Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Korean Observations

I've been working in Jakarta at a Korean school for 8 months (minus six weeks of Christmas holidays).  Here are a few observations that make me laugh, wonder or just shake my head.

* There is always music on in the toilets.  Its generally classical or opera of the vein that makes me think of the Looney Tunes cartoons that are synchronized to the music, like the Barber of Seville with Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. I don't know if they are convinced that the music covers the sound of peeing but it doesn't.
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* The bells for class breaks are teeth rattlingly loud, as are all PA announcements.  This morning to ease us in to the announcement they played a bit of classical music.  It's always the same ten seconds of the same song.  The real treat today was that the volume was being controlled by a first grader.  It went up, it went down,  it went back up slowly, paused and then faded off all together. The announcements can be so loud as to make one wince.
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* The students have a penchant for screaming.  Long, loud screams, screeches and squeals that would be the delight of a horror film director.  They scream in delight, in disgust, in excitement, in disappointment.  It's, well I was going to say mind numbing, but then I'll be able to tune it out and it wouldn't give me headaches.  They run down the halls screaming.  They sit in the class screaming.  I think I'll rewrite Green Eggs and Ham with lines like "He will always scream on a train, He'll definitely scream in a plane". My real disappointment is that they never get tired of it.
Courtesy of  This is how I feel.
Courtesy of  This is what I want to do.

* The people are also very loud. This year the foreigners/native English teacher departments teacher room has been combined with the secondary Korean teachers room.  One room now includes nine bule, four Koreans who teach English, a Korean PE teacher, a Korean Mandarin teacher, a Korean grade five teacher and up until yesterday the Indonesian teacher. They sit about chattering like twittering birds, in high octaves at high decibels having tea time throughout the day. Someone brings in a snack and it's time for a chat and giggle and eat on the sofa.  It's coffee time and they are at it again. I have no idea what they talk about only that its done loudly and often.  Its a cacophony and they are oblivious to the fact that it's highly disruptive and irritating.
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* The staff there is constantly handing out notices or sending instant messages for important, pertinent  things except they send them out only in Korean.  Then they seem frustrated when we (not just me) have to ask about it BECAUSE IT'S IN KOREAN!!  I came in from class today to a document that needed a response. The only thing I could read was 4 something 7, 4 something 8 and the names of the bule teachers. I asked, to a round of sighs, what I was supposed to do with it.   This is a message I got last week: 

* They don't seem to realize there are many other very delicious types of food in the world.  The cafeteria, the small supply shop and the hot snack bar all serve Korean food.  There are a few other choices, namely Oreos, Cheetos and milk, but as you can see they are very few.  I don't mind Korean food though it's not my favorite.  What I can't fathom is eating the same thing every day.  Kimchi, chicken katsu, rice, blah, blah, blah.
Courtesy of  I have had my share of kimchi since I started, as well as kimchi soup (hot and cold) and kimchi pizza.  It's good but not a daily necessity for me.
Courtesy of  Even the ice cream is Korean.

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