And so it begins

This was Day 2, Semester 2, Year 2.

Yesterday my stress-and-heat-induced headache was way too strong to allow me to blog, and when I got home around 6:30 p.m. I literally collapsed into bed and only ventured out of it to get sustenance from my kitchen (so, about five steps).

But today I’m feeling much better and more energetic, perhaps mostly due to the fact that I only have two classes on Wednesdays, which is lovely because every other day of the week is pretty packed (and bottom-heavy, so I’m usually teaching back-to-back classes after lunch straight through till last period).

There have already been ups and downs. The blistering, record-setting heat (apparently the hottest summer in Korea since 1994!!!) is not helping anyone’s back-to-school spirit, but we’re trying.

Among other activities, we’re playing People Bingo this week to talk about our summer vacations. (There was no way I was going to make my kids study the textbook in the first week; I’ve learned my lesson from previous semesters. It’s completely counterproductive.)

The kids have to go to other students (or teacher) with their Bingo sheets and ask questions like “Did you eat ice cream during summer vacation? Did you visit another city? Did you go to a museum?” If the answer is “yes” they can write that student’s name in the box.

Well, a boy came up to me within 3 minutes, confident that he’d achieved BINGO. I glanced at his sheet.

Me: “Did you ask different people?”

Him: “…”

Me: “You have to ask different people each question!”

Him: *taking the Bingo Sheet back in defeat* “Oh, Jeejus. Jeejus.”

Apparently he thought asking a couple of his friends over and over until he got BINGO was acceptable? Not so fast, kid! It’s a mingling activity, not a cliquing activity.

Because the cafeteria is under construction until November, all the kids have to eat lunch in their homerooms with their homeroom teachers. As a result, when I go down to the teachers’ cafeteria at 12:30, instead of a hallway filled with ravenous, squabbling, play-fighting children, there is silence and emptiness. The teachers’ cafeteria room is like a funeral room of hushed voices and silent head-bow greetings as the handful of non-homeroom teachers (teachers on shorter contracts like me, for example) eat together. It’s not necessarily a bad experience. I kind of prefer it, actually.

One of the other activities I’ve been having the kids do is a “favorite things survey.” I have a series of questions like favorite food, movie, music, K-pop group, city in Korea, superhero, sport, candy, color, etc. etc. I’m letting them write their answers in Korean if need be (but encouraging the ones who can to use English wherever possible) – and the reason for that is that I really want every single kid to be able to participate, because I plan to compile all their answers into an Excel spreadsheet, find the top 3-5 most popular answers, and play a Family Feud-style game with all the classes later this semester based on our school’s student opinions. It’s an idea I’ve seen on Waygook and other sites in various formats, but of course it’s more fun and engaging for the kids if they’re guessing the opinions of their own peers and not some random strangers.

Beginning to compile the answers* has tested my Korean handwriting-deciphering abilities, which I’ve discovered are markedly improved but nowhere near great. The process has involved a lot of googling my best guess until something viable pops up.

On a personal note, it’s nice to see what my kids are actually into. Sure, some of the 2nd grade boys have trolled me with their answers – a few have done things like put the name of an erotica drama down for “best TV show” (which I only discovered after googling the title) or “North Korea” for “country you want to visit.” But for the most part, it’s helping me see what they’re interested in (and what candy to buy if they deserve a treat).

Fortunately there have been no Korean surprises yet (other than a few last-minute co-teacher switches), and we can only hope it remains this way.

And we also hope that the air con holds up because yesterday it was struggling to cool the entire school and kept cycling off and on.

Fall, please hurry up and get here.

Love, Maddy

*For anyone interested in Korean pop culture du jour, here are some of the top survey results so far:

  • K-pop (boy group): BTS, EXO, Big Bang
  • K-pop (girl group): TWICE, iOi, Mamamoo
  • Foreign band/singer: Maroon 5 (overwhelmingly so, probably because it’s basically the only Western music they know), honorable mentions for The Beatles & Michael Jackson
  • Movie: Train to Busan (recent Korean zombie thriller), Suicide Squad
  • Game: Overwatch (it’s beating out League of Legends, amazingly)
  • Subject: P.E. (so, so, so many votes for P.E.)
  • Superhero: Ironman far & away in the lead, with Captain America a distant 2nd and a few stubborn votes for The Joker and Harley Quinn
  • City in Korea: Daegu (Daeguites are a loyal bunch), followed by Sokcho (because it’s the only Korean city where Pokemon Go is available)
  • Animal: Two-thirds dog, one-third cat. 1 vote for armadillo.
  • Country to visit: Japan at the top, followed weakly by the U.S. and then Brazil (no doubt influenced by the Rio Olympics)
  • Baskin Robbins flavor: “My Mom Is an Alien” (pretty sure we don’t have this flavor in the U.S.!? But apparently it’s really popular here)
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Behold “My Mom is an Alien”, which contains dark, milk, and white chocolate ice cream and is studded with (I think) malted milk balls. I think I need to try this. For like… research purposes. To see if my kids are correct or not, you know.
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