Friday, March 15, 2013

'Your face change colour'

"Your face change colour" were the first words my COT (Jenny 1) greeted me with when I went back to  School. I said "yes, I'm sun-kissed". Jenny 1, smiled and told me that she liked that expression. I was really quite pleased she appreciated this, because Koreans positively revere and desire paler skin, where as westerners tend to prefer a 'healthy glow'. Later the same day, one of the students said "Teacher, red face" in a rather concerned manner. I laughed, and told them I'd just spent two weeks in the Philippines.

I've not really written about teaching in Korea. Last August, I somewhat awkwardly started in the middle of a School year. Now we're commencing a new school year, it seems like a good time to try and explain a few things about my School life. I teach the whole 5th grade once a week (6 different classes) on Mondays and Tuesdays. Then, I teach the whole 6th grade twice a week (6 different classes) from Wednesday to Friday. This year I will teach four after-school classes, two with 5th grade (Tuesday and Thursday) and two with 6th grade (Monday and Friday).

Things have changed at school, mostly for the better. I am no longer based in a separate office. Jenny 1 and I, have moved into our English classroom. This means that we've had the opportunity to make it feel much more homely and like our own space, rather than the empty shell it was before. I have a new 5th grade COT, Jenny 2. She is 26 years old, and this is her first teaching job. She seems slightly timid, but eager to make a good impression. I've decided to refer to them as Jenny 1 and Jenny 2, because this is what happens when the students choose the same English name. Instead of making one of them change, they simply become 1, 2, and even 3.

The current 6th grade also seem nicer and more attentive than the previous students. The English names they've chosen seemingly reflect this shift, they all have pretty standard English names. The ones who've been a little more creative are called things like 'hero', 'nero', and 'genius'. A couple of students have also told me that they <3 me, ah bless. Although, they were in my after school class last year, so they've had longer to warm to me. But, one little boy who I'd not met before suddenly said "Teacher, you are kind". Then on White day (Korean Valentines day March 14, when males buy gifts for females), I received some gold coins and lollipops. It's looking like it's going to be a pretty good year.  

Yesterday, I went to my first official COT's dinner. During orientation, I'd been told this was something that might happen quite often, and I've observed other NETs do this regularly. However, in the previous six months I have only been to one School dinner with all of the School staff.

I had a nice meal at Ashleys, and I really enjoyed spending time getting to know Jenny 1 and Jenny 2 better in a social setting. Jenny 2 told us some more about herself. I really like her, she is the first Korean I've met who doesn't like seafood (much to Jenny 1's surprise), and nor does she love Kimchi. Thankfully, now I'm not the only one with strange eating habits. Jenny 2 told us that after dinner she was going to meet her boyfriend. We asked her if she was expecting a gift for White day. Jenny 2 said that she wasn't expecting anything because they had been together for a long time, and they didn't really give gifts. She said she hadn't given him anything for Red day (Korean valentines day February 14, when females buy gifts for males).

Jenny 1 surprised me when she proceeded to jokingly discourage us from getting married. In Korea every one wants to get married and if you are single they feel sorry for you, and tell you so. Jenny 1 told us that it is too stressful trying to keep everybody's families happy all the time. She also proceeded to share some mother-in-law jokes, some of the humour was lost on me but I found the general sentiment amusing. She also told us that when she was younger she had wanted to marry a butcher because she loved meat, although she's glad she didn't because she finds it slightly heavy these days.

Notice how I've mentioned Red Day and White Day, well there is also Black day. This is on April 14th. It's the Korean Valentines equivalent for single people. I like the inclusive nature, in that seemingly they don't like to leave anyone out of these celebrations.

Oh, and the following day Jenny 2 positively beamed at us as she produced, and shared some cookies her boyfriend had given her for White day.


  1. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favor:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Korea? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Korea in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
    28903 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez

  2. Emilio,

    Next month the Cherry blossoms should be in full bloom in Korea. So, I will have a look for a nice postcard to send you.

    Best wishes :)