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Today was so shit it was pretty much bordering on hysterically funny. A crew from the Korean TV station EBS was shooting what I originally thought was footage for a kid’s TV show, but later found out was actually a commercial. We had to run through scripts of a lesson (which in no way resembled an actual lesson) and act it out with the kids. This took place during my “break” time, which I don’t get paid for to begin with, and which I’d been planning to use to prepare for the afternoon tests. And, you know, it’s funny, but I don’t recall ever consenting – or even being asked – to appear in Wonderland promotional material.

I then had to test all my elementary students in the afternoon. They test them every month but this was my first one, and it was pretty depressing, because a lot of the lower-level kids absolutely bombed out. I knew they would – they can barely string a sentence together, let alone recall and discuss a story we read several weeks ago – but I was hoping this would lead to the school acknowledging the kids were working on material too difficult for them, and adjust the syllabus accordingly. Nope. Less than an hour later I was sitting in the office (at 7.00 pm) writing next month’s lesson plan, which centred around an even more difficult textbook. The administration doesn’t give a shit about what level the students are actually at, and whether they’re learning or not – they only care about moving up to the next number in the line of textbooks, to show the parents that their child is “progressing.” (And this isn’t my opinion. This is what the head teacher said, grumpier and more exhausted than ever.) I’m not sure how they explain the 0/50 score the kids are getting on the monthly tests. Maybe they don’t show them.

Whatever. I’m not going to waste time tring to figure out how Korea’s rigid Confucianism further complicates the problems already present in private education. Today has only strengthened my resolve to get the fuck out of Wonderland. I came home to find that the washing machine was still broken and ALL my drains are blocked. On the bright side, the bathroom no longer smells like human shit – it’s the kitchen that does that now.

Again, I’m sure you will not judge me too harshly when I repeat my fervent desire to GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE.

But to where? I’m sorely tempted to accept Georgie’s travel companion status and fly to the U.K. the second my first paycheck clears. But then I’d just be sitting around in London for five weeks until Mike arrives in early September. That’s too short a period of time to find a decent job, but plenty long enough to chew into my savings. Chris is also talking about flying up from Australia and meeting up with the three of us in Paris in early October. Few things make me happier than the prospect of getting drunk under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower
(Hemingway-style) with three of my favourite people in the world.

But then what? We can spend even more money tagging along with Mike’s itinerary around Europe (Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Egypt) and then return to London, probably flat broke already – and half a world away from home. Or me and Chris can let Mike do his thing, and go back to London with Georgie after Paris, mooch off her for a bit longer and maybe try to find jobs and save money in the U.K… which, correct me if I’m wrong, has been swallowed whole by the recession and is experiencing record unemployment and high cost of living – yet somehow still keeps the pound stronger than the Aussie dollar.

Ironically, this is the good time. This is the time when things are so bad that they can only get better, when everything is possible, when all paths branch off into the future and I can venture down any one I please. This is what Korea was like back in April – before I learned the hilarious truth that life is never so bad it can’t get worse!

Chris: let’s just go to London and see what happens. Maybe we’ll end up broke, maybe we won’t. Either way we’ll have a good time, see some interesting shit, and seize the only opportunity we may ever have to hang out with our friends in Europe. Afterwards we’ll become itinerant workers like George and Lennie or the lesbians from Dicebox, blowing wherever the cruel wind of a crippling financial meltdown blows us! LIVE THE DREAM!

Or we could come back to Perth and save a bit more and start planning our huge RTW trip. But that wouldn’t be quite as… impulsive,would it?

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July 2009