I was sitting at my desk today reflecting on the fact that living in Korea for another year is going to make blog writing a bit difficult. So much of what seemed interesting and different last year has become totally normal.
For instance, I no longer wonder why the students who “clean” the staffroom mop and then sweep. I don’t feel queasy when we have fish ovary spaghetti for lunch, nor do I even blink when the students punch each other in class. I’ve stopped noticing the double, triple and quadruple parked cars in front of my apartment building and I’m no longer shocked when people just drop their drawers and pee in the Bamboo Forest. It all seems so boring and normal now. What, I wondered bleakly, was I going to write about this year?
And then I received two presents that gave me hope.
The first will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has taught in Korea.
The girls will sit in class and comb their bangs over and over and over again. They will comb their bangs for the entire 40 minute English class. I’m constantly amazed their bangs don’t fall out.
My students each have at least 7 of these combs – one for each colour of the rainbow, and most girls have also added pink, brown, black, gray and white to their collection. Why do they need so many combs?
My co-T and I were presented with combs of our own today. I received the lovely yellow one pictured above while my co-T got hot pink.
“Thank you!” I said, smiling. “But why are you giving me a comb?”
“Carrie-teacher, you have VERY crazy hair!”
“Oh. Well, does Cho-teacher also have crazy hair? You gave her a comb too.”
“No! Cho-teacher is VERY beautiful!”
Not beautiful enough apparently…
The other gift came as I was leaving school. I noticed a group of students clustered around a woman holding a large bag. They spotted me and came charging over. Most of the boys seemed strangely reluctant to leave the woman’s side.
“Carrie-teacher! Ha-roh! Ha-roh! You like candy? Berrrrrrrry dericious candy!”
Apparently the woman with the bag was handing out candy, but no one knew who she was.
“You don’t know who she is??” I asked, scandalized. Clearly Korean students didn’t take Stranger Danger classes at school.
One kid thought she might be someone’s mother, while a few others suggested she might be from the church. They seemed puzzled by my questions. Who cared who she was? She had candy!
The woman came over and gave me one of what she was handing out. I was very reluctant to take it. What would my mother say if she knew I was taking candy from a stranger? 😀
I think I’ll take the candy back to school next week and give it out as a prize in my after-school class.