Dynamic Korea (you would think)

17 Mar

So here is my take on what is referred to as DYNAMIC KOREA. Now I do realise that I’ve only been in this country for a month and that I will continue to learn and experience the culture as time goes on. Nonetheless I believe that first impressions about new places are very important, because once something becomes familiar, the experience will never be the same as the first one! Korea, a country that changed over the last 60 years as a country known as the place of the morning calm to something somewhere in the area of the country of the morning stampede, Koreans firmly believe in the saying Dynamic Korea! Now clearly my definition of dynamic and the Korean version seem to be antonyms! For instance, during the whole hospital saga, it was clear that Nicola needed to be hospitalised. Now you have to understand that the mere thought of entering a hospital freaks her out not even mentioning being admitted. So the whole day on Monday we had to wait at the hospital until a bed became available. There never did. So we were informed to return the following day so that she can be admitted. Guess what, no beds available on Tuesday again. Now we asked if it is possible to be transferred to another hospital. NO! So then Nicola had to see the Nephrologists again. We were very clearly informed that the specialist doesn’t see patients today but our case is a special case and that he will come down all the way from the 11th floor to see us. Dear heavens forbid that the specialist has to use a lift to come down to the second floor. As if it is our fault that they admit a patient to hospital without checking to see if there are any beds available. So the specialist showed us Nicola’s test results and then out of nowhere announced that it is no longer necessary for her to be admitted. She just has to go in today to get injections and an IV and from then on she can take antibiotic tablets. So when we were done at the hospital yesterday (my school was very nice and gave me the afternoon off to take her to the hospital) we waited for Nicola’s co-teacher who wanted to come and see her at the hospital. After explaining to her multiple times that Nicola is not being admitted she insisted to come to the hospital and meet us there. So waited f her to arrive. She offered to collect Nicola’s medication at the pharmacy and take us home. This was a very nice gesture and I really appreciated it! Now the search for the pharmacy is a whole other story. There are loads of different pharmacies near the hospital each with a different speciality. So thanks to our splendid medical knowledge we found the correct pharmacy in no less that 2 hours! Jeepers! In the end we got the medicine and headed home! Nicola is recovering well and should be back on her feet by Friday! Thank you to all for the great messages!

Now some of my other great experiences of Dynamic Korea include mistaking already boiled eggs for fresh eggs. I do not eat boiled eggs, they gross me out. So last night I went to the supermarket to buy some food. So I bought 6 eggs. Big was my surprise and disgust when I tried to crack them open and realise that they are boiled. I can’t even imagine the expression on my face. Luckily the GS25 is just around the corner so I ran and bought fresh eggs.

Now since day one at my school my co-teachers all have told me that my school is very bad. Not the teachers or so but the school has a bad reputation. I am teaching at a middle school. Even the surrounding middle schools know that my school has a very big discipline problem. My voice is hoarse at the end of every day because I do not like using the microphone and I have to raise my voice constantly. Anyhow, the way in which the kids at my school are being disciplined has made me very uncomfortable at times. Now although our schools in South Africa are not allowed to enforce corporal punishment it does happen. But jeepers, nothing to this extent. Sometimes the methods are hilarious, but then other times it is just mean, and although my students frustrate me sometimes it is a bit harsh! So the other day I noticed a student entering our office and talking to my co teacher whose desk is next to mine. I was busy preparing a lesson and did not pay much attention to the student. So when the vice principal approached me to go to lunch with him I immediately moved my chair back. My chair hit the poor student who was now kneeling beside my chair. I noticed that he had his head in the bin so I assumed he was sick. When I returned from lunch a half hour later the student was still there with his head in the bin. That was his punishment. In last week I needed my students to take notes in their notebooks. As half the class did not bother to bring their notebooks from their homeroom’s (I teach in the English centers) my one co-teacher got really angry. She told all the students who did not have their notebooks to stand up. She walked to each of them and pulled their cheeks so hard that some of the girls started crying. That was harsh, I did not know what to do or where to look, so I just wrote something on the board. Almost every day about 2 or three students receives a beating in the teachers office in front of everybody. But today was the worst. This girl was complaining about something to the P.E teacher and she was crying like a baby. So after about ten minutes of listening to this foreign moaning another male teacher brings a boy student into the office. The teacher grips the student with his fist and pushes him into the office that he almost stumbled over my desk. Then suddenly the boy tried to run away because the girl was given instruction by one of the teachers to beat this boy. Obviously he had done something bad to the girl but once again jeepers. Its like a cockfight in here! She continued to hit him on the head with her fist whilst all the teachers watched. Dynamic Korea – I think not!

Being submerged into a culture such as this one is a great experience but at the same time a very frustrating one. There are things that gross you out and other things that conflicts with your values. I am not here to change the way Korea functions, and I’m not even going to try. Do I understand how and why some tings happen here? All I can do, I guess, is watch and learn more!

Cheers from dodgy Korean alley!

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2 Responses to “Dynamic Korea (you would think)”

  1. Amanda March 18, 2010 at 11:05 #

    whoa dude. thats intense. I am afraid people will read your blog and think that is how it is in all Korean schools, but I think yours is a special case. I also work in a large middle school, but I have yet to see any students physically hit by the teachers. I’m so sorry you have to be put in those awkward situations!!!!!! I don’t even know how I would react! The worst punishment I’ve seen is kids putting their nose in the corner!

    Also, I am sooooo glad Nicola is feeling better! I cannot imagine how scared she must be to be so sick in a foreign country! Wishing her well!!!

  2. karliendupreez March 19, 2010 at 05:17 #

    Oh my word dis ‘n lawsuit waiting to happen!

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