I finally arrived at my Korean class.
I looked at the time on my phone. I realised I was already 15 minutes late!
From the outside, I could hear the teacher speaking. I quietly opened the door. There was an awkward silence.
"Sorry, I am late," I apologized as I walked inside the classroom.
I tried to make as little distraction as possible. The teacher did not say anything. I found a seat and sat down. The teacher went on with her teaching, speaking in Korean that I could not yet understand.
I looked around the classroom. There were about 15 people in the class.
"Do you have a textbook?" the teacher suddenly paused and asked me.
"Sorry, I did not know that I was meant to have a text book," I explained. "The school mailed my information package to the wrong address."
"Oh, you can look at mine if you want," offered the girl who was sitting on my left side. "You were supposed to buy the textbook before you come, but you can look at mine for now."
"Thanks!" I said, as I moved my seat closer.
I looked at the girl’s textbook. She had already written three to four pages of notes.
I then turned to the teacher and tried to pick up what she was teaching. She has already moved onto something that seemed way beyond my league.
"Maybe I came to the wrong class," I thought to myself. "Or maybe, this isn’t the first lesson," I tried to convince myself.
I then asked the girl sitting next to me. "Excuse me. What lesson number are we in?"
"Oh, this is the first lesson," answered the girl.
"How come you had so much notes written on your book?" I asked. "Is it a second-hand book?"
"Oh no, no, no! I prepared for the lesson in advance, that’s all," the girl explained.
The girl said it like it was the most natural thing in the world. My face froze for a minute. I then turned my head around and looked at the students in the classroom. They all look very serious and concentrated. There was no ‘joking around’. It was like the ideal class, like something that only appears in fiction.
I have always pictured night school to be something more casual, but what I saw tonight was a class of complete dedication.
The teacher continued her teaching. The pace of teaching became faster and faster. At the end of the two-hour lesson, I have learnt half of the Hangul and about 50 vocabularies.
"Annyong hi kaseyo!" the teacher said as she marked the end of my first Korean lesson.
"Annyong hi keseyo!" I bid my goodbye and walked out of the classroom feeling young and energized, like a boy who just had his first school day at the kindergarten.