It’s been 12 days since I’ve been in Korea and I’m starting to form a vague semblance of a life. This is an extremely different type of travel than I have ever experienced. I am not romping around with my two best friends as I did in South Africa. This isn’t a vacation or a mission trip. I have been working full time since day two. And the rest of the time is spent learning to survive.
Despite all the English private schools I haven’t encountered any adults who speak English except for my supervisors at Kid’s College. Not even the doctors! It is humbling.
My daily English conversation exists between me and five year-olds.
” Ms. Sabannateacha!” they sing-song and grin.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in love with every single one of them. Pure innocence and happiness plods into my room each day, sits on the carpet at my feet, raises tiny little fists and says ” I am heeeere!”
We then proceed with a brief discussion of the weather and our daily recount: “Yesterday was….Wednesday! Today is…Thursday! Tomorrow will be…Friday!” (Oh, thank God)
This is my first time teaching kindergarten and I am learning everyday. More importantly it’s my first time teaching ESL and that has been the real challenge. Yesterday I made three kids cry. THREE! Each time I have to reevaluate and wonder what happened. Were they misbehaving or did they just not understand? It’s a really fine line and easy to mix up. I can’t get frustrated and let my tone get too harsh. Teaching requires an eternal reservoir of patience, even more so with the little ones, and even more so with the little ones whose first language isn’t English.
I am getting used to the boogers and the wiggles, the falling asleep after lunch time, the occasional crying for no apparent reason. It’s a good gig. Tiring, yes, but I love it.
After kindy I teach three different Elementary classes- which leaves me working till 7 at night sometimes. I even got a Master’s class and was offered a raise. The older kids are so well behaved and smart, it’s a pleasure teaching them as well.
At night I come home to my cold little apartment for some wine and netflix. I am okay at being on my own. But I miss the things I used to come home to. Right now this feels less of big adventure and more of a…..I don’t know. Like I said, it’s different.
But I’m optimistic. The warmer weather and a paycheck will really change things for me. I’ll get to see more of Korea, the cherry blossoms. I’ll get out of this apartment and down to the park to grade papers and soak up the sun. I’ll get a bike and a mattress pad. I’ll be closer to seeing Ry.
I’m making better friends with the couples, because I stopped caring about being a third wheel. They’re good people. I’m supposed to go to a battle of the bands in Seoul with them this weekend. I’m sure I’ll be writing to you soon.
P.S. Today my sweater fell off my shoulder a bit and my elementary kids starting gasping and pointing. “What?” I ask them. They stare big-eyed. “What!? What is it?” I start padding myself down. No one’s saying anything. “There!” a little girl yells. “What? Where?! IS IT A SPIDER?” I ask, on the verge of an arachnid inducing meltdown. They can tell I’m panicking. I hear another little gasp but still no one is saying anything. I beg them to tell me what’s going on.
It takes us a while before we come to an understanding that there is no spider or anything actually on me but that my little shoulder show was shocking them. -____-