Final exams start today so, naturally, the atmosphere around school is extremely tense. Not relishing the thought of yet another four days of preventing my soul from it’s regular attempts to escape in the sheer boredom of invigilating these exams, I’m overjoyed to see that I’ve only been scheduled for one exam today. This means that I have an opportunity to work on the journal comments that now need to be finalised by the end of this week. Surprisingly, the morning seems to drag even more as I repeatedly assault my tired brain with demands of interesting and unique comments for each student’s journal.
By lunchtime, I’ve starving and I happily leave my desk when my co-teacher sends me a message telling me to meet her in the parking lot to go to the restaurant where the International Department (basically all of the foreigner teachers at my school) is having lunch today. It’s my first staff lunch and we’re having barley bibimbap so my stomach is growling in anticipation!
Lunch and Everything Else
Lunch is delicious and there’s a lot of talking happening which is unusual at a Korean meal. My co-teacher and the head of the International Department show me two ways to hold my chopsticks. Unfortunately, neither of them is particularly successful so I’m just going to have to keep on practising until I get the hang of it. I’m so engrossed in learning how to use chopsticks properly that I’m slightly taken aback when NZ2 leans over and says: “Don’t worry, we’re only waiting for you…”. That’s when I realise that everyone else has finished eating except for my co-teacher (who I’ve been talking to) and me. I hurriedly stuff the remaining bibimbap into my mouth, the head of department says a few words and everyone gets ready to leave. There’s talk of coffee at a really nice coffee shop nearby and that’s when I notice that the restaurant is next to Eunpa Park. We’re told that we have the rest of the afternoon off so the Chinese, Spanish and English teachers (only the foreign ones) brave the cold in an attempt to find this coffee shop while the Korean teachers all go home.
We’re not able to find the intended coffee shop so we settle on another one nearby where we all enjoy a Cappuccino or Hot Choco before heading back to school to shut down our computers for the day. It’s great to be able to leave school early to get some shopping done at a reasonable hour. NZ2 and I sort out our things at school and then meet to do some shopping at Lotte mart. Christmas shopping for my seven-year-old nephew is proving more difficult than I had anticipated so it’s good to have another opinion on things to buy. While in Lotte mart, we discover the Christmas decorations have been set out so we spend at least fifteen minutes taking photos in front of the Christmas tree decorations and the ultimate purchase: Santa hats to wear on our Christmas trip to Jeju Island. Yet another to love about living in Korea: Dorkiness is not only actively encouraged but applauded! If you’re a foreigner and doing dorky things like run around in a Santa, you’re going to get a lot attention…