September 18th, 2014 was the official one-month mark for me being in Korea! More importantly, though, it was my birthday!
That morning my fellow teachers surprised me with a delicious birthday cake from Paris Baguette (basically the go-to place for all baked goods in Korea). They also sang Happy Birthday to me in English! And as if that weren’t spoiling me enough, they even gave me a few gifts! From my co-teacher I received a nice dress shirt and some strawberry-mint tea. My principal gave me a windbraker jacket and matching pants, and the school nurse surprised me with some cute little hand soaps! I was so touched by their generosity!
Then in the afternoon, a few students from my highest level English class came to my desk and asked me to come to their classroom. As soon as I turned the corner into the room, the whole class erupted in a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday! Aferward they presented me with another(!) birthday cake and two very thoughtful cards, one from the boys and one from the girls.
Some of my favorite notes I received were, “Dear Nathan teacher. Hi, Nathan! I’m a student in 1-3. Today is your birthday. So, Happy birthday!! Your so humorous, friendly and very handsome. And I want to be friendly with you. I hope to have a great time with you for 3 years. Have a nice day!” Also, “Happy Birthday! Today is your birthday ~ wow ~ 🙂 I hope you have a funny day 🙂 and you are very handsome haha. Also I’m pretty! I’m waiting exercise together all day!” And lastly, “Happy Birthday Nathan teacher. Today is your first Birthday at Korea. How are you? It’s maybe good. I suggest that play sports more actve. Sometimes you look boring.” HA!
I closed the day by having dinner with two of my closest friends from the EPIK program and, together, demolishing a giant tub of chocolate chip ice cream from Baskin Robbins back at my apartment. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better first birthday in Korea! Who knew turning three years older in one birthday could be so great?!**
**In Korea, a person is considered one year old when they are born. Then, during the New Year everyone is counted as turning one year older. On one’s actual birthday here, no one gets any older. So, at home I turned 25 this year. But to calculate your Korean age, you add 2 years. So technically, in Korea, I’m 27! Crazy, right?