Friday, September 28, 2012

A Day In The Life...

I woke up two hours earlier than usual so I could finish two separate lesson plans that will be due today. One was a bit of a surprise. I was only given one day to write it all out. The other is one I forgot about (but shouldn't have), and consequently ended up doing at the last minute. Still, everything (for the most part) is finished. It's just a matter of formatting for the first, most important lesson plan, which will be used for TaLK Day.

Why didn't I work on this important work yesterday? Well, I tried. Sort of. The teachers that I hold "secret" dinners and outings with sprung a secret dinner last night. It was the first one in several months, and despite any negative or uncomfortable feelings I develop during our gatherings, I look forward to these dinners. For me, they are like once-in-a-lifetime encounters. Uncomfortable feelings would include not understanding most of the conversation because it is all in Korean. I overlook these things for the sake of culture, and a chance to maintain friendships I'm sure I won't regret having later. ...We stayed out for a few hours (dinner, game station .. you know, batting cage, whack-a-mole, etc...then a bar where we played darts). I must say that it was my first time trying a (virgin) pina colada, and it tasted so much better than the pina colada-flavored juice I'd accidentally mistaken for pineapple juice and bought earlier in the week. But I digress.

I walked home, turned on my computer, and (first mistake) lay on the bed. Even though you should never sit somewhere super comfortable when getting ready to do important work (if you're already drowsy), I think sitting anywhere else wouldn't have made a difference. Sure enough, I found myself dozing after typing every few sentences. It wasn't even midnight, but I decided to sleep and wake up early. So catches us up to today's story!

I left the house feeling pretty ready for the day. Today, though a busy day for sure, is the last day of the week, and the beginning of a 5-day weekend. Chuseok (kind of like a Korean Thanksgiving) is this weekend, and there's a national holiday on Wednesday, so nearly every school will have a 5-day weekend.

I walked to the convenience store to recharge my bus pass. It takes a minute at most. Afterwards, I continue down the street, and this man (who must work at the Wedding Hall he's always standing in front of) appears suddenly and greets me. I've tried avoiding talking to him, or walking by the wedding hall in general, but it's really difficult. This road is the road I have to take... and besides, I hadn't seen him in several weeks. He stops me and asks me my name (since, by now, he's greeted me at least twice before). I ask him his name (I hope I can remember... but I hope more that he's not dangerous) in return. He tries saying something, else, but I don't really understand if it's Korean or English. I tell him, "Have a good day," and walk away.

Then, I continue to the bus stop, where a halmoni (a grandma-aged lady) handed me two mints after standing with me for a few minutes. I'd done a good job of not noticing if she was staring at me (I've been practicing this, because honestly, I tend to notice everything, and it'll be good for my health if I learn to ignore a few things).  I was just minding my own business, drinking choco milk, so I was genuinely surprised when she got up from the seat and walked over to me.  She didn't say anything, just smiled and handed them to me.I gratefully took the mints. I thanked her politely in Korean. I was feeling all happy when a strange thought entered my mind, like the bad angel on your shoulder, whispering in your ear. Maybe she's thinking this girl'll have bad breath after eating and drinking all that she's going to have bad breath. I'll save her from such a fate! Why'd I think such a crazy thought? Ha, because Koreans have a lovely habit of brushing (sometimes communally) after most (if not all) meals. All the teachers and students head to the bathrooms with their brushes and paste after lunch each day. It'd been twenty minutes since I brushed my teeth, and already I was sipping on chocolate milk. Guilty self-conscience.

I get to school and all the kids and teachers are wearing hanboks. Oh yes, I remember. There was a message about this to all the teachers yesterday. I'm not sure why, exactly, they're wearing them today. Maybe because of Chuseok coming. When I sat down at my desk, I heard a student whisper something to another 1st grader. "Shannon.... hanbok...." was all I heard. .... Ah, yes, child. You've realized that I'm not wearing one? Well, I don't have one. Don't make me feel bad. Get back to your work.

Today was the first time I saw the first graders take a test. They separated their desks and up walls so neither they nor their neighbors could cheat. Still, I saw kids attempting it from time to time. The test looked hard. I saw a lot of kids staring at their papers. I wonder what it was about.

Now, lunch is in 20 minutes, and the kids are listening to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" on repeat. They have to learn this song for some performance (did I already mention?) later on next month. It's so cute hearing them say, "Hush my dah-ling, don' feah my dah-ling, the lion sleeps tonight!"  They're learning well.

'Til next time,

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