I have never been as happy for it to be Monday as I was this morning. Remember, I work weekends now and I’m off Wednesday-Thursday, which means tomorrow (Tuesday) is the end of the work week for me. Today was a really good day and I’m in a much better mood than I was in over the weekend. Last night I was in a particularly sour mood because I had written a nice, long blog entry and lost my connection right before I posted it, erasing the entire thing. So, here I go again….
Friday was just a normal Friday; class in the morning, closing ceremony, lunch, then meetings for the rest of the afternoon. I went grocery shopping after work and then made myself dinner before going to Trivia Night, which is something that one of my colleagues organizes twice a month at the pub here in GEV. Honestly, I didn’t want to go because trivia just isn’t my thing, but I went because I missed the last one and the newbies wanted me to come this time. Also, what else did I have to do on a Friday night? Especially when I had work the next day? I went and it was fun just because there were a lot of people that I got to hang out with. The trivia itself was pretty hard and frustrated me at times.
Saturday morning, we helped set up for the Halloween event and then hung out for the rest of the morning. The Halloween event was basically a bunch of different tents set up with “stations,” like the cookie zone (where kids decorate Halloween cookies – definitely not a Halloween tradition), make up zone where kids could get their face painted and/or make a hat or mask, a game zone, a craft zone, and a photo zone where they could put on a costume and get their picture taken. Also, the Edutainers put on a Halloween show and I had to hear “The Monster Mash” and M.J.’s “Thriller” on loop all day. The event had to be moved inside because it rained all day, but the setup itself didn’t take very long and We (the newbies) played games inside afterwards until lunch time. (Before you judge us, know that we went around asking people for things to do and we were literally told to just hang out. And hang out we did.) We had a blast! Unfortunately, my afternoon wasn’t much fun because I was stuck doing Immigration for 3 hours. Immigration is when you sit at a fake customs desk in the main entrance where people buy tickets to GEV. They are given a “passport” and have to answer “immigration” questions before they’re allowed through. (It’s set up this way to mimic what one would experience when traveling to another country.) Since it was raining, and most people come in the morning, there were maybe 20 people total who came through during those 3 hours. It was incredibly boring and it felt like I was there all day. I was scheduled to work the Halloween event for only the last hour of the day, and by the time I got there, it was winding down and I basically just helped clean up.
Except for the morning on Saturday, the day was rather miserable due to the rain, having to work Immigration, and missing most of the Halloween event. Moreover, I had just learned about Hurricane Sandy and was feeling anxious throughout the rest of the day knowing that a hurricane was going to be passing through DC at some point within the next couple of days. Sunday wasn’t much better. Although it didn’t rain and we were able to have the event outside, it was really windy and working at the crafts station proved to be stressful (the craft was to make a jack-o-lantern using strips of paper and paper cut-outs, thus windy conditions really were not ideal). I had originally been scheduled to work Immigration again all morning, which I was really annoyed about since I had done it all afternoon the day before and others hadn’t been scheduled to do it at all, but Chris ended up swapping with me and I was very grateful to him.
The morning was the same: set up for half an hour, hang out until lunch time. I was still in a bit of a funk from the previous day, and still feeling anxious. I didn’t socialize much all morning and just didn’t feel like talking to anybody. I tried my best to be as friendly as I usually am, but I think people could tell that I wasn’t myself (Rene emailed me later to make sure I was alright). I finally got to do the Halloween event after lunch, but honestly, it was so busy and hectic that it wasn’t fun at all. Like I said previously, I was assigned to the crafts station and it was a pain to constantly try to keep everything from blowing away. We got mostly little kids and they were very cute and I think had a lot of fun, but their parents were really pushy and rude! At least, from my perspective and in an American context, their behavior is considered pushy and rude…. Perhaps it’s “normal” for Koreans to be that way. I am still learning about this country and culture, and that is why I didn’t let myself get upset; I kept an open mind and just did my best despite being completely overwhelmed for 4 hours. I was not amused with my colleague who, instead of helping me when I had a mob of children and parents demanding my attention, sat on her behind and watched me deal with it while she cut paper that wasn’t even needed.
I was extremely exhausted after the day was over and fell asleep very easily last night. I was relieved when I woke up and realized it was Monday! Monday means a regular OWP week, which isn’t perfect, but at least I enjoy a lot more than the weekends. We picked up the kids (middle schoolers again) from the buses this morning and I was, again, given a class of boys. They were really bad but I think they were excited to be here. Just once, I would like a class of girls! The girls are easier to work with because they don’t misbehave as much, they just talk a lot. Boys require more energy and I didn’t have much of that this morning. The opening ceremony was fine, and we had lunch after that. My devo was the hour after lunch, and then I was scheduled with the same class for 3 hours. That normally doesn’t happen – we usually get moved around at least every couple of hours. I didn’t mind, though, because I was in the classroom with just ONE class instead of the usual 2, a group of boys, who were actually very well behaved and whose English was a bit higher than usual (that always makes things easier; kids behave better when they understand what you’re saying). We made chocolate banana nut muffins and we had a blast! The other teacher and I made some for ourselves (they were delicious) and then we took them to the cafeteria for dinner. That was my day: easy and fun! As you can see, I was in a much better mood today. 🙂
On Friday, I got a package in the mail from my mom containing some fall-themed goodies: a Halloween card, some Halloween socks (it’s sort of a tradition that I get socks for every holiday), fall-themed packets of tissues, and M&Ms. I’ve shared the tissues and M&Ms with my colleagues and I can’t wait to wear my Halloween socks on Wednesday. Thanks, Mom!
I don’t have any plans for Halloween even though I’ll be off that day. Rene and Zaaid are going to visit friends in Inje, which is something like 4 hours away. I heard that people will be getting together at the pub, but not in costumes or anything. I haven’t decided yet if I want to go to that or not. I may just stay home and watch a scary movie (maybe not a good idea since I’m living alone right now…) or watch the movie that we’ll be discussing at Spanish Club this Thursday. We will FINALLY get our first paycheck Thursday! Rene, Zaaid, and I are planning to go to Costco then and buy everything that we’ve been waiting almost a month to get (real food, things for the apartment, etc.). I’m looking forward to being able to afford real groceries instead of having to eat at the cafeteria every day. Their food is good but not the healthiest, and I’ve noticed a huge difference in my energy level since I’ve been off the paleo diet. I just feel SO much better when I eat healthy foods. Oh, and I can’t wait to buy a gym membership! I’ve been missing weight training.
Guys, I really appreciate you all taking the time to read my blog and to comment on my posts. I hesitate to publish my entries sometimes because I feel like I just write about my day instead of sharing knowledge and insight into Korea and Korean culture. Unfortunately, I don’t get to experience that much at all due to the fact that I live in an English Village! I’m hoping that I’ll have “cultural experiences” more after payday since I’ll finally be able to afford to go out! Also, I’m hoping to hang out often with Andy and Lucy and make some more Korean friends, too. I’ve been picking up some words and phrases here and there, which isn’t too bad considering where I live and how long I’ve been here (going on week 4).
Anyway, I would like to share something I learned last week about Koreans: Korean children are taught that it’s disrespectful to have your head up and to make eye contact with the teacher unless you are speaking directly to each other. I learned this because I had been a little frustrated with a very quiet, unparticipatory class that I had last week. I expressed this frustration to one of my Korean colleagues at dinner, and she explained to me that Korean children are taught to look down and not at the teacher, whereas elsewhere (in North America, at least), children are made to “pay attention,” or in other words, keep their heads up and look directly at the teacher. Now that I understand this, I haven’t gotten frustrated at all with any of my classes and I know now that I have to call on students individually if I want them to respond. For a quiet class, that is; some classes are loud and obnoxious to begin with.
Alright, I’ve come to the end of the post and I’ll cross my fingers that this one doesn’t get erased because it’s even BETTER than the one I wrote yesterday. I’m going to post pictures from our second trip to Seoul (thanks to Rene) and update my calendar so you can see what I’ll be up to in November. It’s going to be a good month! 🙂
Please, everyone, be safe and I’ll keep you all in my thoughts as Sandy moves in and up the East Coast….