Published: July 19th 2011July 17th 2011
Boys Middle School 4
The kid in the middle thinks he's a model. I also think he's trying to tell me what he thinks of me.
Dear Blog Readers,
My final week teaching has been great. It’s been emotional, exhilarating, surprising, hilarious and great fun. I had prepared a final review game which the students initially booed because they were expecting a movie like in their other classes but I’d prepared some good prizes. By good, I mean a random assortment of things which have been given to us over the course of the year. You’ll be amazed at how excited the students get over a box of plastic food freezer bags. I’d also made them a CD with some English bands on them which they liked and the prizes seemed to be enough incentive to have an awesome lesson.
It was a review lesson on everything that I’ve taught them over the last semester. For those of you teaching here, it was the Super Mario Bomb Game. For those who aren’t, I will try and sum up what the game is. Once a student answers correctly, they are rewarded with either gaining points, taking points from another team, or sometimes, losing all of their points. Sometimes they have to gamble between three boxes with the ‘bomb’ being behind one of them and they lose
Laura's Teachers 2
Miss Kang, Laura, Yuni and Mrs Cha.
all their points. I’ve uploaded a video of one team who were in the lead with 25 points on the last question choosing the bomb. It’s priceless. I’ve added the video for you to watch here too
The Grade 3 student who told me he was disappointed about the change of schedule for their condom lesson last week collared me in the corridor again this week. I suspect he had just had the condom lesson. He pointed to his friends trousers and said, “Do you know this?” I said, “Trousers?” He replies, “No, this.” His friend was as confused as me and a few other students had begun to gather round, “Pockets?” I clearly wasn’t getting at what he wanted. He turns to his other friend and asks in Korean. He then turns around and says, “Simon. Do you know penis?”
The girls at the high school were very sweet about me leaving. Either they are all destined for becoming actresses by feigning misery or they genuinely looked upset that I was leaving. I got given a huge box of ‘Hankwa’ which is a traditional Korean snack made from rice (obviously). I got some sweets from Princess and
Miss Kang, Mrs Cha, Laura and Yuni.
a lollipop from Lady Gaga. I also received some letters which were really nice. I won’t privy our blog readers into these personal letters but the voyeuristic nature of our society dictates that I should put some of the comedy gold into the public domain: ”The students are excited because you have the same height as the main character from the Korean drama ‘City Hunter’.” ”In boring timetable, your class was vitality for me.” ”It pleasures me to know you.” ”To be honest with you, in your class, I really passive. We communicated through body language and little English.”
The girls in 1-1 were particularly sweet. They had plastered the whiteboard with messages telling me to come back to Korea and they had linked Korea and England on the map saying that they will miss me. When I walked into the classroom, the students had learnt “My Love” by Westlife and started singing it to me. It was a strange mixture of emotions – happiness that they were singing in English, sadness that I was leaving them and horror at the song choice. I’ve added a video of them singing here so check it out!
Girls High School 5
Me with the teachers in the office.
My favourite letter reading moment of the week was from Mr Oh. I will miss my lessons with him and those moments where my jaw has hit the floor in amazement at what has just happened will be memories that will make great stories back at home. Half way through his letter, he wrote the following, ”One day, I found a hole in the heel of your socks. I was surprised about it. But you wore that socks very naturally after that. Oh! You are always diligent and thrifty person.”
On Thursday night, Man Flu began to set in for me. My body finally succumbing to the 20 week long stretch of working and the climate changing from spine tingling cold to unbearable heat and humidity. I should have seen it coming. I did the Korean thing and went about daily life as though nothing was wrong.
By Friday night I was flagging badly (for the women reading, this means I had a slight sniffle). The sympathy from Laura knows no bounds. Her suggestion for curing me of this incurable hindrance? Watching the new Harry Potter movie at the cinema! Laura, Yuni, Carrie, Sunny and I
It almost got a standing ovation from the class.
had some food before the movie and it was great having Team Kongland back together and catching up. My contribution to light conversation was negligible because my throat had turned to sandpaper. I’ve seen the Harry Potter movies in a very strange order. This makes an already incomprehensible storyline even more confusing. Laura and Stephanie managed to summarise the entire story up until the movie begins a couple of days previously so I felt confident that I’d know what was happening. Within about thirty seconds, I nudged Laura asking what was going on.
The movie was surprisingly good. I say good because the food that I’d eaten before entering the cinema sent me into a food coma like to other so I managed to get some kip during the middle. The start was good, the highlight being the popcorn and coke that I’d bought before going into the cinema. The ending was action packed and full of cheesy one-liners from the cast, “Harry, you’re a much better wizard than I am.” I also loved the John ‘Innuendo’ Hurt holding a wand and saying with all seriousness, “10 inches with unicorn hair down the middle.”
On Saturday morning, I
The look of sheer confusion during English classes.
went into work (shock, horror). The other teachers were really pleased I’d made the effort because it was the closing ceremony for the school. I had been invited to give a speech in front of the students and I’d prepared some Korean for them. It went down well. They applauded every sentence so I think they understood what I was trying to convey. We then went out for a meal fit for a king. It was duck served about 5 different ways. I then quickly hopped onto a coach and made it up to Seoul to meet Laura and Sabrina.
Sabrina lives near a subway stop called Sangbong. On the phone, Laura told me this so I quickly scanned the subway map, found it and got onto the train. I’d be there in no time. Laura and Sabrina were also on the subway and we assumed we’d arrive at about the same time. In fact, at one point, we thought we were on the same train. After about half an hour, they phoned saying that they’d arrived and were confused why I wasn’t there. I told them I was at ‘Seoul Grand Park’. I could almost hear Sabrina’s jaw
hit the floor down the phone. I’d been on a train travelling to Sanbon rather than Sangbong. I was heading due South and they were due East. Damn.
Eventually, we decided to meet centrally at Hundai. This is confusing because the Korean says Hundai but the English subway station is Hongik University. I’d heard about it before but only as a place foreigners go. I was horrified at another Itaewon experience so my expectations were low. These expectations were shattered as soon as I arrived. The place was sprawling with quirky, university-type Koreans. Free from the shackles of pushy parents and the monotony of middle and high school work. The place was beautiful in that everywhere you looked, you saw something or someone a little different. The inhomogeneity was quite refreshing. We made our way to get some Mexican food before heading to the park. We bought some drinks and took them to the park.
I will try and describe the scene at about 10pm. We were stood next to a children’s play area with some plastic tarpaulin tied between some trees and a slide. We’d set up a game of beer pong underneath them. About twenty metres
I managed to hit it a few times. This one is the cover drive.
away there was an awesome band set up in the middle of the park playing some great music with a crowd of about 150 people circling them. People were dancing, clapping, singing along. They looked like university students who had just decided to have a jam. It was great. The rain was on and off causing the singers to wear rubber gloves because they kept getting electrocuted by the microphone. They continued to play much to the enjoyment of the crowd. Then all of a sudden, Elvis is being blasted out of a speaker nearby. Like something out of a movie, a flash-mob of couples appeared out of nowhere and started jiving and ballroom dancing to a selection of tunes seemingly chosen at random by a man on a motorbike. This was the Seoul that I always knew existed but hadn’t yet found.
We laughed at the ‘British Culture and Language’ guidebook that one of Sabrina’s American friends was carrying. It included some valuable pieces of advice and information. ‘Minger’ is an ugly person (no mention of Munter though). ‘The Shits’ in Australia means something that is really good whereas in Britain it means diarrhoea.
The morning after,
This is Ghandi. He walks around with no shoes on.
we treated ourselves to some bacon and eggs. The heat was unbearable but the skewers of melon and pineapple on a bed of ice went down a treat. We explored Hundai by day and it was just as impressive as by night. They have some nice markets in the park where we were the night before. I was feeling particularly oxymoronic so I ordered an Iced Hot Chocolate from a nearby café before we made our way back to Boeun.
Laura and I are jetting off to The Philippines on Thursday so the next blog won’t be for a couple of weeks! We’re looking forward to telling you all about it!
Tink and Laura
There are more photos below