The Korean Word For Alibi
Today’s question: “What did you do last weekend?”
Today’s answer: “I killed a chicken with Minsu.”
Minsu: “No. No. I did nothing, teacher. Nothing!”
A Doctor Visit
So I have this laryngitis-cold-thing and sound like Tom Waits. It’s cool. I hope it never ends, though if it didn’t I’d probably lose my job. Can’t teach English if you sound like the Cookie Monster. I went to the doctor’s this morning. Some details: they do stuff like take your blood pressure and temperature in the waiting room. So folks are all around you waiting while a nurse takes your blood pressure and looks in your ears and whatever. Then they have you go back to sitting down, while you wait for the doctor to see you. The doc was a youngish guy and wanted to know about my mucus and stuff. His English wasn’t great, but whatever. Between Jin and me, we could figure out what he was asking. He sprayed some stuff down my throat and some more stuff up my nose, then gave me a prescription. Easy peasy. The thing is I feel fine. I just sound like death.
Price for visit and three days of meds: less than 10USD. I pay into the National Health Care program about 60USD monthly, but damn, a five buck Doctor visit? Yeah. Not complaining.
Jin and I got smartphones. There’s the first picture.
Look! It’s Pohang!
This is the end point of the harbor where it becomes a stagnant canal. If you walk straight across the water (what? You can’t?) you’ll pass the fishing fleet on your left, and the ship repair dry docks on your right, then you’ll come upon a few scrap heaps, and the ferry boat landing before passing the lighthouse and going out into the
Sea of Japan East Sea.
Lovely, no? The plan’s to extend this canal down to the river. So they’re bulldozing the entire neighborhood behind me, which coincidentally is where I teach.
Speaking of teaching, the semester starts again tomorrow. This year I’ll be teaching 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. It should be… interesting. Of course, I’m not teaching any of the students I taught last year, which, you know, would have made sense. But because of the internal rift between the English teachers at my school I get to start with all new students. Don’t ask. Or do, but don’t suspect an answer other than a shrug and a “I don’t make the schedule.” I don’t quite get it myself. Basically the two English teachers at my school don’t get along, and it’s tiresome.
Still, new students, and they want be all jaded like my 6th graders were. No more listening to poorly executed swears like “Pak you! Shut up your mouse!”
Shut up your mouse. Adorable.
A complaint I hear regularly from expats is that X (where X is some Korean thing like beer or gum) tastes like chemicals.
“Korean beer sucks. It tastes like chemicals. Where can I get good gum? Korean gum tastes like chemicals. Anyone know where I can get shampoo online? Korean shampoo tastes like chemicals.”
(Yeah – I don’t know about that last one either.)
But my question is where the hell are these people coming from and what were they eating there to know so well what chemicals taste like?
I Went Hiking Again
I’ll spare everyone the stories of bus karaoke. Let’s just say I have new found fear of some of my coworkers. This hike was part of a school trip where all the teachers rent a bus and have “fun” together. “Fun” meaning hiking, meaning walking up a mountain and down again and then eating so much food as to be near to bursting.
Anyway, we went to Mungyeong and walked through the mountain gates would-be Confucian scholars would have to pass through when on their way to Seoul to take their civil service exams. The whole area makes much of its pre-20th century Korean history, which isn’t surprising considering its 20th century history might not be so cool.
Things I Learned From Watching Public School Musicals All Day
- Save the planet by remembering the three Rs: R-something, R-something, and Recycle!
- Never give up on your dreams even when your father beats you.
- Husbands wouldn’t kill themselves if their wives cooked for them more often.
- Don’t be a jerkface especially if you’re Cinderella.
- People listen to reason. It’s really quite simple. Like this:
Villain: I’m going to do this evil thing.
Hero: Don’t do that evil thing. It’s bad and will hurt people.
Villain: Oh, you’re right. How foolish of me. Let’s sing and dance together instead!
- Everyone loves kids with nunchucks!
I started taking a Korean class at one of the colleges here. Most of my fellow students are exchange students from across Europe and Asia. (It’s fun being in a class where the Austrian guy makes an “oh la la” joke about the French guy.) Another student is the wife of one of the school’s visiting professors, and the rest of us (three including myself) are Public School English teachers.
Let me first say I am lousy at languages. If you’ve ever had a conversation with me, you’d have noticed I can barely speak English with ease and it’s my native language. I’ve screwed the pooch in every language class I’ve ever taken.
But I’m making the effort here, because I consider myself better organized than at those times. I know what’s in store and I have a grasp of what I need to do. It doesn’t mean I do it. I don’t study everyday like I should, but it’s better than never, which is an improvement. I’m also living in the culture and living with a native speaker so I’m learning in a different environment (not to mention it’s the only class I’m taking).
One positive side effect is it’s making me approach my own teaching differently. I can see the why behind some of my students’ mistakes and possible ways to explain tricky pieces of grammar to them by relating it to something in Korean. So overall it’s a net plus, even if my brain feels a bit more fried than usual.
Another side effect is I keep trying to form a narrative out of all these examples and illustrations in the book. The main character is a vapid umbrellaless American named Andy who travels across Korea asking women questions with all the blond-haired charm of a rather boisterous but earnest puppy.
Banga waeyo, Andy-si!
Some Recent Pictures
Most of these were taken over Chuseok.
The last picture is of a Buddhist temple near Jin’s parents’ apartment. There are hiking trails around it and we went out one morning to explore the area, but didn’t get far because I slipped in a puddle and pulled a hamstring.
And you’d think my hollering in pain (and passing out) would have roused up a monk or two, but nope… I rode that wheel of Samsara all alone.