The third-grade students took a field trip to Lotte World last Monday, and I was excited to be invited. Lotte World is an amusement park in Seoul, and it has rides, games, shows, an ice rink, shopping and more.
The morning of the trip, I woke to thunder and pouring rain. The rain was coming at me sideways, and by the time I got to school, I was pretty drenched. I walked into the teachers office and had some coffee for a few minutes before Mr. Hong, the head of the English department and the teacher who had invited me on the trip, came over to talk.
“Alli,” he said. “Do you remember Mr. Kang?” Yes, I did remember meeting Mr. Kang briefly on the first day of school. He is a guidance counselor but previously taught English for many years. “Well, I have to stay and do something at school, so Mr. Kang will be your friend today,” Mr. Hong said. Last-minute changes in plans seem common here, especially at school.
I was immediately nervous about the trip. All of the teachers at school have been nice to me, but I had never talked to any of the teachers who would be chaperoning this field trip. I also am not sure who speaks English and who doesn’t; it feels rude to start up conversations with people in English when I am not sure whether they can understand me.
My initial fears were unfounded. There was some uncertainty, and I felt awkward more than once (like when I came out of the restaurant bathroom to find that everyone had left and boarded the bus), but that comes with the territory here. All the teachers were very nice to me and one young female teacher took me under her wing and rode rides with me all day.
A few highlights of the trip: We stopped for breakfast and dug in to kimbap, fruit and … sushi. At 8:30 a.m. “When in Rome,” I thought to myself and enjoyed the breakfast.
At Lotte World, Miss Yoo and I rode an indoor hot-air balloon ride, a gyro swing and a mini roller coaster. I also rode on a river cruise with two other teachers. A few of the students were surprised to see Miss Yoo with me and said they didn’t know she could speak English because she teaches math.