Temperatures are rising out here. I've already had an insight into what my next three or four months of teaching might be like on Monday, when I taught an all-girl class in period 6, so a little while after they had ran their little hearts out at lunchtime. To say that energy was lacking would be the understatement of mankind. An abandoned morgue has more atmosphere. May need a lot of those cancerous coffee sticks over the summer to keep spirits high in the classes, though they were the only class that struggled.
In the weeks after midterms, the students have one sole focus - sports day. This fascinates me. What sports do they compete in? Does it get in the way of studying? Do they take it as seriously as we did in high school? Because we...well...didn't. I have memories of hopping over the brook to get out early. Sorry to burst the innocent bubble, Mum. Like in Whitchurch High, they compete as a class. Unlike Whitchurch High, they actually play interesting sports, such as football, basketball and dodgeball, in addition to the standard athletics ones. It has allowed me to reminisce and tell other teachers about funny school sports events - such as the egg and spoon race - and funny school sports stories - such as Ryan almost decapitating someone with a discus, and all of us getting a massive telling-off for laughing so much.
Sports Day is on May 20, but preliminary competitions start two weeks before. Academia rules in my school, so all of these take place at lunchtime. The ferocity and passion of their cheering is a good indicator of why they are all so tired in the afternoon. Maybe school should start serving them eel for stamina. Though I'm hoping the activity that eel gives you stamina for is not done on sports day...
So most lunchtimes of late I have been sat on the stairs surrounding the dirtbowl, or watched from afar in the gym, as the students have competed against each other in various team activities. At the moment, first grade boys play basketball and first grade girls play dodgeball, whilst second grade lads play footy and second grade lasses play...well, there is a name for it. In Korean it is 발야구. I'll try to describe it as simply as I can. It's baseball - played with a football. Not a proper football, but the kind of slightly-firmer-than-a-flyaway ball that you take to the beach. The ball is 'pitched' by being rolled along the floor, and the 'batter' kicks the ball and then tries to get to first base, a la baseball. Jokingly, I called it foot-baseball, only to find out later that that is the literal translation of the Hangul. I have no clue about the scoring system, though; that just confuses me.
I seem easily confused at the moment. Confused as to why I had to buy tickets for a South Korea football game in a bank. Confused as to why the combination on one of my place's security doors was changed without any consultation, which manifested when the new code I was given set the alarm off. Confused as to why gummi bears were an option in a salad bar we went to on Sunday. Confused as to why, in the same place, we ordered four very large pizzas for eight hungover, and not overly hungry, Westerners. The girl taking our order in Mr. Pizza was also confused, to the point where she returned to our table to check that the order was right. She was giggling as she left, and we were pondering why until we saw the sheer size of the pizzas.
Even in rude health we wouldn't have finished them, but no one was feeling 100%. Hardly surprising, it was a weekend after all. Saturday was fantastic, though. We woke up at a reasonable hour - well, I got a phone call a little before midday demanding I drag my lazy behind out of bed - so that we could bask in the glorious sunshine after commuting to our destination. Our destination? The Seoul World DJ Festival. Contrary to what I thought (why don't people realise how bad I am with directions?), it was taking place in a park near the World Cup Stadium, so we were soon enjoying the wonderful weather with a few beers on plastic chairs, with the giant football arena staring down at us. We'll be back next week for Korea-Ecuador, don't worry.
Whilst chilling in this area, an older Korean man came and sat behind us. He then started offering us soju and wanting to punch us in the arm. Very strange man. A younger street actually had to come over to tell him to stop annoying us, which was pretty nice of him. A short taxi ride later and we were at the festival, in Nanjihangang. 55,000W for a ticket wasn't too shabby, though Tom made a point of telling us that he managed to blag a free ticket through a friend.
So, the festival. DJ music from dawn until dusk and then dawn again. It's not usually my cup of tea to listen to, but at a festival it just seems to work. We watched a set by a guy called Ross, who is friends with a few people from Siheung. He was voted best foreign DJ in Korea last year, so probably deserved to be on a more primetime slot than 5pm, but at least we would remember it. Very good as well. The atmosphere was amazing, as it always is at festivals. Even the atmosphere at EXIT was quality until I got punched into hospital. We were a little bit surprised by the number of Westerners at this festival, but conversely also surprised by the number of Koreans. I guess we didn't know what to think, or what to expect.
Of these Westerners, I recognised quite a few of them from orientation, so hung out with them for a bit. We went to play on some African drums for a little while, before immersing ourselves in a pan-Asian DJ battle - Japan vs. Korea. Their hatred was put aside for this event, mainly because the little Japanese guy was sick at scratching the decks.
Soon I'd moved on to meet Alicia and Nikki, who had been getting their faces painted the whole time. And still were. Going for perfection, obviously. Still, strange that I could hang out with orientation folk, eat, play drums and watch a DJ battle in the time it took them to have a couple stars painted on their noggins. We went from there to be inked further, getting tattoos. Not permanent, don't worry. I am warming to the idea of getting another one, but have no clue as to what. Maybe something in Hangul.
After getting a henna pattern around my arm, we were heading back to the smaller stage (to be known from this point as the Jager tent, for the obvious reason that there was a Jagerbomb bar there) when I was dragged over to the dance area of the main stage by a girl I'd met earlier. This, save for randomly bumping into Tom much later on in the night, was the last point that I saw anyone that I had arrived with.
A lot of Jager and dancing later, and it is 3am, at which point I take my leave in a 30,000W taxi. It was a great night, full of awesome people, bizarre costumes and great music. I'd forgotten how awesome the festivals I've been to - Reading, EXIT, Sziget et al - were, and how great the vibe is at places like this. Everyone is there to have a good time. There is a rock festival in early August that would be just as good, if not better, but I'll be in China. I'm sure I'll manage. As long as there's no giant pizzas involved...
Love you all