Week 6, Tuesday

I left at 630AM to get to the gym at 7AM. I finally got my locker and figured out the gym set up. Embrace the culture!

The women’s locker room is exactly that: people are nakedly showering and drying their hair. I took a shower in a room that lacks curtains and then blew dry my hair in near nudity while also asking an older lady where the toilets were (outside the locker rooms and down a long hallway). She insisted on showing me the location herself and also gave me a cookie. Positive reinforcement? I approve. For as much as the US encourages skimpy bathing suits it has a long way to go coming to terms with nudity as natural.

The new (new) English teacher has arrived. She lived in Portland for 16 years and her two grown sons remain there. But she’s been back in Korea since 2006 so I find myself tailoring my English (as per usual).

She’s a bit stricter, her previous school was not as low level and probably… had calmer students. Honestly if this is the equivalent US Title 1 school I can’t even imagine how good the affluent level schools are… is it possible they are like the one from Boys over Flowers (Japanese-manga-adapted Kdrama about rich high school students)??

After class she had everyone sit with their eyes closed and listen to some calm music. A boy in 3-2 shared a conspiratorial glance with me at the unexpected song choice, boys’ church choir “Sanctus” in Latin, before I reminded him that the teacher wanted everyone’s eyes closed. During lunch I found out her husband is a pastor and she moved to the US to do church work which explains the music selection.

The 3-3 boy who reminds me so much of my brother at that age stopped on the stairs and waved happily to me. I’m trying not to dote on him but he’s such a good kid and tries so hard in class, even though it’s a bit harder for him. He and another female student also snuck behind me and moved when I moved so I shot my arms out behind me and caught them.

My 4-2 girl who’s best in the class by far told me “today I am happy. I go to the moon!”
Do you mean “over the moon?”

“Ah yes. My American teacher taught me!” Very curious about this private academy teacher since those jobs are notoriously unstable, often because the owner runs out of money then shuts down the school. And in Korea your teaching visa is tied to your school…

Later two girls I don’t recognize said hello. I told one
“예뻐요. 원피스 좋아요” Your dress is pretty, I like it.
(The Korean word for dress is the English word for one piece, please understand my Konglish struggles).

The girls didn’t respond but I heard them whispering and turned around:

“2학년?” Second grade?

“1학년” no, first grade.

By then I had reached the teacher’s office and said goodbye. They said a shy “bye” as the door closed. Will I become famous among the first graders? I can only hope.

I saw my third graders en route to the metro: one set of twins (I have several) and their friend. The friend kept trying to get their attention to show that the teacher was walking behind them. When they finally all noticed I asked:

“Hello. 집에 가요?” Are you going home?

“집에 가요. 학원에 가요.” I’m going home and they’re going to an after school academy.

“영어 학원?” English academy?

“수학원” Math.

“아. 열심히 공부하세요! Bye!” Ah. Study hard!

“Bye!”


Korean class bent my mind but we had a different teacher and I liked her approach. My military teacher friend also invited me to come out with his friends (“foreigners and Koreans!”) on Halloween. Glad I can spend my favorite holiday with a more mature crowd that knows 1. Hook and 2. Zuko and 3. has friends who run their own bars in west Seoul.

Tomorrow as our fourth graders are on a field trip, my co-teacher suggested we have our own tea party. She’ll bring the coffee and I’ll bring snacks ^^ I was thinking today during our fourth grade class that our class chemistry together is quite good: we all have a fun time and don’t mind embarrassing ourselves. And both of us are a lot less strict than the new new teacher who is my co-teacher for third and fifth grade. But I just roll with the punches.

Thursday is both a holiday and another typhoon which means everywhere worth visiting will be closed. Fingers crossed that the weather is mild!

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