Sunday, March 26, 2017

Two Countries Later--It's about time!

I returned to Okinawa, to the apartment I had so enjoyed before and, by a strange fluke, based on the strangeness of UMUC scheduling, was able to stay put for over a year! Of course, the fact is that the longer a popular professor is in place, the more students will sign up for her classes. It doesn't seem to make much difference to the administration, however. The craziness of moving one English/Writing prof out so you can move another one in, doesn't make any sense to us faculty--financially or professionally--but, in hiring, they sell "the experience." It was really comfortable for me to return to Okinawa and saved on my emotional and physical stress too. My Japanese, however, did not improve one whit. The likelihood of being transferred to Europe destoryed my motivation, I must say!

Lilli and Karl discuss an old flyer
Finally, in August, I was able to relocate in the European division and began teaching in Germany that month. There is much less administrative support in Europe. I'm not sure why. Faculty have formed a closed FB group where they ask each other questions and about all sorts of things--purchasing cars, finding apartments all over Europe, administrative puzzles, and so on. However, I found the lovely apartment I have lived in since September. It is spacious, costs less than 1000€ with the Internet and all utilities included. But, that's not the best thing! Let me introduce you to Lili and Karl, my Vermietere (Landlords). Lili now calls me her "Schwester" (sister). She says she's never had a sister and now she does. They live "oben," above me in a big old farm compound with a courtyard that is already being re-beautified for spring. I am frequently invited up for coffee or even lunches, their big meal of the day. They have made a huge difference in my German since neither of them speaks English. But I also very comfortable here and they have gone out of their way to do many things they know I might like--such as clearing out the picnic area so I can park my car there in the winter. Lili does the cleaning which, she says is her "duty" but I rather think she doesn't trust anyone to clean like she does and, from what I can see, she is right. We live on the main street of a little town near Ramstein and my front door is barely 3 feet from traffic. She cleans the steps, the windows, and the door because the exhaust discoloration makes her crazy!

This month, when I left for a week to visit my mum in Nebraska, Lili said she was sad and lonely. It was too quiet. Generally, when she needs to tell me something, she knocks and immediately says, "Ich komme" as she walks in. That might make some people nuts but I live alone and it's usually fine.

The house is a large, old farmhouse with a courtyard, a huge vegetable garden, a large cellar, a very old stone grain mill, and other out buildings. Unfortunately, Karl was just taken to the hospital tonight and Lilli and I discussed the fact that at 80, he should probably slow down, get someplace smaller. I've never seen Lilli so close to tears. I feel sad for them if it comes to that. They love this place, all the flowers, fruits, berries, vines, vegetables. As you can see, the courtyard is beautiful.
My "granny" car, a good, solid Mercedes,
capable of handling the rigors of the Autobahn.


I am sure some of my friends have questions about my speed on the Autobahn. There are not that many places, where I drive, that the speed is unlimited. When it is, I do about 100 mph, 160 kph in daylight and 140 kph in the dark. There can be absolutely no inattention at that top speed, of course. Approaching slower traffic from behind comes much more quickly. No wonder car inspections here are such a big deal. Older cars like mine must be tested every year to meet German road standards. Good brakes are essential, as are good eyes. My assessment of road safety in Germany is that it is safer than it is probably anywhere else. The safeguards are numerous. The warnings in and around work zones are longer and the space allotted the workers, greater. Speed cameras, not police cars are usually the methods speeders are caught, tickets arriving in the mail. Most can spot the cameras right away but I've never seen even one! It seems to me that of the hour and a quarter it takes me to get to Wiesbaden every working day, only 30 minutes, at the very most, is unregulated for one reason or another and when it is, the speeds are quite a bit slower than in the US.

I returned after hmmm...let's say, several? years (more than 30) to my study of German when I came. I really enjoyed it and managed to quickly remember much I'd lost. After 2 semesters however, I had to take a break. Prepositions and the grammatical rules around them caused a pause. I plan to pick up where I left off in the summer, while I'm in Nürnberg when I'm teaching only 3 days a week. Today, Lilli invited me up for coffee and cake with their long-time friends. I was able to hold my own and realized, I'd learned more than I'd thought, a real accomplishment.

For people who've followed this blog awhile, you will know that I have discussed ideas of service here before. German ideas in this area are similar. I teach business writing sometimes where we talk about "tone" in writing. There are certainly no worries about this in the German culture. Like it, lump it, or forget it! When I first moved in, I had terrible problems with the wireless connection downstairs. My German does not include a bunch of technical words and I was so sure that it was the company's fault if only I could communicate with them what the problems were! However, there is a sweet neighbor who has fairly good English. Even she was swearing before it was over. In the meantime, I was driving to the air base to sit for hours in the cafe lounge where the Internet is stable and reliable, one of the few places I know. The situation between my neighbor and Vodafone became so rancorous that the company just cut off our service entirely (not that I noticed, of course)! It was a month + of calls to the company that produced nothing until finally, they scheduled a technician to come with the dire warning that we would Pay, Pay, Pay if it was not their issue. Imagine their huge surprise when they discovered that they'd given us a router, one they'd purchased from another company, that was not configured for their company! Hmmph!

There are wonderful things too, of course. I went to three Weinachstmarkts, yes three! And drank Gluhwein at each one. There is a medieval one in a castle in Lichtenberg that was a great deal of fun, one in a little town next to ours, and our teeny-tiny cute one a few blocks away. Each one was jam-packed, filled with crafts, food, and music. In Weilerbach, the choral group sang American pop from the 60s-70s, which was a bit of an anomaly.

Yesterday Lilli asked me to go with her to tend the flowers on her mother's grave. The small cemetery is full of carefully tended gardens cut into the middle of the large marble slabs. 

Lilli, tending her mother's grave

  Fasching, like Mardi Gras, only it lasts longer, is a very big deal. In the larger cities, the costumes and parades are elaborate. Cologne, for example is known for their Fasching celebrations. Lilli and Karl attended the local gathering at the Burgerhalle.

At 11:00 pm. 
View at Sunday brunch.

One of my first excursions was a weekend trip to Paris, a little more than 1.5 hours away by train. Since my colleagues had never been, Maria was determined to see everything! After a 12-hour day and, according to my iPhone, 14 flights of stairs, up and down to the Metro, I almost felt ill. The next morning as my colleagues left early for the Louvre, I took my time, made my way to the Louvre for brunch, and enjoyed my coffee right in front of the I. M. Pei pyramid. I finally felt human. We traveled back home in the early evening.

My Paris buddies.
A former colleague from Lithuania, living in Berlin, wanted to take a grand tour of Romanesque monasteries, convents, and churches in Burgundy. She planned the whole trip, chose the B&Bs/Hotels, and we took my car. I was excited about getting to see places that had figured so large in Hildegard of Bingen's correspondence but I wouldn't have thought of wandering around eastern France by myself. Thank goodness for Google maps, without which I would be lost on a daily basis. We made the rounds of the Romanesque Abbeys, monasteries, and cathedrals in the area within about 3 days ending our tour in Strasbourg at the wonderful Gothic cathedral in the center of the city. 
Abbey of Fonténay

After visiting this abbey for awhile, we drove to St. Rémy-Martin to find our B&B. The town is quite small and yet we drove around and around with our GPS telling us we were very close. There was no sign but for the warning of the dog--and there was no dog either. The owners live in Paris and open this guest house on the weekends.

At breakfast we met a charming lady whose English was excellent and had a lovely chat with her at breakfast the next morning.

Dinner that night was in a Michelin-recommended restaurant and, of course, it was excellent!
I forget the name of the place but there was a sign in French

warning us about the dog.

Strasbourg Cathedral

We did get to the huge Cathedral and monastery restoration in Cluny. The restoration work there will be ongoing for a very, very long time. 

Overall, I am enjoying my time in Germany very much including the fact that getting back to the States to see family and friends takes half the time and money it did from Japan. 

I confess that this much has already taken me a week and a half of writing and locating photos. I am going to post this and consider shorter posts, more frequently, in the future....I hope!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Okinawa in the Winter


I arrived back here on the 14th of January, having left Nebraska and the States on the 12th. However, de-icing took so long in Chicago that there was no chance of making the Tokyo connection. By the time we arrived, United's agents were at baggage collection, waiting with our hotel accommodations, meal vouchers, and shuttle bus. The number of Americans returning after the Christmas holidays was more than the number of Okinawan-Japanese. I was so exhausted by that time that as soon as I saw that the tap water was safe to drink, I didn't bother with the meal voucher for dinner. It was time to shower, wash out and start drying some clothing, easier than unpacking and packing for an early flight the next morning. I thought I was rather loaded down, bringing back some teaching materials and a few warm things but that was nothing compared with the solo mom and 2 young children, stroller, bags, luggage.  Her husband had remained in the States for some training and she returned by herself. Together, with two luggage carts and two tiny children we walked about 3/4 mile between terminals in the cold but the sack lunch/breakfast the hotel provided wasn't bad and by the time we arrived in Okinawa,  I was very, very grateful to be home.

It has been cold, rainy, and cloudy since returning. I realize that this is weather most of you would be happy to have but our tropical homes, cement block, are made to be cool, not insulated against the cold. Thus, here I am, attempting to get warm, indoors! The temperature has dipped into the 30s F and frost was reported somewhere on the island. What happened to our tropical island? Is Jamaica this cold?

The term has gone well, despite the constant driving--Mondays and Wednesdays to the south for 45+ minutes or more and Tuesdays and Thursdays up the toll road to the north for about the same length of time though the distance is further. Driving here has it's challenges and can be stressful. I have taken listening to books to help me stay calm. For sure the news wasn't the answer!

I have enjoyed the "only" 2 classes, one of Writing 101 and the other, a writing-literature mid-level class, both small. Over the Christmas break, I asked a friend, a writing specialist prof. to help me get a grip on my marking issues. She did and I can report that for the first weekend in too-many-to-count I have had the time to update this blog and rest. (Thank you Marty!)

Driving on the toll road, most drivers exceed the speed limit by over 20 kph, traveling at 100 kph. However, that is only a bit more than 60 mph. The reason it feels so very unsafe here is that I'm convinced my fellow drivers still believe they are on kamikaze missions. Why else would they zoom in and out of lanes, even when a cautionary sign denoting a construction zone looms? And this has nothing to do with the fact that we drive on the left here. (Because everything else is backwards on the steering column, the "Okinawa Wave" is the windshield wipers going in full sunlight rather than the turn signal. So embarrassing!) I have never seen motorbikes on the toll road but they are endemic to every other road and the rules simply do not apply to them. They thread themselves between fast-moving multiple lanes of heavy traffic so they can be ahead of everyone else when the traffic light turns. Being granted a SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) license includes dire warnings of what happens should you injure or worse, one of these daredevils. Apparently, much more than hospital costs are involved. Any income lost, the amount depending on whether the victim was the sole breadwinner, must be paid and should the victim die, his/her potential lifetime income is included in damages to be paid. So, as annoying as they are, I make sure they have whatever space they want to claim on the road.

Yes, I have been told I will be in Europe beginning on August 1. As most know, it was my first preference though I have had some great experiences here in Japan and Korea and been privileged some sights, sounds, and cultural education I have appreciated. I have no Korean to remember but do have some basic Japanese phrases that have kept me on the right side of polite. Here, in short paragraphs are the things I will miss (and some I won't!)

Japanese politeness
This could actually be a lengthy section if I went into detail about each and every common practice that is considered correct for avoiding the behavior of a cultural clod! I will miss many of these little niceties.

  • Money--The giving and receiving of money, bills, credit cards is a matter of great importance and is only, ever done with both hands. This is tricky for Westerners who are always attempting to carry more than they can hold, never mind attempting to have both hands free. The other challenge is that when approaching the toll booth, with a real person, one must twist in the driver's seat to get both hands out the window at the same time, or at least appear to be trying. This is accompanied, always with a slight head bow, when seated, or torso+head bow when standing. 
  • Driving--Drivers will zoom forward into what will become an obviously blocked lane and then jump the line to get back into the open lane. You must let them. One set of rude behaviors is not repaid with another. Construction zone signs include one with a worker, in hardhat, bowing, as if asking permission for the inconvenience of needing to slow down, block a lane, or whatever else bothers you about the zone.
  • Recycling--Detailed descriptions of exactly what and how each category must be recycled in full-color brochures--are provided tenants. I have heard dreadful stories of Americans having their recycling refused and so it is with some trepidation (and in the dead of night, around midnight) that I take the elevator downstairs to leave my recycling and trash in the little covered area out front that is, otherwise, spic and span. This includes all milk, cream, etc cartons that have been soaked open and laid flat with the plastic spouts trimmed out, tied together in a neat parcel; all paper and boxes bundled together in a parcel and tied with string; #1 plastics in a clear, plastic bag; glass in another clear, plastic bag; cans in another, and burnable trash in a clear bag with red printing denoting the area of the island where it was collected. Unburnable, non-recyclables are put in another plastic bag. Of course, when it is raining, as it has almost every day since January 14th, paper recycling is out of the question. Thus, last Monday evening, with everything prepared, representing several week's worth, I stuffed myself and parcels and bags of "this and that" into the elevator, praying that none of my fellow apartment dwellers, who are so proper, and who would never think of putting the trash out much before the the trucks actually arrive in the early morning, wouldn't see me. 
I will miss the Seoul Arts Center but not kimchee or the smell of it. 

UMUC has created the Collegiate Traveling Faculty in order to be adept and agile, matching faculty to military movements throughout the world. I do not know, really, where I will end up next year. Europe and the chance to attempt more than minimal communication, as well as the opportunity to see my many friends who live there, the lower expense and shorter time of getting back to the States would be great, of course. 

I am apologizing for the lack of photos. I rarely get out but, in 3 weeks, during my week off, I plan to take one of the many tours provided by guides and bus companies that work with the military bases. The reason for that is that my car needs to go back into the shop...again! I've never had so much trouble communicating basic information! More than $700 later, and 3 trips to 2 different mechanics, it is again lurching (or creeping) forward during acceleration. One never knows. It idles so roughly I think it's going to shut down altogether! This time, I'm going to get my brother-in-law to give me the best words he can for describing this issue and send it to a professional translator. The car, a Honda Air-Wave is literally "lost in translation."

I do not apologize that most of the pictures on my phone and computer are those sent to me (or purloined shamelessly off of FaceBook) by my nieces and nephews of their children who are all gorgeous, intelligent, and delightful...of course!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Spring in Seoul, Summer and Fall in Okinawa

Spring in Seoul, Break in the US, and Back to Okinawa...and a Typhoon

Palace musicians, 16th C.
As this post suggests, I have been almost around the world and back since I wrote.  The promised pictures of my peregrinations through South Korea, well, just Seoul and the DMZ and JSA, are below and captioned rather than very much text since I really need to get caught up in a hurry.  Just to orient you to my exact, current location, I am in my old (new, actually) apartment in Okinawa City, waiting out the first typhoon of the season.  This makes my second in one year in this area.  In all the years of living in the tropics growing up I can only remember one direct hit hurricane. The weather these days is certainly extreme!

That was then. Now, we are enjoying mild days in the 70's but strong winds! I have taken to pulling my hair back, military style, having gotten horribly tired of trying to control it or finding it in my face. I guess everyone's gotten tired of it since even the salon likes it.  Of course the "do" is indistinguishable from that of any other military female around here.
Detail of Eaves, Buddhist Temple, Seoul

Lighting Fixture, Buddhist Temple Gift Shop

Geri and the Baby Buddha

Buddhist Temple, Seoul, Front Steps

Panels, Life of The Buddha

Detail, Eaves of The Buddhist Temple

Detail in the Eaves of the Palace Halls

Throne Room 

Ceiling, Palace Throne Room

Palace musicians playing 16th C. traditional instruments.

Royal Casket

Sculpture, Children's game

S. Korean "White House"

Young Women in traditional dress, happy to pose

Main Palace building with a moat?
UN Peacekeepers in the JSA - Joint Security Area, UN, USA, S. Korea, North Korea
North Korean Building, JSA

Standing in the S., Looking to the North

Conference Building, Split, N. and S.

Conference Table, Split, N. & S.

Obviously, the DMZ - De-Militarized Zone. Tunnels from the North into the South have been and are being discovered, regularly

It has taken me many weeks to update this blog! Loading the pictures, organizing them, and the captions...Whine, whine, whine!  I apologize.

Now it is Thanksgiving Week and I am wishing all Americans anywhere a great time of fellowship with friends and family.

I will be back in Nebraska from Dec. 12th-Jan. 12th, visiting mostly with my mum, family, and friends. Our work here is very intense. UMUC gets faculty to sign on and then expects we will be cheerfully accepting of continuous overloads. From a traditional university standpoint, 2 courses at 6 class hours/week in 8 weeks is equal to 4/semester, 16 weeks. My overloads are therefore crushing with so little time  to complete marking that would have been spaced out over 16 weeks and fewer students!

I must say though that my students continue to be a great joy to work with.  I look forward to our times together and respect them so much for the work, class, and family obligations they bear to make better lives for themselves and their children.  Nevertheless, a break will be good! I will remain in Okinawa for the first Spring term, at least.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

A Cruise and Two Friends

It has been awhile since I actually put a blog together.  I had some great pictures and interesting site visits in S,. Korea but could not get the correct photos uploaded here. I will try at my next break.

Thanks to #MTXConnect, I can stay online anywhere in Europe for a very low cost.  Check them out for your next visit. They'll send you a SIM card--thus the blog update.  

I am getting the chance to spend more time and see new places in Europe I hadn't seen before now. Charlie and I added the Prague pre-cruise extension and enjoyed it very much!  HOWEVER--we have have spent 3 days NOT cruising on the Danube. We have been on board but bussed to the first 2 days of the cruise as the Danube is too low for the ship to sail from Nuremberg to Regensbeurg to Passau. This has meant really long bus rides and truncated times for touring. As of today we are (and have been) where we're supposed to be by the 4th day. In 2013 Europe's flooding was only surpassed by an even greater flood in 1501. Now the drought is so awful they've not experienced anything as dry and hot since the late 1800s.

We will continue on to Melk, Vienna, and Budapest and, when I'm not on my iPad, I will include pictures. Charlie and I are having a wonderful time--both on the trip and together.  I will leave Budapest for Berlin to see a friend from LCC days and from there back home to Okinawa and the start of a new term.   

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Winter in Seoul

Christmas Break
Yes, it has been since well before Christmas (October) that I have updated this post. I sent my household things to S. Korea, while I traveled back to the States for the Christmas holidays--3 weeks-- to visit my mother, enjoy family and friends, take care of some medical things, and have a good time in general.  I did! I also needed to fill my nearly-empty suitcases with some winter clothes.  I finished marking, grading, and recording grades on the long trip home and then could look forward to the music and services, and some of the social activities of the season.

Arrival in Seoul, Inchon Airport, and Apartment
I had a weird return schedule since my Christmas break trip had been booked ahead of my new appointment.  Therefore, I had to fly back into Okinawa, spend the night, and fly to Seoul the next day.  In the end, it was a good idea. A van driver picked me up and took me to the Dragon Hill hotel on Yongsan base since it was the weekend.  The R&R at the Dragon Hill was welcome.  It looks quite a bit like a Marriott; I'm sure they're related.  I was very disoriented, not realizing I was in the heart of Seoul and would be living right next to the base, almost.  After a couple of lazy days there and my last look at television for the next 4 months, the local rep picked me up to show me around and help me get my previously mailed household things to the apartment I would rent for my time here.  

To say that I was dismayed is probably an understatement!  But it was clean and that's absolutely critical.  It was also easy to see that the landlord, Mr. Kim, was very accommodating and anxious to please.  The disappointment was in the discovery that my windows are all frosted, there being zero view.  Furthermore, there was a lovely desk and office chair, a kitchen table and 2 chairs and that was it for anywhere to sit, other than on the bed.  But, that was not the worst discovery.  Opening the door, a horrid odor hit us and wafted into the hall!  Yuck.  Mr. Kim was apologetic and over the next several days explained that he couldn't find the source.  However, we eventually discovered that it's coming from the drains, especially in the tub.  Making sure that they're closed unless in use, is the only way to be sure it is tolerable.  I have also left one window open, except when another horrible odor comes in from outside--the smell of sewage!  I wouldn't speak of the whole of Korea but this area of Seoul seems to have a real problem.  There is almost no day on my walk down the hill from the neighborhood and up the next hill to the base that I am not running the gauntlet of garbage piles  in the streets, much of it uncovered.   

There is a huge positive about this place however.  It is small and can be cleaned, top to bottom in an hour and a half.  Also, the university has purchased a recliner that fits in the study room and Mr. Kim brought a side table and lamp so I now have options and a comfortable place to sit when I like.

Because of the military tuition assistance schedule, the first term at UMUC was delayed by one week in Asia, perhaps everywhere, shortening the term from 8 to 7 weeks.  Then, at Osan Air Force Base, the annual exercises were scheduled for the final week of classes further shortening the term to 6 weeks.  The resulting classes were about 4 hours in length requiring some highly creative methods for keeping us all alert, me teaching and them learning.  I was just getting the hang of managing ways to teach within 8-week terms.  My Osan students and I survived in fairly good shape, none the worse for wear in the battle to finish.  I have just completed the 7th week with the Yongsan class and, within 48 hours will have a about 8 days break before Spring II term starts.  While I can extend class times to satisfy the military requirements of face-to-face time, abbreviated schedules have two rather major drawbacks: I have half the number of weekends for marking and worse, students have half the amount of time for study, even less than that given their grinding work schedules.  I think the general attitude of the all-male class in Osan is that they were "cursed" with a half-crazed professor who seemed to race ahead, and then turn around and jerk them forward --a very ragged approach to what should be a solid foundation for future college writing assignments.  Never mind.  We all did our best and, at our final wrap up class, I was presented with one of the nicest expressions of appreciation, this card they'd all signed.
Perhaps it was a consolation card. "See! It wasn't as awful as you thought."  Anyway, I made sure they knew how much I had appreciated their hard work, their willingness to suffer the lengthy classes, the piled-up assignments, and other hardships.

For the Yongsan class, there was a different dynamic altogether--probably the result of the 4 girls in attendance of whom 3 remained by the end.  Even so, there were several in both classes who just couldn't manage and had to drop out.  This represents real difficulty for the young men and women (and even those more mature students) as they have to repay the $600+ for any course that is withdrawn or failed.

Over time, I've realized that my teaching philosophy is not a static document. As I approach what may be the final 15 years of this particular career I have decided that there is nothing more important to me than seeing students succeed.  Curve? I don't believe in it.  I want to teach and if students want to learn, then "let's find a way to work this out so you can be successful" I tell them. I'm way past being naïve about this however.  I've had students this past year who were not motivated and who didn't want to share equally in the process. Given the military system, they can withdraw up until the final week of classes and they usually do, knowing that a half-hearted effort will not be a passing grade.  When the dean questioned my above-average grades I said with a smile, "That is because I'm a good teacher and these students are motivated.  The ones who aren't, who would give you the 'balance' in the grade sheet you want, are already gone."  Overall, however, the S. Korean grades will not be as high as those in Okinawa and I'm not sure why.  I was warned about this from other faculty though many of their dire warnings about work schedule interference and general attitudes and effort were not in evidence.

Culture and The Arts
Cafe Mozart (SAC)

It took me at least 2 weeks to realize that, being in Seoul, there were probably cultural events I should attempt to find.  The search term "concerts" revealed a full calendar of rock concerts but not the orchestral, chamber, or vocal concerts I had hoped.  An "arts calendar" led me to the SAC, the Seoul Arts Center, which has become my home on most Friday evenings.
Italian Restaurant (SAC)
I begin my evening at one of these two restaurants as they are generally quiet and have good food.  Then, I walk around, inside SAC to the galleries and shops, always stopping by the ticket booth to find out what is on offer in the next month.  This Friday I will attend a violin concert in the lovely chamber concert hall, attached to the large hall in the complex.

Sheet Music Store (SAC)
This sheet music shop is one of the most amazing I've ever seen.  It is beautifully organized and has every score one would usually have to order at most other places.  I wanted to buy some music but, there is no longer any need, unfortunately. Still, it was tempting, just because I could.  SAC has a conservatory on its campus as well as an opera theater, the large concert hall below, the chamber concert hall, and one other I've not seen.  I have a ticket for Aïda next month.  Musicals are in Korean but, looking over the soloists for Aïda it's clear it will be in Italian, mercifully. The SPO--Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra is world class!  It has been years since I've heard an orchestra with the kind of range this ensemble has.  I am delighted every time I go by their artistry, the soloists they feature, the guest conductors, the enthusiasm of the audience and the wonderful programming. Since finding the SAC, I must say that the quality of my life has improved tremendously!

Main Lobby of the concert hall.

Manners and Sensibilities
I believe I have established some of the differences between my experiences in Okinawa and Korea.  Other things to note are that while the Japanese demonstrate unfailing politeness, the Koreans are much more aggressive.  For shopkeepers, people at the salon, and some waitstaff in restaurants, it is normal to be accosted and asked directly if one wants more or anything at all.  It seemed to me that the manager of the salon was clearly disappointed on Friday that I hadn't planned to spend the morning and all my cash in his establishment for every service they offer.

Next Week
We have next week off and so tomorrow, I am going to the USO to see what tours I can fit in this coming week amidst preparing for the next two classes, which will run for all 8 weeks this term. For the first time in all my professional life, I have  completed all my grading  with exception of 2 students who are working hard to finish.  I am not under any delusion that I have cracked the code of quick marking however, but rather understand that I had a larger than usual attrition rate this term with 12 in each class.  What a huge difference that makes. 

One tour that is apparently a do-not-miss for historical reasons, is the tour to and of the Demilitarized Zone, the DMZ.  I will go but I am most anxious to see some truly Korean sights and perhaps taste something other than kimchee, a national dish for which I have generated little enthusiasm.  

I will return to the States on the 9th of May, having sent my things on to the next posting, as yet unofficially announced as a return to Okinawa.