March 4

I have returned to boring, standard dates as titles until the school year actually, legitimately starts and kids have their butts in chairs.

The work day was uneventful save for the single big goal I accomplished: I finished registering to start the US teaching license program.

Wiping desks, vacuuming, videochatting with mom for two hours with a brief interruption by the IT lady, boring lunch and Netflix, then an entire afternoon wrestling with this registration.

It took only an HOUR to finish registering my temporary teacher’s license with the Florida Department of Education. It would have helped if the website didn’t refresh itself twice before I tried to hit submit.

Then I thought I had finally made it out of the woods but before TeacherReady gives me access to unit 1, I had to submit my mentor teacher’s information.

Mentor teacher? Right now?

I nervously went back and forth: S would be the most comfortable for me but she won’t have time as a homeroom teacher; I don’t have E’s contact info; C would be the most appropriate choice since we share a classroom but would she be willing?

It turns out, she is happy to help! I think this will also aid our professional relationship because she sees that I am serious about teaching. She at first said “I’m not sure I’m qualified but I’d like to help”. Then I found out she has eleven years of experience and a Master’s. Impostor syndrome is real, my friends.

I’m still waiting on the program to give me access to unit 1 which I plan to crush in as little time as possible.

This also means I can officially put “Teaching License (in progress)” on my resume which means I may land a better contract than I expected for next year! At the very least I’ll be extremely qualified for other public schools.

My aim right now is public school in a more rural area but an in-progress license can open the door to better private academies like English kindergarten or even some more obscure places like language centers or private schools. The time for job searching is not quite here.

More importantly, I finally met my language partner from a language exchange app. Busan Boy and I have been messaging back and forth for a week or two. Easily, like old friends. We finally made plans to eat 닭백숙 (chicken rice porridge) near a train stop in middle ground.

We couldn’t find the restaurant and he had to call for assistance to the owner. And once we made it to the two table place, we had to wait. The both of us sat on a strange bench and decided to face the wall so as not to stare directly into the eyes of the patrons, even though it would have sped them along.

It turns out the “bench” we were sitting on was actually… A small table. We apologized profusely to the owner for our transgression.

We sat at the bar and other diners seemed a bit confused by this pair. For me? It was like eating with someone I’ve known for some time and not strange at all. I updated him on the recent behavior of the strange office staff and I found out he has family in my US hometown. Fate??

He finally convinced me to try coin karaoke and en route I pouted at him to teach me curse words and Busan dialect. He stopped after a few: “your accent is too good, this is too believable”. We also exchanged some North Korean slang because it’s adorable. His impression of Seoul accent is possibly the best thing I’ve ever heard: “뭐 가고 있니~?”

At coin karaoke he started us off with Frank Sinatra song.

Well.

I learned nearly immediately that he is a phenomenal singer. As soon as this song was over I said “f*** you!” And laughed at him for having such a clear motive for wanting to go to coin karaoke. And now he had to be saddled with my terrible singing.

We can’t all be great singers, Brad!

But it turns out that my friend J was right: coin karaoke is incredibly stress relieving and after you’re finished I really felt like I had done a sauna session.

I got 99% singing No Scrubs scrubs and we cracked up singing Country Road, BLACKPINK, and Backstreet Boys. We tried to honor his old Texan college roommate by finding a song, any song, about tractors. While Lonely Island was featured, alas: not one song about farm equipment.

Karaoke (noraebang in Korean) is also a fantastic way to force me to practice reading Korean quickly as I try to sing along/wrap along. I did learn some new lyrics from one of my all-time favorite K-pop songs “Ma Boy” by SISTAR19.

On our way back to the station he arranged me in front of a shop window, put his hand on his chin, and said “I think you’re too tall for that”. The hanbok in the window was easily 6 inches shorter than me. But that’s not going to step me from renting one, going to the palace, and having a photo shoot this spring!

Busan Boy and I are exactly the same brand of fun. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to meet someone who just likes to have fun regardless of how embarrassing it can be.

A part of me wonders if other Busan boys are also like this: less hyper competitive than the Seoul business boys, more easygoing, more fun.

And it doesn’t need to be said but I’ll tell you anyway:

This Busan Boy is very easy on the eyes. To the point I want to take him around and show people. “Look at this bone structure!”

I don’t know his relationship status or orientation or situation and wouldn’t presume to know! Regardless I look forward to hanging out again and crushing him at karaoke.

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