Sunday, September 30, 2007

Happy October...

It's my favorite month of the year! Halloween (which they don't celebrate here), hiking, beautiful colors, the crispness in the air, the beautiful sunsets, Dad's birthday, no seasonal depression (yet... haha). Seriously, I love October. Usually I don't even know why... it just makes me happy.

My taekwondo workout was exhausting today. Maybe in part because it was Monday and in part because I'm now strong enough to do those leap frog push-up things, but still pant like a dog in 100 degree weather after only three of 'em. May's mom (the other student whose daughter, English name May, studies at Oedae with Gwen teacher) was there and brought some delicious lemon cake, so after class we sat around chatting in Korean and drinking coffee (yes, I'm officially a coffee drinker now... this should make some of you happy).

Well, ok. May's mom and Sa Beom Nim chatted. I listened and occasionally understood snippets and answered some questions like "How old are you?" (and in turn found out Sa Beom Nim and May's mom are both 41 Korean age) "Are you married?" and "Do you like kimchi?" At some point, I got stuck trying to explain vegetarianism. I just kept saying "Meat, no. Ham (which is not the same as "meat" in Korea), no. Seven years." If someone didn't speak English and said that to you, what would you think? Sigh. I am reminded of David Sedaris's book about living as an expatriate in France, Me Talk Pretty One Day. Since there are a lot of Buddhists in Korea, I tried going that route to explain, but instead they wound up asking the even more difficult question of "Are you Christian?"

How do you explain humanistic atheism in a language you don't speak when you can't even explain it sufficiently in your own language most of the time? I said "Christmas, yes. Christian, no. Mom Christian, no. Dad Christian, no. Mom's mom Christian, yes. Dad's dad Christian, yes." Hm... I think that kind of gives an idea... right? I indicated praying at church through mime and said "No."

They kept complimenting me on my communication ability (although I think Sa Beom Nim deserves much credit there... we've kind of developed our own charades language that mixes Konglish, English, Korean and gesture into some bizarre interpretative dance through which I learn taekwondo) and on my growing taekwondo skills. Really, I think I'm pretty much an idiot most of the time, but I'm trying. How do you say "I'm trying" in Korean? I should look that up...


  1. Oh god, that segment in Me Talk Pretty One Day where they're trying to explain Easter and Easter customs to a Muslim woman had me laughing so hard I cried.

  2. Being asked if you're Christian in Korea DOES NOT have the same over or undertones as it does in the States! Don't worry, they're just trying to find something in common. And if they invite you to church, just refuse.

    Also, it's very common to have family members under one roof be various religions. So saying "my mom is X and my dad is Y and I don't have" is absolutely fine.

  3. I wasn't worried, really. It's just very amusing trying to explain really abstract concepts like vegetarianism and religion to others when my vocabulary consists mostly of numbers, body parts, classroom items, units of time, and names of TKD moves.

  4. I'm trying: 노력하고 있어요.
    I'll study hard:
    열심히 공부할거예요.



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