25 November 2007

school daze

this is what we pay the big bucks for.

it's been almost 2 weeks since my level 2 korean classes ended and i don't plan to take level 3 just yet. life is much better since i'm no longer spending baffling amounts of time stressed because i'm not studying and then sad because i'm lazy. i've known for a while that it's avoiding education altogether that makes me happy.

overall, learning a new language is fun and not very difficult, but i'm not particularly good at it. my memory is shit, and while i can channel my OCD tendencies into making flashcards, it takes a special blend of caffeine, self-pep talks and accumulated guilt to get me to use them.

damn the youngsters, whose supple brains drink greedily from the gourd of knowledge! damn the nihon-jins, whose language is grammatically similar to korean, and, most of all, damn my absurdly visual memory, which means i must be able to see vocab words written in 한글 (the korean alphabet) in my head, before i can say them aloud!

except for the campy homophobe, i've been pleased with my teachers. but among my two batches of classmates, there have been some astonishing duds. to give you an idea of what i do in lieu of studying, here are two classmate sketches:

classmate sketch #1: the north american english teacher

"fuckin' dude!"

ahhhh, the sound of north americans teaching english in korea!
too socially inept and/or dumb to make it in america or america jr. (canada)? teach english abroad!

homedude always arrived late. as he disrupted class, we, too, heard the music emanating from his oversized headphones. in a desperate cry for attention that's heard in classrooms, theaters and funerals across the globe, his cell phone ring typically punctuated class. furthermore, since school policy is to only speak korean, our teacher spent a good 3-5 minutes trying to explain a single vocabulary word using korean words as well as elaborate pantomine, going to great lengths to help thai, chinese, french and japanese students realize translations into their native tongues. but much like a game of charades that this young buck desperate for affirmation hopes to win, my young american brother would blurt aloud, "oh, u mean 'coworker'?"

this is, of course, the same dude who was very angry about my f4 visa, which, since my mother is a former korean citizen, allows me to stay here without working or going to school. teaching and working visas, on the other hand, can be cumbersome and come with multiple restrictions. but during his protests i tried to explain that, 1) america's visa restrictions are considerably more onerous, and 2) it isn't "racist" for a country to provide perks for former citizens and their offspring. but mister dude wasn't hearing it. in lieu of listening, he kept saying "that's racist!!" at increasing volumes. later, he apologized, explaining, "you know, we just don't have to deal with this crap in america." we? actually, i face a lot more racist shit in my home country than this one. but, pained by this new thing called "racism," perhaps he's compelled to champion anti-racist causes back in the states. hmmmm... that seems unlikely.

classmate sketch #2: pitfalls of a one-child policy

she rarely came to class, but when she did, my lovely tall chinese classmate with bowl cut bangs and hair down to her mid-back, made an impression. during the first week of level 2, we sat at the same table. during an exercise where we asked about each others' weekends, she started pointing at me and saying that i was the "나쁜 의사" (the bad doctor). kinky! seeing my confusion, teacher intervened clarify that i am not a doctor. but, a little bit later, china points at me and makes the same accusation. humiliated that my cover was blown, i subsequently sat at another table.

bad doctors aside, usually she just looked really tired and spoke in an inaudible whisper. i don't think she knows 10 korean words. when teacher called on her she became very bashful, covering her girly giggles with a cupped palm but otherwise didn't respond. but one of the 1o words she knows is "boyfriend" and when she heard it, she always responded in an exaggerated fit of giggles while scanning the room to make eye contact with us. this was to ensure that we registered that our one-child policy dud was "in the know".

she may be dumb, but dear linda has phenomenal acting instincts. in a fit that still puzzles my polite classmates, one day she suddenly started screaming at good-natured william and stormed in and out of our classroom no less than 3 times. between her glares and repeated classroom door slams, i learned that rumor had it willy called her a bitch (of course he didn't). after three dramatic rounds, she hibernated in the women's bathroom, allegedly shedding tears, according to her mongolian consoler. was this behavior a flashback or PTSD? or, were these theatrics just cover for a 30-minute respite from class?

since i'm a jerk, i can write much more, but since i've already got lashings in the karma kitty for these bitchy (but remarkably observant and accurate!) peer sketches, i'll bid you adieu. thank you!

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