Sep 19, 2012

Crazy kids, Sweet Potatoes, and Long Walks

Oh, look! A real update! It's been a few days. I suppose that's for a variety of reasons.

One is that I've been sick for the last week and a half or so. I had a sore throat last week, following getting caught in a freezing monsoon at 2am over the previous weekend. Then, after an epic night out on Saturday, that sore throat devolved into something a bit more serious, involving difficulty breathing, a nasty cough, and major voice loss. Fear not, I'm going to the doctor tomorrow and I'm already on the mend.

But the real reason I haven't written a real update is just because I'm finally settling into a routine. I wake up at 7 every morning (Nightteam, if you're reading this: I KNOW, RIGHT?!), check the New York Times online, then go to school. I teach between 4 and 6 hours every day, then spend the rest of the time planning lessons.

Ok, fine, I spend about half of the rest of the time planning lessons, and half of the time reading American news online.

Ok, ok, fine, I'm on Facebook. There. I said it. Happy?

Some of the most entertaining parts of my day (aside from my wacko students) are trying to decipher the mangled google translation of the office memos I get, and sitting through staff meetings. We have one every Monday. It's my weekly "pretend there's a reason for me to be here" session. I sit and eat whatever snacks they had (last time it was boiled sweet potatoes that people were just eating straight), and listen for 20-40 minutes of the principal and vice-principal speak in Korean. I pretend that I understand, or I make it up. Sometimes I think I actually catch a word they're saying, but then I tell myself they couldn't possibly talk about ramen as much as I think they do.

Most of the lessons I teach go really smoothly. However, my 3rd graders are slowly descending into madness. They're worse with each passing week.  It doesn't help that I've been operating at about 30% normal vocal capacity this week. They simply ignored my feeble, crackly bleats of "eyes on me, please," "5-4-3-2-1-shhhh" "Han-pyo, stop hitting Joo-Min." and "open your books, please."  Coteacher had to step in the other day and give them a stern lecture. I don't know what she said, but their little faces got all sad. I was grinning inside.

Not all my kids are little devils, though. My 5th graders are absolute angels and the 4th graders keep me entertained. They're studying present progressive verbs right now (verb+ing)  and every time we say the word "dancing" they all yell, "GANGNAM STYLE!!!" and do the hand gestures in their seat.

On a related note, yes, that song is even bigger here than in the states. By at least one order of magnitude, I would imagine. 

Tonight I went for a nice long walk around my neighborhood. One thing I miss about Boston is that if you set off early enough, you can walk just about anywhere.  I got home from work today, and it was one of those evenings that is just too perfect to stay inside. I'm finally comfortable enough with the layout of the area around me (read: I now have Google Maps on my phone), so I hit the road. Few things calm me down like a long walk with no destination. It was great. I found a really cute little neighborhood just blocks away from my building. I had no idea it was there. It's full of cafes and restaurants, it has a branch of my bank, and I think I even spotted a dog cafe! Stay tuned.

I also walked to the next subway station, which gave me a better idea of the distances between things in Seoul. I think on Friday I'm going to try to walk home from school. It's only 2 subway stops away.

Now,  I'm home trying to decide what to do for dinner. I ordered kimchi jjigae last night, but I'm running a bit low on funds (t-minus 5 days till payday!!!) so I'll probably just do scrambled eggs and toast. I know. My life as an expat is full of thrills and adventure.

I'll leave you with one final note: I paid 8 dollars for a stick of butter the other day. Bright side: It's about 4 times the size of a normal stick of butter.

Oh, Korea.

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