Tales From School

Lunch has been quite strange for me since starting the new school year. There are about 8-10 of us that eat together, but more than half of them have changed this year. The previous teachers were all really nice to me and had already learned about my likes and dislikes (regarding food). Even though I ate in silence, it was very comfortable. Now, I’m going through the learning curve all over again. The teachers talk about me a lot more (in Korean) and always seem to be worried about how little food is on my lunch tray. Lately, a few have been saying “Hi!” to me and then the others giggle.

I had a really interesting lunch experience today. The lunch options weren’t that great for me. I am usually always able to eat rice if nothing else appeals to me, but today’s rice had mysterious white strips in it. When I sat down, I asked JuHye if it was tofu or fish cake and then the other teachers were so curious about what we were talking about. As it turns out, it was fish cake and the teachers learned a new word (In Korea it’s 오뎅, or oh-deng). It was really cute because I heard them saying “fish cake” all throughout lunch.

As I was picking at my lunch, JuHye turned to me and said, “Meagan, they would all like to introduce themselves to you.” They all went around the table saying, “My name is _____.” and what they did at school. JuHye translated the last bit. I honestly think it was the most English I’ve heard at lunch since I’ve been teaching in Korea. It was really sweet and I enjoyed it.

School Lunches

My school has started sending out messages each day describing the day’s lunch. Once translated, it is probably more confusing than not knowing at all.

“Please note that from meals room>1. Food and Health News No. 4 exit. (“Stress too hard come harderchungonjeung received”)2. Today, my kids are too like boiled.
Suddenly you’re feeling better this year for things to “loin” was prepared.
Please enjoy delicious.3. Lettuce, carrots, cucumber prepared by Eco.
May worry that you have folded like sigo.
To eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, especially in the spring.(Chungonjeung Prevention)4. Talking theology students have a lot of changes in the amount of pear is often lacking.
If you have jeonchulip It’s yours when you blow a note to the meals room will be modified.Lunch today was more alert.”

I wasn’t sure what we were having until I walked into our lunch room and it all made sense. Up until today, I hadn’t taken pictures of any of my school lunches because I was pretty sure I’d look silly doing it in front of all of my fellow teachers… but the interesting thing about a new school year is that half of the teachers I have lunch with are new to my school (teachers in Korea rotate schools every 2-3 years). None of them know me or talk to me (only about me) so I decided to go for it today.

Across the top is boiled pork (수육), dipping sauce (쌈장), water kimchi (물김치). Across the bottom is rice (밥) and lettuce for wrapping (상추). They also served soup, but I rarely ever eat it because it’s usually fishy or made with some sort of fish based broth and I don’t really care for seafood. This lunch is like a treat for me. There’s a good mixture of protein and vegetables, which is usually lacking in the lunches at my school. The lunches at my school aren’t that amazing and occasionally I find myself only able to eat the rice and kimchi (if it’s good that day).

Off to Seoul!… or not.

Sunday, September 25

I went to Costco with some friends. It was my first time to shop at Costco since being in Korea. I was in search of a big bag of frozen chicken breasts. I ended up spending about 45,000 won on 6lbs of frozen chicken tenderloins, a loaf of whole wheat bread and L’Oreal Go 360 Deep Clean Facial Cleanser. I see the ads for that face wash every time I watch anything on Hulu and I have been wanting it so I thought, “Why not?”

Monday, September 26

EPIK hires new people each semester and the new people arrived about a month ago. It turns out that 4 new EPIK people moved into my neighborhood (3 girls, 1 guy). Two of the girls had birthdays this week so we went out to dinner to celebrate.

Tuesday, September 27

My co-teacher told me that it isn’t official, but she’s going on maternity leave in mid November and she won’t be coming back until next September. That means that my school will hire a substitute teacher to fill in until the end of the semester. I hope s/he is good!

I went to dinner with JuHye on Tuesday night. We ate at a Mexican food restaurant near Pusan National University (PNU) called Taco’s Family. We had chips and salsa as a starter and JuHye had enchiladas and I had a beef chimichanga. The food wasn’t amazing, but he weather was perfect. I love eating dinner on a patio with a cool breeze blowing through.


I heard a Korean guy at the table next to us answer his phone, “Bueno” and it made me happy. Then, he explained to all of his friends at his table (in Korean) that that’s how they answer their phones in Mexico.

Wednesday, September 28

My busiest day!

8:20-8:40 – “Morning English”
Everyday I greet the students as they enter the school and make them read a short dialogue off of a poster.

8:40-8:50 – English Broadcast
I do a live broadcast to the school every other Wednesday and every Friday. On Wednesdays I read a low level children’s book (twice). Today, the principal watched and said it was so interesting that she would listen every day. I hope that’s not her way of telling me she’s considering increasing my air time.

9:00-12:10 – Regular classes
Today I taught 4 classes of 5th graders. It was an easy day… they just studied, took a writing test and played a word game. It’s kind of like scrabble, but they don’t use tiles. They just fill in any word they know.

12:15-1:00 – Lunch
Today we had tuna fried rice, kimchi, a cucumber and onion salad, some kind of fried patty with ketchup on the side and a soup of some sort (I rarely eat the soup). Overall, not bad.

1:00-1:40 Free Period
This is my down time. Today, I bought tickets to the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). Many of my friends and I will be attending an outdoor screening of a Japanese movie called Star Watching Dog.
I usually use the extra time to plan lessons, but today I almost forgot that I had class.

1:50-2:30 – After school class
On Wednesdays I have 6 6th graders that are signed up for my afternoon class. They are all low level. It didn’t matter that I almost forgot I had an after school class today because none of them showed up. I thought last week’s 2 out of 6 was bad!

4:20 – Quitting time! ^_^

4:30-4:45 – Check-up at the doctor’s office
I am 2 weeks post op. My ear seems to be doing much better. The doctor said it’s mostly white (not red and swollen like last week) and mentioned that my veins seem to be taking to the graft. Or something along those lines. He gave me some good news and some bad news. Good news… my ear is 70% healed. Bad news… I can’t go to Seoul this weekend.

You see, on Monday I told him I wanted to go to Seoul this weekend and he told me that he’d let me know on Friday. I just decided that I couldn’t wait until Friday and I was just going to go because I’d been cooped up inside for the past 2 weeks and walking around wouldn’t hurt me. Well, on Wednesday he explained that the reason why I couldn’t go to Seoul is because the fast train would put strain on my eardrum because of the pressure. I didn’t even think about that. That’s something he probably should have mentioned on Monday.

5:00 – Cancel KTX reservations
Yesterday my friend and I booked our KTX tickets for a Saturday departure. Fortunately, it’s free to cancel your tickets online if you do it at least two days in advance, but the fee is still less than 50 cents (400 won) if you cancel it from 1 day – 1 hour in advance.

6:30 – Dinner with friends
I met up with Megan, Sonal and Grace for dinner at the place we just call “the cheap alley place.” The guy there loves us and always gives us something free (“servicee”) every time we go. This time it was free Cider (soda that tastes just like Sprite). I’m sure they don’t get many foreigners coming in because it’s down a small alley, but we were taken by a Korean friend that had been taken by one of her Korean friends. It’s amazing and sooo cheap. A giant meal will cost you 4,000 won (under $4) or less.

Thursday, September 29

My after school class (5th graders) went well. They are all very low level. We played some reading games. There’s only 5 of them and most know basic phonics, but one of the girls doesn’t. It’s quite difficult to figure out how to cater to all of them. My main goal is to just help these kids learn how to read.

I came out of my after school class to find the print shop guy and one of the custodians painting the hallway. Every few years the elementary schools in Busan are reviewed and my school’s review is coming up on October 5th. The school has been in full gear trying to get this place ready. The custodians are cleaning just a little bit harder, there are new flower arrangements in the front entry way, and over the summer the exterior of our school was painted some bright new colors.

Friday, September 30

I teach 6th graders on Fridays. This semester my co-teacher wants me to e the lead teacher and she is the assistant. I am responsible for planning the class and finding material that is suitable for the lesson. It is really good for the students because they are exposed to a lot more English. It’s still a little difficult for me because the students aren’t used to being taught in an English only environment. Friday was pretty exhausting for me. I actually ended up napping in the office for about 30-45 minutes at the end of the day.

After work I went to the doctor then got a pizza from Domino’s and went home. I ate really fast because I was starving. Lunch at school was quite awful and I didn’t have breakfast. Afterwards, I caught up on season 5 of Dexter… just in time for the Sunday night premiere of season 6.

Saturday, October 1

I was supposed to be on a KTX to Seoul, but the doctor shot that down because the speed of the fast train causes strain on the eardrums. Instead, I hung out with my friend, Jamie. We went to Beomeosa Temple. I had been there before, but it’s really beautiful so it was worth going back.


I hope you were able to make it all the way through my week. If you read about my week, you should tell me about yours. I miss everyone back home and I want to hear from all of you. Leave a comment or send me a email or Facebook message. OR you could even send me a card or letter in the mail. I would like that. If you don’t have my address, just ask.