Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day 3 - Volleyball

What I remember most about day 3 is that I'm getting sick. My nose is running like mad, which is tough in a society that views sneezing, blowing and rubbing one's nose as impolite. So all morning I sat in the teachers' office for 90 seconds, walked down the hall to the bathroom, blew my nose and walked back to the office. Wait 90 seconds and repeat.

On the up-side, I'm getting a good amount of Korean study in with all this empty time in the teachers office. The more I learn about this language, the more learning it becomes an overwhelming task. I learned today 23 ways to ask "Do you know?" 23 different conjugations of "know", for 23 different situations, ranging from the "formal, honorific (common)" to the "formal (never used)" to the "casual (common, especially with children)". There aren't just formal and informal conjugations of verbs but an entire spectrum of formality one can use in conjugating verbs. Phrases can also be conjugated for formality. There are also subject markers that differ based on formality. In addition, some verbs have two forms, two different words, depending on the level of formality. Instead of subjects and objects, there are subjects and topics, and subjects are usually omitted, so just sort of have to intuit who or what the speaker is talking about. In the sentence "I feel great today," the feeling is the subject! I, which would be the subject in English, is probably omitted, and today is the topic. Since the subject (or what would be the subject in English) is omitted, special characters can be used, in formal language, to indicate whether one is speaking the second or third person. For some verbs the subject and objects are switched, which actually brings the word order closer to English, since the normal Korean order is subject, object, verb; for example, I you love. But, for example, with the verb "to have", the subject and object are switched, so to form the Korean equivalent of "I have a computer," you would say "Computer I have." Kind of sounds like Yoda-speak. Kind of makes my want to stick to learning vocabulary and names of foods.

We went to the bank and set up accounts (with check cards - sweet!), which of course was a huge ordeal, despite having two Korean teachers with us, because nobody can communicate in English. We did, however, get served orange juice in paper cups, so that's cool.

*Breaking news alert!*

We just got a message from our (foreign) county coordinator that we'll be receiving a travel allowance on the order of $20 a day each for our commute. That'll add up over the year. I'm not sure it makes up for making our work days effectively 10 hours, but it sure is better than riding the bus on our own dime.

Yesterday we were told to bring "sport clothes" to school today. At 3:30 we were brought into the gymnasium where every teacher and administrator in the school was practicing their volleyball serves. We played two fairly competitive and quite fun volleyball games. Though I have to say, on the list of sports for which communication is essential, volleyball has got to be up there. Anyway, it was a lot of fun.

I would be stunned to find that level of extra-curricular involvement, sans students, in a school in the states. On the one hand, it's fantastic... it's a real community we've been brought into, and it gives us a pretty special opportunity to engage with the culture. On the other hand, this is our second after-school activity in three days. On the other other hand, it started at 3:30 and was almost finished by 4:30 (our go home time). Actually, at 4:30 everyone was eating thin sliced pork and chewing on pig bones. We were brought grapes, which is becoming habitual and is really sweet. We left at 5 and got home by 6, giving us our first evening to relax this week. If that sounds whiny for a Wednesday, sure, but it was desperately needed. I took a hot bath, Melanie made chili with noodles (we brought so much cumin and chili powder, and I'm so happy for that) and we had a lovely relaxing evening of chili and massages. If only we didn't have to go back to Korea World tomorrow. I don't mean that. Well, there's some level within me that doesn't mean it anyway. ;)

No comments: