Athletics

February 2010

Hello to everyone in Amherst, and Happy New Year!

Everything over here is going very well. It has already been almost nine months since I enrolled in the military last summer. Time certainly flies. It feels like I've been here only a few months, but the fact I've already served almost half of my entire military service gives me hope that I can be done very quickly. I am very happy that I have to wait only another 16 months before coming back to Amherst!

Although the first few months were filled with an array of difficult and seemingly unreasonable disciplinary regulations, my daily routine these days has improved significantly. I was promoted to become the SEAMAN (a rank with two stripes) from the SEAMAN APPRENTICE (a rank with only a stripe) in December. Since then, I have been allowed to sleep longer, use the internet, play sports, and study for myself. This June, I will be promoted again to become a PETTY OFFICER 3RD CLASS (three stripes). After getting promoted to the PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS (four stripes), I will be able to be discharged from the military service.

Everyone must know this by now, but I was given the order to serve my two years at the R.O.K. Naval Academy, which is about 15 minutes from my house. I wake up every morning at 6:15, 15 minutes before morning roll call, to appreciate a beautiful view of seemingly endless horizons and grandiose battleships stationed across the coastline of the base. All soldiers leave the building to line up in the open space for a morning roll call. We then do morning physical exercises, which is specifically composed by the Korean military, and clean surrounding areas before eating breakfast and reporting for work.

My work remains mostly the same every day. There are 12 English Teaching Assistants here at the Naval Academy. Most of them are just like me, spending much of their academic careers in the United States. Some kids have even finished college already, and they plan to work in the near future. Every day, we collaborate to translate official documents that are related to the Academy, support English professors in their classes, and assist and encourage midshipmen who struggle with English courses.

Although all of these make it sound like I live through a repetition of busy and strenuous days of work, I actually have lots of extra time to do my own things. I have subscribed to TIME magazine, The Economist and several Korean newspapers to keep up with current events.  Also, I have been reading books. The book I most recently read is called "Tokyo Vice," by an American business man who went to Japan to work for a Japanese newspaper company. I strongly recommend it to everyone. In addition, I study various subjects, including economics, calculus, and so on. Currently, I am spending some time looking at the Korean Stock Market.

I am aware that the second semester has begun. I am so jealous of everyone who can attend classes every day. I really miss school and interacting with many valuable friends. I really can't wait to return to Amherst and sing at soccer events like I used to!

Coach Serpone must be beginning to talk about preparing for the next season, and I miss that too!  What a great opportunity 2010 will be for the team.  I would give anything to be there, but I have to return to work now.

Take care,

Jae