So long, and thanks for all the soup.

Hayley Teacher blahblahblahblah-yeyo, said the cooking lady.

After nearly 4 years, this is still the extent of my understanding when she speaks. Fail.

It was lunch time, and for the third day this week we were eating one of my favourite meals. This is partly because kindergarten is finished and there are no children, and we’re always treated to lunches of near banquet proportions when there are only a handful of teachers and not a hundred kids to feed. However, it is also partly because this is my final week, and the cooking lady is either trying to tell me she loves me through food, or ensure that I eat enough to keep me going for weeks after I leave the school.

So, for three days in a row we had a sort of countdown of Hayley’s Favourite Korean Foods, and yesterday’s was the best meal we’ve ever had at school. Dakdoritang/Dakbokkeumtang, the spicy chicken stew I raved about in a previous post and even took back ingredients to cook it for my family during a visit home.


Everyone was very happy. We gathered around the table and ate until we could eat no more and then we ate some more.



Aw, I will miss that kiddy-sized table with the far-too-small chairs and all the teachers crowded around slurping their soup and smacking their lips in that disturbing Korean way. I will miss the gorgeous soups and stews and the freshly made kimchi and the delicious meats and sauces and noodles.

But more than all that, I will miss the cooking lady, known to me only as Ajumma.

Hayley Teacher blahblahblahblah-yeyo, she said, as I mentioned earlier. She was watching me with an odd expression on her face – her usual delight at watching me enjoy one of the meals she knows I love, but also sadness, presumably about the fact that no other teacher will ever eat as much as I do, and with such evident pleasure.

I looked at my director for translation, as usual. She says she is very sad that you are leaving, and she wants you to remember her food. I grinned happily at them as I scooped more stew on to my spoon. I will always remember her food! I assured them, mumbling through a mouthful of chicken.

Something else was said, and my director looked sort of emotional. She says that tomorrow is a very sad day because it is her last time to cook for you. She wants you to tell her what you want for your last lunch, and she will make it. 

I looked at the kind, motherly face with the gentle smile that I have grown so fond of over the years, and had another pang of “I can’t do this!”. Yukgaejang, I choked out, trying to pretend the tears in my eyes were a result of the spiciness of the stew. There was some discussion; people looked dissatisfied. Are you sure? they asked me. You can have anything, anything! Yukgaejang is not very special. It is very simple. 

This is true. I have yukgaejang all the time in diners and train station restaurants. It’s my favourite soup. It’s cheap and basic. But no one, no one, not even the fanciest restaurant I’ve eaten it in, makes it half as well as the cooking lady. She has magical yukgaejang powers. Her yukgaejang is my absolute, top, number one, favourite food from my Korean experience. It is a drug to me. If you read this old post, you will perhaps begin to understand the extent of my feelings for the cooking lady’s yukgaejang.

I explained this to the disappointed colleagues who were clearly hoping for a feast of barbecued meats and the like. I want yukgaejang, I said obstinately.

I came downstairs today to find the table laden with steaming bowls of heaven, and the cooking lady looking anxiously at me to see if I noticed.

She got the biggest hug any school cook has ever received from a teacher.

I, in return, ate yukgaejang until it physically hurt me to eat any more, and I had to turn away the latest in the steady stream of newly filled bowls that kept appearing in front of me. It’s all over, I declared sadly, looking around the lunch table for the last time.

Goodbye, sweet cooking lady. Thank you for being my Mum Away From Home.  Sarangheyo – very, very much. So long, and thanks for all the soup.


We can’t even have a conversation in the same language… but we love each other, all the same!

Alone is not a bad way to be

Alone is not a bad way to be;

You’re the director, the driver, the boss.

You answer to no one, you go where you please,

You let no one near, you suffer no loss.


You travel light, and you walk alone;

You were born to wander, not to stay.

Your feet were made to walk, and

Your eyes to see the sights along the way.


You are a rock, you are an island.

You need no love, you need no friends,

You don’t get attached, you live for yourself,

That way you’re protected from pain in the end.




When you linger a moment, that’s when it goes wrong

When you pause for a second, and stay for too long

When your temporary shelter becomes your true home

When your heart wants to stay, but you still need to roam

When you talk to a stranger and find a best friend

When you fall in love, but know it’s only pretend

When there are things in your life you don’t want to let go

When your world’s full of people who’ve helped you to grow

When you suddenly realise that this is your life

When you now have it all, from the joy to the strife

When you wish you’d kept moving, wish you’d stayed tough

When you no longer think that the smooth’s worth the rough

When your heart will break if you hear another goodbye

When you’ve said it so much, you can no longer cry


Alone was not a bad way to be

Until you weren’t for a while.

But now you are once again

And you’ve lost your smile.


So all you can do is pack up and move on.

Be a rock, again. Be an island, again.

Say goodbye…





rock, island


The tale of the reluctant hermit crab

Something must have gone wrong for the hermit crab.

Snails and turtles get their own shells to protect their soft bodies. Hedgehogs can roll up into prickly bundles. Squid can defend themselves with a blast of black ink. Cats can scratch and dogs can bite. Birds can fly away.

Vulnerable: hermit crab with no shell.

Vulnerable: hermit crab with no shell. (Image from Wikipedia)

But the hermit crab, it seems to me, has not evolved correctly. He has a soft, vulnerable abdomen that is totally exposed to the big, bad world and all the predators therein. The hermit crab has no shell in which to hide, no barrier of protection against the things that want to destroy him, and – more than that – no home.

So the hermit crab, realising his vulnerability, sets off to explore the world around him, sans shell. And that world is beautiful, you know. There’s so much to see, so much to experience. It’s stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful – but dangerous. The hermit crab knows instinctively that he can’t just crawl around indefinitely like this, hiding under this rock tonight and that plant tomorrow. His luck won’t hold out. Something will get him. Something will hurt him.

The first time he sees an empty shell, it’s like a little light bulb lights up above his head. A home! Security! Protection! He checks it out, tentatively at first, and decides that this is the place for him. It’s a bit big, and has that uneasy atmosphere of unfamiliarity, but it’s an improvement, right? You can’t just go wandering around without a shell. You’ll get hurt. You need a home! Now he looks just like all the other crabs. He’s not the weird naked one any more.


Safe (Image from Wikipedia)

And actually, once he’s properly moved in and settled for a while in the second hand shell, he realises that it’s become a perfect fit. Sure, when he first got there, it was so big that he could retreat right back inside it and curl his whole body up so that he was completely hidden, and nowadays it seems that he can’t quite manage that, but it’s only his claws that are left poking out, and they’re tough enough to withstand whatever might come along, aren’t they?

But then some more time goes by, and suddenly the hermit crab discovers that he’s been sleeping with half his body outside his shell, and it’s getting really cramped and uncomfortable in there, and last night there was a close call when that big scary thing with teeth nearly took his leg off.

There’s no denying it any longer. As much as he loved that shell, he’s outgrown it. It’s time to move.

Can't stay in that shell forever.

Can’t stay in that shell forever. (Image from Wikipedia)

So the hermit crab moves out and moves on and moves into a new shell. This one’s bigger, and has a fancy looking sea anemone on the top. Although the hermit crab feels a bit disoriented at first, and perhaps even uncomfortable (having actually started to grow into the shape of the old shell), he soon adjusts and finds that the move was the best thing he could have done for himself. Once again he settles in and finds that he has space to grow and a safe place to hide. He’s glad he was forced out of the old shell.

But much to the hermit crab’s dismay, he finds that he keeps growing and changing. Time and time again, he gets that niggling feeling of discomfort, of having stayed too long in a shell that no longer fits him. When that happens, he becomes vulnerable once again. He gets hurt more easily; he’s at greater risk than the other hermit crabs, the ones who have shells that fit properly. He is no longer prepared for or protected against what may come along to harm him. Not only that, but he doesn’t have enough space to grow. He’s stuck. He’s suffocating. Staying put is simply not an option.

And so that is the life of the hermit crab. He moves from one temporary home to the next, each one unfamiliar and intimidating at first, but soon proving to have been a good move. He has room to grow and change and adapt, until he finds that he has actually grown and changed a bit too much for this particular shell that was once so full of potential but now leaves him stunted and stifled and at an increasingly greater risk of getting hurt. Leaving is a risk, especially as he might have to fight other hermit crabs for the next shell, meaning he could be left without any shell at all – or worse, injured or killed in the battle.

Yet, whatever the risk, the hermit crab must leave when that shell becomes too small for him. No matter how familiar and safe it feels, no matter how attached he’s become to it, no matter how frightening everything looks out there, outside of his shell. He has no choice. For a while, he can ignore the warning signs. Then he can endure the discomfort. But there comes a point where finding a new shell is the only remaining option. The transition will most likely be a smooth one; the hermit crab will find a new shell; life will go on as normal until the time comes for the next shell shift.

Another hermit crab will move into the abandoned shell. There’s no going back to the old shell.

Maybe that’s the scariest part.

I hope life treats you kind…

Just finished writing my final set of progress reports.

It started out as relief (I’ve ranted more than once about the futility of that whole rigmarole), but by the time I got to my final class, the older ones,  now in their fourth year in my class…

Oh dear.

The three kids I've taught since my very first day: Julie, Daisy, and Justin.

The three kids I’ve taught since my very first day: Julie, Daisy, and Justin.

Saying goodbye to those children will be how I imagine it would feel to walk away from my sister or my best friends or my parents in the knowledge that we’d never see each other again. I’ve been watching these kids grow up, and it has been the most incredible experience. There are still few feelings that compare to that little kick of delight and pride I get when I walk past them in the corridor or say hello to them as I enter the classroom, and they respond casually, unthinkingly, and fluently. Over the years, the blocks and toys they once played with before class have been replaced by smartphones and handheld video games and earphones blasting Kpop, but they look up from them when I greet them, and they always smile. Hey, guys, how’s it going? 

Hi, Hayley Teacher! 

Not bad, how are you? 

I had a terrible weekend. I was sick, and I had too much homework, and…

I had a great day! At school, we…

Is that a new necklace, Teacher? Where did you get it? It’s cute! 

They are full of stories, chatter, questions, and laughter. I instantly relax when I walk into that final class of the day, because I can speak English at a relatively normal speed, I can use slang, I can be sarcastic and trade playful insults with them, and at times it feels more like hanging out with a group of friends than teaching a class. I love the genuine laughter that I’m rewarded with when I roll my eyes and say something sarcastic or cheeky, and I love when they make a joke of their own in response and fling it back at me. They are smart cookies, and they are also the most astoundingly polite, respectful, funny, kind-hearted, mature-minded children I have ever encountered.

So, by the time I got to the last report, I was decidedly emotional. I felt like I was writing goodbye letters to my own children. And the last report was Daisy’s.

I’ve written about Daisy before. She is my star. If I had a daughter, and she turned out like Daisy, I would be the proudest mother in the world.

When I walked into my very first class, in October 2009, nervous and frightened, Daisy was there. She looked wide-eyed at her departing teacher as he introduced me to them, and the first words I ever heard her say were “Shaun Teacher, no!!” as he hugged her goodbye and left the room. I turned to face the class. “So, what are your names?” I asked. Daisy looked at me as if I’d just asked her to wrestle with a hungry lion, and promptly burst into tears.

It only took her a few days to adjust, and I quickly became fond of her. When I look back now at this video I posted way back then, I can’t believe how babyish she was, nor how little English she could understand. The confused “huh?” and tilted head were all I got out of her most of the time.

Now she’s nearly the same height as me, and she can speak better English than the Korean English teacher who shared the class with me in my first year.

With my girlies - Julie and Daisy

With my girlies – Julie and Daisy

I took a screenshot of the final report that I wrote for her, because I think it’ll be nice to look back at in years to come. Among all the disgruntled posts about Thursdays and art classes and brats yelling about erasers, there will be posts like this one, to remind me of why I loved this job in spite of all that. For every scream of “Teacherrrrrrrrrrr!”, there’s been an “I love you!” or a “Thank you!”. For every argument and fight, there’s been a hug or a joke. For every “This is whaaaaaaaat?!”, there’s been a little moment of success or a little hint of progress. And for all those moments I’ve clenched my fists or pounded the board or lost my temper, there’s the reminder that it wasn’t like that all the time. And there were children like Daisy.

By the time I finished writing her report, I was in tears. I have cried at least twice every day this week. I don’t normally cry this much in a whole year! How lucky am I to have had a job that is this painful and sad to leave?



What Not To Do (in general)

My shower exploded on Friday night.

I must admit, living alone has serious disadvantages, as far as I’m concerned. Although I would estimate that I am by no means stupid, and would probably at least attempt to put myself into the “fairly intelligent, actually” category, I have never tried to claim that I have any useful or practical skills whatsoever. I mean, I can read a book in a day and argue my opinions about it – but I have no idea how to properly attach the washing machine hose that has just been kind of propped up in a floor drain since I moved here. I can skim over a set of course notes and instinctively pick out exactly the right pieces of information to cram into my brain for an easy grade A – but I can’t for the life of me successfully get off a motorway  or around a major roundabout without step-by-step instructions from a GPS or a nervous passenger. I can write pages and pages of flowery drivel, all grammatically correct and occasionally amusing or poignant – but I can’t fix a wobbly door handle.

In times gone by, when Things Happened, I would call upon whoever else happened to be around at the time. Whether it was a parent, my ex-fiancé, my sister, a university roommate, a boyfriend, or my friends next door, it seemed that when I had a practical difficulty, Someone Else always knew what to do. I tended to stand there flapping my hands despairingly  and looking confused until they rolled their eyes and dealt with it for me. Someone Else knew what to do when a particular light came on on my car’s dashboard. Someone Else knew what to do when the heating wouldn’t work. Someone Else knew what to do when my toilet seat broke, when my cat got stuck on the roof, when I accidentally duplicated a ridiculously expensive order at work and only realised when everything arrived in pairs, when my washing machine door wouldn’t open, and when a DVD got stuck in the player. Honestly, it only ever ended in disaster when I tried to deal with these things by myself. (Like the time I did try to get Kat the Cat off the roof. Or the time I tried to drive to Lisburn alone and without SatNav. Or the time, fairly recently, when I tried to fix a broken light switch in the bar toilets and was hurled backwards across the Ladies’ by the inevitable electrocution I received.)

In the past, living either with Someone, or next door to Someone, or in a community filled with Someones that I knew and could call upon in emergencies such as the front door handle falling off, I managed fairly well with my condition. Since setting off into the Big Wide World, however, I’ve been pretty much on my own and at the mercy of inanimate objects and household pests. That’s how the number of scars on my body has effectively tripled over the past few years. That’s how I glued myself to a cupboard door a few months ago. That’s how I ended up being presented with my own underwear by a Cockney journalist at a railway station in the Hungarian countryside. I’m telling you: I try to deal with a situation, and it inevitably goes wrong and/or has embarrassing results.

Wow, I can really digress. So, my shower exploded on Friday night. This particular emergency situation has never happened to me before, so I was understandably quite surprised. One minute I was shampooing and singing along to Queen on the radio, and the next I was being pelted rather forcefully in the face with a powerful and out of control jet of water that gave the shower head a life of its own. The fecking thing leapt into midair, I desperately caught it by the hose, and proceeded to wrestle with it as it flailed around like an angry cobra being held by the tail. To make matters worse, I had been showering with the bathroom door open as I was listening to the radio using my computer, so the now apparently demon-possessed shower not only drenched the entire bathroom and knocked all bottles and jars to the floor, but also managed to soak my bedroom floor, laptop, and bed. Perfect. I don’t know how long it was before I realised that I was achieving nothing whatsoever by leaping around all crazy and naked and shrieking, trying to gain control of an exploded and runaway shower with the newfound superhero power of flight, but at some point I had the presence of mind to simply turn it off.

We stood there looking at each other in shock (me) and defiance (the shower).

Eventually I unscrewed the head, pulled down the spiral metal cover thing, and found the problem: a hole in the rubber hose (I mean, that’s if it’s called a hose; how on earth would I know what it’s called?!). Part of my problem is that I don’t know enough about practical things to understand whether a problem is something trivial that I should be able to fix by myself (meaning I get laughed at by whatever professional I bring in to deal with it), or something more complicated that needs to be dealt with by a professional (meaning I make matters even worse when I try to deal with it by myself). As Sod’s Law generally prevails in my life, I usually guess the wrong one. So I found a source of knowledge to help me with my shower- deficiencies it’s a blog called showerheadly, they are the home owner’s “dummies” guide to not getting defeated by your shower.

This is how I spent much of Saturday evening swearing in angry frustration, with my fingers repeatedly and entirely independently supergluing themselves to a shower. And apparently, Superglue and Sellotape do not a waterproof seal create. I admit defeat and now doing much needed research I’ve read the Best Water Softener Reviews and plumbing advice I can find.

The landlord has been notified. I shall no doubt be sternly chastised for the extra damage I have caused with the glue and the tape.

I have been bathing in the sink for 3 days now.

A Time To Be Sad

I’m not very good at goodbyes.

I tend to spend a lot of time crying alone into my pillow, then being unable to show any emotion at all during the actual goodbye, and finally dissolving into floods of tears when the person/people have gone. I always worry that it makes me look very cold-hearted and uncaring when I say goodbye to best friends, my parents, family… mostly without shedding a single tear.

Children, however, appear to be the exception to the rule. Maybe it’s because they don’t try to hide their emotions like adults do, I don’t know. Every year at this time, I have cried with a child’s arms around my neck, trying to subtly wipe away my tears as I say encouraging and cheerful things to comfort them as they leave for ‘big school’.

This time, though, Hayley Teacher has to leave, too. I avoided telling the little ‘uns until today, when they informed me at the start of class that this was to be their final week at kindergarten, and they were sad “because leave and go to elementary school and say goodbye”. Most of them, however, were taking comfort in the fact that they would be coming back for after school English lessons in the afternoons. “Will you still be my teacher?”, someone wanted to know.

I paused nervously, weighing up how this could go. 12 pairs of innocent little brown eyes awaited my answer.

OK, everyone, let’s have a little chat. You know I’m not from Korea, right? There were a few nods, and I hurried on before the word Neptune could be mentioned. Well, I’ve been here for a long time, and now it’s time for me to go. When you leave, I will leave, too. 

There was a moment of silence as they processed this and tried to understand what it meant. “But where you go?”, asked Rosy, looking alarmed. Stephen raised his hand. “You go home to Mommy and Daddy?”

I shook my head. I’ll go home for a visit… say hello. Then I’ll go to a new country. There was some pointing at the map and gesturing of arms to show flying and planes and suchlike.

“But whyyyyyyy?” came the confused chorus.

I’m very tired, I explained truthfully. I’ve been teaching here for years now, all day, every day. I need a rest. And I want to travel more. See new places. Understand?

They did. There was another moment of silence. Then, without a word, David shoved his chair back and ran to me, flinging his arms around my waist. I laughed a little, giving him a cuddle, and then suddenly John was there, too. Then Amy. And then Daniel was crying, and so was Rachel, and the lump in my throat was choking me, and I couldn’t help it. I cried in my classroom, surrounded by little kids and boxes of crayons and pieces of cut-up drinking straws. Damn! I don’t think teachers are meant to do that, but there was nothing I could do. We had one big cry-and-cuddle session before I realised how horrendously out of control the whole thing would look if anyone was watching  on the classroom monitor, and tried to snap out of it.

Yes, it’s very sad, but you’re all going to have so much fun at your new school, and meet lots of new teachers, and have so many new friends! And we won’t forget each other. I’ll always love you and I’ll always remember you. So today, we’re going to make “friends forever” bracelets and rings. Everyone will have one. And when we look at them, we will smile and remember all the friends we made here, and be happy. Not sad. OK?

They liked that idea. We made the bracelets and rings. We took silly photos together.

My girls

My girls

Hands... touching hands... reaching out...

Hands… touching hands… reaching out…

Big hand, little hands

Big hand, little hands

Then they went downstairs for lunch.

I spent my lunch break crying at my desk.

Ten Minutes

That’s actually all it takes for me to lose my mind.


Ten minutes for me to go from positive, smiling, encouraging, this-is-fun-isn’t-it-children, happy and enthusiastic kindergarten teacher to rage-filled, beyond irritated, snapping, will-you-all-just-shut-the-feck-up, stressed out monster of fury. Ten minutes.

Every Thursday is the same. I hate teaching art to 5 year olds, or at least to these 5 year olds. I HATE IT. Why are they so incredibly infuriating?!

Now, granted, I don’t exactly remember being 5 years old. I have precisely one specific memory of being that age, in Miss Logan’s class. It is of the morning I overheard Richard Gordon’s mum telling the teacher that he had a bit of a dicky tummy, and Miss Logan said he should just run out to the toilets if he needed to. In my head, somehow, this got a little confused and I was convinced that the rules had changed and we were all now free to come and go as we pleased. Halfway through the morning, I decided to get up and go to the toilets, and was almost at the door when Miss Logan stopped me with an incredulous “And where do you think you’re going?”. Stuttering and stammering, I explained my error, and she laughed and gently explained that Richard was exempt from the rule just this once. (Incidentally, I guess the reason this memory stayed with me is that I was embarrassed… there was a whole other post about that!)

The important thing to take away from this is that I made a mistake, I did something wrong, the teacher told me it was wrong, and I would never in a million years have dreamt of getting up and doing it again 2 minutes later. As far as I remember, other than the occasional disobedient brat, we 5-year-olds understood when we weren’t to do something, and generally proceeded to, you know, stop doing it.

Flash forward to the present day, and I am now the teacher, in a classroom of children who are apparently incapable of rational thought or normal social conduct. Fortunately, the children I teach every day are mostly well-behaved and obedient, but the other classes are filled with children who genuinely make me want to tear my own hair out while gurgling nonsensically and pouring an entire bottle of vodka down my throat. I would not have lasted so long in this job if I had been given those classes as “mine”. Luck of the draw. They are out of control, and the only shred of comfort in the situation is that I only see them once a week, for art class.

So, allow me to describe those ten minutes for you. I recently wrote a post entitled “Thursday”, which gave a summary of the entire day, but now I feel I need to zoom in on how I descend so quickly into such desperate and hellish insanity. Ten minutes. That is all.

In they come, usually yelling their fecking heads off, even if it’s just to say hello. Good morning, I say brightly. Please don’t shout. Good morning!

They continue to shout, and usually swarm around my desk, poking at the desk tidy, lifting pages, touching my fecking coffee mug. Everybody sit down, I say in a kind, calm, but firm voice. Please don’t touch my desk. 

{At this point I want you to pause to remember that this exact same thing happens every single week. This is not a new occurrence; these are not unfamiliar instructions. These are rules that were set out in the first week of school, and have been repeated every week since then. This exact scenario has been taking place every Thursday for an entire year. And yet, every week, it’s like it’s brand new information.}

Good morning. Don’t shout. Please don’t touch my desk. Do not touch teacher’s desk. This is my desk. You sit at your desk. Sit down. Don’t shout. Good morning. 

By this stage my smile is fading slightly but I am still determined that This Week Will Be Different.

Meanwhile, the battle over chairs has begun. Awwww-awww-awww-AWWWWWWW-awwwwwwww! they’re going. Awwwww-awwww-AWWWWWWWW! 

Fecking FECK.

Don’t fight. Be nice to others. There are lots of chairs. Just sit down on an empty chair. Stop fighting. Sit down, sit down, sit down. 

Once they’re all seated and the volume has died down to a mild roar, I try to start the class as if nothing has happened to start the irritation coursing through my veins. Not that they fecking listen.

Stop talking. Listen to the teacher. Turn around. Look at me. LOOK AT ME. Listen. Stop talking. 

By the time they’re all looking and listening, and I can start the lesson, we are already five minutes into the class and two thirds of the way through my patience and positivity.

…so when you finish this step, wait for me to come help you, OK? Just stop, clean up, and wait. Do not shout “Teacher!”. I will help you, one by one. But please, please, please, DON’T SHOUT. Please. No shouting. Shouting: NO. Do not shout. I don’t want to hear “Teacher!”. Don’t shout “Teacher!”. Shouting “Teacher!”: NO. No no no no no. NO. No “Teacher!”. NO. Understand?

This is accompanied by miming and a Seriously-I-Really-Mean-It sort of expression and tone. Every fecking week.

They nod. They understand. They could not possibly fail to understand, seriously. I start giving out the materials. Three… two… one…


I turn around so quickly to look for the offender that I practically give myself whiplash. He genuinely appears to have no idea why I look stupefied and beyond furious.

What did I just say?! Just now?! 

I repeat the entire thing. For the ga-fecking-zillionth time, I demonstrate the concept of raising a hand for attention. I finish giving out the materials.

Teacherrrrrr! Teacherrrrrrr! Pink crayon is no! Scissors not good! Teacherrrrr! Lucy is no share. Teacher, teacher! Teacherrrrrrrrr!

Oh. My. Fecking. Feck. I want to scream. Every time it happens, I repeat my “Shouting “Teacher!”: NO! No no no no no.” spiel. Five seconds pass, and it happens again. It is like the Chinese water torture, only Korean instead of Chinese and shouts of “Teacherrrrr!” instead of dripping water. The resulting insanity is the same.

Ten minutes. After just ten fecking minutes on a Thursday morning, I am the crazy woman standing in the middle of the classroom, spinning wildly in circles with her hands clutching at her hair as she howls “STOP! SHOUTING! TEACHER!”.

Ten minutes.

I’m pretty certain that, even many years from now, I’m still going to be waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, fighting off blanket-children and screaming “Stop shouting “Teacherrrrrrrrr!””…