A Minute To Spare Towers

I kid because I love. But in this case I’m not kidding. I do live in a tower, a twenty storey high tower pitched between what seems like a thousand other twenty storey high towers. Although mine is made from concrete, steel, and glass, not ivory. This may or may not be a good thing.


After a long summer away in Ireland, myself, Herself, and +1 have returned to our perch overlooking the ever present traffic which persists along that big long avenue that runs through Yeongtong-dong which I have no idea of the name.

Goodbye, Friends, Hello, Friends: The August Expat Bloodbath

On Sept. 13, I’ll have been in South Korea for seven months. You could definitely call me a veteran now.

The thing with being a veteran is, you start to see a lot of casualties. It starts slow–one outlier here or there that got a hagwon contract on an off-month. But then, either February or August arrive and …

… it’s a bloodbath. Koreabridge becomes a bone-picker’s paradise: everything goes up for sale, from bicycles to furniture to videogame consoles, to computers, musical instruments and, of course, jobs. Lots of jobs.



Alcohol Alternatives. Or, the ‘ICing’ on the Fried Fish


8 p.m. Classes have been over an hour. We’re back to our normal schedules at my hagwon now that the kids are back in school. I’ve graded some papers, kibitzed with the other foreign teacher, got the approval for two days off in October from my boss that will give me a five-day chunk to visit friends in Japan and now it was time to head home.

But first, I decided to stop into the little mart (for anyone not in Korea, pretty much any place that sells any thing is called a mart here. Not supermarket, though that is used. But even a supermarket would be a mart. Just roll with it) next to my school to pick up a couple things, as at the time I thought I’d make a tuna fish sandwich for dinner (I ended up eating some fried fish, but that’s not the point).

Letter from Ireland, August 2013

Dunboyne, Ireland
16 August, 2013

Dear Korea

Negativity is an often attractive topic. It’s in our nature to be critical, to find issue with what is at fault, and even when we are happy we still find reasons to complain. This isn’t exclusive to any particular situation or condition, everyone does it in some manner or form. There may be some explanation to it, but that is not my aim today.

I wanted to write today about something which has being an increasing source of bother for some time, and since I am now in Ireland I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on it from a particular standpoint.

The Koreans of Europe

No two cultures are the same but every one is similar, right? You could certainly say that about much of Europe, where thousands of years of breeding, trading, warring, traveling, and sharing across ever-shifting borders has caused a mixology of international characteristics of which one can be difficult to discern from the other.

In Asia, it is a little more difficult to separate the differences because the continent has suffered less fluctuation of its borders, and in terms of today’s map, colonialism for the most part decided on today’s borders. But still you can throw in the changes, regardless of actual influence, of international trade, development, colonialism, the sharing of ideas, television, and migration, and the wind at the weekend if you wish, and you will soon realise the stark similarities between peoples and cultures there.

Thoughts at Six Months: One and Done or Beyond?

The majority of those who come to South Korea to teach English, to experience a new culture and all the standard trappings of the “expat experience,” usually stay for their first contract—one year. I base this only on anecdotal evidence. After nearly six months here (in a row, at least), I have already said goodbye to several who have stayed their one year; I will say goodbye to several more this month. Maybe some of them extended their stays by a month or two, as Martha did. But, for the most part, for many, it’s one and done.


Chickens Fried by a ‘Donky,’ Reunions 8 Years in the Making

Sometimes, I feel like a teenager. I feel like I’m 21, leaving the U.S.A. for the first time on a seven-day trip to the Czech Republic. Sometimes, I’m going to South Korea for the first time.

It was almost eight years ago that last one happened. And, while sometimes it seems like no time has passed, the gray hairs becoming even more apparent in my beard and on my arms tell me otherwise.

Colours, Colours, Colours! A Good Vibes Post for My First Two Weeks Back in Ireland.

I’ve been back in Ireland for approximately two weeks. I promise that during this post I will not mention the weather too much. All I can say is that it has been unseasonal.


When we return to Ireland we spend most of time in my parents home and my old stomping ground, Beechdale in Dunboyne. At the best of times it’s a fairly ordinary housing estate on the outskirts of Dublin, albeit in County Meath. We also managed to get down to Kerry for a few days, to show the visitors around (the visitors being Herself’s oul pair who are over here with us).

Well, we’ve been doing plenty of touristing around here (yes there are some things worth doing) and also down in Kerry. It has been a good few weeks.

For Amanda, My Best Friend Who Will Be Here Soon

For eight years, this whole tale of Korea–of coming, going, coming back, leaving again, then finally arriving and staying–has been about me. I have been a little self-centered about it, I will admit. It’s been my “thing,” my narrative.

On July 24th, 2013, it will become her narrative, too.

Amanda, my best friend–the girl who fielded my calls in the afternoon in Korea when it was 3 a.m. in New Jersey; who, despite dating a guy at the time would still field my calls when the two of them were talking; who nursed me back to health when an unexpectedly incredibly painful gallbladder surgery recovery laid me out for several days after I came home early in 2010–is coming to Busan next month, to teach.

Jangnim, Uphill. Or, Forever Expanding My Mental Map

(Cheap plug! Also, be sure to check out my first Busan Haps article, published this morning on the lovely and talented, tireless volunteer, Katherine Herrmann!)

After spending a certain amount of time in a place (it must be different for everyone how long that amount of time is), we develop “mental maps” of our surroundings.

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