Sunday, February 22, 2009


Tiki can lick any guy in the house. (This picture is, of course, almost completely irrelevant to this post, but note the clipped left ears, more visible on Tiki; vets do that to cats upon neutering, as a symbol that the cats should not be killed or molested.)

This post is rated F. (Frust-rated, that is.)

There's one more Korean language class to go and I have to decide whether to invest another 100,000 Won for 12 weeks at the next level. The thing is, I don't feel I'm making a lot of progress. Part of it is that I don't practice every day, but also, the instructor, while very nice, manages to both go too fast and not cover enough. Her English isn't great, either. The class, which has 20 students, has had only about a dozen show up each of the last few weeks, so I suspect I'm not the only one who's a bit disenchanted.

The other thing is that taking the series of classes from entry to advanced takes a year and costs over 500,000 Won in all. The other other things are that it gets me up too early and takes three hours out of every Saturday, which is a working day at our school. I have the book and CD from the course, another book and CD I bought months ago, the (useless) Rosetta Stone program, and an online flash-card program called Before You Know It. Whether I sign up for the next class or not, I won't give up on Korean.

But, oh my gars and starters, guys, it's hard. For example: for some purposes, you use Korean numbers, for others Chinese. Also, when you mention a quantity of anything, you use not only the name of the item but also a special counting word that means, more or less, "thing", so to count pencils, f'r'instance, you say, "Pencil three kae", but there are different "thing" words for different items, so for books you say, "Book one kwan", cats, "Cat two mari", and so on. There are different counting markers for small paper items, bottles, cups and glasses, numbers, money, people, animals, books, large things and small things.

I said it before, I'm sayin' it again: everybody here crazy.

Either way I decide about the class, I will regret it. I don't like to be a quitter and I won't learn the language too well on my own. I also wouldn't see my new friends Cliff and Joelle as often. On the other hand, it's a lot of money and it's two hours of frustration with, so far, little payoff. So, in the words of Paul and Artie, "Any way you look at this, you lose." Everyone I in the class whom I talk to is either leaning toward or leaning against continuing, but nobody's sure what to do.

Saturday also brough a trio of metaphors for my situation Saturday. First, I caught a different number bus to the class, as it was headed in the right direction and the sign said it went to Banwoldang, the junction where the YMCA and the class are, but it headed to the far far south of town, where the driver turned around to me, the only passenger, and said to get out. I had to take an expensive cab ride back to Banwoldang and missed the first 15 minutes of class. Avid readers of SJCintheROK (that is to say, I) may recognize this as a reprise of something that happened in my first week or two here.

On Saturday night, I was going to a bar near Kyungpook University to see a band and talk with Joelle and Cliff, and Joelle and I missed connections and I ended up standing at the wrong subway stop for 40 minutes. We finally made connections, though, and we sat so close to the band that I couldn't get out of my seat till breaks between songs. On the first song, I kept thinking the guitar player's back was blocking my view of the singer; turns out he was the singer. Something deep there about forests and trees...

But we did have a good time in a tiny funky bar with 95% American clientele, and I figured out a way in the wee wee hours (couldn't help it, I'd been drinking beer) of the morning to tell the cab driver how to get me home, so there's that.

Meanwhile, the principal up on the outskirts of Seoul sent me email today to say that they will have an opening in the fall and he's definitely interested in my services, so there's that.

And Tiki, who was so scared, likes to stand on his back legs, pull my hand to him with both paws and nuzzle, so there's that.

So it goes.

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