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National Team Fitness in Jangsan

By Fiona Van Tyne

Gyms. Gyms. Gyms. Many of us have enjoyed working out at gyms in our home countries, we had a set routine, schedule and we were comfortable.

Exercise is not thought of the same in Korea as in the western world. Many koreans take a much lighter approach to keeping fit, and so it is sometimes difficult to find a gym that meets a westerners requirements.

Also, many gyms in Korea are old, they are run down, and their equipment does not work as well as it used to. These get the job done, but barely.

National Team Fitness in Jangsan has been a personal saving grace in Korea. It opened in December 2012 and things are brand spanking new not to mention state of the art!!

Ramen Gone Wild

Ramen is serious business in Asia.  Korean grocery stores devote aisles to it, and many of my students name it as their favorite food.  On our recent trip to Fukuoka, we discovered the Japanese are perhaps even more zealous than the Koreans in their love of noodles.  

First, in Canal City, there is a place called Ramen Stadium, which is a store/museum devoted entirely to noodle soups.  You can learn about and sample all the major brands of ramen there.  

However, the most surreal and just plain weird experience we have ever had in eating out occurred here:  Image

Weekend in Fukuoka

In three words:  clean, orderly, delicious.

Definitely not Korea.

Ric and I spent a long weekend in Fukuoka, Japan, a large-ish city about a thirty minute plane ride from Busan.  After some intense haggling with Immigration at the airport (apparently, they frown upon you not making hotel reservations before arrival), we spent three long summer days wandering the city.  Here are our observations.

1)  Immigration was right.  We should have made a hotel reservation.  The weekend we chose to come to Fukuoka was also the weekend the city hosts a countrywide youth soccer tournament.  Finding a hotel was challenging, though we did end up at a great place that served free ramen and had a spa on site.  But it didn’t come cheap.

2)  The country (like Korea) is a startling mix of ultramodern and practically ancient.  It made for some beautiful photos.

Summer Vacation: In Beijing China!

Hello all!

My summer vacation was a couple weeks ago, but my summer intensive morning classes just ended, so I finally have time to post my photos! Beijing was a bit dirty, and I really missed Korean food, but overall it was great trip! Here we go:

My first meal in China, a KFC chicken sandwich thing? I was really hungry at the airport. They also had these amazing egg tarts!

My first meal in China, a KFC chicken sandwich thing? I was really hungry at the airport. They also had these amazing egg tarts!

Today, I will let my Ignorance speak!

As the title would have it, I would like to show how the limit of my knowledge might be an example of how other hagwon owners experience the same limit to their knowledge.  Someone sent me an very interesting e-mail (Alex! “Korean hagwon owners often have no knowledge of education, little knowledge of English, and little knowledge of how to run a business”) that invoked this sense of Ignorance, and I asked myself the question: “What is the value of all these extra curricular programs and does it show on their performance?”

Sharky’s Bar and Grill – Haeundae and Gwangalli

Sharky’s has the most American feel of any of the expat bars in Busan.  It’s the only place where I literally forget that I’m in Korea from time to time (although that could be the drinking as much as the atmosphere.)  While you’re in that fairly small space, you can’t help but feel back at home for better or worse.  There’s usually replays (or live) of whatever seasonal American sports are going on.  They’ve got darts, foosball, and shuffleboard which I absolutely love.  There’s also a nice selection of board games at both locations, including trivial pursuit. Games are constantly being updated, so check in and check often!

I am the Max Cream Master

Maybe I missed my calling? Or, maybe it’s just waiting for me at the bottom of a freshly-drained glass of Max Creamy Draft.

The fine folks at Hite-Jinro were out in force at the Ansan Valley Rock Festival, held over the final weekend of July in Ansan, a satellite city of Seoul. One of my best and oldest friends here in Korea, Sam, convinced me to drop the 250,000 won or so to spend the full weekend there. We braved some rough heat, rain and incredible mud for the occasion. We also had a pretty great time in the process.

New blog post! RT @aclipse: Buskers and

New blog post! RT @aclipse: Buskers and Brews: Exploring Seomyeon


What is necessary for comfortable contemporary life is definitely culturally relative.  

Case in point:  for the past year, I have lived in a country where no one uses a clothes dryer because they are such colossal wastes of energy.  Everyone, even fairly wealthy families, hangs up their clothes to dry.   Larger items like blankets are sent out to dry cleaners, an insanely cheap luxury here compared to in the States.

And most of the time, despite resenting the fact that it can take three days for a hoodie to dry completely in the winter or missing soft, fluffy towels, I don’t mind it.  In just a few months, an object I would have considered essential in America became unnecessary here.  

Trust the media

Let me start this blog by saying that I have absolutely no problem with people making money.  I believe that, if the money is gained in a legitimate way, money represents the value created in society.

Let’s look at the following article.

The $4 Million Dollar Teacher: He “earns” $4M.  What does that mean?  Taxable income? Net Income? Revenue on his business?

He works 60 hours per week, which is standard in Korea, with 50 weeks makes a total of 3.000 hours.  To which he quips, “”The harder I work, the more I make” , thanks for the great advice, I am sure all of us are lazy louts. 4.000.000/3.000=$1.334 per hour.  Amazing.  How does he do it?  What is his trick?

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