Sunday, 14 March 2010

Korea - The first jjim dak

Hello everyone!

So the new school year started on March 2. As I only teach first graders, this means that I can just be incredibly lazy and repeat the lessons I have taught for the past few months. Well, except the Christmas one. So this week is the British lesson I gave before. The sing-a-longs of Yellow Submarine I have been doing have been, well, deafening in some instances. All the kids seem very excited, and excited about me - I got a standing ovation from one class. One also shouted 'I LOVE YOU' before running away giggling. As before, I've had to field the normal girlfriend and age questions, but have been honest about the latter this time. They seem shocked that I'm Korean age 23.

The new office I've got going on is taking a while to get used to. My new co-co-teacher is the Chinese teacher, so any problems I have are supposed to be now directed to her. I don't think I've ever used hand gestures as much in my life as I have in the past few days. Of the eight teachers in this office, only Mr. Kim and one other teacher speak English. I didn't realise that the other one, Mrs. Park, was an English teacher. Who I teach with. She came over to my desk just before I was going to teach a lesson and said, 'Are you ready?' Ready for what? 'For our lesson!' I just about managed to survive without letting her know that I had no clue that she was Mrs. Park. After what happened to me on the Friday I don't really remember the new teachers, unsurprisingly.

Most teachers have been telling me that I should have kept the braids. When they ask me why they went, I hold my nose and make a smelly gesture. Easier than explaining that I didn't feel it would be great for kids who are just starting at a new school to see the one non-Korean waltzing around with freaky hair and a cheesy grin. I can't do that with hand gestures.

I am getting into the swing of going to the gym straight from work. Other commitments mean I can't do it on Tuesdays - rather, I go sit in a coffee shop for half an hour and prepare. The guy is beginning to realise that I'm going to become something of a regular, so is giving me free food with my coffee. Love it.

The curbing of excess is not coming along as smoothly, however. Indeed, this week was part of a stretch where I ate in restaurants, normally accompanied with a few beers, for 6 days out of 7. This was April's final week so socialising was obviously high on her agenda. Monday was my third curry of the week - no honey naan though. Wednesday I went for dinner with Brenda and introduced her to the other Westerners in Siheung.

Tuesday was a new culinary experience. We had something called jjim dak. Like dak galbi, it's served in a giant dish in the middle. It is chicken, and cooked in a different way (the internet says it's 'braised', whatever that means). It comes in what seems like gravy, which has vegetables in it, and is laced with soy. It was really good, even though most of the chicken had gone as I was late in getting there. After that we went to Woodstock and all said our goodbyes to April. Great woman, will miss you!

People are beginning to leave with a greater degree of regularity now, which is a strange feeling. Dalyn also left this week, and the Saturday was Michelle's final big night on a weekend, as she was leaving the following Saturday morning. We stuck local, going to a bar called WITH, before ending up in a noraebang. The 50 Cent rap battle we had going on was truly epic. I had a shred of respect for the man now, after attempting to sing P.I.M.P. with Jon and then both of us realising that we had no clue what the verses were. He talks rather fast, that man Fiddy.

So for the second week running, the only daylight I saw on a Sunday was in the morning before going to bed. At least I didn't waltz home with face paint on this time. I made the amateurish error of turning off my alarm, so got woken up by a text at 6.30pm. Oh dear. At least I don't need to plan any lessons for next week!

Love you all


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