Needless to say, I kind of stick out here. From the bit of exploring I've done in Daegu, I've yet to run into another foreigner. Seriously. There is apparently a large foreign/expat population in Daegu but where they are hiding is beyond me. Hopefully I will successfully meet some fellow EPIK English teachers this evening (read: if I can find my way to the meeting place). I received my contract and placement a bit later than many EPIK teachers, which means I missed the big 10-day she-bang orientation in Seoul where friendships were made, hearts broken, enemies forged, etc. I did not enjoy this luxury and instead (per my previous post) headed straight from Seoul to Daegu. My co-teacher, Jin, said yesterday in the car, "I am worried you are lonely," (because I know no one here). Though this would probably hold true in a week or so, I am so consumed with applying for my alien registration card (I AM AN ALIEN, What a win!), medical exams, opening bank accounts, buying furniture, and taking care of all the little things, that I don't have time for social interaction. Yeah, I know, I said that. Who knew?
My first day at school (Monday), I walked onto the DaeSung Elementary School campus and was met with gaping stares. Little girls and boys ran up to me eagerly "hello"-ing and "teacha"-ing me. As I was introduced to each new class of the day, I received the expected questions, "You have boyfriend?" "How old are you?" (which when I said 22 caused quited a stir, I still don't know why), and then the stranger questions like, "How tall are you?" and "You like kimchi?" During the lessons, I would consistently catch a child or two looking back at me, wondering what I was doing. I was probably writing in my journal/on facebook. We have these small whiteboard paddle boards for answering questions in class. One girl drew a smiley face on it and flashed it back to me. These kids are great, I think I am really going to enjoy it here.
However, the crowning achievement of my objectification occurred while waiting outside the DaeSung English Village (yeah, I teach in an English Village, more on that later) for my co-teacher to unlock the classroom. I was standing under a ceiling fan trying earnestly to cool down from 90-degree heat and horrible humidity (my hair is just never going to dry, I've come to terms with this) and was approached by a gaggle of 5th grade girls. "I wished for a yellow-haired teacher!" I smiled and said, "Well, now you've got one!" They all giggled and tried to ask me questions I couldn't understand, oggled at my yellow-hair, and one girl even commented on the unusual size of my chest. Shameless? I say honest.
Well, this yellow-haired teacher must return to reviewing the English textbooks for next week's lessons. It's quite a throw-back to my 7th grade Spanish class with the funky photos, outdated hairstyles, and really awkward songs. Up next: Lesson 10, I'm Stronger than You!