Today was the third Monday in January, the date that was, a few years back, officially deemed to be the most depressing day of the year.
You know what? I had a pretty good day!
One major plus point over the last week or so has been that I finally have Real Coffee. I’m sure you can imagine how very depressing it was for me to come over to Korea and discover that they’re just not that into coffee here. They’d tell you that they are, but I beg to differ. There is no way that those dozens and dozens of different “instant mix” drinks they have here should ever get away with being called coffee. It’s sweet and creamy and bleurgh, with a vague hint of coffee flavour that you have to really concentrate to identify. NOT COFFEE. In desperation, I even tried to separate the white powder from the brown granules in one sachet, in what turned out to be a rather messy operation, hoping that that would at least remove the sweetness and creaminess, leaving me with only the vague hint of coffee flavour. Instead, to my dismay and sorrow, it left me with what I can only describe as pale brown flavourless water.
Alex laughed at me when I woefully told him of my experiment. Erm, yeah… I think the brown stuff is just the colouring, to be honest, he said with a totally unsympathetic grin.
He redeemed himself somewhat by going to Home Plus (the major Korean department store) with me, where we hunted out The Real Thing. Apparently my exhaustion and slowly dissipating will to live was no longer as funny to watch as it was disturbing. Anyway, I actually cried out in real joy when I saw the coffee makers and grinders. I then fell to my knees in silent gratitude right in the middle of the coffee aisle when I saw a limited but sufficient display of Real Coffee (or coppee – 커피- as it’s called here). They had the Tesco coffee range! Tesco might have a reputation as the budget shopping choice, but boy do they know how to make coffee. I bought 2 kilograms of beans and ground coffee, a grinder, and two coffee makers (one for home, one for my desk at work), and returned home singing and dancing. All has been well ever since. Colleagues have actually remarked upon my newfound energy and sudden ability to jump from one subject to the next without waiting for anyone else to catch up. I am back!
Not only that, but things are generally good, workwise. I’ve planned what I think is a pretty good module for my drama/music class, complete with songs and games and colourful powerpoint presentations; Alex and I each got our two elementary classes combined into one big group and then split in half according to ability, which means that we each now have one class of students of roughly the same ability, making it much easier to keep everybody working at the same pace; there’s a new Korean English teacher who actually speaks fluent English and seems to be the sort of girl I’ll get on with really well; and also, the English Show is over and I finally went back to just being a teacher today rather than a babysitter at the end of her tether, trying to practise lines with individual students while attempting to somehow keep the other 11 quiet and/or entertained. My classes today were fun, fast-paced, and full of lots of good questions and answers from the kids.
Would it be a little over-dramatic to say that it’s all because of coffee? Probably. But I can’t help but feel that I wouldn’t have been so completely immune to the effects of the most depressing day of the year had I not reintroduced caffeine to my blood stream.