Field Trip with the Kiddies
This past Monday – Wednesday I took a trip down memory lane and spent 3 days on a field trip with one of my 3rd grade classes and their homeroom teacher Shin Ryeong. It was a trip I was equally looking forward to and dreading, as I didn’t know what to expect and my main co-teacher had opted out, so I was left with teachers I was less familiar with and spoke less English. It turned out to be a fun and interesting experience, but by day 3 I was exhausted with too much Korean-ness. Check out all the Temple, Amusement Park, and Talent Show goodness below.
So this entire field trip mostly consisted of long stretches of driving, with 20 minute breaks to see the sights. How you are supposed to run around and try to make anything of what you’re seeing in that time frame I don’t know, but our first stop was Pusoksa Temple. This is a beautiful grounds with a historic wooden temple that has a love story legend behind it, click on the link if you’re interested. After climbing about 100 steps up we get to the top and have a moment to take in the beautiful view and take a peek in the main temple where buddhists are praying before having to run back down again. Since I was too busy taking pictures to notice everyone had left, one teacher stayed behind with me, and apparently the VP was waiting for us to walk back down. On our stroll back to the buses we encounter a group of 10 students on the side of the trail squatting with their hands above their heads. My VP and co-teacher stopped to point and laugh and joked that anywhere you go in Korea you can come across this sight. They were apparently being punished because they didn’t feel like walking all the way to the temple.
Back on the bus and then off to the Confucian Village. This next stop was a huge grounds dedicated to the teachings and history of Confucianism. What did I learn there? Torture techniques, yet again. They love to put examples of ancient torture methods for picture taking opportunities. Other than that I wandered around with my VP as people tried to speak to me in Korean and my VP kept saying waygukin (foreigner). Needless to say, the kids were not that interested.
Last stop of the day – Kosu cave. This was a pretty cool location where you could walk through the winding, twisting tunnels of an underground cave. If only I’d been able to stop for more than 5 seconds to steal a quick picture or glance around. As everyone was speed-walking down the damp paths and slippery stairs, all I could do was try not to hit my head on rock formations as I tried to look at the scenery I was passing by. Beautiful place, but one of the teachers fainted as we were walking out. Needless to say it was a long day and everyone was pretty tired of all the trekking.
When we finally arrived at the hotel and got to escape the freezing rain, everyone was relieved. I ended up sharing a room with the teacher who’d taken me to Seonum Market, and speaks pretty good English, and another teacher. Graciously, they let me have the room with the bed and the private bathroom, and they took the room where they had to sleep on the floor. The best part of this field trip was by far the king size bed and sparking clean shower. It was heaven to take a long shower with hard water pressure and never ending hot water. I could have sat in this hotel room for 3 days and been content. That night we had a quick dinner in the cafeteria and then went for “dessert” later on in one of the teachers’ rooms (separate post to come about this next). Spent the rest of the night gossiping with the two teachers I roomed with.
Day 2: Everland Amusement Park! Woke up at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am to head over to Everland Amusement Park, supposedly the 4th best theme park in the world. After herding the kids inside, the teachers start to venture off wandering around the park. 5 minutes later, one of the teachers gets a call from another teacher. Apparently this shy little girl in the class I’d been traveling with had been abandoned by all the other students and was wandering by herself. We scooped her up and she walked around with us for the rest of the day. Theme park was ok, nothing compared to Disney World or Universal Studios. I avoided the roller coasters and carnival-esque rides and stuck to wandering around and checked out the “safari” and rafting ride.
That night we had another quick cafeteria dinner and then it was talent show time! All of the students took over the hotel cafeteria where a small stage had been set up in the front. The host for the night was apparently a personality the kids knew well, as it felt like we were at a bar-mitzvah and they all knew the songs and games he shouted out to them. After about 45 minutes of this, it was the students turn to perform. Since Koreans love singing, most of them sang songs, or danced to their favorite k-pop hits. Most of the guys basically made fools of themselves, with a few talented singers thrown in the bunch, while the girls had actually choreographed dance routines.
Day 3: This day was spent mainly traveling back, with two super fast stops at the Independence Museum and Monetary Museum. The museums were interesting, but as it was freezing rain outside, I would have been content to stay on the bus.
Overall, the trip had it’s frustrations, including no real English conversation for 3 days, having to sit through hours of droning conversation with my superiors in Korean (did I mention this is a surefire way to put me to sleep?), having to constantly make pleasantries and answer if I was ok, or too cold, or not sick, etc etc. But after everything, it was a great opportunity to bond with the teachers and the students.
Oh and just a quick mention, middle schoolers seem to be the same the world over, in case anyone is interested. The cool kids sit at the back of the bus, the girls tease and hit the boys they like, and the popular kids are always the best dressed, most attractive, or most outgoing. Oh, and they wear full body, bunny suit pajamas to bed. You mean they don’t do that in America?