Meatbomb does an AMA on Reddit March 17, 2012 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Meatbomb does an AMA on reddit, about his 20 years teaching English as a Foreign Language.

The more you know about Meatbomb, the more he turns out to be exactly like Meatbomb.
posted by StickyCarpet to MetaFilter-Related at 10:34 AM (65 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

I don't have enough time to read something this length, can someone sum it up for me? Possibly by using a pithy 4 letter acronym?
posted by The Whelk at 10:41 AM on March 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


I can do it in three: LSD.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:43 AM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's doing exactly what I've been trying to get into for two years.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:13 AM on March 17, 2012


What's with the questions on how easy it is to get laid? Is this usual for AMA?
posted by arcticseal at 11:23 AM on March 17, 2012


You're new to reddit, I take it?
posted by The Whelk at 11:25 AM on March 17, 2012 [19 favorites]


This is cool, thanks!
posted by grobstein at 11:27 AM on March 17, 2012


tl;dr.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:44 AM on March 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


No wonder he's been such a prick around here. He's getting grilled over there.
posted by crunchland at 11:46 AM on March 17, 2012


That was a surprisingly compelling read. I'm surprised he would make time for timewasting places like here and Reddit, when he seems like a world citizen's citizen.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:03 PM on March 17, 2012


No wonder he's been such a prick around here. He's getting grilled over there.
posted by crunchland at 11:46 AM on March 17
[+] [!]


Grilled? It seems pretty mild, with some garden variety stupid Internet comments, but on the whole pretty calm and informative.
posted by jayder at 12:14 PM on March 17, 2012


So in one comment that is (currently, at least) fairly close to the top of the thread, Meatbomb says "ONE: Don't want to retype everything, but see above re. "International Schools"... " and because of things like downvoting and threading, I can't figure out how to find the comment he made (apparently earlier?) that he's referencing. I go to reddit rarely, and this is partly why.

Still and all, glad to see him do this - it's very interesting.
posted by rtha at 12:59 PM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Surely Meatbomb is a mod over there, too. He should just delete the mean comments.
posted by winna at 12:59 PM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


you can read the thread sort of chronologically if you sort by old.
posted by nadawi at 1:12 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was really interesting. Thanks for pointing it out, StickyCarpet.
posted by deborah at 1:19 PM on March 17, 2012


So the majority of people interested in being an english teacher abroad are concerned primarily with banging asian chicks, drinking a lot and doing drugs. This is my surprised face.
posted by danny the boy at 1:25 PM on March 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Thanks for linking this. I've known dozens of people who did the ESL thing for a year or two, but never met anyone who had made it a long-term career.
posted by Forktine at 1:34 PM on March 17, 2012


Well after a few hours tending my little campfire over on Reddit this is the strangest refresh I have ever done on the MetaTalk page. Groovy, man, we really are all connected... stardust!!!1
posted by Meatbomb at 1:45 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


So the majority of people interested in being an english teacher abroad are concerned primarily with banging asian chicks, drinking a lot and doing drugs. This is my surprised face.

For some reason, that looks uncannily like your disapproving face.
posted by grobstein at 1:47 PM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


No worries, the modern monocles will pop right back in.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:50 PM on March 17, 2012


That was a surprisingly compelling read. I'm surprised he would make time for timewasting places like here and Reddit, when he seems like a world citizen's citizen.

Please feel free to Google "Gua Musang, Kelantan", BCP. This ain't Pittsburgh we're talking about here. It ain't even Baltimore.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:58 PM on March 17, 2012


I thought about doing an AMA on masturbation, since it's about all I am really and expert on, but then I would have to join reedit.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:09 PM on March 17, 2012


I always confuse Meatbomb with Mutant for some reason. Those ex-pats in Europe, they all look alike.
posted by desjardins at 2:10 PM on March 17, 2012


Wow, Meatbomb. That is...far away from things, isn't it?

I found some awesome photos of the train station, though. It looks like a beautiful place (the region, not just the train station).
posted by rtha at 2:11 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


And by world citizen's citizen, I mean spreading the English language and genetic material.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:14 PM on March 17, 2012


rtha: yep, that street you are seeing there is "downtown".

I would like to be Mutant, or at least kill him and absorb his wealth and charisma. I met him once in Amsterdam, and he is really most excellent.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:15 PM on March 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Upvoted.
posted by jamaro at 2:41 PM on March 17, 2012


Meatbomb I want you to continue your Choose Your Own Adventure.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:58 PM on March 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Meatbomb filmed me in a bathroom once.

Once.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:10 PM on March 17, 2012


Meatbomb is part of the tissue that binds the worlds together.
posted by The Whelk at 3:30 PM on March 17, 2012


I just wish he'd get the damn commune started already.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:50 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would like to be Mutant, or at least kill him and absorb his wealth and charisma.

I'd like to meet you both. Maybe if we get you together again, you can have a Highlander battle.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:56 PM on March 17, 2012


Well, I certainly hope he remembered to plug Woody Harrelson's new movie.
posted by briank at 4:35 PM on March 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Ugh. Disagree with so much of that, esp. the Korea stuff. (Have been in Seoul for a decade as a teacher. Never EFL, but still.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:07 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just wish he'd get the damn commune started already.

Will it have complex marriage and mutual criticism? Because I am so there. Unless there's eugenics.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:28 PM on March 17, 2012


I like Meatbomb and I'd be interested to see how his 20+ years of wandering matches up with my 20+ years of wandering, but I just can't stomach reddit, so my loss.

I'll wait until we get a chance to empty a few bottles together and we can tell each other drunken lies and war stories, the way it's meant to be done.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:31 PM on March 17, 2012


I mailed you a postcard last week, Meatbomb. When I mailed it I wondered how the hell it would ever reach you. Now that I've seen the pictures, I'm even more certain that it won't. But it's cool to consider the possibility.
posted by raisingsand at 7:33 PM on March 17, 2012


The Reddit thread has some excellent advice about teaching EFL, but it's also kind of depressing. All these people looking for TEFL as a way to party in the expat scene, and then complaining why everyone in Korea or wherever seems to hate foreigners.

This is excellent advice, however:

Any degree will help you with being "qualified" for the entry requirements for visas and jobs, but it will not help you IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER to be an effective classroom teacher. As a teacher trainer I've had the chance to observe scores of real teachers in real classrooms, and some of the shittiest lessons I have seen are from people with MA degrees in linguistics.

If you want to learn to teach get a practical teaching cert like the CELTA, and then start putting in time in the classroom. Be reflective, and always on the lookout for opportunities for further development.

EDIT: I would like to qualify that, a degree in education might help you somewhat to be an effective classroom teacher. But a BA in Eng or Ling will just fill you full of theory that you will think needs to be imparted to your EFL students. Learning a language is about practice, not theory.

posted by KokuRyu at 10:11 PM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Totally, I feel like a true citizen of the world now. I am technically Canadian, but really I am not Canadian anymore. I am just this guy, you know?

I absolutely felt this way after living 10 years abroad.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:13 PM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Me too, 17 years overseas and although I may be from the UK, I'm no longer overtly British (except where the u is concerned).
posted by arcticseal at 10:22 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I guess maybe some grammar revision would help the sentence better map reality - it's not that we are from X, we were from X:

I was from Canada, and then I was from Poland, and Central Asia, and Korea. This road had a lot of places along the way to getting right here right now.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:33 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You'll not find me adopting or adapting to Johnny Foreigner's funny ways even after fifteen plus years in China. 落叶归根 and all that. Now, where's me warm beer and whippet?
posted by Abiezer at 10:39 PM on March 17, 2012


Please feel free to Google "Gua Musang, Kelantan", BCP. This ain't Pittsburgh we're talking about here. It ain't even Baltimore.

You've got a 7-11, what are you complaining about?

[in my imagination all convienence stores in Asia are run by immigrant American families who work long hours and have thick accents when speaking the local language. Also the small restaurant owners.]
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:13 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tell Me No Lies: "[in my imagination all convienence stores in Asia are run by immigrant American families who work long hours and have thick accents when speaking the local language. Also the small restaurant owners.]"

"You wanna twinkie? We ain't got no Twinkies. How you doing?"
posted by arcticseal at 1:45 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb's on reddit...no wonder he favorited this comment in his recent "controversial" MetaTalk thread even though I disagreed with him.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:58 AM on March 18, 2012


I thought about doing an AMA on masturbation, since it's about all I am really and expert on

I could write about drinking coffee, reading books, and wasting time. I don't know that I'm proficient enough at masturbation to truly call myself an expert.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:28 AM on March 18, 2012


Ah, then you can not say you are an expert at wasting time either.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:53 AM on March 18, 2012


Meatbomb is pretty fucking awesome. I had the chance to meet him, Mutant and the MeFite formally known as Joust at a meetup in Amsterdam. It was just as amazing as it sounds.
posted by chillmost at 2:35 PM on March 18, 2012


Hence, I can confirm that Meatbomb and Mutant are indeed two separate entities.
posted by chillmost at 2:39 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not on the astral plane.
posted by Splunge at 2:59 PM on March 18, 2012


The TEFL as a way to party thing kills me, since it is what I do (English, not party), and have done for 13 years. I'm home for a visit with family, and last night a friend of my cousins asked me what I did, and found out I'm a) living in Japan, b) teaching English, and c) a white guy married to a Japanese woman. She then congratulated me on being a walking stereotype, which wasn't, I thought, the nicest way to get to know someone.

As for being technically from somewhere, I completely understand it. More recently, an especially this trip, I feel distinctly not-at-home here in Chicago. I'm very clearly out of my comfort zone being back, and although I just got here, I am looking forward, ever so slightly, to that sigh of relief when we get back, set down our bags, and realize that we're home.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:13 PM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ghidorah, I know exactly what you mean. I go back to my home town for a visit and after about 2 days, I'm ready to go postal. I may have grown up there, and had a good childhood to boot, but this place is not me.
We're about to move "home" to Canada, where Mrs. A. is from, but to a different city (Calgary); and there is some trepidation that after 17 (me) and 12 (her) years away that we'll experience some dislocation being "home".
That said, being expatriate has meant that we have the reduced the sheer amount of crap that we have and we are used to home being wherever we are.
posted by arcticseal at 6:35 PM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Exactly my dilemma, arcticseal, still not sure I can pull the trigger on "going home", and lucky that I have another couple years to sort it out. Also lucky that the wife is understanding and open for anything, so backing out at the last minute is always an option.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:03 PM on March 18, 2012


Meatbomb, I moved back to Canada in 2004 after spending 10 years in Japan, and I discovered I knew little about the practical day to day minutia of living in Canada, especially the cost of living. Getting started up here can be expensive. Rents, especially in Victoria and Vancouver, can be expensive, but so are taxes and utilities. Gas. Bread. Milk. Dental. All that stuff.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:32 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I'll never be going back to Canada to stay, unless I get wildly rich and include it in a seasonal-home globehopping lifestyle somehow. I feel mildly sad about that, sometimes, but I've pretty much decided that it doesn't matter where I live, as long as I've got my fierce but lovely wife by my side and some of the creature comforts to which I've become accustomed.

I never would have chosen Korea, but that's the way it worked out, and looking back, I'm pretty cool with it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:09 PM on March 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was amazed that Calgary property pricing is catching up fast with those in Vancouver ("home" when we're not overseas). We're fortunate enough to have bought an apartment there before the market went nuts otherwise we wouldn't be able to get on the ladder these days.

I had an introduction into the practical applications of normal living when we lived in Texas, so not too worried about that, but you do get awfully insulated from these day to day requirements when overseas - particularly when you work for a company that takes care of a lot of the hassles for you like organising visas etc.
posted by arcticseal at 9:12 PM on March 18, 2012


A colleague and a good friend of my
mine tried to warn me, saying that the further past thirty people get, the harder it is to go home and start any kind of career. I've know people who've left Japan after eight or ten years, and for the most part, they didn't go back to a better situation. Sales jobs, or retail, lower standard of living. Some come back, but the they have to start again from ground zero in language schools and such.

I never intended to stay as long as I have. I went planning to pay off my loans and go home. Every year it was "I'll go home next year." Then I met my wife. We talked about living in the States, but it would be hard for her, whereas I'm used to Japan, and even the parts I'm not a fan of, I've got proof I can handle it. Ifwe moved home, and she decided she just couldn't do it, there we'd be, starting over from zero again.

The other thing tht got to me, living in Japan, we've been able to buy a house. Looking at what was available if I came back, I sincerely doubt I'd ever be in a position to do that at home.

It can be absolutely amazing to live in a foreign country, but it can been really, really hard to leave.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:32 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, returning to Canada has been incredibly difficult. We're only here because we want to make sure our kids can get into university in Canada, but with the way the education system is going, I'm tempted to just move back to Japan. Both my wife and I are more engaged with life there.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:05 PM on March 18, 2012


What if you never belonged anywhere in the way people feel "this is where I came from"? My dad was an exec for a big export company, and his job would be to open markets in foreign countries. As a result, he moved our family from country to country living in each 2-5 years. And our vacations - extensive, 3 month long ones - every year were spent traveling the world. When I finally got back to Sweden I spent a handful of years there, just long enough to get an accelerated degree at the uni, and I jumped ship on my own. Went to Paris and worked as a fashion photographer for two years, and from there, to San Francisco. I've now lived in the U.S. for over 20 years, though broken up by a the odd year here and there living in Europe working on some film project.

I can honestly say, that I have zero feeling of "this is my place". I feel equally at home pretty much everywhere, and in my mind, even places I've never been to, none feel "alien" upon reflection - which is another way of saying, home is where I am at the moment. There is of course, a period of adjustment and learning a new place, but it never feels "foreign". This included India, where I lived between the ages of 5 and 11.

I've gone through many school systems, and so, no culture feels somehow "my very own". The best way I can describe it is if you grew up speaking several languages. None is your primordial one. You switch from one to the other. There is no "going back to the original one".

And so, I can't really identify with the sentiment of an expat, because I never feel like an expat. To feel that, you must identify a country as that of your origin. Yes, I have an ethnic identity, but it's purely external to me. I never give it any thought. I never feel "Swedish".

I kinda think this is where things are going. One day, people will lose the feeling of "I'm from X", other than X being where you are at that very moment. Isn't that the logical end of globalism?
posted by VikingSword at 11:18 PM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


VikingSword, agreed. I call myself an expat simply because it's a convenient term to use. Home is where we are, and the good thing about that is that we get to choose where we call home. We're very lucky in that respect, being able to move if we want to; I'm well aware that this opportunity isn't available to others.
posted by arcticseal at 1:19 AM on March 19, 2012


And so, I can't really identify with the sentiment of an expat, because I never feel like an expat. To feel that, you must identify a country as that of your origin. Yes, I have an ethnic identity, but it's purely external to me. I never give it any thought. I never feel "Swedish".

I've never been able to identify as an "expat" either, but it has more to do with the connotations of privilege as contrasted to the word "immigrant". For instance, my Norwegian great-grandfather was a carpenter who got free passage on the boat he'd helped build to sail to New York, after which he went to Manitoba (Canada), then 20 years later to Oregon (USA), and he visited Norway occasionally – no one called him an "expat" or a "global traveller", he was an "immigrant". In many ways his reality was not much different from today's "expat": he travelled thanks to his job, and his skills were easily transferrable to different parts of the world. His wife, my great-grandmother, was originally from Lofoten and yet lived in a few different Norwegian towns, going as far south as the outskirts of Oslo in the end, working as a house- and farmworker (tjenestepige) before also sailing to New York in order to move to Manitoba and later Oregon with her husband.

I hear the voice of my Canadian-born grandfather when I read (and I also feel it) about how difficult it can be to return to your place of origin. He so often said the same things. Interestingly, for him, he considered Norway his "true home" – his parents were members of a close-knit Norwegian community in Manitoba, most of them originally from Lofoten, and his mother was always telling him how gorgeous Lofoten was, so much so that he told me the same stories as I grew up, 60 years later. I do identify with Oregon as my home, but it has more to do with friends and shared experiences there; likewise, I've never even set foot in Norway (not yet! someday, I hope), and yet I can't pretend to have no connection to it. My grandfather spoke Norwegian with me and told me folktales he related to the Lofoten countryside and photos of it that my great-grandfather took. On the other hand, my two Irish grandparents and one Dutch-lineage grandparent rarely spoke of their home countries, so I've never felt more than an historical attachment to them.

It is indeed hard to identify with "nationality" as such. I'm a lot more prone to describe myself as a Franco-Oregonian who spent a couple years in Finland than as an American. (Having dual nationality now also helps put that across with the more literally-minded people you occasionally meet.) Practically no one knows where Oregon is or what type of culture it has, but eh :)

It's always interesting to read y'all's experiences in TEFL; I nearly went the same route, but got into translations after my second year as an English teacher. It worked out well for me; now I moonlight as a translator/writer, my day job being as a software test expert... which I got thanks to translating! (Also, those annoying French people some of those Reddit commenters talk about? They're annoying to everyone, even people who speak French. The proper French way to react to that is to look them in the eye and sigh as if deeply fatigued by their closed-mindedness. Voilà. :o) )
posted by fraula at 1:59 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It took me maybe five years of living in Japan to reach the point where home equalled Japan and not America. On the other hand, home has always been where I keep my stuff. My apartment, where I lived for six years, was very much home to me, and I still miss Makuharihongo and the area around it, even though our house is only three stations away. We've been in our house for three years now, and that was home from day one. Home is essentially where I'm near, in order, my wife, our cats, my kitchen, and my friends. Seeing some friends yesterday in Chicago, where we just picked up after a year as if I'd been gone a week definitely has made me feel more at ease here.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:07 AM on March 19, 2012


Fraula, as to the term expat, I don't use it to really describe myself. To me expat is more for the people working for banks or trading companies who make tons of money, allowing themselves to live in a foreign city, but able to spend enough to avoid contact with the culture; international schools for the kids, food imported from home (as opposed to dedicating a small suitcase to bringing back hard to find stuff, ahem), and such. When I think expat, I don't see myself. I see people making two to five times what I make. But that's probably just my personal take on the word.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:14 AM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


And so, I can't really identify with the sentiment of an expat, because I never feel like an expat. To feel that, you must identify a country as that of your origin. Yes, I have an ethnic identity, but it's purely external to me. I never give it any thought. I never feel "Swedish".

To me an expat is someone who lives a long time in a foreign country and stubbornly refuses to accept that they like it enough to actually make it their home.

As such, "expats" are generally annoying and embarrassing to those of us who are immigrants in our adopted countries.
posted by three blind mice at 5:14 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess I'd fit into the conventional expat mould then. I've moved with work and it has allowed us a certain amount of financial freedom, but we've felt at home in the 5 countries (I've worked in about 9 other countries). We've always made the effort to fit in, have local friends and learnt the language with varying degrees of success (Mrs A speaks about 7 languages, some 4-5 with decent fluency beyond English/French, I speak 2 with reasonable fluency and can order food in about 3 more).

I'm British, call Canada home, although I haven't lived there for 12 years and we also consider Malaysia our second home since we have family there. Sometimes you don't like the country you're living in, as my MIL says, sometimes you must go where you can fill your rice bowl.

Apologies if my lifestyle annoys you, broad brushes offend me too.
posted by arcticseal at 6:48 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The difference in expat perspective is pretty shocking. I'm friends with a banking exec who ran the Asia operations of a couple of banks and investment funds out of Japan in the 90s and the early part of the last decade.

He had actually graduated with a PhD from Tokyo University, and his wife is Japanese, so he spoke and wrote Japanese fluently. He lived with his family for a time in Japan, but it was the expat life, notably sending his son to a French international school. He could not understand why I would want to spend my life in rural Japan and send my kids to a Japanese school, and while I understood and respected his point of view, he had a very different connection to the country than I did.

I've also worked with Embassy employees quite a bit - the ones who are lifers on the executive track. They very rarely learn the local language, and live in their own little bubble while in-country.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:31 PM on March 19, 2012


« Older BTW: I am a cat   |   Anyone for fantasy baseball? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments