Week 4, Tuesday

The back hugging fourth grade girl insisted on it again and then LIFTED me off the ground. What is Korea feeding its children…

I had fun torturing, I mean teaching, the third graders. One wanted to play “I will pretend to give this to you then hold on to it” and I’m too old to play that so I made him answer “how old are you” which… he couldn’t. Mild embarrassment is the best discipline tool for disruptive kids!

I saw Strong Girl and Weak Boy three times today so my mission is secretly depositing nuggets of English on them.

One of the fifth grade girls kept calling me “handsome” as I waited outside the classroom door during break. Confused, I finally explained to her in Korean that men are usually “handsome” (Korean also makes this distinction) and she ran giggling down the hall way, already aware, as I shouted “Ya….!”

The most surprising part of my Korean school is how LOUD it is. And if I look out the window during fifth grade break I can see those lovable fools climbing upright on the monkey bars.

Culture Note: In Korean elementary schools, students have 10 minute breaks between classes and almost an hour for lunch and they can go from class to class without a teacher; they can play in the field outside or go to their homeroom class or as it often seems run around the hallways screaming and play fighting each other. Teachers don’t bat an eye. I’m really amazed and inspired by the amount of freedom they have, it seems to keep their energy levels high throughout the day.

En route to lunch some third grade girls wanted to high five hand hold again (when will I learn). I nudged one towards a pink wall and pretended I couldn’t see her in her pink shirt. Her posse thought that was hilarious.

On my way out of Korean class tonight I heard 4A class members talking in English. I introduced myself and walked with one older man towards the metro station. We shook hands which is a custom I haven’t experienced in quite some time!

He’s lived here four years, has worked as an engineer in oil and gas doing contract work, and most important is a Florida Gator. Gator nation way to go, I see y’all everywhere! The man said he doesn’t get to practice much and I barely resisted telling him that I have 250 tiny eager teachers… in fact today I notified my third graders in Korean that we have a sub since the other teacher had her baby. 3-2 is now calling me a liar: “teacher you CAN speak Korean”. So please put on my resume that my Korean is third grade approved.

My coteacher called the local community center so I may have another Asia Time gym registration story for you in the coming weeks. I’m also looking into dance classes, hiking groups, boxing classes, and skating lessons. But also… RIP to my bank account.

Tomorrow I have my weekly friend dinner: Friday I finally return to my old campus to have dinner with my favorite Thai, and Saturday is dedicated to support of a new Kpop group.

Next month there is a holiday and I’m deciding between local (Busan, Jeonju, Gyeongju) or Taiwan (soup dumplings, boba) or China (Shanghai, Chinese kiddos, hostel friend).

I ended the day at a local neighborhood bar I spotted a few weeks ago. It is actually the perfect kind of bar: quiet Sam Smith music, limited seating, good lighting, patrons who keep to themselves (There were four other men in the bar and not a single one bothered me, I am so truly amazed and thankful).

What did I do? My Korean homework.

The bartender even helped me when I asked. Unfortunately I was tricked by the fancy pants menu and my own idiocy into thinking that a Guinness was only a dollar (“wow what a bargain!!”) when in fact it was $10. (I have fully evolved, I drink real beer now. Be proud of me.) Before I revealed my Korean the bartender used all his English words on me.: “Hello! Thank you!” After the reveal, I received a customary bow when leaving. Level unlocked.

I have to return, on a budget, especially now that I know the bartender will help me with my homework.

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