The first weeks at my job were pretty demanding. My school’s a private language academy (also called a hagwon) so kids come to class at our school outside of their regular school time. It was winter break for the kids in January, so there were winter camp classes during the daytime in addition to the evening classes that we usually have. That meant that I was at work from 12:30-10 p.m. everyday and I even had to work a couple hours on Saturdays. Gross. My Korean coworkers had it even worse. They had to work 9 a.m.-10 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays. They were so exhausted, they often took naps in the teachers’ office during their breaks from class.
And these poor kids. I feel bad for them because they come after their normal school hours. I thought that they would come for one hour a couple times a week. But most of them are bused here from their schools by 5 and then they study here until 10 five days a week. 10 P.M.!!! These kids are elementary and middle schoolers. They have to eat dinner here. They fall asleep in class sometimes and I let them. I also try not to always push them that hard because I don’t agree with their parents sending them to classes for so long. I think they should just be kids.
They are also supposed to only speak English with each other while they’re here. If they speak Korean, they get their name on the Korean Loser List.
I don’t approve of the list’s name. One of the Korean teachers is so insistent on them speaking only English that he sounds exactly like this:
Apologies for the R word. Thank you if you know what movie this is from.
It’s kind of awkward though because the Korean teachers don’t speak great English. So forcing the kids to speak English all the time makes them speak crappy Korean “English”. But, some of them really try and some of them are really cool kids. Others suck.
Here are some things that the kids at my school do/have done so far:
- They call each other “idions” instead of “idiots” and tell each other to “shut down” instead of “shut up”. I don’t know if it’s better to correct them or not.
- They say “I’m finish” instead of “I’m finished” which drives me fucking insane. And where do they get that? The teachers! “You finish?”
- The kids are very honest and they (mostly boys) have no problem calling me handsome. I have no problem with that either. One kid told me I looked like Adam Levine. Yeah…no. I think he just really wanted me to give him a piece of candy.
- The kids watch a lot of movies here to practice speaking and listening. I love that because I don’t have to talk all the time or make that many lesson plans. One time they reenacted a scene from Elf and one of the kids was the manager. The manager’s black. So, of course this kid painted his face black. Whoops.
- I gave the kids lifesavers and they think the mint flavor is so strong it hurts. Some of them spit them out. Fucking wasted my good candy.
But, I’m finally free from winter camp and ever so slowly settling into my shoebox apartment and life in Seoul. Another foreign teacher explained to me how to turn on the heat and hot water in my apartment so I’m set there. There are actually pipes that run hot water under the floors, so I never have to wear slippers.
Finally, here are a few of my observations about Korea and Koreans that I’ve learned so far:
- It has the second highest suicide rate in the world and the highest suicide rate among OECD countries. Probably because their parents make them go to school for 13 hours a day.
- Suicide rates also increase after celebrity suicides.
- They really hate Japan because they haven’t forgiven them yet for what they did in the past. One kid said in class that he’d rather commit suicide than move to Japan. I don’t think that’s very healthy.
- When I started talking about gay marriage and marijuana in DC to another American teacher, he instantly told me to stop talking. I wasn’t trying to spread my agenda, but apparently both of those things are hella taboo around here.
- Some websites are randomly blocked. I can’t logon to OKCupid at my school and I couldn’t watch a video called “Lesbians Touch Penis for the First Time” at a coffee shop. Call me a radical, but I think it’s my god given right to be able to watch lesbians touch penises for the first time.
- Koreans brush their teeth all the time, even while sitting at their desks.
- They also eat pizza wearing one single plastic glove. It look like this:
- Plastic surgery’s a huge deal. Maybe I’ll get something nip/tucked while I’m here.
Can you believe I posted twice in one week? Man, all this free time and lack of a social life has its perks for now.