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I woke up this morning around 6.30 AM to the sound of Korean thunder. Comparing Korean thunder to Australian thunder is like comparing a thrash metal band in a stadium to a quiet acoustic guitar in a seaside restaurant. I’ve never heard anything like it – there was this whole crackling percussion to it. I briefly thought it might actually be North Korean artillery shells raining down on us, which would have been nice, because it would have given me a legit excuse to leave.

Today was a field trip day. My fourth day of teaching, and I was treated to the thoroughly enjoyable task of taking thirty or forty kindergardners outside the contained environment of the school (which is chaotic anyway). Our destination was a waterpark located in a rural area well outside the city, a one and a half hour drive away. I wish to God the director had managed to find a closer venue. If there is a hell, I imagine it to be something like this:

You are in the back of a minibus. It is raining heavily and the windows are fogging up, so you can’t see outside – there is nothing but the interior of the minibus, now and forever. There are two other adults in the bus, a driver and a Korean teacher, neither of whom speak much English, and both of them are separated from you in the front seats. You are trapped in the back with the children – the screaming, yammering, frustrating children who are babbling endlessly in Korean, a language you are coming very close to hating. There is no escape. This is purgatory. You are in HELL BUS.

Okay, so I was only stuck in there with them for a total of three hours, but it was still pretty awful. And this is what worries me: I may not be good with kids. This week is sort of an evaluation period, in which I may or may not warm up to them, get into my groove and become an adequate kindergarden teacher. My outlook swings between finding them exasperating but adorable, and finding them painfully frustrating. This does not bode well. I guess if it turns out I suck with kids it will be the final nail in the coffin of this place.

The waterpark itself was okay… it gave me a chance to just zone out and watch the kids have fun for a while, instead of actively trying to prevent them from having fun, which is my usual job. We still had elementary classes in the afternoon. I taught one which was astonishingly good at English, and another which was not so good, and also much older – about 12 or 13. That’s the worst kind of class, because I relate to them too much. They have that universal weary teenage ennui, slumped on their desks, wasting their childhood. I remember all too well what it’s like to be stuck in a classroom doing tedious, repetitive exercises out of a textbook.

After work I went for a more extensive walk than I’ve yet been able to take. My neighbourhood is cooler than Perth, but there’s still not a whole lot to see. On the weekend I plan to try and figure out the subway system and head down a few stops to check out some places in the ol’ Lonely Planet. So that should be a good touristy thing to do. Because the way things are going, I’m probably not going to be here more than a few weeks…

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July 2009