I've got an issue, kiddos. The issue is that today I was left unguarded by Coteacher, who accompanied all of the other third grade teachers on the first part of the third grade class trip. Which left me open to all kinds of nonsense all day long. Well. Not really, actually. Just one main thing that's really irking me. But let's just try to get this all going in some kind of organized fashion, shall we? I know. Numbers.
1. When Coteacher isn't around, the other teachers seem to feel a lot more free to speak to me. That is, they feel more comfortable simply addressing me in Korean and not worrying about English. This causes undue stress, because, without my CT safety net around, I tend to doubt my understanding of what I hear the first time, even though I'm usually right. Which means my day was full of a lot of, ".... 네?" But it's nice to get a little Korean speaking time in. The teachers at my school seem to be remarkably good at slowing and down and simplifying for me. If I don't catch it the first time around, they'll reproduce it again in words I recognize. It must be a teacher thing.
Coteacher has started speaking to me in Korean when there are other, non-English teaching teachers around, to sort of clue everyone in on the fact that I am starting to pick a bit up. I feel safer with her though, for some reason.
I think I did pretty good today, though.
2. The hot married PE teacher. It's been a while since I've used this blog to perv on him, but you can believe the perving has been going on. I only allow myself to engage in this nonsense where he is concerned because he's married, and therefore it's basically like perving on a celebrity and I don't have to worry about real-life consequences. Fucked up, I know.
Geez louise, what a man. Yesterday he was in talking to Coteacher, when I must have had a troubled look about me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him nudge her and point in my direction. "What's wrong Liz?"
Coteacher knows already I hate having reduced classes. Even though I've had the third graders to make up part of the time this week during exams, I've still only had three or four classes a day. So Coteacher decided it was a good time for me to practice Korean conversation. Of course, I mostly refuse to speak actual Korean, but she still did her best to get me and the PE teacher talking.
She asked about the rabbit, and I showed them both a picture on my phone and explained how, when I went to Homeplus to get the cage, a young guy working there talked me into buying a hideous lime green one because it was man won cheaper than the nicer one. Coteacher remarked that she was surprised, because I'm not usually easily swayed from my own way about things, and I said, yes but this was in Korean and I can't really argue in Korean. I was nervous already and just wanted the whole situation to be over and done with. The PE teacher remarked that this was cute. Which is amazing because he said something about me was cute and I'm totally in love with him -- get it?
Then he pulled out his phone and showed me a photo of his son. Then -- are you ready for this? -- he proceeded to basically hold my hand while he shuffled through the photos on his phone while I was holding it. There were rainbows figuratively shooting out of my ears.
Aaaanyway. Today I somehow ended up down in the science lab with a bunch of teachers (including my old main co teacher) making organic cosmetics. Don't ask. But for some reason, the PE teacher also joined in on this.
It was a great Korean practice. I've taken Korean classes in Korean before, obviously, but now I've seen for myself the practical applications of doing these kinds of activities with my students, which I have done before, but I always wondered how useful the English side of it was.
While we were waiting for something or another to heat up on the hot plate (which the instructor informed me was hot, because, you know... foreigners don't just not speak or understand Korean, but they also don't know what a hotplate is, because they're clearly mildly retarded), the PE teacher caught I guess his first glimpse of the tattoo on my forearm. I told him the meaning in Korean while he cradled my arm in his hand and I did my best not to pass out.
During the whole process, the teachers (who are not third grade teachers, and therefore not in my office, and therefore have not been around for the recent Korean language ability developments) had seen me comprehending the teacher's instructions in Korean. The PE teacher had started asking my co teacher questions for me in Korean, but my co teacher would simply shoot her eyes up at me, and I would answer him, without translation, in English. At this point, he finally just started addressing me directly in Korean. And then what happened? The other teachers started shouting at him in Korean, mocking him for speaking Korean to the foreigner, who clearly didn't understand. Even as I was answering his questions, which I was fully comprehending. He finally turned on them and shouted back that we could communicate perfectly fine even though his English is terrible, because my Korean is amazing and they should all be quiet, because we understand each other and live in the same apartments.
You tell 'em. And then also please clone yourself and marry me.
3. Here's the real bomb. My old co teacher decided today that she's coming with me on my trip to Vietnam. It was all so sudden that I didn't have a chance to even pause and try to think of a way to gracefully get out of it.
I'm of two minds about this, at this point. When it first happened, I was infuriated. Who does something like that? I've been looking forward to this vacation for an age, with visions of me playing Thomas Fowler in a gorgeous hotel room overlooking a main road, waking a little late in the mornings and drinking strong Vietnamese coffee at a table outside on my imaginary hotel's imaginary veranda overlooking an imaginary busy, scenic Vietnamese street. I would then spend the day wandering around and taking in the various cities, not bothering with anything too touristy or pressurized, basically just trying to soak up the place in whatever way struck my fancy that day. Time alone. To unwind and decompress from the continuing uphill pace of life in the ROK.
Now I've got a middle-aged Korean tagalong. What in the hell am I going to do with her?
And, more importantly.... I.... it's vacation, okay? Who doesn't look forward to the potential, while traveling abroad, of meeting a cute little local and having a bit of what-happens-in-_____-stays-in-_____ fun? Or just meeting new people in general? Which is a lot harder to do when you have a travel companion.
The woman swears she really wants a real travel experience, and that's why she's opted to go with me, the expert real world traveler (???), instead of the other Korean teachers from my school, who are all going through booked tours. But I don't know if she's really ready for this. On my vacation, there will be no kimchi packing, Korean restaurant going, tour bus souvenir shopping nonsense. The end. We will not be taking photos of ourselves with finger Vs in front of temples and monuments. And we will not be wearing stupid hats that are too embarrassing to wear in our country of residence. No. No no no and no. She says she wants to learn from me how to "really" travel, and hope she means that. I'm not, by far, an expert, but I don't do the package tour bullshit.
My game plan, as it stands, is to not veto this whole thing right away (which could, I admit, be a fatal mistake), but instead to discuss my plans in detail over the course of the next week, including riding on motorcycles, striking out to places with nothing but a map and a god-given sense of adventure, and plenty of imbibing of the local brew, as well as cutting costs and taking the ridiculous, jerry-rigged option whenever the opportunity presents itself. I'll see how she reacts to all of this, and see if she's genuinely open to the whole thing. If it starts to seem like she'd much rather be with one of the other Korean teachers on their package tour, I'll address the situation a little more aggressively.
Oi vey. The situations I get myself into. But, to be honest, a similar thing happened over Children's Day, when Coteacher decided that, since my travel desitnation was near her hometown, we would go together and spend the entire time with her family. It wasn't what I imagined it would (or wanted it to) be, but it was still a lovely time with some lovely people.
I hope it stops after this, though. I get a little tired sometimes, in Korea, of the group mentality. It's the one thing that's really hard for me to cope with about Korean culture. I like doing things alone, and I like doing things my own way, and I don't always want other people jumping in. Sometimes I don't want a ride to _____, because I had my own plans about how I was going to get to ____, and a whole schedule worked out for the day I was going to _____. Sometimes I don't want someone to join me going to that museum, or that temple, or that store, or that movie. I just want to go and enjoy it on my own, without the stress of it becoming a social situation. I don't need help with everything and I don't always need (or want) company. Just because I mention my plans to do something doesn't mean that you're invited.
Does that sound really bitchy? Well. Whatever. I'm trying my best to adjust. But some things about me are not American or Western -- they're just me. And they're not likely to ever change. That doesn't mean I'm wrong.
Well, that was a whole boatload of disorganized, rambling nonsense. Contemplating Mimi's name had me thinking about RENT today, so here.... enjoy this as an apology for the utter mess of random crap this blog has become: