Every weekday at 12:30PM I beg ten five-year-olds to eat. They clearly don’t follow by example because I inhale my food. If I eat slowly, we all suffer. Who will refill their cups? Who will spoon-feed the most stubborn eaters? Who will put toothpaste on the toothbrushes? Who will get more soup? Who will put out the mat and toys? Who will wipe up spilled food and drink? Who will clean the throw up? Okay, but really – I don’t know who will clean that up. The last two times kids threw up (one actually on me), I cried and almost blew chunks as well. Oh, the fabulous life of a kindergarten teacher.
I teach grades kindergarten to fourth, but ages are different in Korea. Although my two kindergarten classes are labeled “five” and “six,” the children are really “four” and “five” in other parts of the world. It is a bit different than teaching middle and high school back in Hungary. I cannot even imagine what it would be like for a fifteen-year-old kid to expel the contents of his or her stomach onto my innocent and undeserving 5’2″ frame.
Compared to Hungarian food, Korean food is more “my style.” No hate, but dishes like poppy seed pasta (mákos tészta) made my blood boil. Every living being in school knew to steer clear of me on days it was served – I was a nightmare. I am generally not one for pasta or bread, so living in the land of rice is just right for me. I vividly recall watching a Buzzfeed video titled “School Lunches Around The World” with one of my classes (I’m talking to you, 8B of 2014-2015 – xoxo) and being intrigued by the Korean lunch tray and dishes. Although I mostly brought a packed lunch during my school days, I was surrounded by French fries, burgers, and pizza. Comparing the food/options the children have in Korea to the food that was provided to me as a child is shocking. What saddens me the most is that every single time I show that video (whether it be to my students in Hungary or Korea), the majority of kids want the standard lunch provided in the United States – a lifeless sandwich and potato chips.
Some of my former coworkers in Hungary wrote blog posts about the school food there. Check out their posts if you’re feeling curious about sustained me for three years: JP and Danielle (December 2013) and Matt and Kendahl (June 2015).
Now on to Korean school lunch. Truth be told, I don’t know the names of most of the stuff I eat. I don’t really ask. Rice and kimchi are served almost every single day though. In general, I like most of what I am given – with the exception of squid. It’s too… buttery? I mean, I will eat it, but chances are I will opt out. TINY DRIED FISH are another “delicacy” that I do not partake in. My seven-year-olds (aka six) from last year used to TORMENT me because they knew I suffer from ichthyophobia. Precious children would stare at me with crazed looks in their eyes and wickedly whisper “…come on…eat it…eat the eyes…bite off the head…do it…you know you want to…” If I didn’t succumb to their sorcery, they would chase me around the classroom with fistfuls of fish. THE TORTURE (I can only respect them). Speaking of fish, a kid I have 1:1s with brought MUDFISH to the lesson. I screamed, huddled in the corner with a chair in front of me, and teared up. Teachers and students came running over to find me at my lowest point. A few days prior I had a nightmare where a fish chased me. I was screaming for my mother and, as it made one last jump, I woke up with (SURPRISE) tears in my eyes. With that said, I somehow managed to eat live octopus back in October. I confuse myself.
Okay, enough with the fish stories. Enjoy the food pictures. Yum yum in my tum tum!
Squid – bottom left.
Accidentally took a bite before taking a picture.
Pretty sure top middle is squid.