Saturday, July 18, 2009

Last day of...

Well, friday was the last day of... It was strange for me because for other people it was something of a special day, but I'm coming back to the exact same situation, so nothing is changing for me, which made me feel as though I wasn't being as emotional as I should be. As I used to be a criminology major who focused on serial killers and those with sociopathic tendenancies, I'm always worried about my emotional involvement, because it seems as if I wouldn't be emotionally involved in anything if I didn't try. Basically, my natural state is selfishness, and it's selflessness that I strive for.

Anyway, it was the last day of... I leave that blank because it was the last day of many things. We took our Korean final, and I had to turn in my application for next semester's "Korean Intensive Program", which official puts an end to my Korean classes until September. Fortunately, if all goes according to plan, next year, I'll only be studying Korean, which means that I will have seriously less stress as all my homework will be related to the topic I WANT to study anyway.

But it was also the last day of teaching until August 17th, which is consequently just a few days shy of being one month away. Of course, I don't have a vacation, since they expect me to plan all of my supplimental english classes during this time off. I don't think that Koreans really understand the point of vacation. If their idea of tours is any indication, they need to go back and relearn some things.

However, it wasn't officially the last day, so we didn't get an official send-off, but the principal did give Eun-mi and I a 50,000 won bonus...what was interesting is that it was actually a 50,000 won bill. I didn't even know they made those things, but apparently they do, and now I have one. Of course, I'm not going to spend it...not if I can help it :P

Anyway, I had a meeting with some people, so I said goodbye to Eun-mi as she was getting on the bus to go back to town, but I know that we'll see each other again, because unlike the mission, I can travel out to Kwangju to see her if I want, and I can call her and other such, so there's not that big of a separation...not like there was during the mission days. Maybe that's why I'm not that emotionally involved, because I've already been part of something that when it ended, it was a big deal, but this is like a small deal, though everyone is still treating it like it's a big deal. It's like Marie said, "I don't know if I'll ever see any of these people ever again." But, I know that if you really want to, there's not that much stopping you. Besides, aside from Amanda and Grant, everyone else I can see by driving...well, anyone I'd want to see anyway. I mean, I made friends with other people, but it's not like the girls from New Zealand, aside from Jung-mi, tried to get to know me.

So, yeah, I'm slowly beginning to see the world as a very small place. I'm glad I made the friends I made, glad I made the connections I've made, but internet social networking groups have made it really easy to stay in contact, despite a giant ocean in between you. I can go on to facebook and drop a line to Jackson in England and be like, "What's new, bro" and after a period of time, he comes back with, "Oh, you know, dating, etc." and we keep in touch. The world is not as big as it used to be. Not that big at all.

Anyway, it was also the last day for the POE free Korean Class. We spent half the time having a small lesson with Charles, and then we spent the other half the time learning more about Korean music with Joon-Yeong. We did the Arirang like 6 times, which is cool because now I know the words and tune pretty well (not memorized, but the tune is there, so eventually maybe). Afterwards, we all went to a bbq place and had ourselves some delicious Kalbi...mmm Kalbi. I'm getting so used to Korean spicy foods, that I'm actually wanting Kimchi JJigae today. No friggin kidding.

So, yeah, then there was the last awkward goodbyes at the bus stop, followed by the random last accidental lunch meeting on saturday, which was once again followed by the awkward final goodbyes at the bus stop. It made Mao laugh because I said the exact same thing to Grant on saturday as I said on friday (on purpose of course), which apparently Grant didn't catch until Mao laughed. Guess I know who was paying attention :P. But, its true, I will probably never see Amanda in person again...eventhough she's supposed to give me the traditional Vietnamese hat that she was giving away. Hmm...wonder if I will ever see it.

The last days of the mission were really hard, but these last days don't seem like last days at all. Actually, I'm looking forward to a little break with my family and then coming back and digging right in. I want to rededicate myself to the goals that I have, becoming fluent in Korean, losing weight, etc. etc. etc. So, it was the last day of.... but it's more like a new beginning.

Happy trails people.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tongyeon x2, Talk x2, Study abroad x2

As you can clearly see, the theme of this post is repetition. As you can clearly see, the theme of this post is repetition.

See what I did there?

Anyway, let’s just get into this thing, shall we? This last weekend, I went on a culture tour that was really fun…despite the fact that I came home with cut feet. Before I tell the story, I want every person who is casually reading this blog to know, if you are ever clamming in the mud, and you think it’s a good idea to take off your shoes and walk around, STOP! You are totally going to come home with several tiny cuts and some really deep ones on the bottom of your foot.

어쨋든, so, this weekend, we went to Tongyeon. Thing is, we went to Tongyeon before. About three weeks ago, we went to Geojedo and Goseong, to a Korean War POW museum and the longest cable gondola in all of Korea, as well as going to a dinosaur park—and seeing actual dinosaur footprints. This weekend, however, we went back to the same place, rode the same suspended gondola, but this time we checked out a classical music concert and the Turtle Ships used by Admiral Yi Sun-Shin to defeat the Japanese invasion of Korea. Of course, we know that in the long run, the Japanese won, what with taking over Korea as a Japanese territory in 1905.

You know, speaking of which, I’d like to make a few comments about that. Koreans are incredibly mad at the Japanese for that, mostly because they were ridiculously abusive during that period, which I totally get and completely sympathize with, but I have to say that there are many things that Korea got out of that period that they don’t really attribute as gains in the overall scheme of things. For example, Korea had this problem with cartography, which was solved when the Japanese taught them to make maps. Also solved problems when they taught them that just because you are making a map doesn’t mean you get to rename stuff…fixing every college student’s nightmare for years to come. On top of that, they were taught how to make buildings and all kinds of other stuff, so you know, maybe there was a reason that Japan as so pushing about doing things their way.

Okay, back to what I was saying. Yeah, clamming. We did some of that this weekend. It was the 4th of July, and I didn’t do any fireworks, have a barbequed or anything else cool for that matter. Nope. Clamming. Well, clamming is what we did on Sunday, Saturday, we checked out the turtle ships and stuff and then saw the wind instrument orchestra and then off to our hotel. Actually, Mao, Daniel McGeary, a guy named Vinh and I had the coolest Love Hotel room ever. It had two beds, two couches, a giant TV, a computer, mirrors above the beds, a separate bathroom and sink that were the size of an average love hotel room, and a shower room the size of another average love hotel room. I made a joke that we could fit all the people that had come on the trip with us in the one room, but an hour later, everyone was up in our room talking, hanging out, and watching TV, so we actually did.

Anyway, as the evening wore on, Daniel, Vinh and I joined up with Cat, her boyfriendy-type fiancé-like guy, Norma, and Natalie, making a very international, very awesome bunch to go to the Noraebang (Karaoke) together. (FYI, Daniel, Norma, and I are straight white-bread Americans, Cat was born in the US but lived most of her life in Canada, where her boyfriend is from, Vinh is a Vietnamese American, and Natalie who is born and bred from the UK). Totally ass-kicking fun because we generally picked songs everyone would sing, thought I did “Fire” from 2NE1, and Daniel sang two Japanese songs, which included “Rinda, Rinda” from the 1980’s. It’s really cool how Korean noraebangs have English and Japanese songs in them too. I think that if they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t be nearly as popular.

Oh yeah, and we totally ran into the Kwangju TaLK scholars on the trip. Turns out they came to Tongyeon too. I had a fun conversation with Kyra, and we talked about Cody some too. I hope he realizes that she’s a really awesome girl, because seriously…

Anyway, so on to the rest of my blog, which it mostly an update on what’s going on…

Well, I’m staying in Korea another year. I signed on with TaLK for another year, and I did so because I REALLY want to learn Korean. I don’t exactly know why, aside from it being another Asian language and a language that will help me in getting into the state department. But I don’t get much out of knowing Korean aside from knowing Korean because the language is only spoken by maybe 76 million people in the whole world, so it’s not like it’s that useful. I mean, Japanese alone is spoken by at least 136 million people. That’s a huge difference. And even then, the 76 million speakers of Korean have at least 7 different dialects, one of which being the Gyeongsan dialect that I’m so fond of, but there’s also the North Korean dialect, which only the people in the North speak anyway.

I don’t know. But I do know that the Lord clearly wanted me to be here, and I have this unexplainable desire to learn and speak Korean. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that few people outside the Korean American population speak Korean in the US. That’s a pretty cool thing when you think about it. I’ll be in one of those circles of really awesome people that you just have to tip your hat to and say, “I bow to your superiority, sir.”

So yeah, another year of TaLK means another year of Study Abroad. Awesome. I’m going to apply for the Korean intensive class, despite the fact that Julie tells me there is a lot of homework and she’s having troubles keeping up with it, which is probably true, but it would be better than the situation I’ve got going here. See, I want to study Korean, but when I have other classes, I spend only my free time studying Korean while the rest of my time is spent studying economics or other stuff. I would prefer to have my personal study and my academic study coincide, so instead of studying Korean around studying other stuff, I can just study Korean and thereby get better and better.

I’m apparently learning a lot though, since I’ve been going through my “Making out in Korean” book, which was hard as hell when I started, and it’s pretty easy stuff…even though it’s supposed to be the Korean you never learn in school. Maybe it’s because I hear this stuff from people all the time. And maybe it’s because I listen to my students and Eun-mi, so you know, special. However, Joy speaks way too fast for me, so I clearly have a long way to go before I’m fluent (and interestingly a short time to get there since the TOPIK test is coming up on me in April, and I was to pass the advanced by then).

In other news, I’m about to argue my way into getting my month of vacation during August. They’re telling me that I only get a week (which is actually two weeks since they haven’t considered that I get a week from my contract). Yeah, actually, they don’t really know what’s going on at all, but they seem to think that they do, and they sorta expect me to roll over and take it. But they’re going to send me home and expect me back within a week. That’s ridiculous when the flight itself is 14 hours. 14 friggin’ hours people. Come on! Besides, I have important things to do, so I’m going home.

Anyway, that’s about it from me here.

Happy trails people.