Snapshots from the two-month mark
Bloody hell, it’s been two months. I have no idea how this has happened. Basically, Korea continues to be a pretty good time, though the ease of it all compared to my life in China has a tendency to take me aback. Having become used to (amongst other things) regular power cuts, developing infrastructure, pollution so bad I could barely see, and just the constant, unrelenting madness/noise/risk of maiming and death of a major Chinese city, life in my calm, quiet mountain town with my underfloor heating, efficient transport links and high-speed, uncensored internet access makes me feel a little like I’m cheating sometimes. This may well amount to what is commonly known as being contrary, and I’m definitely embracing a lot of the things I missed last year: Seoul’s art scene, a much more accessible and open culture, weekends and proper holidays to name a few. I think after this year I’ll be ready to head somewhere more challenging again, but in the meantime I am basking in the haze of a really Very Nice Time. My job is definitely one of the biggest factors in this, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite moments so far. Let’s begin with this lovely present of hand-made soap bought for me by a co-teacher:
….and segue into this explanation for the lovely present of hand-made soap bought for me by a co-teacher:
Co-teacher: (sidles furtively over clutching stack of papers) Lucy…do you read sheet music?
L: Um…yes actually
Co-teacher: Great, that’s good. Thing is, I told this missionary at my church that I could but I can’t and then she gave me this hymn to translate and set to music except I’ve just done like a word-for-word translation? And I’ve been avoiding her for the last month but I have to see her this Sunday (ie in two days) so if you could just sort of put this into poetic English and set it to this music that would be great OK thanks bye.
One hour later
Co-teacher: (on office messenger): Hi, how’s the translation going? If you could just record yourself singing it when you’re done so that the missionary can hear how it should sound that would be great, OK thanks bye.
This sight greeted me at 8am on a Monday (the kids’ schedule begins at 6am and ends at midnight, with an ‘optional’ extra two hours for final years.):
This mystifying episode occurred a couple of weeks ago:
L: *Doing hair in toilets after early-morning cycle commute*
Student: (enters with toothbrush in mouth, stops short, gasps, stares from hairspray to hair and back again) Mournfully: Teacherrrrr…I…I didn’t know.
NB: I have no idea what she did not know about. It has been mooted that she may have thought I was using that spray-on hair you can get for your bald patch, which might explain why some of the kids have been inexplicably stroking my head recently…
This answer on a debate activity self-evaluation form tugs at my heart strings every time:
…and this essay conclusion brings a huge grin to my face. (Essay was regarding the language used by Christopher, the 15-year-old narrator of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time who has Asperger Syndrome).
Then there’s this ‘Sorry I didn’t do my essay’ note, which came origami-d into a bow and with a complementary can of fizzy drink courtesy of the student in question, who hand-delivered them to my desk before bowing her way out of my office. She was still apologizing halfway down the corridor. So just like my schooldays, really:
'I apologise for my idleness’. Sigh.
So basically, life is good with a sufficiently generous side-dish of surreal to keep me on my toes, the kids are hilarious and charming and - again - sufficiently surreal to keep me on my toes, and even the bogs have eygo (saccharine-cute) faces.
In exciting news, I’ve also managed to book a trip to Tibet in August - ironically, despite living next door to it last year my work schedule gave me nowhere near enough time to visit, especially with the Chinese government’s periodic border closures. I’m hoping that it’ll give me a quick hit of the wide-open-space/rough-travel bug I’ve been ever-so-slightly missing, as well as the chance to ride the Tibet-Qinghai railway into Lhasa…
Wanderings and Ramblings of an ESL teacher currently based in a tiny mountain town near the North Korean border.