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A few weeks ago cherry blossoms fell from the trees in gentle flurries of pink rain, and now the sun shines warmly upon us. It seems the seasons in Korea arrive as quickly as they leave.

 I am so grateful for the emergence of summer, yet still my classroom would let ice cubes keep their shape and so I defy our money-conscious vice-principal with sneaky blasts of the heating.

 School has absorbed me for the past few months. I am, as it should be, a better teacher than last year. At this point in the middle of the term I am also struggling to quash my own inner teenager yelling ‘I don’t want to go to school anymore!’

 Yet the it is the small things in school that remind me of how golden life is – late girls doing squats in the morning, piano music drifting from an open window, impromptu student water fights at the fountain. My days are often brightened by a cup of tea with Jeong Sook – the school nurse and my wonderful, laughter-filled friend. ImageThe widespread Korean fashion of moustaches has spread to students’ pencil cases and many of the girls wear large-pupil contact lenses that make them look like soft, surreal anime characters.

 The other day I was napping at lunchtime (head down on a cat pillow at my desk) when the head student of my next class arrived, a good half hour early. She told me to carry on sleeping and lay her head down on another table. We napped companionably at opposite ends of the classroom until the bell rang.

 I love that sleep is so normal here. Perhaps because it’s so precious, everybody understands the need to get it whenever possible.

‘What did you do at the weekend?’ I ask each Monday.

‘Sleep… Study’ is the chorus, ‘study, sleep’.


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