Yesterday morning, I got lost on the way to work. Yep, it was my third day making the journey, but for some reason, I entirely forgot how to get there. I popped out next to the Woori Bank, which is how I get to Kyobo (I just realized how ridiculous all this must sound), and even though it's a little far, I know how to get to work from Kyobo. Today I'll have to make sure to leave earlier. Apparently the magical sense of direction that helped me find Jubilee has worn off, and I'm left with my standard sense of direction that used to get me lost in my own parking lot.
When I got to work, I found out that the kids would be late because the storm I heard the night before was actually a typhoon. A typhoon! I googled it, and found out that the biggest tropical storm to hit Korea in fifteen years managed to hit during my first week. Now that's a great omen if I've ever heard one! Anyway, so every other kindergarden in Korea was ordered closed due to whether, but Gate decided to be rebels and open anyway. Lucky me :)
Only two of my kids arrived on time, so I let them draw on the board. I was told to just "keep them busy" until all the kids showed up and we could do something productive, so drawing seemed like a grand idea to me. I asked them to draw their families, and they're super smart kids so I know they understood the word. Instead, though, they drew me.
I asked him if I could take a picture, and that's the pose he made. It's just about the cutest thing ever.
I only had two markers for the board, so when a third student arrived, I decided to play hangman. It's actually a really good game, teaching-wise, and it's low-stress for me. I drew the first puzzle on the board, and asked the kids to give me a letter.
Um, that's not a letter, Brian. Try again.
Once they got the hang of the game, they loved it. About three games in, though, one of my little girls asked if we could please do a workbook instead because the game was boring. She WANTED to do workbooks instead of playing games. So strange.
Yesterday my new class orientation was scheduled, so all the mommies came in to hear about my teaching strategies. I tried to stay away from "Yes, I'm your child's teacher, and I got lost on my way to work today", so it all went pretty well. Little sidenote: all parents are called mommies and daddies here. Not mothers and fathers or moms and dads - mommies and daddies. It's cute, but I feel so incredibly silly referring to my students' parents as "Evelyn's mommy." Anyway... orientation went well. Only two of the mommies could understand English, so I spent forty-five minutes talking to a room of women who pretty much had no idea what I was saying. On top of that, I was horribly distracted by the fact that one of the mommies in the front row was wearing a t-shirt that said "save water, shower with a friend!"
After work yesterday, Hana took me to the Korean equivalent of a dollar store to get supplies for my apartment. Kat came with us, which turned out to be a blessing because I kind of forgot to bring money. On the way there, we decided that our goal was to purchase a one-dollar man (I cannot for the life of me remember how we got on that), and I quite enjoy the fact that we can practically shout about how men are worthless and no one even looks at us because hardly anyone can understand what we're saying. It's amazingly fun to be so anonymous. The dollar store was huge! Hana led me upstairs and started picking out things I needed. I got a variety of cleaners, dishes, and towels... and this trash can:
In case you're having trouble, that says "you have to get ready all the times to get her love" and has a picture of a girl following apples into a tree where a boy is hiding.
After the dollar store excursion, I met up with my friend Heather from Jubilee. She teaches in a very small school and doesn't know a lot of foreign teachers, so she had a blast pointing things out to me. The absolute biggest disappointment of my night was that I forgot my camera. We chose a restaurant (okay, Heather chose a restaurant), and we went inside. We were the only foreigners in the building, which was so much fun, and the waiter brought us a free coke. At least, we assumed it was free seeing as we didn't order it and it just appeared on our table. I'm going to attempt to explain the food, but I really wish I had pictures.
The main dish was pork, and it was essentially really thick bacon. We cooked it right at the table, which was hilarious to me. Around the pork, we were given what felt like a million side dishes - boiled scrambled eggs, three kinds of kimchi, a super-spicy tofu soup, and these little sheets of radish paper that tasted like cole slaw. When the bacon-ish was cooked, Heather taught me how to eat it. We wrapped a piece of meat inside a piece of lettuce, along with other toppings from the table. I was under the impression that I'd be eating this like a tiny taco, so I filled it up with things. I looked across the table to take Heather's cues, and she had rolled hers into a little ball and popped it in her mouth. Uh-oh. Mine was HUGE. Instead of unloading part of it, I just stuffed the entire thing in my mouth and we both started cracking up. I failed similarly when attempting to eat with chopsticks; at school, they are my only option, but it's pretty easy to scoop rice up, so I haven't had much trouble. It's a whole different story when you're trying to manipulate meat into different kinds of sauces. I'm pretty sure I dropped everything I picked up, and we laughed every single time. Heather was quite enjoying being the sophisticated, experienced one; since she mostly hangs out with Koreans, she's the one who's always committing an array of faux pas.
We intended to go to a Walmart-esque store, but we ended up talking far too long and it started to get late. We walked back to my apartment, and she explained some things in the convenience store on the way so I'd be able to hopefully make successful purchases in the future. Heather is an incredibly valuable new friend to have since she speaks a decent amount of Korean, and she's also really fun. She's only here until Christmastime, though, and that's a terrible shame. I knew that'd be the case; people will come and go the whole time I'm here, but it's sad to think this new friend I made is only around the next few months. That's going to be really hard to get used to.
On a more personal note, I think I'm adjusting pretty well, but I'm startled to find that homesickness hits at random times and in powerful ways. I think it's a little bit related to the jet lag; I start to crash around 1 in the afternoon, and that's when I get horribly depressed. It positively brings me to tears to think that no one in America will ever see my apartment, and that everyone I care about will hear my stories by reading them on this blog. I know it's the most efficient way of communicating; there are far more people reading this than I expected would be interested, so it'd be impossible to call each of you on skype and tell you the stories individually. But it's really hard to have to type out everything and just send it off, not actually getting to hear people laugh at the hilarious things that happen to me or see people smile when I try to pronounce Korean words. I know you're having fun reading my adventures, and that's the point of the blog, but just know that it's a lot harder on me than I'm making it sound. It's painfully lonely sometimes (like right now) and I just wish I had someone with me to lean on. I enjoy the new friends I'm making so very much, but they're not the same as having someone who knows me here. Please keep commenting on the blog - I reread the comments until I pretty much have them memorized just so I can remind myself that people out there are listening and love me. It's really great here, but really hard. Please pray for me :) I love you all!