March 2, 2015
My birthday felt very strange this year since it fell the day after arriving in Korea. Was it really my birthday if it was not yet my birthday in the US, where I was born? I didn’t technically turn another year older until the day after my birthday so does it change here? Of course I’ll still celebrate it as March 2 but it’s interesting when you really think about it.
We went to our first day of school but there were no classes. Instead, we set-up our classrooms and organized our books and schedules. We worked for 12 hours. Fortunately, lunch is provided daily, and we even got dinner. Not exactly the birthday dinner I had in mind, but that gives me an excuse to extend the celebrations, right?
What took me by surprise was that during the middle of the day, we were all called out to the main hall. The staff surprised me with a cake and sang me happy birthday. It was so sweet! I never expected anything like that and for them to go out of their way when they don’t even know me yet was really kind. Unfortunately, the cake was coffee flavored but I sucked it up and ate it anyway.
The other 2 foreign teachers are really nice! I think we’ll all get along well. One is Korean-American (gyopo, as they call it here). She was born in Korea but raised in California. The other is a guy from South Africa. The 4 of us have our hands full this year but I think we’ll be able to work well as a team.
So during the 12 hours of prep on Monday, we printed things out for boards in our homeroom classrooms. My two homeroom classrooms are “7M” which is the highest 7 year old level (top level in kindergarten) and “4E” which are the 4 year olds who don’t know any English (do they even know Korean?). Important fact is that Korean age is much different than Western age. You are 1 year old when you are born in Korea, and every Lunar New Year you also turn another year old. Therefore these “4 year olds” could be only 2. I’m sure they’ll be adorable. That also means my “7 year olds” are around 5 or 6, but they speak really well already! I’m the only one with split ages but I think it will lead to less monotony. I also have few students, only 7 in my 7M class and 2 in my 4E class. I will write a detailed post about my teaching schedule later.
Anyway, here is one of my boards for my classroom! I designed the month magnets my own (vs. downloading from online) and I’m quite proud of them! The images for certain months (ie: May/September) reflect Korean holidays.