I am a thirteen-month-old Korean

Monday December 8, 2008

I have been in Korea for a full calendar month today. Like an infant, whose age is closely monitored but exclusively by its mother, I have been much too busy to notice. There's a whole world out there!

I should mention that in Korea, babies are born one year old. Koreans can actually be two years older than their corresponding American age, because Korean ages all increment only, and in unison, at the New Year. Never mind the International Date Line.

The strangest thing about Korea is that they don't know about clothes dryers. Everything is hung. It's as if the clear benefits of powered drying are a closely guarded secret, kept from the people by a government hell-bent on rod-supported evaporation. After a month, some of my clothes are becoming entirely too like particle board. I know of one dryer in Korea, it is in the next city, and I plan to use it.

Here is my schedule, Monday to Friday:

7:30-8:00am Awaken. Shower, dress, sometimes eat, drink.
9:00am Get on a train at Anyang station. Change trains twice, get off at Kangnam station, Seoul.
10:00am I am taking a Korean class that meets for two hours every weekday.
12:00pm Leave Korean class, either get Red Mango frozen yogurt or get back on trains directly.
1:00pm (or later) Back in Anyang, head for work and prepare to teach.
4:00pm Start teaching English classes. Two three-hour classes. Five minute breaks every hour on the hour.
10:00pm Done teaching. Get some food. Maybe do my Korean homework. Go home, write a rare update on my life in Korea.
12:00am With any luck, I'm in bed...

Weekends are free, which is absolutely necessary. I have a sufficiently large network of friends that I have consistently found enjoyable revelry. In three weekends I have been to three bboy battles. I danced at all three and entered two with cool people that I met here in Korea. I have been to Korean clubs, karaoke places, public computer labs, those last two more popular than you'd think, and tried many varieties of Korean food, most of it good. I saw Quantum of Solace with Korean subtitles, which is fine except for when characters are speaking non-English languages and there would ordinarily be English subtitles.

Here I would like to coyly mention that further elaboration on weekends would surely require a more precise idea of my audience.

Korea is a good place for practicing my meeting-people skills, which tend to need a bit of practicing in my case. I read Bertrand Russell on the train to remind myself that I speak English. I think it gives my English, at least in writing, a British stilt which amuses me. Perhaps this is due to the combination with speaking slowly and carefully to silly students.

And finally, here is a quote that runs commonly through my mind, from a lyric of a band called Modest Mouse, from their song called Blame it on The Tetons:

Language is the liquid
That we're all dissolved in
Great for solving problems
After it creates the problems

Peace, and I'm out! I love everybody, even you! May your life be better than you deserve! I will pay for this message by being extra tired tomorrow!

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