11:40 PM Jmo 0 Comments

This week has been my official return back to teaching. Yes, I know. It's March. With a few weeks of camps and random classes tossed in, it's essentially been two months since I've had a normal work week. So, needless to say, I was a wee bit nervous getting back in the swing of things.
(Why am I here again? Ah yes: English Teacher. Right.)

But of course a week, nor a day, goes by here without something charming, alarming, or worth while to report.

Monday I got to see my dear sweet fourth graders (who last semester were third graders) and they were all sorts of adorable. Some of them, be it they genuinely forgot my name or were just excited to be there, ran up to me, introduced themselves, asked my name and asked where I was from. But one boy came in waving his notebook from the previous semester that I signed for him. In the beginning of class he kept holding it up in the air and I wasn't sure what he wanted. So, I kept saying "Yep! That's me! Jessica!" But it turns out he wanted me to see that he tried to copy my signature. Over and over, scribbled down the page, were little swooping J's and cursive M's. He was so proud of himself. Those are the kind of moments that keep me here.

Tuesday I was introduced to an entire new batch of adorableness: third grade. They seem so tiny to me! But as tiny as they are, their little bodies were full of enthusiasm and excitement. As I wrote my name on the board in Korean their eyes lit up as they turned to each other saying "Jessica Seim! Jessica Seim!" At the beginning of each class they were allowed to ask me questions. The most common ones were: Where are you from? How old are you? Do you have a boyfriend? What's your favorite Korean food? And, can you speak Korean? Proud to say I answered almost every question in Korean! (With their English counterparts of course...) Saying that you "speak a little Korean" in Korean to a group of students is like telling the Cookie Monster there's a bake sale. So getting back to my purpose here wasn't too big of a challenge. I even taught a class by myself while Hyo was out. (Teaching an English class to a group of low level, third grade, students proves that I'm a master of charades. I dare anyone to challenge me.) I was, however, introduced to two boys who were quite infatuated with my appearance. At first it was flattering. I knelt down next to them to help them with the game we were playing and they exclaimed "Noon! Noon!" pointing to their eyes. Turns out they were enthralled with the fact that I had blue eyes. But then, they followed me around with the sweetest inquisitive look on their face. "Baby?! Baby!?", they said as they patted their stomachs. Ha. No. I just like kimchi fried rice ok? It's just...the...fried..ri*cry*

Speaking of my food intake! On Monday I was getting my lunch tray filled from my school lunch ladies when two of them stopped, put their spoons down, made a heart with their hands over their heads and said 사랑해요 (Sa lang-hey-yo) which means "I love you." I didn't know what to do it was so adorable! I just giggled, said thank you, bowed and walked away with a full tray of kimchi and spicy cucumbers. And today they did it again! So I laughed and asked Hyo why. She said it's because I they want to do a favor for me but they don't know what to do. And... they like me because I eat all of my food. Surprise...surprise. Damn. Korea is seriously trying to tell me to go on a diet. I'm listening Korea, I'm listening. But why you gotta make it so hard with your dumplings and stuff? It's so hard to quit you...
Yesterday and today was the same. I've become somewhat of a side show attraction around here. I ate three pieces of pizza yesterday at a teacher's meeting and that sparked a conversation about how much Americans eat. And today at lunch when it was time to clean up, two teachers looked down the table to my tray with energetic eyes to see if I finished everything. Yep. Time to start eating like a Korean woman. Only soup broth for me! Ughh..it's goin' down. I'm going back to super shape Jessica. No more fluffy rice ball Jessica. Beach season is around zee corner.

Monday and Tuesday I had an office visitor. A girl from one of my 5th grade classes came in and sat at my desk watching me as I typed an email. She has one of the most sweet, innocent, and inquisitive faces and seemed genuinely determined to talk to me. So, I pulled up Google Translate and we had an hour long discussion through an electronic medium. She started to ask me some questions about my family and that's when the conversation took a heart wrenching turn. She told me that she didn't like her father. She said he was harsh. But she liked her mother because she is quiet and sweet. She did speak some English very well and asked, in English, if I had grandparents. I said 없어요: a common Korean phrase used to say that something isn't there. She asked if I cried. I said yes and she went on to say that she just lost her grandfather. "I cry.", she said as she pointed to her eyes. We both sat there for a moment looking at each other; consoling each other through our expressions. Through one of the most common yet personal things we connected.
-Funny side note though: She asked if I was married and I said no. After that she typed in a Korean phrase  that translated to "Spinster?" I laughed so hard I scared my coteacher.

I figure I should touch on the current situation with North Korea, no? Well, everything is fine here. Actually, the South Koreans could care less. South Korea has been dealing with threats from the North for 20+ years. Historically, the North seems to perk up whenever a new South Korean President is elected or some political change provides them with a platform. But honestly. I'm safe. You're safe. The global media seems to be making this out to be bigger than it actually is. Surprising, I know! But in all serious -don't worry. Though! The other day on the subway home I did have a mini heart attack. The subway stopped on the tracks, the lights flickered, and the conductor's voice came over the PA system. I couldn't understand what he was saying, but looking around I could see that Koreans weren't concerned. We were up and running in a couple minutes. But still! With talk of war and me stuck in a little tin can underground...no the best feeling!

Well! That was a random post. Had absolutely no flow to it and is lacking in detail...I'm sorry.
Did I mention I'm crazy tired?

One more random thing:
Here's a good article that touches on a topic that I've brought up previously. http://groovekorea.com/article/koreas-stressed-masses


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