Normally I wait for the weekends to write a post, but today (and the past week) have been so filled with stories, I couldn’t wait.
This week, I continued with my training/observation. Although I didn’t really need a five-day break yet (Seoullal, or Lunar New Year), I wasn’t going to complain. However, after Monday and Tuesday (full 9-7 days), I think we should adopt the idea of a two-day workweek, five-day weekend.
Monday didn’t feel as crazy as the first day I observed, and things are already starting to become familiar. I took over a few classes again for short periods of time, and didn’t have any problems. It’s not the teaching aspect I’m worried about, but the administrative/procedural things I’m having trouble with. For example, there’s a certain order of procedures for the first 30-60 minutes of the day that I’m still getting a handle on. I think it goes: greeting, date, review, assign classroom jobs, go to the bathroom to wash hands (and say, “GOOD MORNING COOKING TEACHER” to the awesome cook), snack… oh and a song somewhere in there. The good thing is these students are not new, and so more than half the time they are telling ME what to do: “ALICIA TEACHER, you need to line us up now!”
About halfway through the day, I guess 2 or 3, my voice started getting croaky and dry, but I could still speak. The rest of the day, I just observed more. I think I took over one of the older kid classes… or maybe that was Tuesday… I can’t remember. It’s all blending together. Anyway, I went home feeling yucky and tired and went right to sleep.
Tuesday morning, I felt groggy and my throat was a little swollen, but I could speak. I had to go back to the hospital and do another urine test. Don’t worry, I didn’t fail or anything, but the first one was wonky? Idk. They just said I had to take another one. Maybe they dropped my cup. After the second pee test, we waited for my results (ALL NORMAL) and then went to the immigration office to apply for my Alien Registration Card. Apparently this can be a huge ordeal sometimes, with 3-4 hour long waits. But we were there for an hour total. The principal’s father (who has been doing all my legal stuff) said all my paperwork has been easy and without problem, and keeps saying I’m super lucky. I hope I stay lucky!
I got back to the school in time for lunch, then taught a few science classes (we made catapults and a battery-powered fan engine…thing). By this point, my voice was croaky again, but still okay. In the afternoon, I did a reading and writing class to help out another teacher who had to help get things ready for the graduation. Yeah. Once these kids finish, they graduate. They’re like five years old and got better yearbooks than I ever had.
By the end of the day, my voice was shot. Completely gone. Which has never happened before. I’ve gotten sore throats many times, and my voice has been low, but never has it been completely out. I couldn’t (and still can’t) even make noises! I feel absolutely fine otherwise though, so it’s extra frustrating. But because the next day was the graduation, they really didn’t need me and I needed to rest. So I stayed home and watched Meg Ryan movies all day. Didn’t say a word, didn’t even try, yet I still woke up Thursday a mute.
The kiddos were going on a field trip though, and I wanted to see how that was orchestrated before I was no longer in training, so I went in despite my voice. Even though I didn’t actually teach, it’s surprising how much kids understand by just pointing at things. They didn’t even ask me why I wasn’t talking, but still “listened” to me when I “told” them to wash their hands and line up. A big part was thanks to their routine, but still. It was kinda cool.
The field trip was to a musical. I have no idea what it was about because it was all in Korean, but here’s what I got: some kid got swallowed by his video game and landed in the Land of Instruments. They made fun of him, but then he cried and they all became friends. Lots of singing and dancing, and I’m pretty sure the Tuba farted a few times. Then a tree warlock appeared. He was actually really scary looking, and I’m surprised more kids didn’t cry. But I think he was good. Like some wise, tree philosopher. Then a red witch appeared, and jailed the purple clarinet. She started crying. Then the boy cried again. More singing. I think the singing was the witch’s kryptonite, because then she disappeared. Then the boy’s mother appeared, and told him to come home? So then all the instruments went on a singing journey and took the boy home. More singing. The end.
We then headed back to the school, where I ran into the principal’s father. He shortly found out my voice was gone, and I kinda laughed it off but he was super worried and told the principal (his daughter) immediately. Since I have to actually teach Monday, they were really worried that something was really wrong, so the principal took me to the hospital. I think the doctor was upset he had to help a foreigner. Not because of any prejudice, but I think he froze and forgot all the English he knows. He first asked how long my voice has been hurting/gone, if I have asthma or any allergies, and then said, “Okay, I’m going to use a camera to look.” I thought he was joking until he pulled out this long, metal rod. After about 5 gags, he got it down there far enough to get a good look. Or he gave up. Have you ever seen inside your own throat?? It’s pretty gnarly. He said it’s slightly infected, and then massaged my neck and tried to get me to make low vocal sounds. Lol. It was pathetic. Like I said, I can’t even make noises, so my low sounds were really just squeaks. I was prescribed a bunch of pills (anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant, ibuprofen) and cough syrup, and then taken to a small room where I had to breathe in and out some weird gas. I’m pretty sure it was just a humidifier.
After all that, my boss told me to go home and rest, and do the same thing for the next day. I’m a little worried about Monday though, since I was planning on using Friday to get everything prepared for the first day. But I guess having a voice is the most important thing.
Last story of the day, and reason for posting today and not on the weekend:
As I was leaving the subway, I noticed four Korean students (university age) walking with a giant poster with pictures and some English words. I had a feeling they would come over to me, and I was right. I panicked a little because I hardly have a voice, and wasn’t sure how useful I’d be. They still wanted to speak to me, quickly asking, “Our teacher is making us do this project, do we have your permission for a favor?” Before I said okay, another student started filming with his phone and a small crowd of five others gathered around. One student held the poster, with four Asian guys, and asked me which one looked the youngest, and why. Then, which one would I choose to marry (if I HAD to), and why. And which one wasn’t Korean (uh… I guessed on all of them, but especially that one). Apparently all my answers were wrong, because they laughed so hard at each one. But then they politely thanked me and wished me a nice day.
It’s interesting how right when things seem so crazy and overwhelming, something happens like that and everything seems okay again.