“Hello” and “Hi!” are two words that every Korean knows, and they want to use them. Kind of like Americans using “Hola!” in Mexico. I can’t tell you how many times a day I say one of those two words. I have attempted to count, but that get old after the 1st class period. I would guess that I say it 100 to 200 times a day, and that is no exaggeration. While walking through the halls it is constant. While sitting at my desk, every student who walks through the office doors says it. I sit right next to the door. While walking home from school I hear, “Hello, Matchew!” (that is how almost every Korean pronounces my name) from all directions. When Alli and I go out to eat, we get it as soon as we are spotted. Migook saram is Korean for American, and we are not hard to find.
So I say “Hello” a lot, and I love it every Time. It’s so nice to have all of these kids give you a big smile and a wave. I am never tired of saying “Hi” even though it happens all day long.
Here are some more examples of my everyday hallway conversation:
Me: “How are you?” Student: “I am fine, thank you. And you?” – I am not sure why but this is also something all students know; I think they learn it in elementary school. When I begin my classes I ask this question as well, and they will respond in unison with the same reply.
“Nice to meet you!” – Even though I have seen them hundreds of times. I try to correct this to “Nice to see you!” but it never seems to work.
“Teacher, very cold!” – They are always cold even when it’s nice and sunny.
“She is crazy girl!” – If two or more girls are chatting with me, it’s just a matter of time before one of them calls the other crazy.
Girl 1 “Teacher, she is a potato!” Girl 2 “She is garlic!” – This one is more rare, but I have heard it more than a few times. For some reason potato and garlic are insults. I think it’s great.
“Anyoung hasay——-hehehehehehhehehehehe”(while bowing) – They start to say hello as they would to a Korean teacher but realize it’s me. They stop and giggle.
So these are just some of the small conversations that occur daily while teaching in Korea. It’s very fun and of course there are many times when these small conversations lead to long ones where I can get to know my students a lot better. Those are the best times.