Today I woke up bright and early at 4:30 am (not my choice) and jumped right into life at the Bambini School.
Lorenzo picked me up at 9:30 and we headed to the school, where I met the other teachers and helped them get ready for the Kindergarten Graduation. I have to say, it was cute overload. These teeny little kindie kids wear special cap-and-gown outfits, and are handed portraits of themselves in their graduation caps after they each give a little speech in English and bow to everyone.
There were also a lot of well-heeled Korean parents there (I learned today that this type of small English Kindergarten costs more than a typical college…) Most of the private schools are much bigger and the kids don’t see the same teacher more than once a week. The public schools are even less personalized. The kids at Bambini receive tons of personal attention from the teachers, who get to know each kid’s quirks and talents, as well as any issues they might be having. On a sad note, I took a walk with April, the teacher that I’m replacing, and we passed by a dog farm. I don't think I would have known what it was if she hadn’t pointed it out. It was just a fenced-in area with a whole bunch of wooden shacks and a lot of barking. We turned around before I was able to see very much, which was good because it was hard enough just listening to the dogs howling.
We also walked past a beautiful tangerine grove framed by a small wall made of black volcanic stone. I wish I’d had my camera but I will be here all year, I suppose.
At 4:00, it was time for my health exam at the local hospital. It turned out to be a full physical exam, complete with urine and blood samples, chest x-rays, etc. The doctor didn’t speak any English whatsoever, so I had to figure out what she wanted me to do. It went pretty smoothly, except for when I thought she wanted me to emerge from the changing room once I had my hospital gown on. With a stricken look, she gestured me back into the dressing room. I thought it was because I was slightly indecent in my gown (but I had to get from there to the x-ray room somehow) but it turned out that it was because I was barefoot. Once I had my shoes on everything was cool. The whole shoes on/off thing is confusing. Apparently shoes on inside is bad, slippers are the norm, and barefoot is horrifying. My question is: what about barefoot in slippers? I need to figure this out before summer arrives. Based on the weather today, it isn’t far off. Oh, and the little boys want to call me “Sereni T Rex” because they learned about dinosaurs recently….and just because they are little boys and they love dinosaurs.
I went to a huge Korean store that is right next to my hotel to get some dinner tonight. I was feeling adventurous again and went into a few Korean restaurants, but had no idea what to order and am now afraid of accidentally ordering dog after I saw the farm today. Also, the first place I went into had English translations on the menu, which consisted of “oxblood hangover stew” along with some other odd choices…so that, coupled with the confused stares of everyone when I wander in to these places, made me head for the grocery store. It was enormous, fascinating, and full of strange things- especially the seaweed department, meat on a stick department, and a few department that remain a total mystery. There were heaps of things covered in red goo. Meat? Vegetables? Sea creatures? Still not sure. So, back in my room, very tired, think it’s time for a movie.
*Update: I have since discovered that it is impossible to "accidentally" order dog. It is served in very specific restaurants and is quite a pricy item.