Saturday, September 29, 2007

YMCA Waegukin

I had a very nice lunch with the other foreigners after class today. We had cheap Korean food and pleasant conversation (in English). They told me about a big salsa/swing dance party tonight that I might attend if I feel like going out this evening--it sounds pretty fun. The restaurant we went to was small and a couple people from the beginner class were already eating there when we came in. Of course, we were stared at by the Koreans in the establishment for the majority of our meal. It felt like being under the microscope again. Strange to attract so much attention for the color of our skin and the language that we speak.

I'm stubbornly sticking with this intermediate class at the YMCA, even if it took me over an hour to do the homework for the class and that's after giving up on the third section that was too difficult for me. In some ways, it would be smarter to switch out to the beginner class after they finish learning hanguel, but I think the difficulty of the class is making me kick my studying into high gear and forcing me to learn more. I think taking the lower level class would make me lazy, and I wouldn't learn as much. Se Jin's brother-in-law in Seoul invited me to go skiing this winter and my new goal is to be able to have a little bit of conversation with their family in Korean when I go.

I've been practicing with shopkeepers, the teachers at school, students when we are not in class, at taekwondo class, with the Korean teacher--basically whoever will tolerate my extremely botched Korean that lacks subject/object markers (they work kind of like prepositions in English), anything remotely resembling intelligible word order, and verbs (although I have started learning some simple verbs now). It helps to have such little fear of sounding like an idiot.

My seeming lack of fear in trying new things over here has started to make me wonder what the hell was making me so neurotic before. When did I get this self confident? I don't know, but I freaking love it. Quite frankly, I refuse to go back to being the self-doubting, worried, often unhappy person I have been in the past. I mean... I still have moments here where everything seems overwhelming and difficult--Korean is far from an easy language to learn for native English speakers and many moves in TKD make me want to cry when Sa Beom Nim demonstrates what it is he wants me to do, but I like that my attitude has been to just dive into trying it full throttle and damn the difficulty of it.

The positivity is spilling over into all areas of my life. I am losing weight again (as of this morning down 6kgs from when I arrived in Korea), despite the easy access to cheap, highly caloric snack food everywhere; I am working on my personal writing with a fervor that I have always hesitated about allowing myself; I am forcing myself to be outgoing and meet new people even if it intimidates me a little bit. I think I am looking at the world through those rosy glasses again.

And it's beautiful.

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