Published: December 6th 2011December 4th 2011
So the Korean goverment have now officially classified me as an alien. OK, I'm not flying around or anything, but I've now got my 'alien registration card'. Which I'm pretty happy about, as there's not much you can do here without it - you can't get a bank account (although I think you actually need some money for that to be useful?!), you can't get a phone, or even join the local swimming pool. Although maybe it's a little unfair for me to blame the fact I have done no exercise since I arrived on the government.
School is still going well, although crying is increasing at an alarming rate. I don't think it's my fault, some of them are just ridiculously sensitive! For example this week I did a little competition in one of the classes and split them up into two teams. Stupidly I put all the sensitive ones in the same team, so when they lost I had a right situation on my hands. It was like someone had died. I kept telling them it's OK to lose and they did well, but they were seriously bawling. They need to learn how to lose in life though,
so I think I'll keep doing it, try and toughen them up a bit! But I am getting fed up with kids crying over the smallest things, I know they're only young but bawling your eyes out because the other kids are talking too loudly is just ridiculous! Man up!
Some of the kids are so cute though, they really have me wrapped round their little fingers. I go to shout at them sometimes and then they look at you with their big eyes and a little tear starting to form in the corner - how can you tell them off when they do that! Actually impossible. But even when you're at your wits end with them, you'll see them do something that completely restores your faith in them. Last week I watched one of the 5 year old girls rub out all her neighbours scruffy handwriting and write it all out for him in dotted letters so he could trace it out neatly. Pretty damn sweet huh. A teacher in the making I think. Although this is the same girl that cries every lesson without fail!
Every month we have a song contest for the afternoon students.
Each class practices the song for a month, and then performs in front of the others at the contest. This month the song was 'It's My Life', by Bon Jovi (or 'It's My Libe' by Bon Jobi as they say here). It's really funny watching a bunch of kids singing that song for some reason - I never expected they would choose that song! Made even funnier though by the fact that they really have trouble pronouncing their 'f' and 'v', so it goes more like: 'It's my libe, and it's now or neber, I don't wanna libe bor-eber...'! Absolutely hilarious, I was creased the whole time. The doctor also visited this week, to give them all shots for something. I expected a lot more crying, but they were all pretty good! But for some reason for the next couple of days the Korean teachers kept taking urine samples for some of the kids, but kept walking round the teachers room carrying these pots of wee all the time. I made sure I came round the corners in school very carefully all week, really didn't want to have a little accident!
I have accidentally taught the kids some bad
habits this week. First of all, I showed them that thing that Ali G used to do where he clicks his fingers and goes 'Aaaaaiiiiii' - remember that one? Anyway, they thought it was really funny and I keep catching them trying to do it, I hope no one asks them who taught it to them! If I tell them to stop I think that will only make it worse?! I also sang 'Jingle bells, 'Amy' smells...' in one of the classes which they found hilarious and now they keep on singing it. Which would normally be ok, but I've now found out the song for next months song contest is, yes you guessed it, Jingle Bells. I think I might try and avoid going to watch that one! The baby class quite enjoy dancing too, so I taught them a little dance where you jump around with your index fingers in the air. Unfortunately Brian (one of my favourites) keeps getting the wrong fingers and is running round the room flipping everyone the bird with both hands. I'm hoping no one watches the CCTV!
I do feel sorry for these kids sometimes. They come into class rubbing their
eyes, looking so tired. I asked some of the afternoon kids about what they do every day, and it's pretty insane. They get up at 6, where they study on the computer until they have to go to school at 8.30. They are then in school until about 2.30, when they then come to our hagwon (private school) until 5, and then onto another hagwon until 7. Then back home to do homework until 10.30 when they go to bed. Absolutely no tv or games. Then every other Saturday they have to go to school too. It's a tough life for them, and although this work ethic is probably the reason why Korea is such a successful country, I can't imagine the amount of stress people go through here. It is well known here that many people kill themselves on results day - getting into the top universities is the be all and end all. You certainly wouldn't catch people here sitting round all day doing nothing and claiming benefits!
I think my favourite thing about Korea so far is just how friendly everyone is. Whenever I go out anywhere on my own, Koreans will always come over and
try and chat to you. Saturday I headed over to a peninsula in Busan called Taejong-dae, and two Korean guys came over and asked if I was on my own and would I like to hang out with them the rest of the afternoon. So I spent the afternoon with them, it was interesting talking to them as they were soldiers from up in Seoul taking some vacation, so it was really interesting talking to them about Korea and its history. Once again it was a stunning place, we could even see Japan from there as it was a really clear day. I also went to the Busan Modern History Museum as I felt I should try and learn a bit about the history of Korea if I'm living here. Korea has bad history with Japan (mainly due to the fact that the Japanese invaded and took over the country for a long period of time), and so the museum was seriously anti-Japanese. The word 'exploited' was used about 3 times in every sentence. Strangely everything was also translated into Japanese for any Japanese visitors brave enough to visit!
Another funny thing I've found in Korea is that people
Alarm clock at the temple
You don't know how much I wanted to pull that log right back...!
have no concept of queuing. I am always the last person on the bus, regardless of whether I was the first or last person there. I stand there in the typical polite British manner, letting everyone push past me onto the bus. Remember 'bundles' in school? It's exactly like that, except there isn't anyone shouting at you to stop because it's ok to do it here! To be honest I don't find it that annoying really, I just put it down as one of those cultural things. The only time it genuinely ruffles my feathers is when you go to get out of a lift, and as soon as the door opens people start bundling to get in. It just defies all common sense. So you just have to play them at their own game and hand them off rugby style to get out!
Anyway, that's enough for now. Sorry no Konglish photo this week, I forgot. I've stuck in a photo instead of some tiny dogs I saw in a shop window the other day in Nampo. Poor things were in boxes about a foot cubed, about three or four in each one. Most of the other photos
are from Geumjeong Fortress which I visited on Sunday, the views from here over Busan were pretty incredible.
Hope you're all doing well at home, miss you all!
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