Back to Basics

I want to tell you guys about one of the wierdest things about living in a foreign country. For me it hasn’t been about adapting to the culture or food or weather. The biggest change, and one of the hardest things to live with, is how much of your independance you lose. Essentially, you become an infant again. Imagine suddenly not being able to speak. Not being able to read. Not being able to hear. As a foreigner in South Korea I have become blind deaf and dumb. Reading, speaking and listening used to be second nature,and I definitely took them for granted. Now that they are gone I have become much more aware of the challenges facing immigrants and foreigners in a strange country. In fact, I kinda feel bad about my impatience and close-mindedness while dealing with foreigners at work and in daily life back home. Of course I was always courteous and helpful, but in my head I was saying to myself: ‘Gee I wished they’d learn to speak English’ or ‘Gee what an idiot.’

I’m not proud of it, but its the truth. Now as the waiter approaches or I get closer to the front of the line at the coffee shop I think to myself ‘Gee I hope the person I’m about to talk to isn’t an ass like I used to be.’

I’m a young man, 23 years old, so I know better than to strive too hard for self-betterment, but sometimes it just finds you on its own, no matter how hard you try to hide.

Of course I’m kidding.

Some of you may be wondering about my teaching experiences thus far. I teach grades 4 through 6 at my Elementary school, and so far I’ve just been doing an ‘about me’ powerpoint presentation and then having the students ask me questions about myself – there have been some doozies. Among the most popular questions; How old are you? How tall are you? How much do you weigh? (I swore they were going to ask me what my arm reach and win/loss record was next). They are also fond of personal questions such as: Whats your phone number? Where do you live? Do you have a girlfriend? And my favorite: Are you popular? My answers: I don’t have a phone, none of your business, 27, of course.

Despite my class’ enthusiasm and the success of the first nine lessons I’m going to use the word ‘apprehensive’ to describe how I feel about teaching at the moment. Not because I can’t teach – In fact I found it easy to keep the students’ attention through the tone and volume of my voice and I am confident that I can come up with games and lessons to keep them occupied for 40 minutes – but rather because of the language barrier between myself and my co-workers. It is hard to elicit advice and concrete plans from them, and I’m still not sure exactly how they want me to handle the classes. Compounding this is the fact that they are very busy and its hard to find the time necessary to get my points across and ensure we understand each other. Not to mention the fact that the textbooks are mostly in Korean, as are the teacher’s guides that accompany them.

These problems are, however, all relatively minor and I’m confidant that in a week or two the anxiety will melt away and i’ll look back at myself and say ‘Gee I sure was a friggin nervous nancy about teaching!’

Thats the plan at least.

I can also tell I’m going to have a wealth of hilarious anecdotes about those wonky kids I see everyday. Best thing I’ve heard so far:

Me: “Raise your hand and tell me your favorite Superhero!”

Little boy: “God!”

Right you are little man. Right you are.

Today I made a video of my apartment, but because of the unfortunate lack of internet I cannot post it yet. I’m going to try and get it up tomorrow morning.

Thats all for now BNBers – Keep Bullying Nervous Bumblebees!


About bnbnower

A recent graduate of Carleton University, set adrift into the real world with no tangible goals or properly defined aspirations, I decided to set off for South Korea where I am teaching English as a second language. In my spare time I read, rock-climb, play frisbee and watch movies and television.
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3 Responses to Back to Basics

  1. Mom and JP says:

    Definitely makes you think what it must be like for new immigrants, even in Canada…I am sure the apprehension will lessen as you learn a few words and become more comfortable..but definitely a humbling experience and an eye-opener.
    Love the questions…and the answers! can’t wait to hear more!

  2. Linds says:

    God’s pretty cool, and that was a brilliant answer….but I can’t believe none of them picked ‘SuperCrime’ (circa 1992, undies over the pants…). Now HE was a badass superhero 😉
    Maybe SuperCrime hasn’t hit the Korean mainstream yet though- you’ll have to teach them!!!! haha

  3. Greg says:

    I am definitely sharing the Superhero God quote the next time I teach. Really good catching up with you – funny how moving to another country prompts friends to talk! By the sounds of their fascination with your stats, you might be a South Korean superhero. T.K….anime hero!

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