“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall”

My favorite quote, and the only quote I remember, from Great Gatsby. In my mind, the only one worth storing in long-term memory. (Sorry to any Gatsby aficionados out there; I wasn’t a fan.)

Autumn has come to Korea. The weather has been mostly beautiful, the leaves are changing colors, and the days have slipped by quietly without me really noticing. It’s already been almost 2 weeks since my last post.

You know how it goes… things happen, students say stuff, and it’s cute or funny or sweet, but then I don’t write about it because other things take priority, or because maybe I would’ve written about it 5 months ago, but now it’s just sort of par for the course as an ESL teacher here.

So now I will endeavor to give an all-encompassing update of what’s gone on in the last twoish weeks, for anyone who cares to read such things:

— I said goodbye to the delightful 1st graders at my main school and this week started teaching the 2nd graders. As such, by the end of the week I finally will have been introduced to all the students at that school (in total, about 880). I find the 2nd graders to lie somewhere between 1st and 3rd in terms of energy and motivation, but sadly leaning towards 3rd grade in enthusiasm (or rather, lack thereof).

To my 1st graders, everything I said was exciting and great. Every lesson I taught was fun and easy. There were no “pulling teeth” moments, none of those dreadful silences as I stand at the front, sweating wildly and waiting for the volunteer hand that will never be raised. There were no sleepers, no bored or exasperated looks. They were all eager to try and do and speak and learn.

I feel as though this goes beyond the fact that they are still young and prehormonal; this is a particularly all-around smart and nice group of kids, and I know what a blessing and rarity that is for teachers across the board. I miss them.

The 2nd graders have most definitely hit puberty and are caught in its raging throes. (Is that even a thing? Can a person be caught in throes? Whatever. They are, okay?) Attitudes, insecurities, egos, reproductive urges, and self-consciousness are coming out in full force, in a strange contradictory blend. They’re still good kids, though; I’m just going to have to work harder for their attention and their respect.

— Today one of the 3rd grade girls came to visit me in my office. She lived in America before and can speak fluent English. I was happy to see her, but still couldn’t help feeling shocked when this steady stream came out of a Korean student’s mouth: “Oh my gosh, okay, um, so like I was wondering if you could do me a favor – I like suck so much at writing, and I’m doing this speech contest…” She has the inflection, fillers, and slang that, without living in an English-speaking country, it’s nearly impossible for an L2 learner to achieve. It’s nice to be able to talk to her using natural speed and vocabulary. Basically, she asked me to proofread her speech and make suggestions, which I’m happy to do.

— Two boys in one of the 2nd grade classes, during my intro lesson today, insisted that their names are Tony Stark and Harry Potter. And so Tony Stark and Harry Potter they shall be.

— Now I am fighting the urge to merely “Save Draft” and let this sit in my drafts box until I realize how inane and repetitive and dull this post is and delete it.

Actually, I’m hoping to write a post very soon about how my perspective has shifted after living here for 8 months (basically, recognizing the pros and cons of life in Korea rather than just the pros). We’ll see!


2 thoughts on ““Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall”

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