Monday, April 28, 2014


I'm tired. Walked 8,500 steps today, and I never made it to the clinic. In fact, it's almost impossible for me to make it to the clinic on Mondays and Wednesdays, mainly because I teach both early and later in the day (English + Korean classes). Walking to the clinic from campus is just too much. Tuesdays are all right for clinic visits because I have only one morning class, then a slew of hours to kill from 11AM to 5:30PM. Same goes for Thursdays.

I'm also tired because my second class, today, was wearisome. I don't know what got into some of the kids, but a few were harder to manage than usual—very talky, like American secondary-school students. I may have to separate some of them from their buddies next time around. It sucks to have to manage my students at all, but as I've noted before, Korean college kids are at about the same level of social and sexual maturity as American high schoolers.*

I had thought about doing some test grading tonight, since I didn't get any of that done over the weekend while I was in Seoul. I've already apologized to my Monday kids about not having their midterm grades ready. The same apology is going to go out to my Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday kids as well. Yes, I'm lame.

Meanwhile, Metatron has asked me to do an editing test this coming Friday (and possibly Saturday and Sunday as well). The test will determine whether I'm a competent editor (I may well prove myself not to be), and whether I can perform under Metatron's strict deadline pressure. This means that, as regards whatever lesson-planning and test-grading I have to do, all that work needs to be done by Thursday night. This is a "crunch" week for me.

*Think about it: Korean kids spend their entire childhood focusing on college entrance exams, the sine qua non of their existence. This focus is so intense that kids will actually commit suicide if their exam results prove unsatisfactory. There's no time, then, for young people to have real social lives or otherwise to explore their budding pubertal urges. Pretty much all of that has to wait until college: the four bright years during which Koreans have the latitude to take time to smell the roses. Korean college kids, unlike their American counterparts, don't seem to take college all that seriously. Much of college is playtime for Korean students, despite the looming prospect of getting jobs and plunging back into the hectic, high-pressure realities of the corporate world. Sure: Korean college kids complain about their workload, but the truth of the matter is that they spend an inordinate amount of time coloring their hair bizarrely, experimenting with miniskirts and other budding-adult fashions, and getting drunk. (Come to think of it, that's really not so different from what American college kids do.) I saw this at Sookmyung and I see it at my current job: kids aren't serious about taking responsibility, and it won't be until after they're in their new jobs that they'll be exposed to the harsh reality that adults have repeatedly warned them about.

To paraphrase Nabokov: college is, for Koreans, the one brief spark of freedom between two eternities of oppressive, daily-grind darkness. After graduation, it's back to conformity.


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