Yesterday, while my English Winter Camp students were busily scribbling away at their daily journal entries, I noticed that one of my brightest girls had a few white hairs poking out of her otherwise jet-black ‘do. When I asked her about it, she said “Stress, teacher.” She’s 13.
When I was 13, the only thing stressing me was that my parents wouldn’t let me wear JNCO jeans (for which I’m now and eternally grateful). Teenage life is a bit more taxing here in South Korea: it’s not unusual for my middle schoolers to spend anywhere from 10 to 16 hours a day at school, after school classes, private school classes and studying. And this is during their school vacation.
This subject deserves a detailed, man-on-the-ground post, which I’ll get to one of these days. But for now, check out Ask A Korean‘s polarizing thoughts on the subject here, here and here. Spoiler alert: He thinks American teenagers should stop whining and start studying as hard as their Korean counterparts. Discuss!