Learning Curve

Every day in Korea I learn something new.

Some things are language related:

Kudu does not, in fact, mean ‘grape.’  It means ‘leather shoe.’  A fact I realized after I pointed to a plate of grapes at a teachers’ dinner and proudly announced, ‘kudu!’  I will now always remember that ‘podo’ is grape.

Other things are cultural:

Do not wear anything other than black when appearing for a school-wide teachers’ photo.  If possible, wear a jacket.  Otherwise, you will ‘stick out.’

The wearing-black goes for outdoor exercise as well.

Some things are dining etiquette:

If you accidentally pick up the enormous silver bowl while standing in the lunch line, the lunch ladies will fill it to the brim with soup.  Your fifteen minutes of lunch will then be spent drinking a bottomless bowl of broth using only a spoon and chopsticks.

Today, I learned something about first grade girls.  Specifically, about the first grade girls in class 1-3.

They do not like snakes.  This goes for photographs of snakes as well as, I assume, live ones.

I showed a slide of a snake striking at the camera for a lesson on “I like/I don’t like.”  As soon as the skinny green snake appeared, the girls slapped their hands to their cheeks, Home Alone-style, and shrieked in that prolonged way that only little girls can.  Then they shook their heads vehemently and made an ‘x’ with their fingers or arms, the official Korean gesture to express negativity.

Meanwhile, the boys threw their arms up, making a giant circle over their heads.  This gesture has the reverse meaning, indicating that they did like snakes.  Judging by their toothless grins and nodding heads, they like snakes a lot.

It took a few slides of puppies and kittens to calm everyone down.

Today’s lesson – no snakes in the classroom.

Culture Lesson #462: The flying squirrel is the mascot of Yeongwol.

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