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Expat Expertise: Streets and the City

Words by Rob Ouwehand of Roboseyo

Last year, my wife and I got a car. While driving in North America can be a pleasure of life, Canada’s open road is nothing like what you’ll find in Korea’s cities. Year by year, Korea lingers at the top of the lists for highest car accident and pedestrian fatality rates in the OECD, and anybody who’s taken a taxi ride knows Korea’s city traffic can get wooly. However, these harrowing roadways can be navigated. From my own time driving, here are some pointers for surviving the streets without sacrificing your sanity.

Awareness
The most important, possibly life-preserving rule, is simply this: what the cars around you are doing is more important than the lights, lines and signs on the road—by a huge degree. Whether that’s lane-weaving cars in the city or red-light-runners in the country who think nobody’s looking, the road signs are good, but awareness of your surroundings is better.

Ask first
If you plan to drive in the city, ask first, “Do I actually need to drive?” Between traffic, parking scarcity and prices, and Korean cities’ ever-improving public transit systems, often a subway or bus is easier, less stressful, and even faster. If your destination is close to a busy city center, or it’s rush hour, public transit might be a better choice. If your destination is farther from the city center than you are, driving becomes a viable option.

Watch out
Until all the world’s idiot drivers have stickers on their cars, you should drive defensively around the far right lanes. Buses, taxis, delivery bikes and trucks, cart-pulling seniors and a full complement of wet and dry goods vendors either dodge in and out of this lane—or even set up shop. Cars with tinted windows, especially imports, deserve an extra eyeball, too: they drive with a greater sense of entitlement than other drivers, and are most likely to cut you off, or block you from changing lanes. Meanwhile, bikers come out of nowhere and ignore any rule of the road that won’t help them deliver their pizza: use your mirrors a lot to stay aware of all four corners of your car. Taxi and bus drivers might be aggressive, but they’re also usually very experienced, for what it’s worth.

Turn signals
Like business or dating culture, driving also follows different logic in different countries, and what works well in one country might fail completely elsewhere.

Read the rest of this article at 10Mag.com


RAK 2011 Bellydancing Festival

Raising funds for a couple of Korean charitable organizations, Raising Awareness in Korea – AKA the World Belly Dance Day Fundraiser – was a success on both fronts. Head on down for plenty of pictures.

If you were a performer, please check out chrisbacke.zenfolio.com for more pictures – check your e-mail for the access code. If you didn’t receive a message, please e-mail me at chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail.com.


RESPITE

“Life is like a jungle sometimes…it makes me wonder…how I keep from going under”

Slick Rick put it well. Sometimes the urban routine can get you down. The metaphorical jungle that is a city can be a maelstrom. It can be a cold hard bitch at times (sorry ladies). I have been calling Seoul home for nearly a year, and in that time have found very little respite from the concrete. Most every weekend is spent navigating city streets by bicycle, or wandering clustered markets taking picutres. Thus all the more reason why I so enjoyed a recent trip to explore the nearby coast and mountains.


Woobang Tower Land School Trip

We had the great opportunity to go to Wooband Tower Land (우방타워랜드) on a school trip with all the students of my school. The park itself made me reminiscent of Busch Gardens back in the States, a European-styled theme park.  Obviously the central site is the tower itself which rises 312 meters above the park.I’m hoping to do the SkyJump one day, a 123 meters high (403.6 ft) jump with a 10 seconds fall. But that’s for next time.


Taxi Please: Tips for Easy Riding

Coming to Seoul from Chicago, I felt that I was equipped with the basics for urban survival. I could use public transportation with ease, large crowds of people did not make me nervous and I was accustomed to simple daily tasks taking extra effort because city dwelling demands it. Little did I know, that something as common as taking a taxi would prove to be challenging in Korea.


Sports Day Triumph (in drag)

As a kid in elementary school I always looked forward to Track and Field day. For one whole day classes were cancelled and all the students were allowed to display their athletic talent (or lack thereof) in a series of olympic-like events of their choosing. While some kids(usually the same fatties that hated P.E. class) pissed and moaned about having to spend the entire day pitted against their peers in physical competition for nothing more than the chance to earn a shitty ribbon, I took it quite seriously and wanted nothing more than to dominate and bring home as many shiny blue first place ribbons as possible.


Moran Market, Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do

Last weekend I spent a day wandering around the infamous Moran Market in Seongnam. Exploring the outdoor/indoor labyrinths that are traditional Korean markets is a major pastime of mine; especially with a camera in tow. Documenting the last gasps of these traditional marketplaces when more and more Koreans are preferring the sterile, air-conditioned comforts of large department stores and international supermarkets, has become a quaint obsession of mine.


Remembering Chris Surridge


Aaron Jolly, Phil Maher, Paul Preibisch, & Reese Bottesini
share their memories of Chris Surridge.

Recorded at the
2011 Kotesol National Conference
KAIST University
Daejeon, Korea
May 14, 2011


Chris SurridgeMore information about Chris and
The Chris Surridge Foundation at http://bit.ly/chrissurridge

Chris' Online Legacy

Share your memories of Chris by commenting below and/or leaving a YouTube video response

 

 



Jason Renshaw @ KOTESOL 2011 National Conference


 

Jason RenshawKotesol.org

Jason Renshaw @
KOTESOL's 2011 National Conference
KAIST University
Daejeon, Korea
May 14, 2011


Links from the Jasonsphere
Plenary: Materials development for language learning - the next ten years


Chat log from the online audience

Download mp3 file of the presentation 

Uploading Soon: Presentation Slides

A Discussion with Jason
Topics: His imminent step back from ELT, onine teaching strategies, reflections on being back in Korea, & what lies ahead...


ARKpopPodcast - Episode 10 – My Brown Eyed Soul


82:27 minutes (37.75 MB)

 

Dame Dr. Foxy Brown picked up a virus while overseas for her younger brother’s graduation, but we’re back anyway, fighting through the sound of my beleaguered voice. We hope you’re not thrown off by the new sound but rest assured that it will not last.


 

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