The class I'm in at the YMCA is definitely over my head, but the teacher is awesome and the class is small and I have a ridiculous ability to memorize language patterns, so I'm going to finish working my way through the initial chapters in the book over Chuseok and practice a bunch and see if I can't stay in intermediate. I like pushing myself with learning new things and right now my motivation to learn Korean is very high. I can already see my reading and listening abilities improving quite rapidly--like I can recognize words in context sometimes if I've heard them a few times. I'm learning the grammar with the subject and object markers as well as verb conjugations (I successfully asked my hot Korean teacher if he was married in Korean... he said no). I will continue to work on building vocabulary (now that I can ask "What is this?" in Korean, that should help) and practicing speaking.
We had a rice cake party with all three classes for Chuseok, and I met a girl from Minnesota, Meg, who knows Samantha--the new foreign teacher at Oedae arriving in a week or so--from facebook. Small world, no? It seems like the beginner class would bore the crap out of me, so I will try to work my butt off to stay with the hot teacher. Besides being attractive, he's also just a really great teacher, so that helps. I also heard rumor of a salsa club and swing dance place downtown... I will have to go check this out if it is true.
Today was my last taekwondo lesson before Chuseok (another make up lesson for one of Sa Beom Nim's conferences). We started practicing falls today--awesome fun! He also made me run backwards around the studio--that was exhausting and weird, but good. After class Sa Beom Nim's wife played interpreter to ask why I wanted to study taekwondo. I told her that I had been studying Yoga in the U.S. and wanted to learn something new. Really--I haven't thought that much about why I wanted to do it. Seems to me if you're going to live in a foreign country, you should try to experience some of the things that make that country unique. It sounded more fun than joining a gym like Bally's back home to give me a daily workout while I learned about the culture of the country I'm living in. I lucked into a really great studio (with the help of Gwen and Samson, of course!).
His wife translated that Sa Beom Nim thinks I learn very quickly and wants to know if I practice at home. I told her I'm too tired to do that after working out at the studio everyday--he's just a great teacher! They both laughed and we exchanged gifts for Chuseok (they gave me some small work out towels because I sweat a LOT! Ha ha!). Then they said I'm getting my yellow belt next week. Next week??? Maybe I misunderstood. That seems a little soon, but I guess if Sa Beom Nim thinks I am ready, then I won't complain.
Honestly, I'm really proud of how quickly I've been picking up the moves and improving. I'm normally such an awkward klutz when it comes to anything related to my body because I always feel so self conscious, but I think I've just been throwing myself into everything here--the food, the nightlife, the language--that I'm just judging myself less than I would in the US. I've definitely got the whole "when in Rome" thing down.
I remember when I dated Joe and would go to his tai chi tournaments thinking how I wanted to try some martial art--but it was so expensive to train in the US and all of that mental/emotional baggage kept me from having the courage to go for it. Now I'm finding myself checking if they have studios where I can keep studying when I get back to the states.
Speaking of, I've been thinking about my plans for the future. I'm loving my life here right now, but that has more to do with the crazy awesome internal changes Korea has inspired than with the country itself. As much as I adore cheap eating and chibi animals and neon lights and such, I don't think I'd want to live here forever. Life here is so surreal. I'm digging how fantastic (and I use that word in all its many senses including magical) this place is, but I think I'll start to feel like I want to get back to "real life" after a couple years. As of right now, I think I'd like to stay here through May or early June 2009 and then travel about with Anne for that summer, ending up back in Maryland for the start of the school year. I like teaching. I think being here is making me see how much I like it and would enjoy it as a career--I'm just not going to let it take over my life anymore. There are other things I like doing too much--like writing, theater, volunteering, travelling, learning new stuff, working out. I need to make sure I always have room in my life for those things.
And maybe every 3-4 years I'll take a sabbatical year teaching in a new country... Ha ha!