Another day at school, another gem from my elementary students. Today one little bright spark asked me, in all sincerity, if I had been eaten by a prehistoric crocodile. 110 million years ago.
We were talking about fossils, and in the book was an article about a huge crocodile fossil, found in South America. That should have been her first clue right there; I’m very clearly not from South America. Secondly, the fossil dated from 110 million years ago (I’m trying not to take that bit as an insult).
The book went on to explain that the crocodile was 21 feet long, and its jaw alone measured 5 feet. The students didn’t really understand how long 5 feet actually was, so I told them that as I am just over 5 feet tall, the length of the crocodile’s jaw was the same as my height.
That was when I noticed one kid staring at me with a mixture of confusion and concern. “Teacher, you were eaten by a crocodile?”.
I made the rookie mistake of responding with sarcasm. “Yes. Yes, I was”. I instantly regretted it as her expression changed from confused to horrified.
“Teacher, did it hurt?”
Oh. My. God.
I have spent the last couple of weeks teaching my 8 year olds about the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’. At least, I thought I had.
We finished the chapter by making posters to show what our needs are and what our wants are. Rather predictably the girls drew cutesy teddy bears, ice cream sundaes and roller skates complete with lots of pink hearts and smiley faces.
The girls’ poster…
I was in the middle of helping the girls draw an ice cream sundae when one of the boys piped up “Teacher, firebomb spelling?”. I was just about to spell it out when I suddenly thought ‘What?!’.
I looked at what the boys had drawn and I saw guns, knives, arrows…and a hamster. Slightly concerning.
…and the boys’ poster!
Where did I go wrong?
I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting in Frankie and Benny’s at Birmingham Airport tearfully saying goodbye to my parents over a lemon and lime. I assured them, and myself, that this would only be for one year, and it would fly by. My mum replied that we didn’t know how we’d feel in a years time, it might not be just one year, and that it was absolutely fine if it wasn’t. Still I insisted that it’d just be the one year.
Turns out mums really do know best. Who knew?
We recently decided to extend our stay in Korea for another year, and are in the processing of re-signing at our current schools. It was a surprisingly difficult decision to make actually, in some ways harder than deciding to come here in the first place. So far it has been over nine months since I last saw my wonderful and incredibly supportive family. I am counting down the sleeps until I go home for Christmas (161 to go!), and I miss each and every one of them like you wouldn’t believe.
However, we only have two months left of our initial twelve month contract and I am nowhere near ready to say goodbye to this fascinating country and the experiences it is giving us. Every time I look at the BBC website I see various doom and gloom headlines, not only about the UK, but also about Europe, and I can’t help but wonder what we’d be coming home to.
Currently South Korea just has more for us; independence, a stable job, and good money combined with a good lifestyle. All of that compared to England’s measly offering of living with our parents (I love you Mum and Dad!), working in the village pub, breaking into my childhood piggybank just to fill my car with petrol and only going to the cinema when it’s Orange Wednesday? Sorry England, but Korea wins this round. Hands down.
So last night, after a fair few glasses of Cass, I crossed another thing off my Korean culinary bucket list; chicken feet 닭 발.
Chicken feet is a delicacy often associated with East Asia, in particular with China and Korea. Dalkbal can be boiled, fried, steamed, or as we had them last night, grilled on a Korean barbecue.
Giving the middle finger; the chickens last defence
We put them on the grill and watched the claws curl up in the heat, appearing to give us the finger in one last stab at defiance. After a few minutes they were obviously cooked but we left them for a while longer (how do you know when a chickens foot is fully cooked??). No one wanted to be the first to try one, and no one wanted to be the last, so, we all gingerly picked one up with our chopsticks, but how do you go about eating them? Where do you start? Toe? Ankle? Somewhere in the middle?
I tore a chunk off the ankle, it was gristle, so I nibbled on a toe, that was gristle too. Like the pig trotters, they were mouth-scorchingly spicy, and I lost all feeling in my mouth for several minutes! Other than the tongue-melting spiciness they didn’t have much taste. Just gristle.
Next on the list, live baby octopus…