Week 12, Monday

I’ve been feeling burned out the last several weeks due to illness and my new dust allergy diagnosis (China burns coal in the winter and Korea absorbs all the pollution). But today I feel restored! My internet has been down since Friday and S and the landlady don’t seem in a hurry to fix it but have promised to “call the company” (I have no idea who pays for the internet or even who the provider is): so I’ve been hanging out at a 24hr coffee shop since this evening.

Today my outfit (red coat, THE hat, plaid scarf) was met with mixed criticism:

Guitar teacher: you look like Santa Claus

Grade 4-1 boys: grandma!

Grade 4 girls: 너무 예뻐요 (so pretty)

Grade 5 girls: wow pretty!

G: I worked with another foreign teacher who liked this style of hat. I bought one for her, one for me, on extra. Do you want it for Christmas? [yes!]

S: is that a muffler? (apparently muffler means winter scarf? can winter Americans confirm this? I’ve never heard muffler refer to anything other than the tailpipe of a car.)

I created incentive for grade 5 to do their Willy Wonka presentations well next week by shaking the bag of candy mom sent. “Winners get candy from my mom!” G had the class say “thanks, mom” so mom got a shoutout.

Grade 5 also had their reading and speaking test today. Strong Girl made desperate eye contact with me: “No.”

“Yes.”

“No!”

“Yes! You can do it!”

And she did! I gave her an A. Most of 5-3 got an A. Very proud!

Clever Girl stopped by between classes to give G milk. She told me about a “very famous American song” that I thought I recognized–Nelly, Ride Wit Me– but she had no idea what I was talking about. “it’s 2002, by Anne Marie. Very famous”. Okay, sure.

I searched it on G’s computer. Of course, the American singer was featured on Warner KOREA and I find it funny that my students think a white girl famous in Korea must also be famous in America. To be fair, to me, the song DOES sample Nelly’s original track but I don’t think a ten year old Korean would know that.

G was mostly scandalized by the woman’s crop top but added that as her sons were growing up in America they liked seeing girls in their breezy summer clothes. “Ah that’s why they stayed in America then?” We had a laugh.

Fourth grade was SO STINKING cute today. I found a silly song about “how much is it” and they’ve all started to dance along. I helped one girl by puppeteering her arms. She told me to do that to the boy next to her which I did. He said I should puppeteer Seungkwan Jr who said absolutely not. Okay, fair. I pulled the hood up of one boy in the back and he leaned his head backwards so I patted his head. So cuteeee.

Some of the other boys called me over to show me how “clever” they are: “hahaha teacher look! I wrote the price as 1000000000”.

“Okay, and how much is it?”

“uh…..”.

My precious grade 4 and 5 babies, Ugh I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

The teachers in my area and I finally arranged a dinner, including G’s previous foreign teacher. We’re going to get… burgers. Yas.

****

In the resource room my Korean, English, and Konglish failed me. In search of pocket folders I ran into 5-3 homeroom teacher. I realized I didn’t know the word for folder or pocket (a later google search told me they are just…. Korean pronunciation of them), so I just stumbled along asking if there was “this thing” without “that thing” gesturing to the metal clasp in the file folders.

I ended up with clear files and also the suspicion that Korean office supplies might just be different than American. I have yet to see a three ring binder or hole punch in any store.

The head teacher greeted me in English this morning so I suppose they’ve finally realized my baby Korean level… but this isn’t what I wanted. Keep challenging me! I’ve noticed my spoken Korean has slipped a lot without practice.

Some days I feel like I only say the same three sentences. But I’ve requested a TOPIK study book with my gigantic $40 school budget. And I have half a mind to assign each student a single vocab word which they must quiz me on. Would the teacher approve? I know the kids would love it.

Comic by Itchy Feet.

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