Kamsahamnida – “Thank You”

I was going to wait to post about my first week tomorrow, but I think now is as good a time as any. Today and Wednesday were really good days.

Every morning, I get up to the sound of Coldplay. It’s the nice soothing pace that starts my day off right. I’m a breakfast person, so that’s a meal I don’t like to skip. So far, if it’s not eggs and toast, it’s a peanut butter sandwich or a tangerine. I leave by roughly 9:30 and get to Suji SLP about 5-10 minutes later. Classes start at 10:00 with snack time. Our IP kids, or Intensive Preschool, range from 2-5 years old in American years. I am First Teacher for the IP Dolphin group, which is nice because it means I have a break when my half of the class is over. That’s a GREAT time to get my lesson plans done for the coming weeks, which is what I did yesterday. After the second teacher’s shift is finished, it’s lunch time. Normally, we all go out for lunch since it runs from $2-5. Rebecca treated me to lunch yesterday at the nearby kimbap shop. I didn’t have any kimbap, but I did try something she had suggested which primarily consisted of beef, rice, glass noodles and some veggies, I think it was bulgogi bap? Bulgogi is marinated beef. We had mandu (MAHn-du) as well; I love me some mandu.

After lunch, almost all of us teach activities. For January, I’m teaching Science. By “teaching”, I really mean we spend 5-15 minutes piecing together some kind of contraption the kids play with. The material we’re supposed to integrate to make the lesson resonate with the kids just doesn’t come through at their level. Today, I made air cannons with 2-3 year olds. I’m pretty sure they’re not going to remember or care what the definition of a target is. So what do we do with that extra time? Well, today we colored. Yesterday, we played Simon Says. We do what we can. Once activities are over with, the IP classes go home. This is around 2:40 in the afternoon. We then have 10 minutes to get ready for our SR classes, which have students from 4-12 years old. What’s interesting is that children who are 10-12 in American years over here, have a rough equivalent of high school age maturity. The same for the “middle schoolers”. It’s astonishing. We don’t finish with the SR kids until around 7:10 PM every MWF, then we freeze on our way back to the apartments or wherever we’re going for dinner.

Gamjatang – Pork Spine Soup

Now, I figured coming to Asia I would have to deal with animal bones in at least one of my meals. When I first heard we would be ordering pork spine soup, I’m pretty sure my eyebrows raised a couple of inches. “Spine” and “Eat” don’t normally go together in my language. I think the girls also refer to this as Hangover Soup, but I’m sure that’s another story entirely. So Jess, Meagan, Ashley, and I all had bowl of gamjatang to ourselves. After compartmentalizing the fact that I was using chopsticks to pick apart the meat from the bone of a pig’s spine, I was good. You clean the bones in the soup and then put the bones in a separate pail on the table. You can add rice to another bowl and add soup to that or whatever you want. It was spicy, but more akin to Cajun in my mind than anything else I’ve had here.

The Bone Bucket

Today, all the lesson plans were done. We had lunch at Subway, where they apparently are happy to warm any cookies you buy. Jason took my to the Suwon immigration office to send out for some kind of card I’ll need at 3:00, and we spent an hour sitting in the lobby waiting for our number to be called. I didn’t mind too much because I was making faces at a cute Korean baby in front of me. Seriously, kids over here are born with some genetic cuteness factor. Also, practically all the sky rises where I live are APARTMENTS. These things are so tall and plentiful they could be the modern forests of Korea. Seriously. I commented on it and Jason said that living in apartments is much more comfortable and easier than living in the traditional houses. Considering the people here figured out heated floors are better than heated ceilings, I’ll happily take his word for it.