Last September I moved to South Korea to teach English for a year. I am not a teacher, but rather a journalist with a love of traveling. My significant other, A, and I had just finished university and were looking for an adventure before trying to become real adults with careers and worries. So, off we went to Korea and adventure we found.
It would be impossible to write about everything that happened over our year because each day was its own challenge, for good or bad. Our boss was delusional and perhaps a bit psychotic, which created all sorts of issues that I won’t go into here, but my students and my life with them is something I could talk about forever. I loved those kids and miss them every day.
Prior to teaching in Korea, I had little experience working with kids. I soon discovered that my students had absolutely no filters. Whatever entered their heads came out in a tangle of words and I learned pretty immediately that they had no qualms whatsoever about saying their observations, even if they were rude.
For instance, the teacher I replaced was nick-named Cucumber Teacher because she had a very long face. My first few weeks I was called Ketchup Teacher because my skin has a reddish tone to it, especially when I am nervous, which I often was those first days. By the time I left, my nick name had been changed to Princess Angel Teacher, as one of my younger students informed me that I have princess hair.
I think the best moments though, and the funniest, were the random things that happened over the course of the day. Like the day I got into the elevator and was followed in by one of our new students. He took one look at me and screamed then shouted that he just saw the ghost of Jesus.
Or the day that my students started asking me if I was pregnant and patting my stomach, hoping for a baby (in Korea, couples who are married are almost expected to have a baby within a year of the marriage, and as my students thought A and I were married, they were expecting the same).
Or the time that one of A’s students came up and smelled me, nose to my arm and hair, then smelled A and announced that she could tell we shared a bed because we smelled the same.
It’s these things that I will remember most about my students. The frustration and stress of being a foreign teacher have begun to fade, but the quirkiness and personalities of my students will never leave me.