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).