Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The things I won't miss

Life in Korea isn't all rainbows and butterflies.

This time of year always sucks because it's INSANELY hot (think high 90s with crazy humidity), but also because we are still required to be in school. It's not a regular schedule though--instead we're required to do camps during this time, which are basically way more work than just teaching regular classes. We are with the same group of students all day, and have to plan dozens of "fun" activities. The kids usually don't want to be there, and it's just as bad for teachers too because right at the point where we're burnt out from the regular semester, we're required to put in a TON of work into these camps.

Today was the second day of camp at one of my schools. My CT gave me a ride to school this morning, and despite the fact that we had twenty minutes in the car together, he waited until we were walking in the building to ask"How about teaching 3rd and 4th grade today instead of 5th and 6th grade?"  Apparently 5th and 6th grade needed to practice a song for a competition this weekend. I spent yesterday with 3rd and 4th grade, and the plan was today I was supposed to have 5th and 6th grade. I was only prepared for 5th and 6th grade today. Since you can't really say no in Korea, I went to the 3rd and 4th grade room, where after ten minutes I was then told to go to back to 5th and 6th grade. Typical Korea.

I taught my lessons pretty much as planned, until about halfway through the craft project, when my CT told the students to go somewhere else. They were gone for the rest of the class before they started to come back. Then my CT came again and told them to go somewhere else. I looked out the window and saw them playing outside with water balloons. So much for the rest of the project I was doing with them.

Now, usually during camp teachers leave after camp is finished. EPIK teachers are supposed to stay the whole day unless the Vice Principal of Principal says it's ok for us to leave. The majority of the time the Principal thinks it's ridiculous for us to sit there all day when there's nothing going on and will tell us to go home. The school I was at for the past week and a half before this let me go everyday with the rest of the teachers, which I greatly appreciated. However, when my CT asked the Vice Principal at this school if I could go home, she sad no.

Since the cafeteria isn't open during school breaks and bringing your lunch isn't a thing in Korea, yesterday I had lunch with the VP and some of the office staff. This is the way it is in Korea. If lunch isn't provided by the school in the cafeteria, they order food or go to a restaurant. However, today I was waiting to be told it was time for lunch (there isn't a set meeting time, but they just call or go around and grab everyone), but as the time went by, I started to figure that I had been forgotten.

After 1:00 I went downstairs and asked about lunch, and they said "oh, we already went to lunch." Now, here is the part that shocked me. At any of my other schools they would have been embarrassed and ashamed for forgetting me, and would have at the very least apologized for not telling me.

What did this school do?

They pulled up the map of where the restaurant is an tried to give me convoluted directions of how to get there (when they without doubt drove there). Remember that it is probably close to 100 degrees and humid outside, not exactly the best weather to wander around an area you don't know. So, instead of apologizing they told me to walk there and go eat lunch by myself and come back and sit here and do nothing until 4:30. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed.

I could understand if they forgot me in other circumstances, but the fact that the VP explicitly said I need to be here ALL DAY, then didn't even make an effort to tell me about lunch...just rubs me the wrong way.

There are so many Koreans who have treated me amazingly well during my time here, but there are times like this that just fill me with so much frustration.

Thankfully, this is my last day at this school. I was only at this school for six months, but I feel like it has given me a full year's worth of aggravation in that short time.

Another thing I'm thankful for is the fact that it's my last day before vacation. I'm off to Vietnam for the next week and a half, then once I get back I have more camp and the enormous task of packing up all my stuff before heading home. But one thing at a time...everything after vacation isn't quite within the grasp of my mind yet.

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