I Have Korean Friends!

Anyong haseyo!

I feel an apology is in order for not writing for a few days, for which I have no good excuse since I was off and was just being super lazy. I needed a huge brain break after the craziness that was Tuesday. I’ll start from there….

Nothing particularly bad happened Tuesday, it was just a long day and stressful at times. We have unusually large groups this week (up to 18 per class instead of the usual 15), which can then fill one classroom with 36 students instead of 30. (Trust me, that can make a huge difference!) The girls this week are really quiet and unresponsive, whereas the boys have been the complete opposite; and lucky me, I got stuck with ALL boys this week. To make matters worse, there were a couple of classrooms I had never been to before but needed to take the students to, and BOTH times I asked other teachers to point me in the right direction, they were wrong (just my luck…) and I ended up having to take them to all the different buildings until I found the right rooms. There were some other minor stressful moments, like during homeroom (basically just game time), which was the last hour of the day, and I picked up the materials for the game the students were to play. Only, the other teacher who grabbed the other set grabbed the wrong one, and we only had 5 sets of the game for 9 groups of students. It turned out alright because we just joined a couple of groups together, which wasn’t ideal, but the other teacher and I made it work. After homeroom I took them to the cafeteria for dinner, which in itself took about 5 minutes (it’s normally a 30-second walk to the cafeteria) because they kept running or pushing each other and I would make them stop, line up again, and then start walking again… just to stop a few feet later because they could not, for the life of them, behave. I had to do it that way, though, because I couldn’t let them get away with breaking rules (“no running” is an actual rule here at GEV) and I was just grateful that I had 36 boys actually listening to me and obeying me, at least when I yelled at them to get back in line, or whatever (they easily could’ve just run off and there really wouldn’t be anything I could do about it).

Tuesday night, I did laundry and cleaned the apartment. I normally clean on “Sundays” (Thursdays) but I knew I would just want to relax over the “weekend,” and I wanted to be able to relax in a clean apartment. I enjoy cleaning anyway and it was very therapeutic after the hectic day I’d had. I was so glad I decided to do the cleaning then.

Wednesday, I had a lazy morning chatting with friends, and after lunch I headed to Seoul with Rene and Zaaid. We walked around Hongdae, grabbed a bite to eat and some coffee later on in the Gangnam district. 10 minutes from there is Bangbae station, where we met up with a former student of mine, Andy, and his wife of 8 months, Lucy (those are their English names). When I worked at English Now! in DC, Andy had studied there for 2 months during the summer of 2008 and there were some other students there who were all my age, and I showed them around and took them out to experience DC nightlife. I hadn’t seen Andy since he went back to Korea, so when I knew I was going to be coming here I got in touch with him and we made plans to meet up. I brought Rene and Zaaid with me because I wanted them to meet some Koreans, since we really don’t meet Koreans at GEV, and we had a BLAST! Both Andy and Lucy speak excellent English (Lucy had studied in Australia) and are really fun people, so we all got along great and shared many laughs throughout the night. They took us to a Korean BBQ restaurant, where the spread of food we ordered was unimaginable: two long dishes that spanned the entire width of the table, on either side, full of fresh greens and vegetables; a ton of small dishes on the table full of kimchi, pickled radish, sauces, and salad; in the middle on either side were the grills. The servers would come around and put raw meat on the grill and Andy and Lucy cooked them and would distribute the meat once it was cooked. The way they showed us to put it all together was to start with a leaf of lettuce, put the meat on it, then add any other vegetables to it that you want, plus anything else from the table (pickled radish, hot sauce, etc.), then roll it all up and eat it! I can’t even describe how delicious it was!!! It was so good and extremely healthy! Andy and Lucy wouldn’t let us pay at all, so Rene, Zaaid, and I want to take them out again next week and treat them to dinner. We also have plans to go to some of the bars and clubs in Seoul! I’m excited because having Korean friends will allow us to experience the REAL Korea! 🙂

Unfortunately, we had to cut our night short since we had to catch the last bus back to Paju around 11:00pm. I was in bed by 12:30am and was able to wake up this morning (Thursday) to a clean apartment… aahhh, it was such a good feeling. I had another lazy morning and didn’t leave my apartment until the zumba class I went to this evening. It was fun because a bunch of us teachers went to it, which is taught by one of the Edutainers, and a lot of the Edutainers attended. Honestly, though, I didn’t think the music selection was good and I didn’t feel like I got a workout. I’ll probably keep going since the class is free and it’s a nice social activity for me, but I’m thinking of leading a zumba class (but I’ll have to call it something else since I’m not certified to teach it) and coming up with my own routines that I like to do. I was thinking that it could be something that the others could pay me for, but the class tonight was free and I can’t compete with that!

After zumba, I ran over to the Head Teachers’ office to meet before Cinema English. Teachers can make some extra cash by taking students to and from the Concert Hall in the evenings during the week for the ‘Cinema English’ program, which is basically just sitting there and watching a movie with the students. It’s 30,000 won per day ($30) and I covered for another teacher tonight, and signed up on my own to do the next 2 Mondays and Tuesdays. Not much goes on those days anyway, and Glenn isn’t here yet so I just hang out at my apartment in the evenings, and I figured that I might as well make some money for an extra 2 hours after dinner. The movie was over by 9:00pm and I’ve been back at the apartment since 9:15pm. Not bad, for an extra $30!

Tomorrow is Friday, and as you know, it’s like Monday for me because it’s the beginning of my week. We’ll have class in the morning and then the closing ceremony after lunch, then it’s meetings for the rest of the day. I’m dreading them because they’re boring and make the day seem a lot longer. Fortunately, we’re all helping with outdoor activities over the weekend and shouldn’t be stuck inside working on developing lesson plans for too long. I heard that it’s supposed to rain, though, which would make it all less fun… but I’m hoping that if it does rain, it isn’t a lot. I don’t want a repeat of the mess and chaos that was last Monday, with students arriving in the pouring rain.

Rene took some great pictures in Seoul yesterday, and as soon as I get them from her I promise to post them on my “Photos” page.

Until next time….

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