not dead but lethargic

In fact, nearly comatose. Intellectually speaking.

I have opened this gosh darn blog post window so many times in the last, what, 2 weeks, and I haven’t been able to produce a single word worth reading.

I’ve just been pushing through, head down, trying to numb myself to the ebb and flow of stress as lesson plans come and go and Korean surprises rear their heads, feeling like a dried-out pitiful little husk at the end of some of the particularly draining days, just pushing, pushing, pushing forward to a vacation that is nowhere in sight. (No mid-semester spring break for Korea, so we’re holding on till mid-July.)

Which is a dramatic way of saying that I’ve simply been tired and working hard. Teaching is one of those professions that hits the trifecta of being mentally, emotionally, and physically draining (albeit emotionally rewarding as well).

As far as updates go:

Mentoring/demo open class:

1. I was really proud of the kids (I chose one of my favorite 3rd grade classes because I knew those kids wouldn’t let me down). They were mega amped up because WHOA FOREIGNERS. A few of the NETs were practically pushed into my classroom by overly-excited 2nd graders acting as escorts and arrived looking bemused and slightly scared. heh. Don’t mind my crazy kids, fellow NETs.

2. The class timing was perfect, and as I said, the kids really did well with being active. They cheered for game time, cheered when they got a correct answer, cheered for no reason at all. Even some of the quiet / slightly sullen kids were trying, and I appreciated that (even if it was only because they were being watched by 6 foreigners, the VP, and a camera).

3. Prior to my class, this message was sent out to all the teachers (sketchy English brought to you by Google Translate):

English drawing room today 6period
excellent native speaker the open class
That’s coming from outside to visit ~ 6 external teachers
You come welcomed HR. If you do, gladly greet sounds good.
You are teaching Mr. Mehdi  / Medicare Teacher
Please fighting ^^

Actual meaning (roughly): The “excellent native speaker” (I guess that means me) has an open class in the English Room at 6th period. Six foreigners will observe. Teachers of [my school], please come to watch and welcome/greet the foreigners. “Mr. Mehdi / Medicare Teacher” would be me. The way my name is spelled in Korean combined with the word for “teacher” (메디 선생님) makes Google very confused. And as I’ve mentioned before, “fighting”/화이팅 is the Korean phrase for “good luck, you can do it, we’ve got your back!”

At any rate, it was comforting (kind of) to feel that everyone was supporting me. We all know what a pain in the butt open classes are.

4. My co-teachers, vice principal, and principal were apparently all satisfied with the class, so I guess my job here is done. *dusts hands*

Kidding, but I did feel pretty much the whole school breathe a sigh of relief when the ordeal was over with.

Korean surprises:

Too many to count, but most recently:

1. Yesterday (Monday) I was teaching my 1st graders as usual during 4th period. Around 11:30 a.m., as we were about to start a new activity, a hoard of gigantic strangers walked into my classroom (and by that I mean about three adults from a Western country, plus some official-looking Koreans) and WELL KIDS, LOOKS LIKE WE’RE DOING AN OPEN CLASS! Suddenly their focus was perfect, and luckily for me, the timing was good and the activity they were about to do was very AREN’T WE EDUCATIONAL AND HAVING AN AMAZINGLY GOOD TIME WHILE WE’RE AT IT? LEARNING IS SO FUN! I shudder to think if they’d walked in during one of those “Maddy Teacher could walk on the ceiling while belting out the Korean anthem and juggling fire and we wouldn’t care” classes.

2. I thought it rather strange that I could hear loud music floating in my windows around 7:30 a.m. as I was getting ready for work. I figured it must be a neighbor (perhaps THE neighbor) who had apparently decided early morning was a good time to rock out to Korean folk songs. As I walked to school 30 minutes later, the music was still blasting. It just so happened to be coming from the direction I needed to go, and a good 100-200 meters* later I found the source: no less than FOUR groups of people, one on each corner of a major intersection, holding signs and blasting this music as a way to politically campaign for their candidate. What?! As my co-teacher (who lives near me) commented when we talked about it, “That makes me not want to vote for him.”

3. …which leads me to the last surprise, which is a double-edged sword: all this political campaigning is because Korea’s Election Day is next Weds, April 13. It means a day off, but it also means throwing my schedule for a loop and a lot of stress and hectic scrambling-to-cram-the-textbook-in-before-midterms for the classes I’ll miss.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday now and I’ve already had the thought “Damn it, it’s still only Tuesday” multiple times. Here’s to a speedy rest of the week.

* Korea has changed me. I now speak in meters and Celsius. Who am I?


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