Alex and Chickpea Do Korea

Life as a Korean public school teacher: winter camp and private piano concerts

The season is upon us: No, not the Christmas season (it’s barely registered with me this year) but the English Winter Camp season. Yes, while the other seonsaengnim enjoy a few months away from school and students, I’ll be here, warming this desk o’ mine. But I don’t mind (much). I need the time to learn more Korean. (Oh, and plan our 18-day vacation trip across Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. We have the plane tickets. Now we need a plan …)

But this post isn’t really about the travails of life as a Native English Teacher (as we’re so formally referred to). I love my life here, and small moments like the one I had today are the reason why. After another typical cafeteria lunch — kimchi, “black” rice, budae jjigae, bulgogi and apples — my co-teacher invited me to an impromptu concert in the music room. (She’s been brushing up her ivory tickling skills with the music teacher’s guidance.)

The music seongsaengnim is teaching her Gummy‘s “Jugeo do Saranghae” (“I Love You Even If I Die” Sweet, huh?). This song has a special place in my heart because it was the first Korean song I could actually understand (some of) the lyrics to.  Since then, the love has worn off a little, because Korea has a tendency to blare the same 10 top hits from every club, restaurant and convenience store, and this is one of ’em. I’m getting off topic.

At any rate, the three of us went up to the (surprisingly well-equipped) music room, where the music teacher played “Jugeo Do Saranghae” for us on the piano. It was beautiful, and I swayed to the song as my co-teacher sang along. But this wasn’t good enough for the piano teacher, who decided to kick it up a notch and play some classical number I’ve heard before but can’t name (sorry, Beethoven buffs). It was jaw-droppingly awesome. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes as her fingers twirled across the keys. This lady is amazing, and she sits right next to me. It was a special moment.

To top it off, all this fancy-pants piano playing drew in one of our second-grade (14-year-old) students, who also gave us an impromptu piano concert. Of course, we all clapped for him and he looked thrilled.

These are the moments when I really love my life in Korea.

EDIT: Immediately following the writing of this post near the end of the school day, my school had pizza and wings delivered for the teachers. If that doesn’t say ‘Merry Christmas,” I don’t know what does. Happy holidays, folks!

4 thoughts on “Life as a Korean public school teacher: winter camp and private piano concerts”

  1. Shannon says:

    I love Gummy’s song saranghae!!!! I saw her in concert and he was AWESOME!!!!!!

  2. chickpeainkorea says:

    I like it a lot, too, Shannon! But I gotta admit I’m a little tired of it after the 500 billionth listen.

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