Chopsticks and congugation

25 03 2012

Thursday, we learned an entire grammar principle based on being indirect and politely declining or delivering a “no” without hurting the other person’s feelings. In my American mind, this grammar sounds ruder than directly saying,

“Hey, I’m meeting my brother to go to the movies. Catch you next week.”

But no, there’s an entire verb conjugation built around being round-about.

We also learned food customs this week. For example, in Korea—

  • don’t start eating before the eldest at the table begins
  • for sure, don’t leave your seat before that eldest finishes
  • use your chopsticks for side dishes and spoons for rice and soup
  • your soup sits to the right of your rice
  • lay your chopsticks to rest parallel to your body like this ||
  • don’t lift your bowl to your mouth = bad manners
  • with friends and family, share the gigantic plate of whatever you ordered. double-dipping’s no problem, though you might not do this the first time you meet someone

Half of our class are Japanese students. So we learned that in Japan, there is no double-dipping. “Ewww,” say the Japanese. (I like double-dipping.) And in Japan, by all means, lift your bowl to your mouth. It would be ruder to lower your head to your bowl on the table.

And different from Korea, lay your chopsticks to rest perpendicularly like this ==

Our Hong Kong classmate shared that in her region, you eat your soup before or after your meal not with, as in Korea.

Whatever you do while eating in east Asia, don’t stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice. That’s the food equivalent of saying “bloody mary” in front of your bathroom mirror.

Moon fish

21 03 2012

I asked Hyeon Jin to give me one word to describe herself, and she picked moon.

I’m glad I didn’t make the mistake of asking for another word.

Hyeon Jin told me she dreamt of living on the moon, because she doesn’t like sleeping in a bed. On the moon, she will sleep on the moon floor and be able to fly. Her mother and aunts will live on the moon, and I can live there too. We will all eat moon bread and moon fish, but not earth fish which Hyeon Jin hates. On the moon, Hyeon Jin will wear heavy in-line skates to skate across. We won’t need airplanes, which take much money. We will fly.

Hyeon Jin told me this story as if she were describing what she ate for lunch.

Combined with her boyish haircut, orange specs, lanky frame and chapped lips, she is the most captivating person on the planet.

Tonight was my first experience teaching English to a 5th grader. I could not have imagined this sweet experience. For all the time I wasted worrying over running out of material, Hyeon Jin filled our 90 minutes with her questions and vivid responses.

I’m exhausted but wanted to share this name with you before I went to bed:
Yi Hyeon Jin.
We will see it again in 10 years, maybe less.

with corn, of course!

14 03 2012

Lost in Phonetization

14 03 2012

steve jobs's name and then some koreanized then reromanized. while ordering barbecue~

Sogang U, true to life

14 03 2012

verb activity illustrating "to help". still, grandmother could have a few more teeth.

March 13

13 03 2012

My birthday is also National Elephant Day in Thailand.

Job searching in Seoul–don’t try this at home

6 03 2012

“Are you single?”
“What kind of alcohol do you like?”
“Next time we can all go out for a drink.” The recruiter waved his hand at himself, his female boss across the room and me.

I said, “I have a boyfriend. He lives in the States,” and “who doesn’t drink alcohol in Korea?”

You would be amazed at the personal questions recruiters will ask you.

During my first interview yesterday, the female recruiter said, “I saw the year you were born. You look much better in person.” (???)

As an applicant, you’ll be asked questions about your age, race, family, marriage, children, and maybe liquor likes too. To apply for a teaching job in Korea, you have to submit both a photo and your date-of-birth.

I’m looking for part-time tutoring work this week to save enough money to see said boyfriend this summer and take the next level of Korean here in the fall.

So after sending my resume out through worknplay and korea4home, and meeting with four recruiters, this is what I learned.

Recruiters may try to shoehorn you into a job.
When I showed up for an interview today, the recruiter said, “you start Thursday.”

I don’t know if this is a seal-the-deal ploy by recruiters in need of teachers, or if this is a cultural gap. In the US, applying for a job doesn’t mean you’ll take it.
There’s usually, you know, an interview first.

Pay rates also range from 32,000W/hour from age-incredulous recruiter to 50,000W/hour from aspiring drinking buddy. Shop around.

Some recruiters require employment contracts. Some don’t.

And Americans who look like Koreans get paid less as teachers.
I don’t care if you did grow up in Irvine, California.

F4 visas are for gyopos or Korean-born Americans.
F2 visas are for non-Koreans, usually those who’ve married Koreans.
Where teaching jobs are concerned, F2 visas > F4 visas because an F4 holder likely looks KOREAN, and an F2 holder likely looks…blonde.
This difference shows up in your paystub as ~$5 – $10 / hour.

Two recruiters confirmed this hierarchy to me, and a third recruiter said he’d still submit my resume for F2 openings, since I don’t look Korean.

Did I mention Korea is the most homogenous country on the planet?