Context: 5th grade students, in groups of 3-4, created their own country. They were instructed to describe the country size, population, weather, food, and then to draw a picture of a citizen of their country. These are the results.
Back in February and March, a fresh crop of EPIK teachers flooded the schools, noraebangs and samgyeopsal restaurants of Best Korea and are now settling into their new lives.
This public service announcement is for you, new GET’s.
I see you, sitting in your matchbox sized apartment, eating your 83rd stir fry because how do you even cook with one burner, flipping through TV channels, searching for that one station you can’t remember the number of that plays the English movies and an occasional Law and Order episode. It’s 26, I think.
Anyway, by now, you’ve probably become familiar with the fact that your walls are a little more thin here than what you’re accustomed to, and you may find yourself wondering, “Just how much can my neighbors hear?”
Oh, you went on vacation recently, too? Cool!
What’s that? You also had your wallet, holding your precious Alien Registration Card, stolen by your scumbag taxi driver 45 minutes after landing in Shanghai, resulting in an almost ruined vacation and a Cambodian jail cell? Strange how commonplace that is! In Shanghai, of all places!
I have a lot of irrational hate for China I’m trying to work my way through right now, y’all.
That, however, is a story for a different time.
So you lost your ARC while outside of Korea. What happens next? Can you get back into the country with no ARC and, let’s say, only a passport with an (expired) visa as proof that you are legally allowed to be in Korea?
Good news: Turns out, yes! You might even be able to speed up the Incheon airport immigration check this way! (I would not recommend losing your ARC just to get through the line quicker.)
After my wallet, ARC inside, was stolen, all I wanted in life was to be safely back home in Daejeon, curled up in bed, rather than traipsing around Cambodia, discovering love at first sight and eating curry. Unfortunately, it was almost two weeks before I had the answer to the three questions constantly eating away at my good time:
1. Can I even leave Cambodia without my ARC? Will they even let me on the plane?
2. Will I get stuck at immigration in Incheon airport?
3. How do I replace my ARC?
“Liz-teacher! See this?”
Jaejoong was at the front of a rogue gaggle of 6th graders, walking towards me and thrusting a paper shopping bag in my direction as I reached the top of the stairs. I eyed him warily.
“Jaejoong, school ended at lunch time. What are you all doing here?”
Jaejoong ignored my question, leaving me with only the growing suspicion that somewhere in the school, somehow, something important was broken.
“Liz-teacher, see?” He continued to hold the bag in front of him as an offering. Jaejoong, however, was a 6th grader. A graduating 6th grader, at that. In three days, Jaejoong would be forever free from the halls of elementary school and begin afresh as a middle school student, far out of my reach. In effect, Jaejoong was invincible…and an untrustworthy, tricksy little 13 year old shithead.
Where was I? Ah, yes. Fighting for my life and the right to touch Zico’s hand (this one) in the pit in front of the stage.
My friend who was in the seated section overlooking the pit would later describe the scene as, “You know, like, in The Lion King when the hyenas cause that wildebeest stampede in the gorge and Simba is clinging to the tree branch for life while Mufasa looks down in horror? Like that.”
Except, in this analogy, the wildebeest are the fans, I am Simba, and Taeil (the hat guy) is Mufasa.
The war began between 2nd and 3rd period on Friday. Grade 3 day.
I stood quietly beside the blackboard as my 3-3 class filed in, scattering to have chicken fights, hide behind the air conditioning unit, and squeeze themselves between and under the shelves for the next seven minutes until the bell rang, signifying the end of their freedom to express their creativity via body contortions.
On the surface, it was just another ordinary day in 3-3. It was barely noticeable, and at first I could not readily identify the cause of my prickling skin. Somehow, on this particular Friday morning, the atmosphere was…different. Tense. Restless.
Then I heard it. To my immediate right, a small voice spoke.
On my way to the English room, I just happened upon one of my 5th grade classes in the hallway, huddled together around something that was invisible to me. Curious and, because they are 5th graders, more than a little suspicious and concerned, I approached the mass of 12 year olds clutching their recorders.
At the center of the circle I found Seojin, one of the lowest level students in the class, on the floor, unrolling himself from the fetal position, his recorder sad and abandoned on the floor beside him.