Weird Things

The following can be classified as weird situations that I have found myself in recently:

1) Standing in front of the Vice Principal as she pours powdered coffee mix straight from the tube into her mouth and tells my co-teacher (in Korean) that I get paid too much, then prompts my co-teacher to translate for me. Awkward! Also, now I really feel the pressure to do well when my higher-ups think I get paid too much as it is. I think I get paid a little more because I have two schools, which I can’t really help.

EDIT: I’m not even necessarily disagreeing with the VP here. Korean teachers study their brains out to achieve this career, whereas NETs (Native English Teachers) come here with maybe a few months of TEFL training, and yet the NETs often make more in their first year than a new Korean teacher would. The Korean teachers also work longer hours and have more responsibility than the NETs. Korean co-teachers might take the blame if a NET messes up. Where a NET has one after-school class, a Korean teacher has two. So I think she was just trying to make me appreciate this, and it doesn’t come through well in the translation. I don’t have a problem with what she said; it was just a strange situation.

2) Literally, physically pinky-promising the principal of my school that I would come speak English with him in his office later (see Exhibit A). While in the cafeteria surrounded by all my Korean coworkers.

Exhibit A: Promise, stamp, seal. In Korea, you don’t just pinky promise with your pinky – you seal it with your thumb. Serious business.

3) Following through on that promise and finding myself sitting in the Principal’s office drinking coffee (yes, another mixed instant coffee!) and basically having a mini informal conversation class with him. He would make a conversational comment, then ask me to repeat it so he could hear my pronunciation and intonation, then we would fix any grammar mistakes. It was weird at first, but he’s super nice and genuinely excited to practice his English with me. Still, though… weird. Because I would first have to correct the sentence (of my BOSS), then respond conversationally. Not something you do every day.

Then again though, my entire existence here is still weird to me. I’ll be walking home from school or lying in my bed at night and it’ll hit me again: I’m in Korea. I’m walking down the streets of Korea. I’m a teacher at a Korean school. I’m living in Korea. This is So. Weird.

But it’s a good kind of weird. A soul-stirring, life-changing weird.


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