because today wasn’t bad enough

i woke up this morning knowing i would have a headache by the end of the day because my neck and back were stiff and sore. we got to school and one of the students was already there. apparently his parents had to drop him off early and they were ok with him waiting at the door to the school by himself. granted we are on the second floor so he was at least in the building out of sight from strangers… and this is korea, but still… i don’t think it’s the best idea to leave a six year old by himself.

english with the 5* year olds went ok. one of the 5* year olds can’t sit for more than two seconds so he distracts the other students. my boss’s wife was sitting in on the classes but she is trying to get the kids used to just being with me… at least they are staying in the room now. for the first week of school or so they would run after her… scary white person ahhhh!

the boy that can’t sit still used to cry a lot in the beginning of the school year because he missed his mom/grandma… he’d never been to daycare or school before. i’m pretty sure he was scared of me for the first few weeks, but he’s warming up to me. yesterday and today i built a truck for him with some lokko blocks and he was pretty happy about it. i’m not sure if he has figured out that i don’t speak or understand korean though.

pe class with the 5* olds happened as usual… in other words it didn’t. inspiring a 5* old to play group games… not a chance. last class of the day… phonics… two of the kids were great for most of the class but the other two had other plans.

i rode the van with the kids as they were being dropped off. peter and i take turns. i extremely dislike riding the van. riding in a car with the driver always pumping the gas… it’s like being on a roller coaster for 30 minutes. my headache made me feel more nauseous than usual i think. after the van ride i went home for a bit before the afternoon classes began. i went back with peter around 3:30pm because i wasn’t sure when i was supposed to teach… the schedule keeps changing.

my class with the elementary students went ok. maybe i’m just getting used to telling them to speak english, sit down, be nice, don’t do that… at the end of class one of the boy’s pokemon cards fell out of his pocket so he and one of the girls were cleaning them up instead of participating in one of the action activities… well the boss’s wife came in and saw they weren’t participating and made them go to the office. after class i saw them in the office. the girl was crying and wailing… i asked my boss’s wife what she said to them and she said that she told them that they need to behave better or they won’t be able to move on to the next level. i probably would be freaking out too if i were her… being left behind would be embarrassing and she would probably be in a lot of trouble at home too. my boss’s wife then told me that i need to give my students a test… which is exactly opposite of what she wanted before.

so after school we went to get groceries and i was pretty miserable because of my headache. we finally finished, and the cashier scanned all of our stuff, i handed her my debit card to pay, and she started talking in korean… uh oh somethings not right. she said “error… nonghyup… error” ok… nonghyup is our bank so we had no clue why there was an error or if it was just my card. i was thinking i did get paid last month right? so peter tried to hand her his card which is also nonghyup but she said “no nonghyup error” so we were like great what do we now? peter called our boss’s wife and the cashier talked to her and then gave us the phone back. anyways so all nh bank accounts are not available today because of some error. our boss actually came to the store and paid for our groceries. hopefully our bank account will be unfrozen tomorrow so we can pay him back. he also told us that that store is too expensive and that he would take us to lotte mart whenever we wanted to go!

*disclaimer: 5 years old in korean age is actually 3-4 years old in american age.


Valentine’s Day in Korea

Koreans celebrate Valentine’s a bit different from the US. Apparently not all Koreans have gotten into the Valentine’s celebrations yet. On February 14th, women are supposed to buy candy for all the men in their lives. That can range from co-workers to bosses to more special people. And then on March 14th, or White Day, the men are supposed to buy candy for the women who bought them candy. And then on April 14th, or Black Day, all those who are single or did not get candy go out and eat black noodles.

We decided to celebrate the American way by getting each other gifts, which actually turned out to be a very interesting story. When we went on our lunch break, I walked to the flower shop and Rachel headed back to the apartment. I had seen the flower shop before, but had never been in. When I got to the store, I was not sure which door to enter because they had a lot of sliding doors, but none of them really looked they were entrances. Eventually I saw people through one door so I entered there. The flower shop was more of a greenhouse. I started out looking at the small plants and the Koreans were trying to talk with me and help me out. I ended up walking past a display of rose bouquets. I figured a whole bouquet would be like $100 because Koreans are crazy when it comes to gifts. But I did see a whole bucket of just roses. So I tried to tell the lady that I just wanted like 5 roses, and not a whole display. Well my zero Korean and her zero English left us confused. Sort of funny watching us stand there pointing at flowers. She was able to call someone and I talked with them to explain what I was looking for. Two older Korean ladies walked in with a little dog while I was leaving and I am pretty sure they all laughed at me while I was walking out.

It wasn’t until I was walking down the street with flowers in hand that I realized how funny I looked. Probably not many guys buying flowers on a day when the women are supposed to be buying things for men. O well. I stopped a convenience store on the way back to buy some Ferrero Rochers. Of course they had their display thing outside which just happened to be on a main street. Double awkwardness holding flowers and buying chocolate for everyone to see. Rachel had bought me chocolate as well so we enjoyed our spaghetti for lunch and chocolate for dessert.

After work we decided to go out to eat. So we went to Sorrento’s to get some Italian food. Just about every booth was full at the restaurant by the time we left so apparently Koreans do the whole taking people out for dinner on Valentine’s. We ordered Shrimp Alfredo, which rivaled Olive Garden’s but unfortunately the Koreans are not quite Italian Masterchefs. We also had some Bruschetta as an appetizer which came out different from we expected but still tasted good. All in all we had a romantic first Valentine’s together overseas.