I'm attempting to get back into the routine of blogging on a consistent basis. This break should provide enough material to write on, but it's when the routine resettles itself come January that will be my real test of endurance. Maybe I should start just blogging my opinons, or ideas. We'll see! For now, it's Christmas here in Seoul...
Unfortunately I had to work yesterday. When I found out I would have to work Christmas Eve (back in like, October), I was not a happy camper. That hasn't really changed too much since then. But, I tried to be cheery. When I got to the office, I immediately began working to try to get ahead of the test-rush that would come post-winter vacation. I had some additional time in the morning, so I started to write report cards, strategically leaving space for information on the test itself, which has yet to be taken. Copy and paste, baby!
I got a fair amount of work done before classes started, and felt moderately prepared for the day. It was all tests, all day long. While this is good in terms of "I don't have to actually teach" it is also stressful in that I have to manage the classroom while simultaneously being out of the room giving speaking tests. And, of course, in my first class not one of the little brats finished the tests! So, there is an entire class that will have to finish their tests when we come back. (Coincidentally, I foresee their grades going down in proportion)
So, basically I'm saying my day started out with self-inflicted stress and continued with children-inflicted stress. For some reason, once that first class had the rocky start, I just stayed stressed out the rest of the day. Erin even said "Are you mad?" I was just so frantically busy and stressed that I'm sure I came off as angry. Oops! I tried to be cheery for the kids, but for some reason hearing, "Teacher, give me present!" thirty times tends to wear you down. By my second to last class, I gave the kids a lecture "You have 5 teachers, I have 100 students! I DO NOT BUY YOU PRESENTS!" And since we're on the subject, what kind of parents taught their kids its okay to ASK for a gift from someone?! One of my pet peeves, I guess.
After work, we stayed in the office and I was actually thankful for the time to get myself organized, since the tests were so chaotic. But, at around 8:40, one of the "desk teachers" aka secretaries came in and I suppose said in Korean, "Hey, you guys should leave! It's Christmas Eve!" Because then Jackie says, "Okay teachers, I think maybe we can go now?" This woman is the worst leader ever. Anyway, I'm fine to leave 20 minutes early. BUT, then... this woman has the gall to say "Okay, let's come in around noon on next Wednesday?"
Basically, when we leave at 8pm on Fridays, we come in an hour early on Mondays to "make up" the lost hour. So she is telling us that even though we continued to work until 8:40, we still have to come in an hour early? When we left 20 minutes early? I was so annoyed! Like I said, I was actually thankful for the time I had to get organized, but its the principle! Don't make me come in early unless you let me leave EARLY! I'm considering just not showing up until 12:40 and making a point... we'll see if my resolve holds out that long.
After work, we had dinner at the place downstairs. I hadn't been there since the first night I was in Korea. Since that night was somewhat distressful for me (see previous blog posts), I wasn't too keen to go back. But Erin told me it was her favorite and we would eat something that is different from what we had the first night. It was pork basically. And sides (of course, it's Korea). I ate it; it was okay. Nothing spectacular.
After dinner, I planned to go to Baskin Robbins for a pint to replace the one I polished off last week. I started thinking about how it doesn't really feel like Christmas, having spent my day at work and all. And thinking what would make it feel a bit more like Christmas, and I decided I wanted to show some appreciation to someone who probably doesn't get much. And who was probably working...
The lady at the 7-Eleven on my block works the night shift. I know because when I eat rice, I have to buy it there and cook it in their microwave (I don't have a microwave myself). She is ALWAYS there. She is so kind to me, attempts to speak English, etc. When my mom was here, I think she looked up the word "beautiful" because next time she saw me (after meeting "omah" aka mom) she said "mother is beautiful!" What a sweet, precious lady...
Anyway, I thought all these things in about 20 seconds, and made the split second decision to get her a little gift instead of getting my ice cream. I just went in the Paris Baguette around the corner and got her a little box of truffles. It was really nothing that fancy, just a small little thing. I took it to her, and she reacted about how I expected. She tried to deny it.
I walked in and she greeted me, as usual. I walked over to the counter and held out the bag to her. After she realized I was trying to give it to her, she started a stream of Korean that I, of course, could not understand. But, she kept backing up and waving her hands no. I smiled and said "Merry Christmas!" and insisted. Finally, she took the bag and in the midst of the Korean she managed "thank you!" She held my hand (a sweet old lady habit here) and kept saying Korean things, and as I said "Merry Christmas" yet again, she kept saying "Happy New Year, Happy New Year!" I suppose she chose that over Merry Christmas because New Years is a bigger holiday than Christmas. That, and she probably couldn't pronounce Merry Christmas confidently. Haha!
After that moment, which made me feel good, I went back to the apartments and after picking up, talking to everyone on FaceTime (including my friend Adrian - shout out!), I fell asleep.
This morning was officially Christmas! I woke up at 7:30 to my alarm and got ready for church. I decided to go since, like I said, it just wasn't feeling very Christmas-y. I met with Sean and Casey and we got there just in time for the 9:30 service. When we got inside, they were singing Christmas carols. In Korean. It was so weird and kind of cool, too! I sang along in English, Sean attempted to pronounce the Korean since he's learning it, and I'm not sure what Casey did because she sat in a different aisle than us.
After the singing and a REALLY long prayer with multiple amens to which I raised my head only to realize they were still at it, they had the children come give a performance! It was ADORABLE. They must have been like 3-4 years old. They sang what I assume was a Korean Christmas song, but I didn't recognize it. Then the pastor came up and talked. Then they showed a movie clip. I'm thinking, okay cool. This conservative church in Korea is using technology and media! I can dig it!
It ended up being a 25 minute montage-type clip of scenes from the Bucket List. All the highlights; basically we saw the entire movie in 25 minutes with the fluff cut out. I was shocked, especially when a few choice words were NOT bleeped out. Granted, the audio was in English and just Korean subtitles, I'm still sure many Koreans know these particular words. WOW!
After that, he gave a little sermon which was kindly translated to us by our English pastor Jason. After that, it was about 10:50 and I needed to catch a bus home!
When I got home, Michael and I got to FaceTime! It was so wonderful to talk to him. He works so much that when we do get to talk, he is usually just home from work or about to go to work, and I am the same, so it's not as enjoyable. But this time it was Christmas and it was perfect. I opened my presents from him first. He did so great! He got me some boots I had mentioned that I loved. Unfortunately they were the wrong size, so we'll have to send them back. But he also got me some earrings and a piggy bank (which is kind of an inside thing? Not a joke, but kind of just between us...).
Then he opened his gifts. I got him a cellphone case in black/brown since his LifeProof was breaking and basically useless. This one is like mine; you can use it as a wallet too! I also got him a giftcard to Sunglasses Hut so he can get some brand new shades! He's been needing some, and with his work with film, the need is getting bad! I gave him the stipulation that he must get approval for the ones he wants before buying them. Approval being: send me the photo of you wearing them and I'll decide if I like them!
Michael had to go to his family's house for Christmas Eve midnight. I guess they open gifts then? Not sure... So I got to FaceTime with my family while I opened presents from them. I was so lucky that my mom could come and wrap some presents for me to have on Christmas morning. That really made it more special! I got a LOT of clothes, a movie, a bag, and a pair of boots!!! They were not the exact same as the ones Michael got, but similar. They were a different color and style, but both were Uggs. These fit, and I don't have any like these! They are SO WARM!
After opening the gifts and chatting a bit with everyone, I headed back out into the cold (did I mention it snowed last night? So, I had a white Christmas?!) and headed to the base to see Heather & Co.
It was SO NICE to spend some time with a family on Christmas, even if it wasn't my own. They have 3 kids so of course when I walked in, they had ALL their toys out and open and putting them together. It was really cute and reminded me of my younger years when I would do the same thing. I mentioned FaceTiming with my family, and they said they wanted to FaceTime with their family back home. I was able to help them mirror their iPad onto their big screen since they have AppleTV. They were excited and impressed, and I felt useful! :)
We played a board game they got for Christmas and ate and talked. It was a really good time! For Christmas, they got me groceries! :D Yay! Lots of poptarts and some other goodies! Super happy!
Now, I am feeling the effects of a busy day and also the cold. I am coughing and congested. Yuck! I am going to try to get some much needed sleep! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a GOOD NIGHT!