Sunday, December 12, 2010

Anyone still out there?

So it's been a week and a half since I last posted. I'm really not in the mood to post now, but I'm kind of afraid people will stop caring about my blog (read: people will stop caring about me) if I don't post things. I still have fun and hilarious stories from Japan (my airplane sounded more like a rocket ship on the way home and I sincerely thought I was going to die), but I'm really not in the mood to tell fun and hilarious stories. I'm whiny and sad and homesick... so those are the kinds of stories you're going to get.

On Wednesday, I fell in the bathroom at school and hit my head. Although I'm sure you're imagining a cartoon-like fall where my feet flew into the air and I crashed onto the floor, I assure you it wasn't that amusing. I slipped on the way out the door, and the side of my face slammed against the door frame. I kind of laughed it off, but when I still had a headache on Thursday afternoon, I diagnosed myself with a concussion and a slow bleed that would surely kill me in my sleep. I spent all of Thursday night watching the second season of Modern Family until Tiffany came upstairs to make sure I was still alive and sent me to bed.

Then Friday might have been the worst day I've had in Korea. When I came into the school, the principal commented on how my classroom was not as plastered with Christmas decorations as the others. She asked me what I thought of it - to which there is no correct answer. If I said it looked fine, she'd have freaked out, saying that I didn't care about the decorations and thus didn't care for my students' well-being. If I said there should be more, she'd have gone straight to Hana and told her that I demanded more decorations and that she wasn't doing her job. So, as nicely as I possibly could, I asked her if it was my job to decorate the classroom. I knew that my comment could be viewed as sarcastic, so I said it as genuinely as I could, but she took it as a direct insult to the entire Korean education system. As soon as Hana arrived, she pulled her into her office and told her that we do nothing and we are terrible teachers. She told Hana that she'd have to make an extra backdrop for the Christmas musical and eleven choir robes (out of felt and glue). Hana said that she didn't think there would be time to make all of that, so the principal told her that she would just have to stay late and come in on the weekends. Keep in mind that the Korean teachers are paid about half as much as the foreign teachers and make no overtime. Hana came back to the classroom nearly in tears and said that she'd be staying until midnight every night next week to finish the backdrop and that the principal had told her I should be helping. The next time I saw the principal, I asked her if I would get overtime if I stayed late to work on the backdrop, and she exploded. She pulled Hana out of the room and yelled at both of us in the hall for pretty much our whole lunch. When we went back in the classroom, Hana curled up in a ball in the corner, and I told her that she needed to quit. Hana's wanted to leave since September, but she stayed because we're really good friends and I told her I'd miss her. She packed up her things, and when the shuttle left in the afternoon, she took everything with her. As soon as the kids were gone, I set my head down on my desk and cried... until the vice-principal came in and told me that the principal wanted to talk to me again. I spent an hour in her office. During that hour, she told me that Hana was crazy and that I should never listen to her, that I don't have a brain and don't know how to think, that I don't care about my students, and that she's never had a problem with a foreign teacher before, which must mean I'm a racist. She also stamped her feet like a child and threw a pillow at me. I ended up walking out of her office.

Tomorrow morning I have to go back into that terrible school and face that horrible woman. I'm not as much worried about that, though; I should be able to avoid contact with her as long as I stay in my room. But I have to explain to all the kids that Miss Hana's not coming back, and I'm not really even ready to deal with her being gone. Work has been so much fun these last three months because I spent forty hours a week with one of my best friends, and now she just won't be there. Of course, I still have all the other foreign teachers (who have all been treated the same way I was by our hateful principal), but it won't be the same. I'm glad she finally quit; the principal treated her so terribly and she was absolutely miserable working there. But it doesn't change the fact that I'm going to miss her like crazy.

So that's where I am right now. Not even the tiniest part of me wants to go into that school in the morning; not only do I not really want to work without Hana, but why on earth would I want to work for a woman who called me racist and said I had no brain? The other foreign teachers keep telling me that she does this; she'll pick a person she hates and make their life a living hell for a few weeks until she moves on to someone else. Basically I just have to let my eyes glaze over when she starts shouting at me and not take anything personally until she picks her next target. I'm probably the most sensitive girl on the planet, so this is going to be a miserable couple of weeks. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, though: two weeks from right now, I'll be landing in Bali, and I won't have to think about GATE school for a whole week. Or maybe I'll cancel my return flight and just live on the beach for the rest of my life. We'll see.


  1. Sorry to hear about your awful ordeal with the evil principal woman. Is she related to Kim Jong Il? Good grief....totally sucks about Hana. Hope she finds another job she's appreciated and happy at. I've caught up and read all your blog posts. I'm living sorta vicariously through it. It's been entertaining to read and learn about the country and culture I was born in but not raised in. Now, I'm excited to read about your upcoming travels to Bali. I've always wanted to go there since I did a research paper on the Balinese for an origins of art class back in college. The people live, breathe and work art into their daily lives. Stay strong during these next couple of weeks! May the peace and joy of God be with you on the rest of your incredible adventure abroad.

  2. nikki,
    i seriously cannot believe the audacity of that woman. it makes me so angry to know that she acted so unbelievably unprofessional and downright immature. i'm really sorry that you had to go through that. ive heard stories like this before, but usually they are from tiny little hole-in-the-wall hagwons and not a big company like YBM. she sounds like a sad, pathetic individual.

    don't take any crap from her, lady! :) just keep lookin forward to bali and Christmas!

    p.s. our school is hiring in February, so if this stuff continues, you should come work with me :)


  3. OUCH. sounds like a rough time. I haven't forgotten about you! I'm having a shit time with my company too. So it goes in this crazy foreign teaching world...

    Bali sounds awesome. Enjoy that. And remember you can always quit. You can get a job the next day if you need to. YOU have the power in Korea. Don't let the boss treat you like crap. Last but not least, my favorite place to go relax with a brew and friends when the going got rough in K was the Wolfhound pub in Itaewon. Checked it out yet? I recommend it for a mid-week chillax. Miss ya. Maybe I'll come keep you company...

  4. Oh dear. Im sorry to hear all this. Thats so sad. You can still see Hana outside of school right? I know that doesn't help, and you will really really miss her. Where is Bali? Should I know that? I will google it. I want to go there. I miss your face. we should Skype soon. Its been far too long. I love you. I still have the message you left me on my white board in my room. It reminds me of you every day. and I think of and pray for you often. it says "Don't worry, you'll make friends. just don't be yourself" remember that?? we were eating pizza when that was said. Feels like yesterday. times a flying. I haven't been to deweys since that day. I bought some cute wrapping paper today. You would like it. It has sparkles. I hope your head is better. Im sorry about your stupid principle. If she read your blog she would know you adore your Children.
    "You're my dad and Im singing. and you didn't know that you had me and I love you. I love you. I looooooove you"
    that was an elf reference in case you didn't remember that movie.
    OK for reals. I love you. Cheerful thoughts and happy hearts are being sent via snowflakes and raindrops. Ohio to Korea (I accidentally typed North Korea on accident.) But I really mean Nikki Korea.
    OK bye love your face.

  5. I clearly wasn't using my brain when I wrote any of that!!! hahaha I just reread and thought.. wow im retarded.
    and I meant principal not principle
    oh dear. I would delete all that and rewrite it if I didn't know you would get a kick out of my "lack of brain when typing."
    Love you!

  6. You're going to Bali?? Jealous! It's like Eat Pray Love!

    And I'm sorry about cranky-pants principal. Guess it proves that no matter where you live, some people just SUCK. Everyone always says it's an American thing...

  7. She sounds like a giant bitch. Shank her in the face. Leave it to me to get violent...

    I hope this week goes better for you. :)