Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bite Me

It's the middle of Week 4. I am definitely in a routine, and it is strange how quickly indeed the weeks start to fly. My English-native co-teachers warned me this would happen. The great thing is that so far the weekends aren't flying by, so I actually feel like I have a weekend but don't feel it takes forever to get to it. (knock on wood!)

My Chinese roommate is pleased as punch with my jack-o-lantern. I gave him a big, wide, three-toothed grin and he is hanging out atop a chest-high cabinet in our living room. I lit the candle the last two days and he glowed for us. My roommate likes this little tradition and she pledged of her own volition to get a pumpkin each October 31 when she returns to China! Isn't that fun! She is awesome. She tells her mom about me, and about pumpkins, and Halloween, and how I'm trying to learn Chinese from her, and whatnot. Her mother seems to approve of me, so far, so I must be being presented well. I'm not the big bad American after all.

Speaking of lighting things on fire, I have also been burning mosquito coils in my room the last two days. I am thankful that the last Chinese teacher who lived in that room left them behind. I ignored them the first two weeks, but the other day I was eaten alive by some nasty ones. The bumps on my arm are big, red, and hard. No tiny "bug bites" they, more like welts or hives. But they're not hives; I can see the little dot in the middle where the dastardly creature stuck its sucking proboscis, and I can also see the creatures themselves coasting through my room from time to time, or lifting off of the desk, the windowsill, my jeans, etc. like little helicopters. They're at school, too. Major ugh.

I also have a smattering of small red bites on my face, which are very attractive. So, yeah, I'm a big fan of these mosquito coils! They're like incense, only maybe not as sweet, warm or cedary of a smell. And, well, they're in a coil, not a stick. And they make me happy. Even if there is a bit of incense-ish smoke in my room all night. I'd rather breathe in smoke than malaria. My lungs aren't afraid. (By the way, I am 952 days cigarette-free right now, for anyone who's still interested in the count. Although this year I keep having dreams again that I smoke, and I get confused as to whether they are reality, so I secretly wonder if I still have my 952-day quit. But I think they were all dreams.)

Major digression. Back to Korea: OK so time flies and mosquitoes fly. In other news, I was walking to work Tuesday and just felt so good, like I was floating (if not flying) and I realized just how addictive this English-teaching gig can become. I can definitely see why some people never want to return to "normal" life in the States. It's a job, but it's a fine job, as jobs go, and for someone like myself interested in all things words and language acquisition (if not the hooligan and rugrat acquirers themselves) it's even a good job, most days. It's more tiring than anything else. I have gained all kinds of new respect for every teacher I ever had (and I already really liked most of them).

I popped into the Dunkin' Donuts I pass on my walking route to work, where the two twentysomethings who work the morning shift now say hi and know I want iced coffee, and when I left a middle-aged Korean woman actually held the door for me as she came in and I went out. That may not sound shocking, but it was. The street/walking culture (not to be confused with streetwalking) is not exactly one of politeness, personal space, and stepping out of the way. It's not aggressive, either, it's just not really caring at any moment if you bump into, step on, knock down, get in the way of, or otherwise affect anyone else on the move.

I felt so happy! The sun was shining, I was shining. I've had a lot of that the past month: a carefree happiness that just seems to settle throughout my entire being. Of course it made me start wondering what was going to go wrong, and sure enough one of the Canadians was out sick so my workload and lesson plans and everything almost doubled as we covered her classes. My nice long Tuesday middday break disappeared. One of the classes I had to cover was brand new, too, as in five- and six-year-olds who have had three or four class sessions and are still on, "'Hello. I am Linda teacher.' 'Hello Linda teacher!' 'Who are you?'" Even, "Jessica teacher is not here" was too complex for them.

Also this week, on the subway home, I saw the missionaries! Well, two of them. The funny thing is, I had totally been thinking about missionaries on Sunday, during my afternoon reverie/walk, partly due to cousin Ken's comment, of course. I idly wondered how many missions/branches/wards there are in Korea, and if there is a meetinghouse in Daegu, and so on. And I did tell them: "Hey, I was just thinking about you!" I'm not sure they knew how to respond to that. We talked for a while (four stops, plus we transferred together). One is from Australia and one Alabama. Elder Australia was the one who talked to me, really, as Elder Alabama was busy chatting it up with someone else in Korean. They've both been here around a year.

I learned many things -- some of which I'm sure a bunch of you already know -- like that there are four, count them, four! church buildings in Daegu, that there is an English-speaking American military branch here with around 50 people, that there are four missions in Korea (also more than I expected), that the Seoul temple is older than I realized, that there are two temples in Japan, and that there are MTCs ("a few," he said) in Australia and New Zealand. (MTC=missionary training center. It occurs to me that those of who you who don't know what it means might be wholly uninterested in this paragraph and not reading this far anyway. But who am I to say?) I read, learned to translate, and promptly forgot most of his nametag. I think "saints" was something like "chong-ga." I could be totally wrong.

He gave me a piece of paper with their phone number and a map to the church (not very far at all from work), and he said he'd hook me up with the sister missionaries so I can hang out with them and learn about life in Korea. I did not give him any of my information. I did tell him my heathen status. When we were talking about temples he asked if I'd been in any since doing baptisms for the dead (he thinks the Arizona temple is pretty) and I said, "I told you, no, I haven't been gone to church in ages, no temple work. I stopped going to church for good while I was at BYU." He laughed. We had fun talking. On Sunday I had been toying with the idea of seeking out a church to attend--in Korean--just for the familiar-yet-differentness of it all, but now turns out there's an English one. Who knew? But I am wary. I know what happens. Maybe I'll give a fake name. Then again, I don't even know my residential address here, so I couldn't give it to them if I wanted to.

And today I taught my pre-school class "We Are a Happy Family," or started to, anyway. It will take them a few days to get it down. We've been practicing the words mother, father, sister, brother, so it's perfect! This I had planned long before running into the missionaries. In fact, I've been trying to remember more of those random easy Primary songs -- no God songs, just the activity/happiness ones. If anyone wants to remind me of a few, let me know. "Do As I'm Doing," for example, I might use in my level 3 classes, with verbs. But I know there are others appropriate for young, super-beginning classes. Help?

Another item on my wishlist: Eclipse gum!

Over and out.

1 comment:

cutiger95 said...

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