So we’re on a mission to save some money now for our January travels. We have booked to spend a couple of nights in Hong Kong, a week in Borneo, and two weeks in the Philippines. We have managed to book all of our flights (5 in total) for a grand total of around 500 pounds. If we’d have booked our flights a week or two earlier we probably could have saved another 50-100 and had more favourable flight times and duration, but never mind – we’re still quite happy. We managed to get flights from Hong Kong to Borneo and on to Manila for a grand total of 70 pounds thanks to Air Asia. Happy days.
The break is going to be most welcome, it is absolutely freezing here already. I don’t think Britain gets much colder than it is here now currently at its very coldest. We are just waiting for the snow to start falling which should start in the next week or two and then BOOM…. winter will be officially here (although I would argue it is already!). We don’t mind the snow, it’s the temperature. Already I am travelling to school in Thermal Underwear (Long John’s – they are incredibly stylish) and many layers of thermal clothing. God help us early January before we go away!
My High School students have now completed their SAT, this is equivalent to a final A-Level exam except coursework doesn’t exist in Korea. It starts at 9am and finishes at 6pm. The exams aren’t nicely spread out like they are in England to give everyone the best chance, they are crammed into one day. 5 subjects, 5 examinations. Their entire education boils down to this one day. It’s brutal, and it is pretty much the day that determines the rest of their lives. It’s kind of a big deal. I heard that a boy in Seoul took a wrong turn en route to the test centre by one block, panicked and called the fire brigade to give him an escort to the test centre. Naturally, the Fire Brigade did so. It managed to make the Korean news. I’m still trying to imagine something like that happening in England…
‘Oh shoot! I’m late for my exam, lets call 999 and hope the Fire Brigade will give me an escort to the exam hall’
I can just imagine the emergency services operator ‘Emergency services, what is the problem?’
‘Hi, I need a fire engine to give me a lift to my A-level exam please, I kind of took a wrong turning and now I’m late? PLEASE HELP!’
‘We will be there as soon as possible, please try to remain calm and don’t panic’
Yeah right…. only in Korea would this be possible!
I do love this place though, it is vastly different to home in so many ways.
One of the perks of the High School students completing their SAT is that lesson planning is now very easy, last week I taught them Wonderwall by Oasis. I thought I’d introduce them to the concept of Britpop and they generally seem to like that kind of music. It seemed to go down well and it was a joy seeing their little faces light up at hearing the Gallagher brothers. The only downside was that ‘Wonderwall’ was a little to fast for them, so it could only be described as a farcical attempt at a sing-along, but the kids enjoyed it regardless. Today we did Queen – We Are The Champions. They loved this, especially the girls surprisingly. They actually knew this song, well the tune anyway! This made it easier, they sang their little hearts out bless them. I did however have to educate them – some of them thought Queen and The Beatles were American. I don’t need to tell you what my response was. Anyway, I exposed them to the joys of Bohemian Rhapsody, I Want To Break Free and Don’t Stop Me Now. This afternoon I walked past one of the classrooms where the teacher obviously had not arrived to class yet to hear ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ blaring out. I smiled to myself with the satisfaction that I was slowly and discreetly indoctrinating these kids with a love of all things British. By the time I finally come to leave this place I plan on Hwacheon reminiscing a little corner of middle England – culturally at least!
Mrs Kim has revealed that she was a huge fan of Cyndi Lauper, Wham and Culture Club before having children. She said she particularly enjoyed ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’, ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ and ‘Karma Chameleon’. I told her that she would get on very well with my mother, especially over a glass of wine!!!!
I have been told by my Korean friend Yong-Jun that one of his female friends from the church thinks I am very handsome. He said she likes British guys and that she thinks I look very British. I asked why? He did not know the exact phrase but signalled with his hands ‘broad shoulders and big nose’. Once again, thanks for that.
Our positive perception of Korean children and students has been tarnished. It turns out wherever you go in the world, children will be children and there will always be thieves. Amelia had 26,000 won stolen from her purse during lunch last week. Her Korean co-teacher had 100,000 won stolen (50 pounds) from her purse over the course of the week, the other native teacher Angelina had the same amount stolen last year. It turns out there is a child of elementary school age who is now incredibly well off (for an 8-year-old) and a thief. Amelia (bless her) was furious when she realised the little blighter’s had stolen from her purse. They went back a couple of days later but could only steal the change which was a nominal amount. It’s obviously an issue within the school and ‘x’ amount of students think they can get away with stealing, but the Principal does not care except for saying lock your bags and purses up. Of course there is little one can do about it, but I am of the opinion that small children can usually be frightened them into never doing it again and making it clear that stealing is wrong, but the school appears unwilling to do this! Very frustrating.
Also, an ambulance was speeding past me with flashing lights and sirens blaring obviously en route to an emergency call last week. The paramedics driving still managed to wave ‘hello’ as they sped past at 70 odd miles an hour. It made me chuckle.
Anyway, time to go.
I hope everyone is well at home.
Lots of love