The First Day of School

In Korea, the new school year starts on the first Monday of March. Summer vacation is only a month long, while winter break lasts about two months with a random two-week Spring Break jammed into the middle of February. It took me a few years to get used to this system because the ‘Back to School’ excitement has always bubbled up in the fall for me.

Today, we held an assembly outside in our school’s ginormous playground/courtyard area to welcome the new 1st graders. Every student from all grades came out and stood in lines facing the raised platform where the principal and vice principal were making their welcoming speeches. The new first grader babies were lined up in the exact middle of the students, looking frightened, confused and/or excited. As the vice principal called each of the newcomers’ names, they went up to the platform one by one, holding hands with one 6th grader each. They received their cute little name-tags and went back to their place in line.

After a long, boring speech from the principal (I tried not to fidget along with the kids), the teachers brought out a ‘cake’ made out of stacked 떡 (dduk, or rice cake) with a big candle stuck in the middle. We all sang a welcoming song together, then the little first graders blew out the candle together while their bigger ‘brothers and sisters’ (6th graders) popped confetti and gave them hugs. Then, all of the students went back to their new classrooms and got to know their homeroom teachers, and went home after 3rd period.

From what I observed, I think this year’s new batch o’ kids are gonna be cute but VERY energetic. And I noticed two major crybabies among the group (literally, the mom had to stand next to one of them the entire time because he would not stop crying haha). I can already imagine what that classroom atmosphere is going to be like…

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