I finally get to introduce myself to my classes. I feel sorry for NZ1 who has to listen to the same basic bio at least three times today and more tomorrow as we share the first grade classes. Somehow, the day sprints by and I find myself staying late at work to finish marking the first grade journals I’ve been asked to mark.
Finally, I tear myself from my work and think I’ll quickly drop off my things at home before running to bakery. I confidently relieve myself of my books and head out the door unaware of the sudden rain that’s about to soak me the minute I get just far enough to ensure a thorough soaking before I manage to get back to my apartment building. Feeling rather dispirited, I convince myself that fried eggs on bread will be ‘healthier’ than French toast and yet, even that didn’t work out. Bed is a safe option at this point. Still no washing machine and, much to my horror, no air conditioning in my apartment either…
Is this really Fall?
The next morning, I dress in my most summery shirt thinking that it can’t get any hotter. Another lesson learnt the hard way: how am I going to survive the heat in summer? I feel like I swim from my apartment to my office and from class to class. My students and colleagues find it amusing as most of them are dressed in sweaters and jackets already.
My co-teacher greets me with excellent news: her laptop cable fits my laptop so I can lend hers for a couple of days until I manage to find one. Fantastic! I’m already mentally picking out the movie that I’ll be watching on my laptop tonight.
Lunchtime arrives and another English teacher invites me to join her in the cafeteria. I watch with great curiosity as my colleagues mix and match the flavours of several foods that I can’t even identify let alone pronounce. I think crumbed pork was on today’s menu and the soup definitely had an ‘Under the Sea’ theme happening… They watch me with great amusement as I eat the ‘safe’ apple and kiwi fruit that constitutes lunch for me.
Lunch is interrupted by the news that I need to go to my apartment because my washing machine and microwave have arrived. Hallelujah! The availability of clean clothes was reaching limiting proportions. One of the admin people from the school escorts me to my apartment. He only speaks Korean.
I think nothing of entering with my shoes – particularly as I’m wearing boots – much to the horror of my colleague and the delivery man. The two men do the heavy lifting while I stand around helplessly wondering what to do and feeling guilty about not removing my shoes in my own apartment. They get my washing machine into the laundry room and kindly connect it for me. Hmmm….it didn’t occur to me that the instructions would also be in Korean. I sidle across the kitchen as stealthily as possible to check the microwave uncertainly and sigh in relief as I spot the generic “+30” button in the corner. If nothing else, I can heat the dirt off my clothes.
Connecting the washing machine is followed by another game of charades as my colleague and the delivery man gives me a quick tutorial on how to use the machine. There are several buttons but apparently all I need to know is “1,2” to switch it on – a very successful tutorial. I thank them and return to my desk where another colleague seems determined to show me places to ‘relax’ at school. Surely I’m meant to relax at home and not at school? I follow her in amusement wondering if I’ll ever actually use any of the rooms she is currently showing me – one has a comfy looking couch in it though…
I finally finish marking the journals and begin working on a supplementary conversation lesson for the first years. I’m so engrossed in my work that my co-teacher has to fetch me for my last class because I’m late. NZ1 graciously sits – or rather, stands – through yet another introduction and we have an interesting conversation on the cost of products in
vs home. Korea wins hands down. Korea
The rest of the day passes in a blur of browsing the internet and general files on my computer. I make a fantastic discovery of several audio books – notably the Twilight and Harry Potter series – kindly downloaded by my predecessor. I’m ecstatic as I head home before attempting another journey to the bakery. They greet me with a hint of recognition as I peruse the items – the labels are also all in English, probably to help the ‘waegooks’ like me. A selection of pastries in hand, I head home contented and anticipating a hot shower followed by an ‘Ugly Betty’ marathon…and laundry.
I’m all set: a load of whites is in the machine, I’ve eaten and showered, now to relax while I wait for my laundry. The machine sounds like an elephant with a hernia. Surely, it’s not meant to make this much noise! Worried about disturbing my neighbours, I close all the doors and windows thus sealing my fate in the furnace that is my apartment and pray that I can survive the next an hour and a half.