Bucket List, Ben Marshall and Gaga

We are halfway through our final semester and we are not quite sure where the time has gone.

I have a new batch of middle school first graders. They are very, very young and small in comparison to the older students (as is usually the case).

So, I have one boy – quite a delightful, young fellow, enthusiastic about English and just generally a nice kid. However, he seems to have taken a shining to me.

He sometimes tries to hug me as I walk past him in the corridors, I am a little bit heartless in that I don’t exactly reciprocate – it’s quite awkward in fact. It doesn’t feel right giving hugs to twelve-year-old boys.

The most awkward moment came as I am sat in my office whilst my co-teacher was teaching. He was sat by the window separating my office from the classroom. He knocks on the window to gain my attention. He puts a piece of paper to the window, with “Dan help me I’m sick” scrawled on it. I smile at him and mime “I’m sorry”.

A minute later, he’s knocking on the window. He’s scribbled another message for me;

“Dan I love you.

You are so handsome,

Like a supermodel”

Obviously I smiled back, but I’m not well versed in how to respond to declarations of love from 12-year-old boys…

I did a ‘Bucket List’ class with some of my middle school kids recently. For those that don’t know what a bucket list is, it’s a list of things you want to do before you die.

One of the boys (aged 13) simply wrote “I want to have sex”. He was supposed to write ten things, he only managed one. He is going to be quite a lad when he grows up, I’m sure of it.

Some of my middle school students have also now started mocking my accent. I thought I’d escaped that when I left Cardiff, but it would seem Korean children are now taking over from ‘the lads’. They really enjoy imitating and laughing at how I pronounce certain things. You’ve hit a low point when you have 13-year-old girls making fun of you.

I showed some of my boys Leicester City’s new signing Ben Marshall a few weeks ago. It was a video clip of his goals at the end of this season. They really took a liking to him, and came into my office a week later to tell me they had signed him for Inter Milan on FIFA Online. They have been giving me weekly reports on his progress ever since. I was quite touched.

In case you are wondering who Ben Marshall is, here is the YouTube clip…

In one class, I asked them “Who do you think is better? Leicester City or Korea?”

They said “Leicester City”, when I asked them “What makes you say so?” They responded; “Because Leicester City have Ben Marshall”. That’s the spirit boys. Ben Marshalls star is rising in Korea, evidently.

I’m doing my bit for Leicester in Korea. I just need them to actually do something like get promoted and win something, that would help my cause a lot.

We had another sports day last week. I was the hero of the hour and scored the decisive goal in the football game with a Steve Walsh style bullet header at the far post. Courtesy of a stunning delivery by my middle school 3rd grader, Hyun-Seok. We even had matching pink boots, we were quite the strike partnership.

Our matching pink boots

I also played quite a strange game with my high school kids. It was basically keepie-upies – one bounce, one touch. The game itself wasn’t strange of course, but the punishment for those that made mistakes was a little ‘unconventional’.

Those that make a mistake are spanked, quite literally by all other participants – using maximum possible force. The female Korean teacher was playing (who is also their home room teacher) and she wasn’t very good at football. She ended up getting absolutely spanked by her students on numerous occasions, who didn’t hold back despite her being considerably smaller!

I also made several mistakes, so was spanked numerous times. It was quite hilarious, yet painful. I have mixed emotions about being able to say “I have been spanked by my students”. 

In years to come, when asked about my strangest experiences in Korea, being able to say “When my students spanked me…” will certainly be up there!

We also went to see Lady Gaga open her Born This Way Monster Ball Tour in Seoul last month. I can now unashamedly declare myself a huge Gaga fan. I liked some of her stuff before, but I’ve fallen in love after seeing her live at the Olympic Stadium with 45,000 others. I don’t care what any of her critics or the haters say, she is one hell of a performer.

Hwacheons ‘Little Monsters’
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