This year I’ve felt extra inspired to write due to the lack of holiday cheer over on this side of the world, as well as the ever-pressing fact that Christmas is going to be quite different without family, friends, and snow. My kindergarten students agree that writing you letters will aide in an unfathomable selection of gifts and wishes come true, so I decided to give it a shot.
First of all you should know that I’ve been good this year. Actually pretty darn good. Please disregard the fact that I’ve broken many traffic laws including speed limits and red lights, refused to eat everything on my plate (sorry pickled sparrow eggs just aren’t that appetizing), and stealing others discarded furniture down in the trash/recycle pile to use in my house.
That being said?
What I want for Christmas (I promise I made the list as short as possible):
1. Snow-I know this, especially right off the bat, is a lot to ask for especially on Geoje Island, South Korea. But I have hope looking at all the pictures of the snow-laden lands in the north (i.e. Seoul, Seosan), and that’s only a few hour drive. Just remember snow gives way to buses not being able to drive, giving way to children being able to not go to school, giving way to schools being shut down: end result I get a day or two off. Ultimately it means utter joy for teachers and students alike.
2. A full-sized oven-My current oven is the exact size of my microwave at home, which was neatly mounted above my spacious full-sized oven. No wonder it takes 8.5 hours to cook a batch of gingerbread men. For a batch that yields 80 little guys, an oven that can hold about 5 at a time…it can be a slight time warp. Not to mention all those loaves of bread that I’ve had to convert to ‘mini’ loaves/rolls due to the fact that my oven is not tall enough to handle the height of such baking endeavors.
3. A blow horn-I’ve never felt the need to ever buy one of these, or for them to even exist until I started teaching kindergarten; in a language that’s not native to little rambunctious bundles of joy. One ‘foreign’ teacher vs. 10 screaming, shouting, kicking, crying (simultaneously mind you) 4 year olds can result in a loss of hearing, loss of vocals, and loss of sanity. It never ceases to amaze me how these little ones are able to tune the severely agitated, yelling, flailing teacher out of their heads…but they do it successfully. On multiple occasions. Even the age old trick of, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1…” doesn’t make them blink an eye.
4. A parking space-I’m convinced that Korean architects/construction designers thought that cars were not going to be a thing that stuck around for long. Not only were buildings built with little to no parking spaces, roads are not made wide enough to park on the side of. This poses a problem four our huge apartment complex made out of a couple hundred individual apartments. There cannot be more 70 parking spaces, and at night it becomes a full out parking battle to get the prime spots, the spots where you have to keep your car in neutral cause someones going to have to move it to get theirs out of the way, the spots that are so crappy you’re not even sure if your car will be in one piece by the morning, and the spots it takes a good 5-10 minutes to walk back to your apartment.
5. A cheap, ‘American priced’ nail salon-Sometimes I tend to be a little bit of a girly girl. I love my french-tipped acrylic or shellac artificial nails.After learning the hard way though, I’ve discovered Korea does not share my passion for the girlishness…and a full shellac extension manicure costs $10-15 per nail. Ouch. I could almost go to cosmetology school and learn how to do it myself for that price. The best part was when the manicurist laughed at me when I told her the price back home usually isn’t more than $50-60 dollars. At the time I thought she was laughing because it was too expensive. Now, in the aftermath (and three months later) I understand.
6. No more language barrier-Gone are the days (back in the US) when I could order a BLT, tell them to hold the B and add an A (avocado) with only a smidge of mayo..eck substitute the mayo for greek yogurt please. Now I’d be lucky to even get a BLT…because the ones here come with ham, egg, pickle, and onions. Don’t even dare try to substitute anything on your order for you’ll either: a. get a blank stare, b. be told that no it’s not possible, or c. all of a sudden the item you were wanting became out of stock. The other day I ordered an americano and asked for a sugar packet. The barista didn’t understand…and, to be honest, a good game of charades can usually do the trick…but with sugar? How do you use hand, feet, mouth, and face motions to signify you want sugar?
Believe it or not, I’m going to keep my list at that. I believe all the items listed above are reasonable and not too far fetched. Please don’t forget that I’m going to be spending my time soaking up the sun this year in Vietnam over Christmas…so leaving my gifts back home in SK would be just fine. It’d be a great surprise to come back to.
Even though I’m skeptical about you (as are 99.9 percent of my students…aside from my little one who secretly waved at you when you came on t.v., thinking no one saw her, even though I did)…I’m hopeful.
Amanda, Geoje Island, South Korea
Thank you MaDonna at RaisingTCKs for this brilliant idea!