It was another school day for most students, long and boring--but not for me. I am the new “transfer student” from America. I am Korean-American, but everyone treats me like a foreigner. My parents were born in South Korea, and I lived there for two years until we moved to America and then back to Korea for my parents’ jobs. But no one cares about that stuff. No one cares about me. I’m just known as the “new kid from Migug” and that I speak “Young-eo and Hangook”. It is my first year at the School of Performing Arts Seoul, and I have been extremely nervous. I have changed schools many times before, but this time it was different. I have lived in America for some time now, and I’ve been scared I might forget my manners in front of people, especially in front of the professors.
“MIN EUN-JAE! PAY ATTENTION!”
The Sun-seng nim’s shout startled me out of my thoughts. I quickly looked up and managed to stutter out, ”I...I a-am terribly sorry s-sir.” “You better be paying attention next time, Eun-Jae,” he said with a frown. I looked down in embarrassment, ashamed to be called out in the middle of class. I was just thinking about not being disrespectful to him. How could I be so stupid? The rest of the class dragged on, and it was miserable. I tried very hard to pay attention, but I was scared that the professor would call me out again. And I could see several students stealing glances at me throughout the rest of class as well, which was not helping my ongoing at anxiety all.
Finally, the class ended. I gathered my stuff and headed out the door. On the way to my locker, I spotted someone I had seen in class, but not up close. He was a Junior, like me, and had blonde-ish highlights in his hair. He looked up from what he was doing and noticed me staring at him with awe. He gave me an adorable bunny smile, and I immediately got shy and blushed. I picked up my stuff and quickly walked to my next class without looking back. But I had walked so blindly that I walked the wrong direction to get to class. “Oh great, now I have to go back and face that student again,” I thought.
I turned around sharply and walked as fast as I could to get past the student without embarrassing myself. But once I was almost past his locker, I tripped on a book that some kid had left on the ground. I fell and dropped all the books that were in my hands. Some people turned around to see what all the noise was, but after seeing me, continued going to class. So I quickly picked all the books up and being careful to not draw attention to myself.
I was almost done picking up the books when a figure stood over me, lent down, and picked up the last few books. I looked up, and it was him! I smiled awkwardly as he
put the last books in my arms when I was standing up. He said with a hint of worry in his voice, ”are you alright? Are you hurt?” I hesitated, still star struck at the sight of him, but I finally forced out a, “yes, I’m fine thank you for asking” in a slightly perplexed tone. He clarified, ”are you sure?” And I replied, “yes, I’m sur-oww!” I had attempted to step forward, but I had fallen on my knees too hard and they were very weak from it. I stumbled to the side, but he caught me! I immediately regained my balance and pulled myself out of his grasp. I looked into his eyes for a second, then looked down, embarrassed, again. He asked once again, “are you ok now? I can help you get to class if you need or..” He paused once more because he noticed my tears of stress whilst trying to recollect myself in the midst of this mess. He turned me around to face him, and he lifted my chin up to look into his eyes, and he told me, ”It’s going to be ok. My first year was hard too. I will stay as long as you need me to, and I will help you get to class.” I asked, “why do you care about me?” I pushed his hands off my arms. “Because I wanted to help someone, just like someone did for me during my first year” he replied.
I admired his kindness, and I obliged to his help. He helped me walk me all the way to my class, and before I went through the door he asked me, “and by the way, what’s your name?” “My name is Min Eunjae” I stammered. He said, “Oh yeah, you were the one who got yelled at by Jun-Ho...I’m sorry he did that to you.” And he put a comforting hand on my shoulder and blushed. “My name's Jungkook, nice to meet you Eun-Jae.”
As I walked into class and sat down I thought, “maybe my first year won’t be so bad….I already have one….friend”
*The next day*
Paying attention in class became hard again. I couldn’t stop thinking about Jungkook. The way he helped me pick up my books, the way he checked if I was ok, the way he caught me when I fell-
The bell sounded the end of the class. “It’s lunchtime now,” I thought. I headed out of the classroom and to my locker. I put away my things, but my thoughts drifted to Jungkook--again. Why was he being so touchy? Did he like me? I didn’t realize how much contact we had at the moment--I was to distracted by his visuals. I closed my locker and proceeded to lunch. I was almost in the lunchroom, but then I saw him again. He was with his friends, six of them, all equally as pretty. I quickly looked down, determined not to be seen, and walked past them. It was too late. He gestured, “Eunjae-ssi! Come meet my friends!” I had no choice but to listen. I slowly walked over to them, trying not to look into their eyes. I timidly stood next to Jungkook, while looking at everyone’s faces. They were all very nice-looking, making me feel ugly amongst them. They all looked older than Jungkook too. “Everyone, this is Eunjae, my new friend I was talking about.” I bowed deeply and they all did in return. The oldest one confirmed, “So this is the girl who you l-” Jungkook cut him off. “Yes, Jin, this is who I was talking about.” He cleared his throat and gave Jin an unsettling death stare. Then he turned to me and said, “Come eat lunch with us Eunjae!” And I had no choice but to follow the boys into the lunchroom.
We sat down at a table in the corner, and we took out our food and started eating. I took out from my bookbag the usual, Kimchi, rice, and bulgogi, a special treat from my grandma. I also had banana milk, but I was too embarrassed to take a kid’s drink out. The boys were ravenous, and they ate with no hesitation. Jungkook was startled. “Slow down guys! We have plenty of time” he exclaimed with an embarrassed tone. “Especially you, Jin…,” Jungkook muttered. “What? I was hungry!” Jin insisted with his mouth full of food. I finished my food and was a bit thirsty. So I secretly opened my banana milk in my bag and used a straw to drink from the carton. But in a few minutes, Jungkook noticed my strange straw sticking out from my bag. “What is that?” he asked, confused. “It’s nothing, I was just drinking something,” I said while slipping my banana milk farther into my bag. But it was too late. “Wait, is it banana milk?” he eagerly replied.”Yes…” I said, embarrassed. “Do you….have any more?” Jungkook asked shyly. “You like banana milk?” I answered while I gave him the other carton. “Yeah, I do. But shh--the boys don’t know that yet.” He replied as he laughed. He sipped the banana milk slowly, enjoying the milky-sweet banana taste. I finished my carton and couldn't help smiling-Jungkook likes this kid drink too! He noticed my smile, and asked, ”why are you smiling?” I replied, “because we both like the same kids drink!” I laughed at that sentence. Jungkook laughed too. This moment was one of my favorites with him. I didn’t want it to end, but lunch couldn’t last forever. The bell rang, ending my time with Jungkook.
The rest of the day went by fast. I finished all my schoolwork in class, so I didn’t have any homework for the weekend. I walked outside and waited at the bus stop to go home. “It’s Friday,” I thought. I wouldn’t be able to see Jungkook until Monday! I sighed in dismay. But just then and there, as if an angel heard my call, Jungkook walked over to me. He said, “I just realized I don’t have your number yet! Can you give it to me so we can talk over the weekend?.” I agreed quickly and gave him my phone number and he gave his to me.“Thanks, Jae. Can I call you Jae?” He answered. “Sure” I shrugged. It was kind of cute how he had his own special nickname for me. I realized I was staring into his eyes while I was talking to him. I looked away and muttered, ¨I better get going now, the bus is here now.¨ He realized this as well. ¨Yeah…..ok.¨ He looked a bit sad as I started to walk away. ¨I´ll text you!¨ He shouted after me. ¨Oh...ok!” I replied. He gave me a finger heart as I was stepping onto the bus. I set my stuff down on the seat and looked out the window. I gave him a finger heart back. It was hard to make out but I thought he was blushing. The bus started moving, and Jungkook watched me until the bus was out of sight.