Almost 6 months have passed and I can’t say the job has gotten easier since I first started at B–i. (In case someone does a Google search and sees that I’m not completely thrilled about my current occupation, I’ve decided to hide my school’s name). The children are a bit settled. When I say “a bit,” I mean the 5-yr-olds can sit for about 3 minutes without laying on the floor or start rearranging the chairs and the 7-yr-olds can sit and listen and respond to questions for approximately the same – 3 minutes – without someone screaming or running around the classroom or spitting on the floor mat. Teaching is like training monkeys to do the cha-cha at the circus.
Despite my living in Korea for 6 months now, I still feel like a foreigner. Not in a bad, uncomfortable way. More like a reinforcing way that I am 100% American even though I was born in Korea approx. 30 years ago. It is interesting, however, to be completely surrounded by people who look like me. I can completely blend in like a chameleon. By the way, for those who think Asian people look alike, go live in an Asian country for a while. There are all sorts of faces, complexions, eye shapes, head sizes, body sizes, etc. Some Koreans are really dark skinned. Some are super pale. Others have huge heads. It’s fascinating, really.
As far as learning the Korean language, I’ve been slacking on the learning. I have been picking up words and phrases as I go along – mostly from hearing the Korean teachers and kids say things repeatedly and learning the meaning by context (or asking the teachers what it means). Here are some Korean words/phrases I’ve learned and their context (Note: the spelling is my attempt at replicating how they sound phonetically):
- ku-mahn-ay – means “stop” – as in “stop hitting your friend please” (5-yr-olds lack important motor and emotion-management skills and charge at their classmates with tiny fists – I repeat, it’s a circus)
- bahn-der-oh – means “anywhere” or “any way” (I think) as in “you can put the stickers anywhere on the page. yes, anywhere. yes, anywhere. yes, bahn-der-oh – anywhere!!!”
- sih-chil (I haven’t quite mastered the pronunciation of this yet) – means “color” – as in “color, please. Color! (make rapid coloring motion) color, please! (child asks, “sih-chil?”) yes, color!!”
- chu-oh – means “cold” – as in “it’s freakin’ cold out and it’s the end of April!”
Despite missing home and being able to have an hour-lunch break away from “the office” and going to the bank whenever I want rather than having to ask like I’m 16 and need to borrow the car for an hour, springtime in Korea is rather refreshing. The cherry blossoms peaked about 2 weeks ago and sighed in bright green bloom last week. Shrubbery glows with fuschia and red and yellow and whites, and dusk can be really amazing with an awesome orangey-red sun. It almost makes me forget about the circus.