Wait a minute. What? You mean after over a month off of paid vacation including 2 weeks in Thailand I actually have to go back to work? Life can be so hard sometimes. Today marks the official first day of school for students and teachers all over Korea. I firmly believe this time of year is a lot harder on the teachers than the students, but luckily I get to ease my way back into it. I spent all weekend a nervous wreck not really knowing what to expect on the first day. I remember my first day as a teacher in the states. I was literally up all night and physically sick to my stomach. This wasn’t as bad, but after such a long vacation I did not feel prepared. I knew that I would be walking into the same school but with a new principal, a new co-teacher, new textbooks, a new schedule, and a group of new students. I woke up early and arrived at school almost an hour early because I expected to teach and wanted to go over some ideas with my co-teacher. It turned out that I wouldn’t actually be teaching until Monday and I have the next three days to plan. Phew! One of the perks of being a “special” teacher. It can be frustrating when you feel like the last person to know when your own class is going to be cancelled, but fully knowing the responsibilities that come with being a homeroom teacher, I can’t complain. That was the first good news of my day.
The second good news of the day came from my principal. This was a very important day because my principal would be leaving and the new principal would be arriving. It was so interesting to see how Koreans handle this transition. At about 9 A.M. I was called into the principal’s office and he presented me with a gift. I felt so honored, but also a little embarrassed since I was later informed that I was the only teacher to receive a gift. Now let me inform you that I have given the principal and other teachers gifts for various occasions. Right before I left for Thailand I gave my principal a small good-bye gift because I did not expect to see him again and I wanted to thank him. I was totally caught off guard by the gift he gave me today. It was a traditional Korean fan (the funny thing is he told me this before I even opened it). He also wrote me a nice little card all in English. This set my mood for the rest of the day. Then all of the teachers lined up in the hallway and he left the building as everyone bowed to him. Less than an hour later I lined up with the teachers in the entrance and welcomed the new principal into the school. The school was decorated to welcome him and everyone was dressed very nicely. I’m glad I chose to dress up today!
At lunchtime I had the chance to talk to the principal a bit. I was glad to see that he speaks very good English. One of the first questions he asked me was what my favorite Korean food was. This is such a difficult question since I like a lot of Korean foods. I named a few and hopefully he was satisfied by my answers. Today I also met a new co-teacher with whom I will be teaching 3rd grade English. She seems very nice and I think we will work well together.
All in all the first day went well and was stress-free. I hope to be productive over the next two days so I can get some quality lesson planning in. It’s time to get out of Thailand mode and back into Seoul mode. So thankful for an easy week.