Thursday, April 15, 2010

Insert Witty Title Header Here

Now, when I signed up for this job they told me that my room was part of the package, that I would not be paying for a place to stay mainly because in order to get a place to stay here you have to fork over a truckload of cash.  When I read the "Teach English in Korea" recruitment website, they said that the apartment would be up to Western standards.  Well, that was a bit...optimistic on their part or they don't know Western standards.  My bathroom and shower to speak and I find my apartment to severely lack kitchen area.  But, I'm patient and lord knows I don't need lots of space to live by myself.  I can handle this part, but what was icing on the cake is that I live next to a dump.

Yes, that's right, I live next to an area where they cart all of their recyclables, from cardboard to metal, sort through them, and put them on trucks.  It makes my walk to the subway station very scenic.  What's cool though, is that there are several old ladies who work at the dump.  Now, in America, when our old people decide that they don't want to just sit in retirement and re-join the workforce, we place them in Walmart and give them a brochure to hand out to people or just let them smile and welcome customers. The most strenuous thing we'll make grandma do is bake cookies.
Welcome to Walmart!  Would you like some oatmeal cookies?

In Korea, they find that Mega Mart greeter is a job for the weak and instead take their legions of old people and put them to work carting large amounts of cardboard back and forth from businesses to the dump or working at train stations sorting the trash for recyclables.  My boss' son calls it "Korean power".  There's two old ladies that I know of.  One looks like she wants to claim my soul so that she can make a buck recycling it, and the other one is really nice.  Just last week or so, she went up to me, yelled out "Hey!" and then "Hello!" and gave me a high five.  It was awesome.  Koreans are all about hospitality, and it's easy to get along with them.  

As some of you may have guessed, while I did say I was taking this month off, that doesn't mean I've totally been doing nothing.  In fact, I think it would be better if I ease myself back into "work mode" by just doing lighter stuff and gradually working myself back up to the pace I normally go at.  I've written a schedule to budget my time after work so I'm not just cruising YouTube or emailing a friend, and I also started to run in the morning.  What prompted me to do this? Well, in one of my classes I sat down and made a loud groaning noise as I heaved my enormous mass onto my chair.  The kid next to me said in Korean "Was that difficult?  Is it because your butt is too big?"  She's 7, God bless her.  If that wasn't a wake up call I don't know what is. I went home and checked my weight: 210 lbs of not muscle.  That is absolutely unacceptable.  I am concentrating on aerobic activity but I also do pushups because I have chicken arms.  I've actually been staying fairly committed to my running schedule so far.  I ran/walked 2.5 miles this morning, and was able to stay at a good 6.5 mph for 10 minutes or so which is way more than I could say when I got here.  Weight loss wars is going to start soon so we'll see if that helps motivate me to not be so big.

By the way, as for the schedule I constructed, it is different than what I normally do.  See, I can be very rigid, especially with myself, but I went for a different approach.  When I was like...7 or so my mom bought me a 5-600 page encyclopedia for kids.  I mean this thing made a telephone book look like "Hop on Pop".  I can say with pride that I read almost all of it.  See, my mom got it as a reference in case I wanted to look things up, which I initially did, but then I just started sifting through it to find interesting stuff, and of course there were tons of things.  I read stuff about other countries, about the World Wars, about Insects and Fireworks and Knights, and after reading one thing after another, I finished most of the book (I skipped the boring stuff like sewing and kites).  I learned a ton from that book, it made everything up to high school a snap.  The reason I thought back on this is because I'm trying to figure out how I learn.  I honestly feel that each person has their own learning style, and I think the way we learned as children is more akin to our natural learning style because we haven't had a lifetime of public education to train us differently, so I felt when I made my new schedule I should model it to fit me rather than have it try to mold me into something I'm not.  What I mean by that, is that instead of partitioning off set times to focus on certain things, like "20 minutes on Joseki" and "30 minutes on Pro game X and Y" I instead took larger blocks of time and just devoted  them to Go.

For 2 hours, I can study anything I want as long as it's related to Go and not YouTube or Starcraft etc.  If I feel like I want to go over the same pro game for 2 hours, great.  If I want to spend the entire time on tsumego, that works.  As long as it pertains to Go, I can study any book I have or go online and gather games to analyze.  Just like the encyclopedia, one interesting topic will lead me to read another topic that I may not have otherwise known or had interest in, and then I'll start doing that.  The goal is that it keeps my interest level high which increases the rate of absorption, instead of me slugging through boredom because I'm not looking at things I want and instead trying to force strict discipline on a mind that wants to run through the field and find whatever is there.   What also helps greatly is telling myself that I don't have to do it.  Normally, I would pressure myself and tell myself that I had to study from the time I got home until I slept, but again, my mind isn't there yet.  Sure it's fun but I also have to set aside time for cooking, winding down after work, and reading, so Go has to stay in its place.

We'll see if it works. comments