Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Ajumma Friends

Way back in April while drinking with my principal in Jeju he touched on the idea of me teaching a ‘parents English class’.  Not wanting to be rude I sounded interested but upon returning to school didn’t’ really bring up the subject with him.  Staying after school for an extra hour on Thursdays, even with extra pay, to teach parents didn’t sound like my idea of a good time.  A few weeks later someone or thing must have jogged his memory because he was once again on the subject, and thus my ‘Ajumma class’ was born. 

I was a bit apprehensive about the class; who would be joining? What would I teach them?  Did I really have to do it every week?  Sounded like too much work to be honest. (I’m a lazy teacher).  BUT then I found out who the true mastermind behind this class was, my principals wife, 명신 whom I adore.  The class wound up being her and four other women, two of which I’m not even sure have kids at our school.  Their level is extremely beginner but through my broken/baby Korea and their determination to make me understand we communicate. 

In true Korean fashion they’re constantly insisting on treating me to dinner as well as brining snacks and presents to class.   I don’t think there’s been a week I’ve walked away empty handed: juice, fruit, bread, coffee mugs, you name it, they give it.  Aside from the classroom snacks and impromptu dinners afterwards we’ve had three other ‘outings’. Up first was our dinner at one of the women’s houses, after one of our Thursday classes we carpooled over to enjoy a samgypsal dinner, complete with fresh picked lettuce from their garden.  Had I written this weeks ago I may have given more detail but I didn’t….

No apron? Easily solved with some newspaper 
Then a few weeks ago they asked if I was free the following Monday, as they wanted me to join them for dinner at Camp Carol – the US army base in Waegwon.  I was utterly confused as to why we would be going there to eat but signed up anyways.  When I walked into my office Monday after lunch I was told the schedule changed and we’d be going to Geumosan “sauna” instead.  “Traditional hot steam, very hot, maybe you sweat a lot, I think you should bring some extra clothes, and you will probably not like it” is how Anna summarized the events for me. Uhhh sounds like fun?  Okay so why I though having this outing on a Monday evening would be a good idea I’m not sure, by the end of my 8th period class I wanted nothing more than to go home and be alone but instead I was out in the parking lot waiting to be picked up (another problem because my principals wife is a amazingly horrible driver – usually resulting in me having carsickness).  The women seemed to be just as confused as I was when we arrived, not a good sign, but soon decided that the “Sauna was canceled” and we would just eat dinner and put our feet in the stream/valley water.  Definitely more than okay with me.  Dinner was good, the conversation flowed, with help of smart phones, and I survived.  We even decided to give the sauna a try after all, and yes it was very hot but I quite enjoyed it.  Had I been properly dressed and not dead tired I could’ve hung out for a while. 
Traditional sauna 
I guess I’m a glutton for punishment because before being dropped at home I agreed to join them at Camp Carrol the following week, since plans had changed this week.  So fast forward a week and there I am again at 5:30, wishing that I was headed for my bed but instead getting into the car with these women.  After waiting for a while and then playing ‘musical cars’ as they decided who would drive, we finally arrived, all 6 of us in one car and me feeling like I wanted to puke.  So glad I learned the Korea word for ‘carsick’ so that I can explain myself and not just come across as a crabby bitch. 

Even after the fact I’m still confused as to why we went to camp carol.  I suspect it was a lot more exciting for the women than myself, although I have been there twice before.  Anyways we got a nice little tour of the base, from a BA (Korean) Cornell who spoke awesome English and I wish was my friend. [I mean who doesn’t want a bilingual, badass, ajosshi as their friend?]  We were supposed to eat dinner at the base cafeteria but by the time we arrived were too late for this so we instead went to the ‘food court’ area where we could choose between Pizza Hut, Poppeyes, Burger King, or Subway.  Oh hell yes, I haven’t eaten subway in approximately a year and a half, this day just got a whole lot better.  I almost burst out laughing as one of the women tried to explain to me that I first pick my bread then meats, etc.  Umm thank you but I know how to work the subway counter.  We were all settled with more subs than there were people (why I don’t know) when one of the women brought a pizza over to our table and started passing out slices, what? Pizza too?? I think the women were thoroughly entertained by the “American food” so wanted to get the full experience.  I for one passed on the pizza – no where in this world should Pizza Hut be considered good….okay maybe when you’re severely intoxicated or under the age of 10. What I did gladly accept however were some Subway cookies to take home with me.  Ajumma field trip #2 = success!  Can’t wait to see what’s in store for me next, I think I should get these women drinking – a whole new kind of fun could be had. 

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