Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Carefree in the Snow (8 December)

Day two of the final exams starts of slowly.  I have to invigilate two exams today and will be free from 11:00am to concentrate on the journal comments that need more urgent attention.  The first exam seems to pass without much excitement so I’m not really paying attention to anything when I leave the classroom.  I need to ask my co-teacher about something so when I see that she’s in the classroom next door to mine, I wait for her to finish counting the papers and leave the classroom.  As she exits, she grabs my hand turns me around to face the outside window where I see that it has started snowing.  Everything else forgotten, I excuse myself in my excitement of the first snow in Gunsan for this season.  My colleagues have been telling me for weeks that it’s going to snow that I’d almost stopped believing them.

Let it Snow

I fly down the stairs, pausing just long enough to bow and greet all of the teachers I pass in my haste to get outside.  As I skid in my sudden attempt to change direction at the front door, I hear several people laughing at me as I narrowly avoid landing head over heels before charging down the final path to the snow.  The snow is beautiful! It’s soft and fluffy, each snowflake is large yet gentle and it lightly kisses my eager, upturned face as I stand in the parking lot with my arms stretched and staring at the snow in wonder.

This is not the first time I’ve snow – in fact, when I was an exchange student in France I saw a lot of snow – but this is the first time I’m seeing snow fall and I feel like I’ve entered a movie set.  It’s incredible how quickly the snow collects on the ground and I have a sudden urge to make a snowball.  Considering that I ran out of the building without my jacket and gloves, I have to fetch these before playing in the snow.  As I enter my teachers’ room, I’m greeted with amused laughs and surprise as my colleagues take in my snowy appearance – snowflakes still decorate my hair and hug my clothes and eyelashes.  I grab my gloves thinking I’ll cope without my jacket since I only have a few minutes anyway and then I remember that my camera is still in my handbag so I sprint back to my desk to grab it before I’m once again out the door must to the amusement of several other teachers.

Playing in the Snow

So contagious is my enthusiasm for the snow, however, that while I take random photos of the snow around school, several teachers have put on their coats and gloves and are joining me outside in the snow.  When the bell rings for the next exam to begin, I return to my desk long enough to put down my camera and gloves and tell Mr Jeong (who is still laughing at me) that I’ll be standing next to a window for the duration of the next exam.  Fortunately, I’m invigilating an exam with my co-teacher who allows me to stand beside the window and watch the snow outside – she loves the snow as much as I do.  I’m so engrossed in the snow that I’m not really paying attention to what is happening in the classroom.  When I hear the door open, I automatically turn to greet who ever has entered the room and blush profusely when I realise the teacher at the door is Six-pack.  He seems equally surprised to see me and I’m suddenly very self-conscious of the fact that the snow that had clung to me outside had now melted and turned my hair frizzy.  There's nothing that I can do about it at this point so I turn back to my gazing out of the window and studiously avoid his amused gaze on me.

The students finish their physical education paper ridiculously early so the next 30 minutes seem interminably.  I’m overjoyed when my co-teacher tells me that she’ll stay with the students for the rest of the period while I go and play in the snow.  Her only instructions are to take lots of photos which is exactly what I do.  I take photos from every possible vantage point in the school before heading outside.  Within an hour, the snow has melted and there’s no sign of it ever having snowed at all except in my happy expression.

Amusing and Confusing My Colleagues

Much to the continued amusement of my colleagues, I remain enthralled with the snow for the remainder of the day.  I shock them further when I ask Mr Jeong to teach me the Korean word for snow and the expression “It’s snowing!”.  His initial response: “Why do you want to know that?” I feel like a naughty kid for playing in the snow and then asking him to teach me the appropriate Korean expression but he nonetheless complies.  It’s then that I realise how carefully the other teachers in my teachers’ room are listening to the conversation and that I’ve just completely upset their view of me (and foreigners) – I’m not supposed to be interested in Korean language it seems….

Snow makes everything beautiful and it’s difficult to be unhappy when it’s snowing.  Perhaps the snow has made me look very relaxed and happy which is what I hear later in the day. As I walk past one of my second grade students, he comments that he envies me because I look so carefree while he and his peers are sweating it away in self-study sessions preparing for the next day’s exams.  The school passes quickly and I now find myself looking for a way to pass the time until 21:30 when Catfish and I are meeting another Canadian at a new Western bar.  Since neither Catfish nor I know where The Rok is, we agree to meet each other at Ediya Coffee for a chat and moral support.  We’ve been invited to a ladies’ night with several of the other foreign teachers who we have not yet met.

Coffee Encounters and The Rok

When I arrive at Ediya Coffee, I realise that the next hour is probably going to be a ‘token foreigner’ moment.  There is a group of Korean guys sitting at the corner table and two Korean guys behind the counter which means that not only are we the only women in the coffee shop but we’re also foreign – something they’re very much aware of too it seems.  As we try to order something to drink, we’re aware of the heckling that this crowd seems to be doing – everything we say is followed by seemingly suggestive comments and the guy behind the counter is not looking comfortable at the moment.  Catfish and I talk about the snow while we wait and, when she struggles to remember the Korean word that she learned today, she decides to play on the foreigner card and bounces over to the table of guys to ask them.  Whether they’re amused or surprised by this, I don’t know but, by the time we leave Ediya Coffee, they bid us farewell.

The new Canadian is very bubbly and lots of fun.  She drives Catfish and I to The Rok which is completely empty apart from the foreigners we’re meeting tonight.  It’s an interesting mix of people and a lot of fun but 21:30 is a bit late to be starting a night out during the school week so by 23:30, we’re ready to call it a night with promises to get together again soon.

1 comment:

  1. I am so jealous! I have always wanted to play in teh snow, and I have always missed it, or it has been too far! How awesome to play in the snow as it's falling! Wow!