sung-sein-min (teacher)

9:59 PM Jmo 1 Comments

I have a feeling time is truly going to fly by here. The days go by fast (even the desk-warming goes by relatively fast because -typically, all us waygook teachers are in the same boat: online, talking to each other and discussing upcomming adventures.).
The past three days of teaching have been great. I am truly in a co-teaching environment and my part is fun, active, and welcomming to students. I'm the example of proper pronunciation and American ways. I'm also the one who helps develop and run the games. Not too bad. The kids, even the little 6th grade stinkers, are great. They are excited to speak to me whatever little English they know and the past couple days have been full of new and...interesting compliments: "You look like Heidi." -because of the braid in my hair, "Teacher! Glamour! Much glamour!", and my favorite... "Teacher! Teacher! Little kiss-kiss?"

Two days ago though I was informed to bring my tennis shoes to school because I would be playing in the faculty volleyball game. (haha, excuse me?) Word of my "athletic skill" spread quickly therefore I was summoned to play; not asked! All day that's all I could think about. I've been reading posts of other teachers who faced the same thing and they said "Oh, it's really not a big deal." But still, I was built up to be this all-star, Olympic, soccer star! I felt like they were expecting a lot...
Before the match I went out with my coteachers to the shop across the street to pick up some snacks and drinks for the big match. It was nice to be in a store with someone who spoke Korean for a change! I didn't get stared at too much this time. They asked me what drinks and snacks I wanted and I said: Anything! I want to try something new! -They were quite happy about that. So, needless to say, we checked out with a basket full of..I don't know what.
My coteachers are in charge of budgeting and party planning it seems, so they set up everything on a table in the gym. And, to my surprise, inside the gym there was a little concert going on. A little boy was playing a small, traditional, ceramic instrument in front of a small audience -of which included my principles. He was amazing! He may have been about 7 years old, but the tempo he was keeping was incredible even for an adult. After a long introduction that I'm sad to say I didn't understand, it was time for the food. I've been doing pretty well with the food here, but yesterday I was put to the test. I was asked if I wanted to try this plum/rice wine that starts with a M and I said, Sure! It was very good but strong. Imagine sake with a creamyness to it and a splash of champagne for sweetness. The man who poured it for me was surprised that I liked it and he said: "Ohh! Not too much though! You get drunk! You will miss the ball!" hahaa I wanted to say "Ooh, I'll miss the ball anyhow. Fill it up!", but I didn't. :)
Then, the food. Like I said, I've been doing pretty well with the food. I have to admit that I have had my fair share of meat here (especially for a 5 year strong vegetarien) and I was surprised at how well my stomach was doing. Everything I've been offered I've tried for fear of being rude. (Two days ago for lunch I attempted to eat a chicken drumstick with chopsticks! No, not pick it a part with chopsticks...pick it UP with chopsticks!) My coteachers are my lifeline. If I offend them: I'm alone in this. So, I've developed a sink or swim mentality. And, ohh, that metaphor could not be more ironic. But yesterday, of all days, was when my stomach started acting up. Maybe it was nerves or maybe it was just my stomach saying: "What the hell? Really? Really?!?!"

With my creamy rice wine in hand and chopsticks in the other I moved over to the crowded food table. Teachers were moving aside so I could try everything and...boy did I ever. I started off safe with chicken. Koreans love chicken! Then the Andrew Zimmern in me was tested: blood sausage. To make it even worse, it was in a clear casing with clear rice noddles on the inside (yes, reminiscent of bugs). I went for it and, to my surprise, it was pretty mild. I wouldn't try it again! But, all in all I survived. Next to that was pig liver. I skipped that one...and moved on to the boiled fish skin. Nothing like blood sausage, fish skin, and wine before a volleyball game! Woof.
I was put on a team with my principle and the coach of the volleyball team. The coach speaks very good English and has a good sense of humor. He teases me a bit about becomming a "true Korean". And, as soon as I walked onto the court my principle points and yells "Soccer coachee! Soccer coachee!" with a smile. Soooo, with that added pressure, it was game on!
The game was fun even though I bit it a couple times. I may or may not have hit a volleyball out a window...that play is still under review. haha But I tried my best, dove a couple times (kinda racked my knee in the process), had a couple good serves, a couple awful ones, set some spikes actually!, etc. But I believe the main victory in my playing was simply being there. Remember "collectivism"? Prime example.

After the volleyball game I was invited to a teacher "dinner meeting". Some of my coteachers snuck away early (that's why I don't have any pictures of my volleyball stardom!) because they are "not fond of men drinking". Uhhoh. So after the game, I changed, and headed out with my last coteacher to a restaurant near the school for kimchi-jigae. Kimchi-jigae is a communal hotpot meal composed of kimchi, noodles, oyster mushrooms, some type of beef (though it can be fish), and a spicy broth. The volleyball coach, Mr Jeong, warned me that even he finds the dish spicy...oooh stomach, don't fail me now! Oh! And did I mention that it was a take-off-your-shoes-it-on-the floor dining experience? I've always wanted to try this but, anyone who knows me knows that I can not sit on the floor crossed-legged. Much less sweaty after a game, with super ugly-healing-blister feet, a skirt, a stomach ache, and battered limbs from sacrificing my body in the name of Collectivist Volleyball. Haha, I was a mess.
The meal was great though and the company was even better! A lot of joking and carrying on amoungst the serious tradition and customs of eating together. I attempted to charm my way through my pain and offered up quips on America. Miss Joeng (my coteacher) and I were the only two women at the table so the conversation quickly turned to dating and boyfriends -a very common subject matter here! The volleyball coach couldn't help but tease me: "You are very beautiful! I worry for you here. If you go to a crowded area you will have many good looking Korean men staring at you." Haha, oohh goodness...and it didn't stop there.
The dinner meeting actually turned out to be held in my and one other teachers honor. He is the new PE teacher and soccer coach. He is also my age so..according to the other male teachers at the table: we should date. Before I knew it my hand was being forced across the table to take his as a joke. I did my best attempt at the "Korean girl giggle". (The soju was pouring.) After that, I was then asked who I found the most attractive at the table. All in good fun of course!

I went home and collapsed. A full day of being kept on my toes was enough for me to go to bed early. Today is Friday and I plan to act on it. Watch out Daejeon!

1 comment:

  1. lol :)I loved this post.. besides the bugs part of course!


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