Friday, May 12, 2006


In my afternoon classes at the end of class I've started telling the students stories about something (anything) that happened to me recently. It's a really good way for them to practice their English conversational skills-- during the story they always have plenty of questions about vocabulary they don't understand or other questions about the story. Besides being a great learning tool, the students love hearing them and I get to be a complete drama queen and reenact exciting moments in the story.

Not surprisingly, the more suffering I endure in the story, the more the students want to hear more. They absolutely love to hear about me in embarassing situations or about me getting hurt. The more bruises to authenticate the details, the better.

The first story I told them was about what was supposed to be an uneventful trip to the grocery store on my bicycle before class. It wouldn't have been story-worthy if I had the skill or the coordination to ride a bike with a bag of groceries dangling off each of the handle bars, but I don't. I did alright weaving through all the school children and people on their way to work who were unknowningly taking up the entire bike path. (I'm very appreciative my bike came with a bell, I haven't yet mastered how to say in Korean, Coming up behind you, move it or lose it!)

I was almost home, I made it within mere meters of my apartment building, but when I braked to stop and swung my legs over the bike the imbalance of the groceries caused me and my bike to topple over. Hard. Damn it was good fall and no one was even there to laugh at me. I have several bruises to back that one up and so did my produce. At least something good came out of it, the kids absolutely loved hearing about it!

My student's favorite story though is definitely from two weekends ago when got locked out of a friends apartment. (Now imagine me telling this really slowly, using overly simplistic words and lots of acting out with my hands.) I had gone out in Hyewha with a couple new friends to a fun bar. (I start dancing and singing for the kids.)

Relatively early in the night I decide I'm too tired to stay any longer and decide to catch a cab back to my friends house. (yawn.) I fall asleep in the cab and wake up at her apartment. (I lay down on the table and start snoring, jerk awake, and then pay the imaginary cab driver.) I go up the 12 flights in an elevator (ding!) and start searching my pockets for her key that she entrusted to me. Coins, chapstick, ticket key! I had on cargo pants and searched every one of the several pockets before literally freaking out. I scream at the top of my lungs as I throw everything from my pockets on to the floor (at this point I was saying some four letter words best left out in the youngster version). I uselessly pounded on the door and fell to a heap at the bottom of it.

I wouldn't have freaked out so much but I left my backpack in my friend's apartment, along with my money, my handphone, my phone numbers, and my jacket. So I was completely helpless. And I didn't know the area at all. I went downstairs and asked the apartment security guy and he shook his head and waved his hand back and forth, which translated quite clearly to me as, "you're screwed."

So I went back up to the twelfth floor and after a few tears I picked up my coins and chapstick and layed down on the COLD, HARD floor. I had a T-shirt on and I was freezing. I tucked my arms into my shirt and tried to go to sleep. A couple times I woke up to the sound of my handphone ringing. The rest of the time I was in and out of sleep. (This is all being acted out in front of the classroom door.) It was on of the coldest nights I've spent in a long time. I won't be forgetting it soon.

I woke up and went outside and the sun was up. It was 5:45 am and I tried a different (friendly) security guard this time who called someone and told me to go back up to the room and wait. A locksmith finally came and 30 minutes and 30,000 won later I was happily asleep on a soft couch under 2 very thick blankets.

The kids loved it. Like I said before, the more suffering, the better. It could have been much worse, but then again, it can always be worse no matter what the situation.