Thursday, March 25: Here are some funny little tidbits about being klueless in korea:
- Yesterday, Mr. O said, “Mrs. Cathy, the students at Byeokjin Elementary really like your style of teaching. What do you think about this problem?” Hmmm…. I said, “Mr. O, do you mean the students DO like my style of teaching or they DON’T like my style of teaching?” He said, “They DO like your style of teaching….. So, what do you think about this problem?” Uhhhh… I didn’t say a word because, honestly, I don’t have a klue what to think about this “problem.”
- One day, in usual Korean style, I was whisked away to a meeting for English teachers at the Seongju Office of Education. Attendees were all the Korean and the native English teachers who teach English in the county. Surprisingly, the meeting was all in Korean!! Later, I asked Coffee-J, “What was that meeting about, anyway?” He said, “Oh, he was saying that Seongju County has the lowest level of English-speaking ability in all of Gyeongsangbuk-do province.” Ohhhhhhh, now that comes as a surprise:-)
- At Byeokjin Elementary, I only teach 3 classes a day, so I do all my lesson plans on the days I am there, on Wednesdays and Thursdays. My Chojeon days are totally booked with classes, so I count on this planning time at Byeokjin. One day while at Byeokjin, Mr. O said, “Today the teachers from Chojeon are here in the office. They will take you to Chojeon.” I said, “But, Mr. O, it’s my day to do planning at Byeokjin. I don’t want to go to Chojeon.” Mr. O said, “You go to Chojeon. The teachers are here.” He led me to an office where the 3 administration staff from Chojeon were waiting for me. I asked them, “What’s going on?” Puzzled, they just looked at me. None of them speak English. They motioned for me to sit. I sat for about 20 minutes, then we all piled in a van bound for Chojeon. I thought I must be in trouble. What had I done?? When we got to Chojeon, the admin people told me to sit in their office. I still had no idea what was going on. After an hour or so, Coffee J finally showed up and said the parents were visiting the school and the principal wanted the parents to meet the English teacher. This “meeting” of the parents consisted of me standing at the front of the auditorium with all the other teachers and bowing to them when the principal called my name. That was it. Two hours lost of my planning day…. Hmmm….As usual: klueless in korea.
- Myrna and I went to our favorite restaurant on the ground floor below our apartments. Most Korean menus are only in Korean, but they usually have color photos of the dishes so you can pick something fairly easily. This menu had no pictures. After much English chatter to the waitress who spoke only in Korean, she finally said a word we recognized. “Egg roll.” We breathed a sigh of relief, “Yes, we’ll take it!” We pictured Chinese egg rolls. Instead a giant omelet-looking roll came out. Ah, yessss!!! EGG ROLL!!
- The second grade teacher at Chojeon, who is a woman, says repeatedly to me, “Yes, sir.” “Of course, sir.” “What would you like, sir?” I don’t have the heart to correct her. After all, what is the alternative? “Yes, Mam??” Yikes!
- Apparently it is frowned upon in Korea to wear sleeveless shirts. Yet, many women and girls wear either micro-mini skirts or hot-pant-like shorts. What’s the deal with that? I think I’ve made the executive decision to try shock and awe. Since I brought along loads of sleeveless shirts, I will wear them. I wonder what will happen??
- Korean women keep inviting me to attend church with them on Sundays. I have invites for the next two Sundays, one at a Baptist Church and one at a Catholic Church. I wonder, do I look like I need saving?
- In typical Korean fashion, we are expected to remove our street shoes upon entering buildings. In restaurants or homes, we can just wear socks. In the school, we put on slippers. But, here’s the thing. We wear the slippers all day, even though we go outdoors to another building for lunch. We don’t change back into our street shoes when we walk outside to go to the lunch building. We wear our slippers outside. Baffling…..
- Funny thing is, whenever we go to any restaurant, and no matter how many people are in the party, we only get one menu. Try having five people grabbing at the menu at once to see what to order!! Myrna gets so irritated by this that she has devised an entire system of hand gestures to insist that the waiter bring us each a menu. LOL 🙂
- Last night, Myrna and I went to dinner with three of her coworkers. After all of us grabbing at the one menu to make our choices and after listening to a lot of Korean chatter, we ordered several pasta dishes and a pizza. Myrna and I chose one creamy shrimp pasta dish. When it came, we each took small portions so the others could have some as well. We loved the dish!! Much to our irritation, the guy co-teacher grabbed the bowl and dumped the whole remaining amount of pasta on to his plate. Then he let it sit there and get cold while he played with his mobile, checking who knows what. Myrna and I looked at each other in bafflement and Myrna finally said, are you going to eat that?? Because if you’re not, we would like it! He said he was resting, then he continued to play with his phone. We both wanted to strangle him!! Finally, about a half hour later, after it was thoroughly cooled, he gobbled down the whole plate of pasta. Manners, anyone?