On Wednesday I was sick as a dog. I went to school with a deep cough and enough snot to empty out your freshly opened tissue box. I didn’t call in sick because well, that’s not really a thing here. My school allows three sick days and if you take them they insist on taking you to the doctors themselves. You better be dead or dying because your boss will be waiting outside to hear the diagnosis. They don’t have substitutes I guess. My school is a private academy. It’s a business. We fudge grades so parents will be happy and rush through advanced arts and crafts projects so there’s time for the photo op at the end. I’m not kidding.
“Look we’re making waffles!” ( I made waffles. They’re 5 years old for goodness sake.)
“Look we celebrate St. Patty’s day!” (They gave each kid a green balloon and a shamrock headband.)
“Look we made Easter Baskets!” ( 7 oragami baskets in 20 minutes. The kids put the stickers on.)
“Look at the pretty white English teacher working with your kids!”
Now, I’m not singing my own praises, it’s widely known Korean’s are lookists and your chances of getting a job increase ten-fold if you’re attractive. South Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world. It’s a common high school graduation gift for most girls. It’s why they ask for an intro video and multiple photos with your application. Glad I made the cut but now hundreds of photos of me posing with each individual child are on some website somewhere for the Korean parents to comment on. Yikes.
Since it’s such an expensive private school, the main thing is keeping the parents happy. Us teachers have little input. The Korean staff and administration handle it all, and then speak to us if there is a problem. “Why didn’t you sign the kid’s homework?”
“Because he didn’t do it?”
“Okay but then he did it afterwards, you should just sign.”
Whenever my kids fail a test they retest with the Korean helper teachers the next day and come back with one hundreds. I mean really?
ANYWAYS there I am snotting all over myself at the start of my nine hour school day (yes, nine), maintaining little-to-no control over my classes and being too tired to care, when my boss asks to see me.
Now, I’ve mentioned a couple of times my apartment is pretty rough. Originally I was resigned to that fact but when I eventually got to see all of my coworkers apartments I realized I REALLY got the short stick. I knew that having a nice place to come home to would improve my general outlook and mental health, so I asked to be moved.
I asked a couple of weeks ago and so when she wanted to speak with me I knew it would probably be about that. And it was.
She admitted in broken English that my apartment was very old and needed repairs. And then she tried very hard to explain why it would not be possible for me to switch. Or that if I really wanted to it would cost somewhere around five hundred dollars.
I just thought to myself, that money would be better spent towards a flight home. Then I went back to my kindy kids, handed out crayons, sat down and stared at absolutely nothing while trying not to cry. Only 7 hours of the day left.