Friday, March 5, 2010

Back in the ROK

Well we have just finished our first week at Sangmyeong Elementary School and are settling into our new life in Seoul. We really like most everything about this year: more vacation time, better hours, and an apartment in a really great location are just a few examples. We are teaching 3rd grade; Chris teaches Science and I've got Language Arts and Reading. The kids are so cute and can hold conversations in English easily. I am amazed at how fluent they are at just 8 or 9 years old.

For foreign teachers in Korea like us, Alien Registration Cards (ARCs) are needed to do just about everything in Korea--sign up for internet, get a phone, open a bank account. Before you can get an ARC, foreign English teachers need to get a medical check from a local Korean hospital. And this adventure was just ridiculous enough to warrant its own blog post.

First, when we arrived at the hospital, they set us up with our own handler...a Korean hospital administrator who was assigned to us to make sure we got to every station without wandering into a surgery in progress. Later, when Chris tried to make his urine deposit in an electrical closet, we were glad to have her around.

We had a list of 7 stations to get through including a blood and urine test, eye, hearing and dental exams, a chest x-ray and a height and weight check--a pretty thorough medical exam for a teacher. Why does the Korean government care how tall I am? Or if I have cavities? Or if I'm color blind? If I am, does that mean I have to go home?

Among these ridiculous tests was the urine exam, where we had to walk down a hall to a (very) public bathroom and pee in a dixie cup with no lid, then (carefully) walk the pee cup down a busy hallway and deposit it into a bin filled with 15 other dixie cups full of urine.

Another was the vision test. Chris went first, and was given a book of magic-eye looking pictures to test his color blindness. He was doing well, guessing all of the numbers correctly, until he came to one page that he couldn't figure out. Finally he admitted he didn't know and the eye-doctor replied, "No number. Trick." I guess that means he passed.

And then there was the x-ray technican who repeated the word "brassire" about 10 times: "Do you have brassire off? You need brassire off. Where is brassire? Now put brassire on".

We have no idea if we passed or not...we might be too tall, have a cavity, or color blind! But we can rest easy knowing that the Korean government has our most intimate details on file.

Here's a sneak peak at 2010's Classroom Impressions:

One of my 3rd graders stopped me in the hallway very urgently saying
"Laura Teacher! Laura Teacher!!"
"What? What's wrong?" I asked
Out of breath, the student replied, "Do you like hamster?"
(long pause)

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