A few weeks ago, I got to go with my students to Oceanworld. I was excited because it was my first field trip with my students in Korea. I didn’t have a co-teacher with me. Instead, I ‘helped’ one of the 5th grade teachers with her class. By help, I mean that I pretended to know what was going on in front of the kids. Luckily for me, she spoke English well enough and kept me company on the bus ride there and back, during lunch, and was basically my interpreter for the trip.
Let me just say that it was pretty fascinating how well organized this trip was.
From what I gathered, there was a middle man or some sort of business that arranged the logistics between Oceanworld and the school. We had a few representatives there on field trip day giving information to the bus drivers and teachers and making sure everything ran smoothly.
I was hoping to hang out with one of the younger teachers who was on the volleyball team with me. Unfortunately, she was sick and couldn’t go swimming that day. I was so bummed! The other teachers weren’t planning on swimming, either. This surprised me. In my mind, I figured the adults would each be assigned to a group of kids and stay with them at all times in the waterpark. I was wrong.
When we got to Oceanworld (which took an hour by bus) we were efficiently shuffled through the entrance without bothering with ticketing or other such nonsense and were led straight to the locker rooms. We changed into our swimsuits and cover ups. That’s just how they roll here.
After changing we met in a big group at the bottom of the hill where the kids sat and listened as one of the teachers explained the day’s itinerary into a portable mic: Meet at this same spot at 12:10pm for lunch then meet back again at 2:30pm to get ready to leave. If you need to speak with a teacher we will be at [such and such] cabana. End of information talk.
Next all the kids lined up to get their life vests. Yes, life vests which we were required to wear at all times. I’m guessing it’s because most Koreans don’t learn how to swim. Maybe that’s just in Seoul. After we got our life vests on the kids were let loose to roam the waterpark at will. I was thinking, “What?! We don’t have to watch them?” My interpreter/guide explained that there were many lifeguards so no chaperoning was necessary. I see…
I’ll be honest. My initial reaction was, “Oh no…now what?! I’m all aloooooone!” I asked some of my fourth grade girls if I could tag along with them and one of them gave me a resounding, “No!” I was a bit shocked, and I couldn’t help but laugh. After being shut down, I went back to the lockers, got my camera, snapped a few photos, then gave myself a pep talk. I pretty much resolved to have an amazing fun time regardless. I decided to check out the wave pool. Best decision I could have made.
As soon as I went into the wave pool I kept hearing students call my name, “Mrs. K! Teacher Andrea! K. Teacher! Look! Mrs. K. is over there. Hi, Teacher!” My students wouldn’t leave me alone! I even got a few grins from the lifeguards because my students were so excited to be hanging out with me and practicing their English.
Eventually my group of students whittled down to only four fifth grade boys, but these four stuck with me the whole time and wanted me to go everywhere with them. So, I did. They even waited for me to finish my lunch with the teachers so that I could play with them. So cute! They definitely made my day.
All in all, I ended up having a great time with my kids, which was what I hoped for in the first place.