Candy Nickers

Well, I’m writing for the sake of getting back into the habit of writing every two days at least. It seems like lately I’ve been so busy with work and social functions that I just haven’t had the time to write as much as I’d like. Not having Internet at home complicates it, but I suppose I could always write something before bed in Word and copy it here. Still, even my time before bed is taken up with either studying Korean or reading.  I recently finished Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, as well as The Devils by Dostoevsky.

Saturday a friend from Seoul came to visit me in Cheonan, and afterward I had time to waste in Yawoori before I went to the Banana Bar, as per my usual Saturday night in Cheonan, so I bought four new books at the book store: Machiavelli’s The Prince, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, and finally Notes from the Underground by Dostoevsky (which I’ve read in parts at the library, yet never finished). I mentioned my purchases to someone at the bar, and they replied “Into the classics, eh?”, which I am, but also, buying classics is much cheaper than buying contemporary literature here. All four books together cost as much as one new fiction or non-fiction book would cost. I’m almost done with Tom Sawyer already.

Sunday I didn’t go to my language meeting. Half because I think almost everyone was out on some special hiking trip. I didn’t go mostly because the bus to the destination left at 6 AM, and I was trying to get drunk Saturday night. I went to a English conversation meeting that I know about through some Banana Bar friends. Until I came, it had been all Koreans meeting together to practice English, so I volunteered to go and help out.

Sunday night I met with some fellows I met at the Banana Bar, and they took me to a fantastic duck restaurant about a five minute walk from my place. If only it were a little less expensive. Still, it was awesome. Afterward, we went to one’s apartment to just relax and do a minor bit of drinking on the roof. One was wearing jeans and was much too hot, so he took off his pants, which lead to most of us deciding to take off our pants. Ah, male bonding. This inspired a Pantsless Party idea. The fellow whose place we were at is nearing the end of his contract. He’s staying another year, but he has time off at the end and wants to celebrate the year with a bang. I think it’s a splendid idea.

Monday, getting up at 7:30 AM was rough. Still, nothing that couldn’t be cured with some Dunkin Donuts. Once I’m fully awake it’s not so bad. Working in the morning means I get more free time at the end of the day. I finished my third textbook since I’ve been in Korea, and started on my fourth. While I wouldn’t say I enjoy working on them by any means, at least it makes my resume a bit more attractive. I’m definitely saving all the work I’m doing.

Class has been fine so far this week. Nothing particularly worth writing about. Oh, something funny did happen today. After lunch, I came back to my classroom and caught a first grade girl stealing candy out of my desk drawer. I walked in right as she was closing it and putting her hand in her pocket. I didn’t get mad or anything, but I just seemed super interested in what she had in her pocket. She first showed me 1,000 won she had in her right pocket, but when I pointed to her left pocket she became much more reluctant.

I applied steady pressure and she finally admitted it was candy. “Oh! Candy? Can I see?” She stammered a bit and tried to tell me brought it from home, but I kept insisting to see it, and she finally caved and showed me what she had in her pocket. Candy which had quite obviously been nicked from my drawer. I just laughed and told her she was a bad girl in Korean, gave her a flick on the forehead, and let her keep it. I’m sure she was having  a crisis inwardly up until that point, and I had tortured her enough as it was in my eyes. Besides, it’s been sitting there since like two or three months ago, and I’ve recently been giving it out sparingly just to get rid of it anyway.

Monday, as usual, I went to my language meeting, and it went really well. I’ve got a new, more advanced textbook, and I’m learning a lot more specific grammar stuffs that help me be a little more precise with what I want to say. I even practiced speaking. I hardly ever speak Korean, since I’m so self-conscious about it. Sometimes it’s because I don’t know the word for something, but more often it’s because I simply can’t speak as fast as I think in Korean. I know perfectly well how to say lots of things I need to say, but if I try to speak at a natural pace for me, I end up stumbling a lot and sounding dumb. If I talk slower, I won’ t make mistakes, but then I feel like people will think I’m unsure of what I’m saying if I speak slowly.

Anyway, I can definitely tell my Korean is improving. More and more I notice that I can understand at least the gist of most signs I read, if not completely. I understand more and more of what my kids are saying. It also seems like Korean is getting easier and easier to learn. I still need to get back into a habit of making flashcards and practicing to expand my vocabulary. Sometimes it sucks because even when I do that, I learn lots of words, but then they’re not immediately useful, so I forget them. However, whenever I’m on the bus, I read all the signs we pass, and whenever I don’t know a word, I look it up in my phone. Since I take the bus so much, I end up learning lots of words, and then I see them over and over on subsequent bus trips, so they stick.  That’s what you call a working vocabulary.

Anyway, later tonight I’m just meeting some Koreans from the Sunday conversation group at the Banana Bar to hang out. Can’t stay out too late though. Need to be up at 7:30 AM. Ugh. This weekend, it looks like I’ll be finally making my way back to Seoul for some fun. The guys I had duck with know of a club in Hongdae (the super popular college bar/club area in Seoul) that’s having a concert/dance party, so I’ll be going with them. Apparently, they know a good jimjjilbang complete with bunk beds. Sounds wonderful.

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