Monthly Archives: March 2013

Do you eat chicken?


today was the big day. First day teaching. True to form, I stayed up until around midnight last night putting the perfecting touches on everything: edublog, video greeting for edublog, ppt, teaching philosophy, class policies, writing diagnostic, and desperate fb messages to all of my teacher friends/mentors for advice about icebreakers, etc.

In the end, I decided to go with the classic “3 Truths and one Lie” game for the first day. I don’t quite know my reasoning. At first I was going to do a writing diagnostic…but I don’t know. English class is supposed to be fun, and even though we will be writing (and I will be doing a diagnostic)….I just wanted the first day to be fun. 

So anyway, I went with the 3 truths and one lie thing,

and it was hilarious. I learned 3 things about my students: 1) they are hilarious. 2) they are not shy 3) they are surprisingly up on American Pop Songs (as exhibited by the LMFAO reference that, coincidentally, made me LMFAO). 

I am glad to know these three things about my students, because it will definitely influence my approach throughout the year, although I don’t think my co-teacher appreciated it because after those classes she became a lot more hands-on, telling me what I need to plan for them for tomorrow and Monday.

Oh well. I’ve had 26 years to come to terms with the fact that not everyone gets my humor.

Speaking of 26 years….

isn’t it awkward when someone guesses your age…and get it exactly right? Is that only me? It’s like damn, I really look my age?

I have been long-since warned about the Korean tendency to ask you seemingly personal questions as a way to get to know you (are you married, how old are you, etc.), but today was the first day anyone actually took a personal interest in me I guess. This teacher guy at my school asked me whether I was married (to which I replied no….mi-hon–single). Then he said some stuff in Korean, the Korean teachers giggled, and my co-teacher translated:

“He’s trying to guess your age.”

To which I replied brightly, “Oh, 26.”

She translated, and everyone had a good laugh. “That’s what he guessed,” she translated. “26 or 27.”

…da fuq?! Now you can look at me and see I’m in my late 20s? Oh,

not cool man.



Old though I may appear, I definitely felt like a freshman in high school today. I had the typical first-day-of-school round of mishaps: brand new pimples, missing the bus, tripping up the stairs, and even finding a hole in my tights. So the universe kind of got the inverse of what I want, which is to look like a high-schooler but conduct myself like a grown-ass woman, not the other way around.

And finally, to sum of my first day teaching, I leave you with this:

As a part of wrapping up my second class of the day, I asked students if they hand any questions for me.

Amid the shaking of the heads, one girl raises her hand.

I smile and tell her to ask away.

She smiles.

“Do you eat chicken?” she asks.

The class laughs. Again, I’m like….da fuq?

In my mind, I’m trying not to go there–there being stereotype threat, of course: Oh. Why you gotta ask the black girl do she like chicken? I’m trying to tell myself this is a whole ‘nother part of the world. Maybe she wants to know if Americans like chicken. Or maybe she just wants to know if Ms. Bri, the individual standing in front of her, likes chicken.

I’m thinking this while the class is laughing, so I put on my best smile and I reply, “Do you like chicken? Since I’ve been in Korea I’ve noticed a lot of chicken restaurants. So yes, I like chicken, but I think everyone does, don’t you?”

Meanwhile, my co-teacher asks her, “Do you ask every teacher that?” to which the girl replies “yes.” So I go, “oh, you’re taking a survey about which teachers like chicken or something?” to which the girl replies no.

Liar. It was just something she asked me. I’ve got my eye on you, you little so-and-so.




Second day

Hey everyone. I’ve been posting on my other blog (A broad abroad), but I figured I’d copy and paste this one: 


It looks like I updated too soon. It is a bit different here, but in good ways. Definitely no complaints. The rest of the first day was cool–we had lunch, bbq for dinner with all of the teachers (and all of the new teachers), and we went to norebang (karaoke). I also think I connected with my co-teacher a bit more, which is good. I was nervous about that–at orientation, they really stress the #1 key to success here is having a good relationship with your co-teacher.

No pressure.

So it turns out that yesterday, I ate snail (in the school lunch, so this is apparently normal) and raw cow’s liver. You know what that taught me? Don’t ask “what is this?” I know I don’t have any dietary restrictions–there’s no need in asking questions to which I probably don’t want the answers. As long as it doesn’t give me a tummy ache,

down the hatch it goes.

At bbq, I faced the moment I was most dreading: the one where they offered me soju. I quit drinking in October, but I recently modified “quit” to “a little” mainly just to fit in. I don’t even want to drink anymore–it feels gross inside my body, but it’s just one of those things that makes you stand out in that “why doesn’t she drink?” way, not in that “oh she’s so cool and fashionable and witty” way. So I was prepared to drink a little soju just to fit in,


I had told my co-teacher before that I didn’t really want to drink before dinner. And this is just because…I am already nervous. There is already a lot going on that I can’t control or monitor, and so I want to be at my absolute sharpest (whatever that means in a place where I don’t know my address or telephone number or how to say/understand nearly anything). Even though I know that when I’m with my school I’m in a safe place and I’ll get home fine, still, I just didn’t want alcohol to dull anything, or make me suddenly burst into tears.

This is a real concern for me.

But anyway,

so my co-teacher stepped in and told the teachers that I would drink water only every time someone wanted to toast, which in Korean is something like 술 뭈 마사ㅛ (sul moot ma sai yo), or “I don’t drink alcohol). For the most part, people rolled with it–even the principal let me toast water, but this ooooonnnnnneeeeee guy was like “Why?! Why?!” Me: “religion…christian.” Him: “Not even a little???” Me: “water? yes, water.” Him: leaving in disgust.

And then I noticed that the teachers at my school weren’t drinking to get drunk anyway. Here is a slight, yet major, difference I’ve noticed in Korean/U.S. society. In the U.S., we finish our food and we finish our drinks. “waste not want not.” And especially among the..erm…partygoers…leaving an alcoholic drink unfinished is called “alcohol abuse.” You pour it, you finish it.

But in Korea, it’s not really like that. I think you finish your food here, but your drinks…finishing your drinks means you’re asking for more drink. I think it’s the same with cleaning your plate. The way to say you’re finished is by leaving a bit in your glass. This basically amounts to “I’ve lost interest in this drink,” I think. So I noticed the Korean teachers taking shots at first, but then very small sips. Or even taking a sip and dumping the rest into a cup or bowl. There was no pressure to drink everything, just the expectation of being congenial about the toasts.

I kind of wish I had known this beforehand–maybe I would have handled the drinking thing differently. But oh well. I like to do what everyone else is doing because I like to participate, and this includes drinking. I don’t want to be the only one not drinking for an entire year because it makes me feel left out. But maybe it’s time to get over that anyway. I still had a great night, and I still went to norebang (karaoke) and sang and jumped and banged the tambourine and had a really great time. And there really seemed to be no love lost, overall.

Tomorrow I teach for real.”