Sunday, 7 July 2013

Then when [I was] touched

Well, this has been one heck of a week! Starting on Tuesday things got awkward. As a female TEFL teacher, especially one working with Kindergarten and 1st grade, you have to carefully watch your students. As most people in Korea have similar body shapes, ours are very interesting to little kids who already have tons of curiosity about everything. I was warned about being careful by my brother when I arrived and have managed to evade any awkwardness until this week. I had taught Kindergarten in the morning without incident but at lunch time was heading to the bathroom when I met a bunch of these students brushing their teeth. I stopped to say hello and unfortunately one little girl snuck by my defenses. She reached out and touched my chest! I had a little shock because I wasn't expecting it at all but I quickly remedied the situation by leaning down and wagging my finger as I said a firm "No". Sadly, this incident is something many female TEFL teachers in Korea have to be wary of when working with Kindergarten and 1st Grade students. Also, if you go to the Jimjabang (Korean Sauna) you have to keep your wits about you as I've had several friends and acquaintances who've had similiar incidents with the adjummas (old ladies)!

And the hits kept coming. Whilst (thankfully) no one else has done this to me, I have had a series of misadventures that would make anyone want to run screaming! The events of this week seem to prove that "every interaction starts a chain reaction". Whilst Tuesday was about touch, Wednesday was about "Grocery bags full of alcohol and chocolate chip cookies". A few friends and I were having a 4th of July party on Thursday. So on Wednesday I set out immediately after school to Home Plus. I got the right bus to drop me off there. Spent about about 15 minutes grabbing everything and feeling very chuffed, I proceeded to the checkout. As the bill rang up, I packed my bags up. When the cashier asked for "points card", I reached for my wallet and then stopped in dismay and embarrassment. I'd left my card at home. My check card. I had no cash except for the taxi fare home ... which is 3,000 won and that just might buy me a bag of potatoes but would then leave me fairly stranded. Apologising profusely, red in the face, I said "Sorry" about 30 times and proceeded to pass my groceries back to the cashier. I was too embarrassed to go back afterwards and instead did a little of my shopping in one of the local marts.

Thursday was a double whammy of trying "to catch my balance". I had no classes so I'd spent the morning preparing some texts for my students, playing on Facebook, and starting this blog post. Around 10am, I decided to pay my gas and electricity bills. I reached in and pulled out the bills and then started to look for my phone. It wasn't on my desk, it wasn't in my bag and it wasn't at any place I'd been at since arriving at school. On Thursday, some mothers come and quilt in my classroom and I  usually stay at my desk and prepare for my classes.  One of the mothers arrived early and helped me to look for my phone after some gesticulation from me explaining what happened. Eventually she decided we should call my phone. It was answered - by the bus driver. Eegit that I am, I'd left it on my seat. Panicking because I knew I not only had to go to Homeplus to do yesterdays shopping but also get home in time to cook for our party, I was feeling extremely foolish as I would now have another errand to, possibly, run. From what I understood the people would be dropping it to me but I wasn't sure. I told my co-teacher the situation and we agreed that in the afternoon we'd call and figure it out. Luckily for me, the kind mother dropped my phone to me in my afternoon class. My students got a good laugh out of happy I was to have my phone and I realised that thanks to the stupid "choice we make and every [stupid] road we take" I've been lucky to have kind and generous people in my life.

 The second disaster of Thursday was when I proceeded to HomePlus to buy the food for that evening. As before, I got my food, proceeded to the checkout, was rung up, packed my bags and, luckily, paid. I turned to leave and that's when disaster struck. Everything flopped out of my backpack onto the floor. I'd been so busy making sure that the avocados were zipped in to the small front pocket I'd forgotten about the big one. Needless to say, I don't think I will be going back to HomePlus for a while!

Yesterday, was my next misadventure. I had been teaching my advanced class at Charmsaem, which had gone really well but I was exhausted. My class finishes at noon and usually by around 1230 I am on my bus home. Every time, I fall asleep on the way home -it's a pleasant way to spend the next 30 minutes. Yesterday was no different. I fell asleep and I didn't pay any attention to where I was until I heard "Oh, Margaret-Teacher". Looking up I say about 10 of my students on the bus heading to a birthday party in Jochiwon. I was incredibly embarrassed as I was lolled back on the seat, mouth open, feet stretched out. They took it in their stride and eagerly peered over my shoulder in amazement at the fact I used English on my phone!

 So you might think I'm mad to laugh off this series of misadventures and even to share them with you. However, to me, it seems "I was supposed to fall" into this last week as it gives me a reminder I am too used to forgetting: Laugh at yourself and the world around you. Have fun in your life and don't be so serious all the time. Sometimes it seems you can't catch a break and all you are doing is making a fool of yourself. But, it's ok, because sometimes "it feels like the world disappears around us" in the mediocre everyday-ness of our lives. I think that mishaps and misadventures remind us to live and "party all night till the sun comes up" and that's when we know we can "dance, and we laugh and we touch" and appreciate the little moments that make you smile.

 PS This post was inspired by Nathasha Bedingfield's "Touch".

PPS Thank you to everyone who laughed with me at my mishaps this week and to those I shared them with as they happened. Muuuah.

PPPS This post is dedicated to all those who've had awkward touching incidents in the saunas or at school. I feel your pain!


  1. This reminds me what happened in Dacota at Pres leaving party Maggie :) I missed you and loved your blog. Keep writing...

  2. Thanks, Elmas! Haha yes too true! I miss you too, Elmasita! Hope to see you in August! x


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