Foreigners look alike

10 06 2012

Of all the times we’ve heard Americans can’t tell Asians apart, let me tell you the reverse is true here in Korea. Some Koreans can’t tell foreigners apart.

I first noticed this in Korean class this semester.

In our textbooks, we have characters from around the world that have come here to learn Korean at Sogang. Through episodes from their lives in Korea, we learn the language. For example, American “Andy”, the main protagonist, is in love with “Mina” a beautiful young Korean. This semester, we also met “James” from Canada and “Hans” from Germany.

Every time our teacher posted picture of James or Hans on the board and asked, “Who is this?” the Asian women in class answered:

“That’s Andy.”


for the record

One of our students at the LG corporate camp, Jessica, cannot tell the difference between the foreign teachers. There are only three of us.

I imagine I’m easy to remember as the only woman. But Reid is Canadian, short, stout and brunette, while Brett is Australian, tall, lean and blonde. Still every day Jessica asks:

“Who just taught our Meetings class?”
“Who is our Public Speaking Teacher again, Brett or Reid?”

You’d think the Aussie accent would be a dead giveaway.

I told my mom this story. She told me that when she moved to the States she had the hardest time telling American men apart. And she married one.


other amusing comparisons


8 05 2012

오늘은 이상한 경험을 받았어요.
조깅 후에 집으로 걸었을 때 어떤 이상한 남자가 저로 왔어요.

그 남자는 저에게 한국어를 안다고 물어봤어요.
제가 뭐라고 말했어요.
그 남자는 저에게 작은 소리로 다시 니가 한국어를 아냐고 했어요.
저는 조금 안다고 대답했어요.
남자는 니가 몇 살이냐고 했어요.
저는 38살이라고 했어요.
그다음에 그남자는 저한테 결혼했냐고 했어요.
제가 결혼 안 했는데 제가 남자친구가 있다고 했어요. 저는 왜 물어봤냐고 했어요.
외국인들을 만나고싶다고 말했어요.

그때 제 집으로 돌아간 시작했어요.
그 남자는 피자식당에서 셔츠를 입고있었으니까 그남자는 저에게 피자에 대한 질문을 물어볼거라고 생각했어요.

Google Translate는 이 문법을 번역을 잘 할 수 없는 것 같아.
 ‘냐고 하다’는 이번 주 배우는 문법이야.

Sogang U, true to life

14 03 2012

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

On to level 2

17 02 2012

I passed my finals.
I get to see Steve and Eddie next week.
And Immigration gave me a visa, so I won’t get deported.

Today’s graduation marked the end of our semester at Sogang.
I’m going to miss each classmate individually and our class collectively.

Some of us may see each other next semester, but we’ll have a different dynamic from being newbies with no common language bonding over our shared fear of
“sseu-gee seon-sang-nim” (writing teacher 쓰기 선생님).

Some happy moments from this week…

unexpected thoughtfulness

i think everyone got As

nissa from indonesia, me, kang su mi, our amazing speaking teacher

Sogang’s semester ends

15 02 2012

This week is the last week of the semester.
Where did two-and-a-half-months go? Or as my friend Su ji would say “monthes”.
This must be what getting old is like.

Today, we completed our written and listening tests.
Tomorrow we have 15-minute oral interviews.
Friday, we have a graduation celebration complete with lunch and presents and awards for highest marks and perfect attendance.

I was aiming for perfect attendance but found out last week tardiness is considered.

After graduation, we’re having lunchboxes from Bennigans.

And after our finals tomorrow, a few of the gals are going to the sauna.

I’m intimidated, which means I have to go.


20 01 2012

Happy new year!
We get Monday and Tuesday off for Lunar New Year. Huzzah.
Mid-terms ended this week with oral interviews on Wednesday and reading, writing and listening tests last week.

I timidly venture into more conversations with Koreans.

On the way to visit Amanda in Suwon Wednesday, I asked a woman at the subway station which transfer I should take. She explained where I should go and that she was taking a different train and if I had any questions in Korea “ask some kind Korean people, and the more Korean you know, the more convenient your life will be.” ~Something like that. And last night after getting lost on a run, a woman at the corner store explained how to get home by foot.

It’s fun to use Korean and exciting to recognize even 7% of what the other person is saying. In the classroom, we understand our teachers and each other, but outside of the classroom, well… I’ll be speaking Konglish to anyone who will talk to me from now on.

Today I went to singing class for the first time. We have weekly, optional pronunciation and singing classes to improve our Korean. There, the teacher picks a different KPOP song each week and you sing the lyrics verse by verse. Oh-em-gee. I have never read Korean this fast.

I don’t heart KPOP, but I am committed to conquering this song:

zombies & macaroons

17 01 2012

I have a friend! I have a friend!
As Jake would say, “I’m happy.”

Nu ri and I met for coffee and dessert this afternoon.
I was looking forward to this, my first date in Korea.

Nu ri works at JK House (where Steve and I stayed when he visited last month) and just got accepted into pharmacy school on the strength of her application alone, no interview needed. So clearly, keen young woman. Nu ri is old school too. She doesn’t wear BB cream or high heels. Instead, she plays the ukelele, works at a guesthouse to practice English and French, volunteers tutoring poor elementary school students, wants to work for the WHO.. you get the idea. Nu ri’s no 된장여.

The last Friday we were at JK, the hosts took us out for dinner.
There, we got to hear a Seoulite’s sentiments on Kim Jong-Il’s death.

Nu ri shared that in the deepest part of her heart, she was optimistic for reunification.
(But Nu ri, won’t that be bad for South Korea?)
No, it could be good for the North Korean people, but also for South Koreans. This (transition) could provide providing engineering and construction jobs for South Koreans, and Nu ri said she would like to see the country come together.

Yes, this is when I fell in love.
This afternoon, Nu ri said she liked zombie movies. That sealed the deal.

Over coffee and macaroons, Nu ri taught me grammar plus gerunds(!) and helpfully corrected me along the way. We switched after an hour and chatted in English, so Nu ri could practice. Therein, the zombie convo. (I think Nu ri will be watching Evil Dead 2 this weekend.)

Nu ri’s an older sister too, and her younger brother starts his compulsory military service next month. Given affairs, she is a little afraid for him.

Guess how much ROK soldiers make in the army..?
100Won an hour.

At the end of the month, ROK soldiers net about 30,000W/month.
No commission once complete, no tuition discount on the back-end.
How ya like them apples?

Next week is lunar new year, and I think Nu ri and I will get together after that.
Huzzah for blossoming friendships.