This particular Tuesday is made even better by the fact that last night I bought a bus ticket to Busan for Chuseok. Things to do while I’m there: spend time on the beach, find a decent pedicure (maybe try out those little fishies they have here?), see some of the awesome people I met at orientation who live in places other than Gwangju.
|Chuseok rice cakes|
This week's lesson plan for grade 3 is about praise, condolences and encouragement. The most amusing part of these lessons, to me, is the fact that my students pronounce “cheer up” and “shut up” in almost exactly the same way. It's tough to imagine unless you've become intimately familiar with Konglish (Englishee, pinishee, Home Plus-uh), but trust me, it's all I can do to keep a straight face. I tried addressing this after I noticed it in my first class, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. They think it's funny that I allow them to say "shut up" in a classroom context, and can repeat the words properly after me. But as soon as we go back to the lesson, it's back to,
"My goldfish died yesterday."
Caity Teacher's lack of skills might be showing here.
And now for your occasional dose of TMI, re: Korean bathrooms. Korean bathrooms can be anywhere from completely primitive to super fancy. In one of the expat bars, there is but one restroom for everyone, and it’s so small that when you’re washing your hands, you’ve practically got your elbow in the back of the guy taking a leak at the urinal. Awkward. On the other hand, Koreans like to technologize everything (shut up, it’s a word now), including their restrooms. For instance, you can frequently find toilet seats with more buttons than I can imagine functions that a toilet seat should have. Along with the buttons are little illustrative pictures involving naked behinds, but I’m still not brave enough to try any of them. At school (and other places), when you walk into the bathroom, music automatically begins to play – perhaps to ease your restroom-related anxieties? Today’s selection was the morning-calm-after-the-storm section of the William Tell Overture. I often wonder if it will turn off if I sit still in there long enough, or if it senses when I leave and then shuts off. When you sit down, the toilet makes a little tinkling sound. I found this highly confusing at first, as I was quite sure I hadn’t used the restroom yet, but what was that sound? It still freaks me out a bit, but I’m sure it serves some useful purpose for anxious Koreans. All of this fancy, and there’s still rarely any toilet paper to be found and most of the stalls have squatties instead of seats. Go figure.
My most recent struggle with Korean culture has been with my co-teachers planning meetings in which I am a major component (if not the actual reason for the meeting) without consulting me or my schedule. They just come to me and say, “Caity, we have English teachers’ meeting on Wednesday after classes.” No, I didn’t have any plans, thank you (actually I did). Good thing I was told in advance to expect this or I would be HOT. I know they’re just trying to arrange things and make everything easy for me, and it’s my job to show up at these meetings, but it’s a little difficult for me not to look at this hijacking of my schedule as slightly rude. Yet another example of why it’s important to keep a proper perspective while I’m here. Caitlin might not have been ok with this sort of thing, but dammit, Caity Teacher can handle it!