New School

Here it is, finally, and only 3 1/2 months in! Here’s the low down on my return to the Land of the Morning Calm. When I arrived at the airport, I was under the impression that I was the only one being picked up. Wrong. There were three of us, all on the same flight, and we didn’t even know it. I also assumed that I would be getting my own hotel room. We all know what happens when you assume… The other two girls and I crammed into a tiny hotel room with only two beds and an exorbitant amount of luggage. For a week. We got to know each other REALLY well really quickly. On the upside, there were sandwiches and drinks waiting for us after our long journey.  The next morning at breakfast, I was again surprised to find that there were 12 new teachers, as I had been told there would only be a couple of new teachers. Obviously something was lost in translation. After what seemed like forever (a week) of mind numbing training and sharing cramped quarters with strangers, I was finally able to move into my new place. It is much smaller than last year, but also much nicer. A post on that matter later. And if we’re being real, probably MUCH later.

Now for the school itself: It is MUCH bigger than my last school. There are 20 foreign teachers (as opposed to five last year). And we all get along pretty well. I knew that out of that many teachers I would easily find friends, but I genuinely like ALL of my coworkers this year. The same cannot be said for last year. And there are men. This is partially lost on me in that I am no longer single, but is still appreciated as working in an all female environment can get a little catty. My boss this year is not terrifying. And he speaks English. He’s actually very friendly and generous and I genuinely enjoy working for him. I feel much more appreciated this year than last. The hours are better. I get paid on time. I get paid more. I have my own classroom that I can decorate, which I’m pretty sure I did an awesome job of, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. You can check out the pics down below. Last year I had to haul materials from class to class which was a pain because if you forgot something you had to rush to the teachers’ room and hurry back before the kids staged a coupe. This year, everything is at my fingertips. Last year my school had three helpers for the whole school. This school has one helper per class. This is particularly beneficial if someone has an accident, gets sick, or is trying to convey something that I don’t understand. Which is not to say that my ajumma can then relay what is happening to me, her English is pretty mediocre, but at least she can take care of it. Plus, she’s really awesome and nice to me (shout out to Miss Rosa!). I only teach two classes, plus three one on one lessons. This is great in that the older students tend to be more difficult to handle, and I don’t have to deal with them as much. But a downfall is that my kids are so little that I rarely get those little Konglish nuggets of hilarity to share with you all. I expect this year’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things” will be decidedly less funny than last year’s. I apologize in advance and will try and make my kids funnier. But I make no promises. My coteacher is a superstar and amazing and I love her. She mostly just lets me do my own thing and only comes to me if there is a problem. Which is the way I like it. I don’t know what I’m going to do when she goes on maternity leave. Probably die.

There aren’t many downfalls. The biggest one is that I don’t enjoy my kids as much this year, which is really sad for me. I loved my kids so much last year that I nearly stayed at a school I hated. This year, I love my school but my kids are a royal pain in the ass. Which is not to say that I don’t absolutely adore them on an individual level, but as a group they are exceedingly difficult. I’m not sure if it is partially due to the fact that they are from more affluent families. Seriously, these kids’ wardrobes are more expensive than mine. One kid uses Chanel lipstick as her “play” makeup. My biggest problem is that they just don’t listen. Ever. I have to repeat myself a million times and by the end of the day I’m at the end of my rope. I’m constantly trying new methods to get them to listen better, but nothing seems to work. So if you have any suggestions, please feel free to share!

Also,  I am in a new location this year. I said fairwell to Jeonju’s small town ways and hello to the big city. I live in a relatively affluent part of Seoul, right next to Gangnam. Yes, of Gangnam Style fame. There is a beautiful lake a few blocks away that my friends and I hang out at and sometimes go running (read: walking) at. On the lake is a small amusement park called Lotte World. Kind of like a poor man’s Disneyland. A very poor man. But that’s another post for another day. I live in between two subway stops and am so glad to have such easy access to it. Thanks to a subway app called Jihachul (Korean for subway), I am a subway pro and am venturing to parts of Seoul I’d previously never heard of. If you’re in Seoul or spend a lot of time there and don’t have this app yet, download it, like, yesterday. My area’s so fancy, it even has garbage cans. I know what you’re thinking, “Megan, garbage cans are not fancy nor are they notable.” In America that is true, dear friends, but I am not in America. Last year I did not once see a garbage can on the streets of Jeonju. People just threw their trash on the ground and this was totally acceptable. My inner Girl Scout had a difficult time with this method of garbage disposal, and I often carried my garbage in my purse until I got home. This year, garbage cans abound! Just kidding. They’re still hard to come by. But they exist. I have photographic evidence of it. Anywho, that it my new situation in a nutshell. I promise to update you guys with my exciting adventures more frequently than I have been (my mom said I have to).

I just have to tell you about my day…

I know, I know. I made promises about posts and have neglected to keep them. But let’s be real for a minute, by now you’ve surely grown accustomed to the fact that I seldom do anything in a timely manner. At any rate, rest assured that they are in the works. I have several posts to knock out before my aunt and sister get here in a couple of weeks. Then I’ll have a whole other slew to procrastinate on. For now, I’m going to write a post unlike any other that I have ever written. I am just going to tell you about my day. Because as days go, it was pretty epic (as I’m sure anyone who is my friend on Facebook has already gathered from my incessant posts today). But this. needs. to. be. shared. My first student to arrive today, Ian, walked in and informed me that Annie (whose birthday was today) looked like a princess. I said, “Wow. That is fantastic.” Clearly he could sense that I was not yet fully awake and feigning interest, so he replied, “No. Like a REAL princess.” I wasn’t sure what that meant. Would there be red carpets and fanfare? One never knows with Annie, who celebrates her birthday everyday during play time. All I could say was, “Oh my.” Several minutes later Annie waltzed in. Dressed like a bride. A tiny, little, 6-year-old bride. With gloves and a veil. I kid you not. Scroll down to the picture if you don’t believe me. Then she said, “Miss Megan, look at this!” She proceeded to to twirl in her dress while coming to a seat on the ground with her dress puffed out all around her. Like she was freaking Cinderella. I was in awe of this child. Actually, I am often in awe of this child. She continued to swan about the room until class started. During the restroom break before class started, Ruby stuck my finger in her mouth. In retaliation, I wiped my salivated on finger on her face. She proceeded to make me hit myself in my own boob. Well played, kid. But watch out, I’m gunning for you… The next two classes passed pretty uneventfully (unless you count their adorable rendition of Friday by Rebecca Black). Then it was time for board games. Yes, board games is an actual class at my school. Sounds awesome, right? Not so much. Mostly they just fight and I referee. At any rate, we were sitting on the mat playing Jenga. Last time this happened, one of the kids started rubbing my back. This time I managed to trick them into thinking it was an awesome fun thing to do, so they spent the entire period taking turns rubbing my back. During the course of this epic back rub, one of my students, Jay ( I’m just not really sure how this kid is going to be able to function in society. I adore him. But he’s…interesting.)  turns to me and says, out of the blue, “Kiss a fellow.” I think this stems from something I said in passing a million years ago. (This is why I love this kid. He can’t use silverware, but he can remember an offhand remark from ages ago.) Then another student’s eyes lit up and he said, “Miss Megan kiss SO fellow.” This is Konglish for Miss Megan kisses a lot of fellows. Then he leaned over and kissed my chest. Before I could recover from the assault on my “jijis”, I looked over and Annie had pulled up her dress and down her underwear and was showing 2 other students her promised land. Right about the time I got that situation shut down, it was time for lunch. And not a moment too soon. After lunch was play time. Halfway through playtime I looked over and Jay was lying on the floor with his arm over his face. I looked at him and said, “Are you taking a nap?” He replied, very dramatically, “No. I am die.” And then I proceeded to die. After lunch we had a review period where they spent most of the time coloring activity sheets. One the rare occasion that this happens, I usually put on some Disney tunes and we chit chat while we color. During this period, Henny (I know, I know.) looked at me and said, “Miss Megan! Look at this!” (Her coloring.) I responded, “That’s amazing!” Julia asked, “What is amazing?” I said, “It means very good.” She said, “Miss Megan, you are amazing.” Preach. Then Ian, who likes to pull a Gilbert Gottfried face, started doing Darth Vader impressions and saying in a deep voice, “No! I am your father!” Except I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know who Darth Vader is and thinks he made it up. Then they all started calling each other muffs. Which is apparently short for muffin. I don’t even know. Don’t you wish you spent every day with 12 6-year-olds (which really means 5-years-old Western age) whose primary language is not the one you speak?

Ian's Gilbert Gottfried face.

Ian’s Gilbert Gottfried face.

Annie the birthday bride.

Annie the birthday bride.

Jay: No. I am die.

Jay: No. I am die.