I’ve now been calling Korea my home for over a month!!!! Last Saturday was the official one-month mark, and more than I ever thought could possibly happen in one month certainly has!! This month has been full of good things, a few challenges, a lot of change, and sometimes, just plain old confusion!!!!
However, I guess that’s to be expected. After all, the culture, customs, and language are all still very new to me. The language barrier is bound to cause at least some confusion at times. But one thing’s for sure – I have a lot to learn about this country! Good thing I still have 11 months left to work at it some more!
Since my last update, I’ve watched my first Korean basketball and football (soccer) games, celebrated my birthday in another country for the first time in my life, been paid to scare kids in a haunted house on Halloween (yes, you read that right!), and ate the best fried chicken I think I’ve ever had anywhere! Two weeks ago, the school I work at also moved to another location in a nearby neighbourhood, so we are now sharing our workspace with another school. That also meant starting over in a way for me. It was as if I had a second “first” day of teaching in Korea! It’s been a busy month!
The new school, called Kids Doctor, is on the second floor of an office building, and has basically turned a big office suite into a school, with classrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a gym (playroom for the kids). So although we now share the school space, JM is still separate from Kids Doctor, in that I still have the same teaching schedule, teach the same students, have the same director, and work with the same teachers. The main difference is the new location, which is about a 20-minute bus ride away from my apartment, and the fact that the school is laid out differently. Just as I was starting to learn (and remember!) where everything was kept at my first school – supplies, resources, workbooks, etc., here I am learning all over again! As they say, I guess nothing stays the same forever!
It’s been quite an eventful couple of weeks for everyone involved in the move I think, and was certainly another adjustment for me! Kids Doctor is a Korean school, so their students are taught in Korean, whereas the students attending JM are taught in English, even by my Korean co-workers. I also suddenly have about 10 more Korean teachers from Kids Doctor to try to get to know, and even more new students to meet! Everyday I run into more students I’ve never seen before. Sometimes, the really little ones (3 years old) will just wander into my classroom and stare at me for a few minutes, until I say “hello!” and smile at them. Then they usually get scared and run away without saying anything. Hahaha. There are at least as many Kindergarten students attending Kids Doctor as there are at JM, if not more, which means instead of 25 children running around, playing and screaming, there are probably over 50!!! And I thought my first school was loud at times!!!! Obviously, I had no idea what I was talking about! However, I’ve finished my second week there already, so I’m sure I will settle in more as I get more comfortable and get to know my way around.
In other news, my 23rd birthday was a very special one! I don’t think my first birthday spent away from home and in another country could have been much better! Not only did I happen to get to carve a pumpkin for the kids at school, but I got TWO BIRTHDAY CAKES!!! I couldn’t believe it!
My co-workers found out it was my birthday halfway through the school day, and at the end of the day, my director surprised me with a delicious cake topped with fresh fruit! All of my co-workers, some of the students who were still waiting to be picked up, and some of the teachers from Kids Doctor all had a little birthday party for me and celebrated with me!
The director of Kids Doctor even gave me a gift even though I had only met her for the first time the day before! I was thrilled! Later on, I met some friends for a nice birthday dinner of Hungarian stew and rice, and was presented with my second birthday cake of the night!! Needless to say, I went home that night stuffed full of cake and feeling very lucky!
Halloween was another day to remember in Korea! Much to my surprise, I didn’t have to teach a single class all day! JM had Halloween parties for the kids all day, and all of the Kindergarten kids dressed up to come to school. Most of the little girls were one of the Disney princesses, with Snow White taking the crown!!
I’ve never seen so many Snow Whites all in one room in my life! There must have been close to 15 of them wandering around school that day!! It was quite a sight! Some of the boys dressed as Superheroes, and there was even a Woody and a Buzz Lightyear! I couldn’t believe it! I spent the day watching the kids play Halloween games, watching Halloween cartoons, handing out candy to adorable trick-or-treaters from both schools, and being a very scary ghost (dressed in plain clothes!) in the haunted house that my co-workers constructed!!! In fact, I played my part so well that I even made one of the little girls cry!!!! She was so terrified that she burst into tears and ran out screaming!!! What a terrible teacher I am! I had no idea I could be so scary! I felt bad for her. 😦
Another great day in Busan! I’m sure there will be many more surprises to come!