Teacher! Teacher!

4:45 AM Jessica Montgomery 2 Comments

I hate to get all gushy. Really I do. But, I have to fall back on an old cliche for a moment: Some things really do happen for a reason.

Yesterday I woke up early as usual, but this time it wasn't just for the free breakfast. Nope, I had to look my best. Or at least as good as living out of a suitcase would allow. After breakfast and packing and loading luggage, I was off on a bus heading to meet my MOE (Metropolitan Office of Education). All of us "Daejeonites" were bussed in our Sunday-Best to the Daejeon Office of Education for an opening ceremony and official co-teacher meeting. After lining up according to our number, we walked across the stage to have our name and school announced. When our name was called we stepped forward, bowed in the traditional Korean way, and then our co-teacher came out of the audience to greet us and take us back to a seat next to them. I stepped forward smiling and bowed with uncertainty -scanning the crowd for a sympathetic face. To my right came one of the sweetest faces I've seen since my time here in Korea. Her name is Hyo, she is maybe 4' 10", and she is pregnant -due in October. Yes. Adorable. I followed her back to her seat and waited for the rest of the ceremony to end. When I first sat down and turned to her she covered her face and giggled because she was nervous and shy to meet me! haha
Once the ceremony ended we met my other two co-teachers in the lobby to help with luggage. Miss Nahm and Miss Choem were just as delightful as Hyo. The first thing Miss Choem did was point at my face and say: "Ahh, pretty!"
Because of the typhoon school was cancelled. (Silly, right? It's only a typhoon. haha) Because school was cancelled they got to take me straight to my apartment! I live in a large apartment building/shopping center/hotel type of building. I live on the 16th floor! 1606 of the Ju-eun building in "New" Downtown Daejeon. The apartment is great! Far better than the worst case scenarios they were shoving down our throat s at orientation. I have: a shower with a shower door, a washing machine, a little kitchen with all appliances and utensils, a desk and television, even two beds! Come and visit people! :) The previous even left a soccer ball! The one thing it doesn't have is air conditioning. Or maybe it does and I just don't know what I'm doing..that could very well be the case!
The view is incredible. I'm right across from 2-3 large parks and I can see the "dragon-back" mountains in the background. I couldn't be happier. It's surreal. Am I really here?

My view! There's actually more to it than that even!
After the brief apartment tour we headed out to lunch. Koreans love food. Especially as a way to socialize. They took me on a short walk to a Home Plus department store. This building is all in one: clothes, groceries, restaurants, etc. I almost died with laughter (in my head of course) when they decided to take me to "Ashley's American Buffet". And what do I hear as soon as I walk in? None other than Pitbull. Too funny.
The food was actually really good and not "American" at all! The food was mostly named after American cities rather. Like "Santa Fe chicken" or "New York Omelette" or "Hawaiian Citrus Salad". But even the classics had a Korean spin on it. For example, the Hawaiian salad has tapioca bubbles in it and the noodles were tossed in spicy pepper sauce. Very good. I will totally go back when I'm having an ex-pat craving. :)
The conversation was great, comfortable, and genuine. All three of my co-teachers are incredibly intelligent, sweet, kind and caring. I'm so lucky! Like I said, some things are just meant to be.
The typhoon was supposed to hit Daejeon at 2pm so my co-teachers wanted to head back to their families relatively soon. I was fine to wait it out unpacking and cleaning my new apartment (The Brit before me left a lot of dirt along with his soccer ball...blehh). After my unpacking and organizing binge I was ready to head out. The typhoon mostly brought wind to Daejeon. The rain will apparently come tomorrow. So, that being said I decided to go out to the store for some essentials. Shopping by myself was....interesting. I was the only "way-gook" (foreigner) in the store and boy did people notice! haha Little kids would stop dead in their tracks and point. Great, not only do I not know what anything says..now I have people watching my every move on top of it! I bought what looked manageable and what I could carry back to the apartment. To my lovely surprise it was raining when I got out.
Hyo also took me to the subway station by my place. I have to take a 23min subway ride to work everyday. My school is actually at the end of the line. Easy enough! But Hyo said that she would wait for me at the station this morning and we could ride to school together.

I waited. I never saw her. She said that we needed to take the 7:54 train to make it to school on time sooo...when that time rolled around I just hopped on in what I hoped was the right direction. (Once again, the only way-gook!) Exiting at Panam was very different. Finally, I felt like I was in a different country. I had no idea where my school was after walking out of the station so I decided to ask a student (maybe 15) that I saw on the street because the likely-hood of her knowing some English was high. She told me my school was up and to the right. Still couldn't find it. Hyo gave me her number yesterday but when I called it, it didn't work. I tried again and finally it went through! She was on the train! haha She waited for me but we missed each other somehow. She said she was worried about me...
I met her at the corner and we walked into school together. On Wednesdays and Thursdays I work in Miss Nahm's 5th-6th grades, Fridays with Miss Choem's 5th grade, and Mondays and Tuesdays with my dear sweet Hyo and her 3rd-4th graders.
Upon meeting the principle and vice principle I gave them their Pewabic Pottery tiles. Hyo thought it was a good idea and that it made them very happy (even if they didn't show it..which they didn't really!). I brought a ceramic gift for Hyo and chocolates for Miss Nahm and Miss Choem as well. Now, they acted happy! haha
Walking the halls, let alone teaching, today was so fun. If you ever need a self-esteem boost...come to a Korean elementary school. Not to be arrogant but, students were flocking in just to get a look at me. I was different and new. But honestly, when a little girl comes up to you, bows, and says: "Pretty teacher!" or when a little boy says: "Teacher beautiful!" before making a heart shape with his hands...how could you not melt? I'm sure my face was beet-red all day.

Today I just gave an introductory powerpoint about myself. I put a map up on the screen and had all the kids making "Michigan Mittens" with their hands. I die! Tomorrow I think I'm going to get a picture of them doing it... Oh! Also, the children love saying my name because there is a KPop star by the name of "Jessica". So, I'm like the Madonna of Korea. Yep. Let's go with that.
After classes ended, Hyo took me to get my ARC card (Alien Registration Card) and the immigration office. It was a nice long trip so we got to talk a lot. She is the sweetest thing! I can't take it. We got red bean ice cream on our walk back and talked about everything from her baby, to Joy's baby(!), to what I look for in a man (hahaa!). That was actually the number one question I got from students today: Do you have a boyfriend? Oh yeah, and! How tall are you? :)

Phew! Ok, that was a long post. But to be completely honest these past two days have some of the most crucial of my year here. And I survived! It's all down hill from here.

Lonely-Apartment-Noodle-Bowl-Dinner. The first of many.

Oh hey, and remember that taekwondo lesson I did? Apparently... the "assistants" running around the gym with us were actually on the Korean Olympic Team. Yeah. Amazing. <3 <3 <3

2 comments:

  1. so glad everyone is nice! :) The kids seem sooo sweet/cute! And so does Hyo!! Awww you talked about my baby!? We feel special :)

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  2. Haha yeah, she is the sweeeeeetest thing ever. The kids..ehh, some are sweet. Most just like to point and yell at me. hahaa!

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