How goes it, gang? We’ve just started our winter break schedule – all the kids are off from their regular schools for an entire month and need to be kept occupied, so we’ve got morning classes in addition to our usual afternoon classes. So I’ve been really ridiculously tired, crashing into bed every night when I get home from work. I haven’t been killed by the kindergardeners yet, which is probably a good sign. When they’re engaged in what we’re doing and not wrestling each other all over the classroom or screaming their heads off, I like them quite a bit. But when James and Fred are engaged in a kickfight, Emily and Nicole are coloring on the table, Kelly and Elly and Alice are chattering about what I think might be a television show, and Mark and Donna are the only ones paying attention, it’s insane

Then I have some additional one-on-one classes, with my older students. Princess Flora is my 10 am girl, and I’m getting pretty good results when I dispense with the board-writing and recitation and let her braid my hair and play with my bracelets during the lesson. She read an entire two pages with only one mistake (on the word “university”, which would stump most English-speaking students, let alone a Korean second-grader) yesterday, so I’m hoping to continue that this week. My 11 am gang are Susie (fourth grader, and pretty smart when she stops being so shy and opens her mouth), Steven (who it is like pulling teeth to get him to even respond, let alone speak and comprehend), and Crystal (who is one of my very favorites and is reading Harry Potter in Korean to me after lessons). I also get Daisy (one of my very-awesome sixth-graders) at 7 pm one day a week for listening comp, which is awesome because it’s music-based, and I let her listen to examples of the music styles the book discusses.

I’m also exploring the city more – been to Beomeo (the nearest subway stop, which is like, six blocks from my house) and up near Suseong Lake. Still haven’t found the Thai place, but I’ve found three more Italian places and a really, really good Japanese place. And to Steve’s everlasting shock when I IMed him about it, I ate an entire roll of sushi and liked it. \o/

More Things for the List!

16) Threatening the four wrestling-obsessed eleven year olds who speak almost no English and wouldn’t pay attention to you even if they did with powerbombs if they don’t stop throwing cookies and spitting coffee at each other only works if you can physically back up the threat. While they don’t frown on corporal punishment (i.e. you won’t get fired for smacking a kid upside the head if he’s being rude), you cannot seriously maim them.

17) Just because your kindergardeners poke your stomach and call you fat doesn’t mean they don’t love you. They will still hug you and smile at you and take goofy pictures of you and give you presents on Christmas. Your size is just a novelty to them.

18 ) Your Korean co-workers will believe, despite any and all protests to the contrary, that any pictures on your computer of the opposite sex is proof that they are your past or current significant other. This is how you inexplicably find yourself having dated Anderson Cooper, Hugh Laurie, Randy Orton, Matt Damon, Stephen Colbert, and John Simm. Clearly, I am doing rather well for myself. 😛

19) Try a little patience. Things move much slower in Korea, whether it’s paperwork or food preparation or traffic patterns. Your coffee is going to take longer than a few seconds. Your transaction at the grocery store is dependent on who the clerk sees walking down the street while he/she’s ringing you up. Green lights may or may not be meant for your particular lane of traffic on any given day. Just chill – the world is going to continue spinning no matter how long you have to wait.

20) No matter where you go in the world, Outback is still overrated.

21) Kindergardeners are scarier than armed soldiers near your apartment, because most likely, the soldiers will not actually hurt you. The soldiers are polite, intelligent, and speak very good English (informing you that they’re just off-duty, waiting for their buddy, who lives down the street). The kindergardeners are shrieking, howling savages – Recess does not lie.

22) The worst possible feeling in the world is being confronted with a crying child who literally cannot tell you why they are crying. This is because they do not have the English words, and furthermore, the “waaaaaah paaaain hurt!” overrides any listening comprehension they have. You are therefore stuck with holding said child on your hip while she calms down and continuing to teach the other seven little monsters who are running around.

23) When the pointing and mime and Konglish have deserted you and you still cannot convey to the woman at the corner store that you want napkins/paper towels, all is not lost. You’ll get a free cookie because she feels bad about not having been able to help.

24) Incidentally enough, they don’t have paper towels in Korea, and napkins are a restaurant-only thing. For everyday eating, they use tissues. This is why you ask your Korean coworkers things before you make yourself look like a nutcase.

25) Yes, pulling out your laptop and playing Kanye West, Britney Spears, Mozart, and Eric Clapton does constitute an actual lesson, in English listening comp classes. Don’t count on it too much, no matter how blindingly awesome it may be.

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