Saturday, March 3
The weather wasn’t great today, but Dave gave me a tour of the industrial side of Ulsan. It was nice to see where he works. During the tour there was a shift change at the Hyundai ship yard and there were fleets of scooters at every gate. It was so funny seeing the scooter gangs driving down the street.
Friday, March 2
Happy Friday, everyone! I’m quite happy that it’s the weekend. Work was a bit draining today. I had no classes so I did a lot of sitting around. I couldn’t even prepare for next week’s classes because my schedule hasn’t been finalized. I got a tentative schedule at the end of the day. The bad news is that it only has 15 teaching hours (out of 22) which means I’ll more than likely have a hefty load of after school classes. Those are my least favorite!
Today’s photo was taken on my walk home. I saw these three adorable girls sharing an umbrella and couldn’t help but take their picture.
I’m currently on the train to Ulsan to see Dave. We are meeting up with some of his work friends for dinner. I’m quite excited about it because it’s a great little Indian place Dave and I order delivery from every time I’m in Ulsan. Also, lunch was awful. We had the usual rice and kimchi along with fish cake soup, another side of fish cakes, and crispy French fried sweet potato sticks.
I’ve been a bit overwhelmed since getting on the train. The tickets are quite cheap so I decided I’d try my luck at getting two seats together so I could have more room and avoid awkward encounters with chatty Koreans. This backfired when the seats I bought weren’t together. When I got to the seats, I could choose between sitting next to a sleeping girl whose arm was across my seat or sitting next to an ajumma (old woman). I chose the ajumma. I picked wrong. She immediately lit up and started chatting me away in Korean. The only bit I understood was something about America. She also started touching my hair with a huge smile on her face. She kept going on for about 5 minutes and periodically played with my hair. As I pulled my headphones out she started putting my hair behind my ears. I’m not sure if she was trying to be helpful or suggesting I change the way I wear my hair. I wish I could have put her picture as today’s photo, but she’s stopped talking to me and I’d prefer to keep it that way.
Today is the first day of the school year. The first day last year was a crazy day. First, all of the new teachers were introduced to the entire school through the morning TV announcements. Later, I was introduced to an auditorium full of parents. In both situations I had no idea what was being said. I just waited until I thought the principal was done talking about me and bowed. The actual opening ceremony was outside and I was asked to hand balloons to the 6th graders (who would later pass them on to the new 1st grade students). I was given a giant bundle of balloons and had to pass them out, one by one. I was terrified of accidentally losing one or all of my balloons and was passing them out slower than they liked. I knew this because about 3 teachers rushed over to help me. I was proud of myself. I only lost one balloon.
Today’s events were much more relaxed for me because it’s my second year and I no longer qualify as a “new teacher.” Also, the opening ceremony was indoors and didn’t involve any balloons (thank goodness!). The school’s auditorium was full of 6th graders, 1st graders and the parents of the 1st graders. One of the mothers that attended my summer and winter camps was so excited to see me. She came up, shook my hand and said, “Long time no see!” It was cute. I really like her.
I’m not really sure what the opening ceremony consisted of. The 6th grade students each escorted a 1st grade student into the auditorium. Later, each 1st grade student was called to the stage and they were given some sort of necklace and a hat. It was really difficult for me to see because the auditorium was full of proud parents with their cameras at the ready. JuHye and I sneaked out a bit early, but I did manage to snap a few pics.
Here are a few of my 6th grade girls.
They were too amused by my iPhone to pose for the picture.
Some of the 1st graders at the ceremony.
Also in the picture are my principal and new co-teacher.
I have to wear indoor shoes at school. When we have events, the parents are allowed to wear their outdoor shoes, but the school provides little booties for everyone to slip over their shoes. I found these little girls to be extra adorable in their booties.
Thursday, March 1
March 1st is Korea’s Independence Day. It also marks my last day of freedom. Unfortunately, I have to go back to work tomorrow… On a Friday! Boo.
I had a really good day though. Dave was here from Ulsan. We went out to get some dinner and noticed that the streets were lined with Korean flags, including this giant flag hanging from a building in an area of Busan called Seomyeon.
Wednesday, February 29
When you’re away from home, getting mail means so much! Today I came home to this card from my dear friend, Joni. It made my day.
Tuesday, February 28
All good things must come to an end, including vacations. While I still have 2 days left until I have to go back to work, Dave has to go back tomorrow morning. We just landed safe and sound in Busan.
Monday, February 27
We are having a lovely time in Jeju. The food at the hotel is really great and the dessert is even better. Our favorite so far has been the chocolate crème brûlée. It’s amazing!