Week 3, Wednesday

Chuseok Holiday begins now!

Today I only had fourth grade. I watched over the kids as they drew sports posters while small groups were taken outside for their speaking test.

4-1 was incredibly invested in my answer to “teacher do you like or hate Japan??” (I pretended to lose all my Korean knowledge at this point but then my sweeper friend rephrased in English). And then he asked me to translate “boycott”.

Seungkwan Junior (I will learn their names… eventually) told him “no we have to make a SPORTS poster.” I followed up with “Japan is not a sport, you’re making SPORT posters.” (For reference: anti-Japan sentiment is high in Korea now and many people are boycotting Japanese products. I don’t have the knowledge or Korean level to have a dialogue about this so ”Japan is not a sport!” Is all I got).

The student with the American mother is known for her artistic skills and she proved it with a fantastic poster.

4-2 was a crying, fighting mess as usual. My rowdiest girl threw an eraser across the room so I took it from the catching student. She begged me to have it back but no can do. If you can throw this across the room you certainly don’t need it.

But I have some allies and the kids eventually calmed down. They were very impressed by my doodling skills and asked me to draw badminton and basketballs as a reference.

4-3 had great questions “teacher how do you spell ‘come on’” and one student taught me the Korean word for graffiti.

It’s actually becoming more convenient for me and the students the more I learn Korean because they can ask questions in Korean and I can answer in English. You might ask, how could you? What betrayal! But ten year olds just don’t have the proficiency to ask complex questions in English and I see no problem with helping translate or spell. And I get to learn Korean at an elementary level with very patient and small free teachers.

My favorite phrase that they use all the time is “무슨 소리야…” which is “what the heck are you even saying” [lit: what sound is that].

During lunch I tried Chuseok rice cake which I’ve seen everywhere but never bought. Because our lunch crew is mostly not English teachers I feel like anytime I interject with English I’m somehow disturbing the flow. The part time guitar teacher speaks some English, which he did after the music teacher introduced us LOL (this is ABS DO YOU KNOW HER), and I felt coursing relief to have someone else to talk with in English. He said something in Korean about last year that I didn’t understand and he hit me with “my family. Long time no see”.

The crew did all have a laugh as I learned the Korean for drip coffee maker (“du-rip-oh”) and coffee maker (“co-pee-make-oh”). Konglish is always two steps ahead of me.

We had a final tea time with my pregnant coteacher who left for 3 months of maternity leave today ㅠㅠ we ate macaroons, a gift from her husband to share, and I made them laugh with terrible aegyo impressions. Every week tea time conversation gets a little easier.

When the coteacher and I left for the immigration appointment (yay for leaving early, boo for leaving early to go to immigration) a few sixth graders said hello. She commented “That sixth grader in pink smiled so big and lovely when she said hello, I think she loves you”.

En route to immigration my coteacher and I had a great car ride with some life chats:
“I asked the previous teacher what was most difficult about Korean life. She said always being the foreigner. I hope that changes. Korea should educate the people, especially as more interracial children are born here.”
“When you are more settled, can I invite you to my home?”
“The other teacher spoke Korean well after two years. But you’re at the same level so I’m surprised.” (She patted my arm at this, which means I am officially IN).

The immigration office impressed me by looking like every other immigration office in the world, a feat I didn’t think Asia could pull off. I was one of the few foreign teachers there with a Korean. Very thankful!

I handed my packet of documents to the straight faced worker who then told us some confusing information about paying the fee into an atm outside of the office and making a copy. Um okay? We did that and returned only to find another man at our assigned worker’s booth. The worker kicked him out so we could finish. But: Asia time, no worries.

When my coteacher picked me up initially on my very first day I was worried— other foreign teachers were getting picked up from school, oops the drop point, by native teachers with bedazzled signs or a crew. But I found out later that my coteacher came and helped even though she still had surgery stitches in. Today she told me “you shouldn’t have to do this alone. The Korean teacher should help you.” So I didn’t need a bedazzled sign because my coworkers have bedazzled hearts (I’ll see myself out).

The night ended with lamb pizza and sour beer and Oreo cheesecake. Tomorrow the adventure of exploring Seoul as a ghost town begins.

(The plan is actually me going to Daiso and buying more organizing bins and eating breakfast at whatever place is open).

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