I am officially a resident of Korea today. I went to the immigration office and picked up my Alien Resident Card. Now I can get a cell phone, cable TV, and internet access at my apartment.
I also began teaching. The grade fours are a breeze. They are still at the age where enthusiasm is alive and they find me quite interesting, to say the least. I'm not sure when the novelty of being simply a white person will wear off on them but I have a feeling it will be a while before that happens.
I haven't taught the grade fives yet but I meet one class tomorrow.
The grade sixes are going to be my biggest problem from what I've been told by the other teachers. I taught three classes of sixes today and I must say it went very well. I began the class by explaining the 17 rules I created specifically for that grade. The vice-principal was observing the first class and he seemed pleased. I should be honest though and mention the ADHD kid who wouldn't put his desk on the ground. He literally had his desk lifted up onto his lap for over half the class, then he disappeared. His homeroom teacher was also observing the class so I assumed she told him to leave or something. It was out of my hands. But at least he was laughing at me while balancing his desk in mid-air and not disturbing everyone else by running around the class like he did in the English classes that I wasn't present.
I've always been able to build quite the rapport with any children I've worked with in the past and this seemed to be holding true. Hopefully, me acting like somewhat of an idiot/moron/weirdo will keep them from acting in the same manner. Sometimes you just gotta act completely silly in order to stop the kids from doing the same. If the teacher is being the class clown, it prevents a kid from being one. It worked today at least.
I told them if they didn't participate in the song we were singing they'd have to come up to the front of the class and dance with me while we sang. And yes, everyone participated, even if they weren't giving it 100 percent.
My classes were done at 2:00 and left school an hour early to go pick up my A/R Card. I must give props to the Seoul Subway system because it's truly phenomenal. Everything is labeled in English and there's no way to get confused or lost even though there are nine separate trains. The two or three trains (2 or 3?) in Calgary were much more confusing. I traveled from one end of the city to the other with multiple transfers and it went smoother than butter.
On my way home I decided to go to Itaewon (the place referred to as Little America because there's an American Army base in the neighborhood) and search for pizza once again. The only pizza places I could find were full-fledged restaurants and I didn't feel like going in by myself and ordering a full pizza so I looked around for my next best option. What I found is probably going to end up being one of my regular hangouts in Seoul.
Above the entrance was a Canadian Flag and the place was called Rocky Mountain Tavern (www.rockymountaintavern.com). It was 5:30 pm and I walked inside. The place was empty and a guy came out from outback and told me they didn't open until six but I could grab a seat and have a beer if I wanted to.
It turns out that the place is run by two Canadians. One guy is from Ontario and the other from Saskatchewan. They even had a few Canadian beers which was quite nice considering I've been drinking Korean beer since I arrived and it tastes like water.
Just after six people started arriving and they were all white and either Canadian or American (I'm not a racist - although that line sure sounds like I am - but it was nice to be in a room completely free of Koreans). More importantly I think is that everyone was speaking English.
I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and just when my food arrived they turned on a projector television and showed the NFL game from Monday night! They also show every Hockey Night in Canada Broadcast throughout the year. The bartenders/owners were super nice guys and they answered all of the questions I had about being in Korea such as currency exchange, cell phones plans, and places worth checking out in Seoul.
Then things got even better. I looked around at some of the pictures and posters on the wall and noticed they had some official "Screech In" forms on the wall from Trapper Johns in St. Johns. They told me that a couple of Newfs had officially Screeched them in here in Seoul and it was quite the night.
Just imagine! I move halfway across the world and people are becoming honorary Newfies even here. Newfoundlanders know how to spread culture with the best of them, and we do it without fighting or going to war. We just make you say a few lines of nonsense, kiss a fish, and drink some rum. If only everything was that simple.
The owners told me that lots of Newfies and Cape Bretoners frequent the place and most people from those parts usually walk in on the weekend and bump into someone they know. It's a small world on the East Coast of Canada.
And bigger ain't always better.