재키 Learns A Few Things

The back of a book cafe in Jukjeon.

The back of a book cafe in Jukjeon.

Another couple of weeks go by and it’s hard to believe I’ve been back in Korea for a month. It honestly feels like I’ve been here longer since my weeks are so packed with work, classes, and a social life. I find myself getting home late, not eating dinner until close to 11:00, and then falling into bed sometime after midnight. And I swear half of that is an effort to recuperate the energy my little monsters seem to suck out of me every morning. I will never be a morning person, and the idea of being a coffee drinker becomes far more realistic with each passing day. That being said, I definitely feel more at ease with all my students now, and we’re starting to have more fun in the classroom. (Unless, of course, no one did their homework.)

I signed up for a free Korean class on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work, but I can’t say I’ve understood or retained much information. Even though it was advertised as basic and beginner level, we’ve been thrown full sentences and phrases and asked to read them. I’m sorry, but where in the world is the alphabet? I was glad some new coworkers were game for the classes, but I think I might do better if I took my studying elsewhere. The good news is that I’ve just about memorized the sounds and can transcribe some hangul into romanized phonetic language, not that I always know what the words mean though. I hear talktomeinkorean.com is a pretty kickin’ site for new learners. And for those of you who were wondering about the hangul in the title, that’s meant to be my name. My students thought it was hilarious when I attempted to inform them that’s how you spell my name in Korean. I am happy to add that I’ve started recognizing some minor vocabulary words when I’m out and about. It’s exciting when I know one word out of a jumble of others, but I do still rely on my iTranslate app. (It’s a lifesaver. If you have a smart phone, get it. You’ll be amazed at how helpful it can be.)

Pole dancing and spinning class at Hot Yoga in Sunae.

Pole dancing and spinning class at Hot Yoga in Sunae.

Last Wednesday was my first night attending dance class. Let me be a little more specific, pole dancing and spinning class. I bought a month’s membership and am now a proud owner of a VIP card. Though really, I’m pretty sure everyone’s card says VIP. I am the only foreigner, and I definitely felt so out of place that I was tempted to walk out a few times from sheer embarrassment. But they did already have my money, so I guess I’ll keep it up for the month. The teacher makes it looks so easy, and I am in no way graceful when it comes to having a pole for a dance partner. I’m pretty sure my shoulder almost fell out of it’s socket the first time, but that may just be my imagination. I sported a matching set of thigh bruises for Mud Fest, which made a great story. This evening I couldn’t even lift myself off the floor because my arm was just screaming not to. It’s a shame, but I’ll see if it’s any better this Wednesday. Let me just say it’s hard, and right now, I’m sore in areas I’d rather not be. But I’m going to go back for more, because this is a challenge, and there’s no way I’d let myself back down from this experience.

And the fun doesn’t stop there. Wait, there’s more? YES!

This baby's going to see some serious action in the coming months.

This baby’s going to see some serious action in the coming months.

I bought Jess’s guitar and online classes started last Friday. One of my coworkers offered to restring it for me so I can play more comfortably as a left-hander; that’s a sweet bonus. What’s the next step? Figuring out how to put music to my songs with help from Noey, and then practicing as often as I possibly can. I’ve been writing a number of songs lately and several of them have tunes almost entirely ironed out – I just don’t know the actual notes they need. After enough practice and maybe a couple of drinks, I’ll look into performing at open mic nights. I’m already being held to that challenge by a few other musicians I’ve become acquainted with. It’s really great to be in a creative space again.

We had another field trip at KCTY on Friday. The kids were able to explore what can be best described as a cartoon expo with interactive experiences and huge ball pens. We’ve been learning about fish and reading a story called, “Fun With Fish.” I decided to add movements to the whole thing, and now they can recite practically the whole thing on their own without prompting. Those little things make me really proud of them. We’re scheduled to update our walls soon, so our activity for the next two days is making paper-plate fish.

I’ve been meeting new people and experiencing things I would never have dreamed of doing last year. It’s nice to get out there and live life, being a more “yes” kind of person. (Although I still refuse to try squid or anything similar.) Meeting like-minded people who are into having extended conversations, challenging themselves, and maintaining a positive outlook has made me accentuate those qualities in myself. I love it.

MudFest happened over the weekend, and while I would like to wait until I can get the film properly developed, let me just say it was 10 times better than last year. Even though I ended up losing my sunglasses (the losable ones, thank goodness), a hair twisty, and leaving a bit earlier than planned, it was ah-mazing. Jess actually said it best, “MudFest isn’t better this year. You’re better.”

Kickin' it for another year at Boryeong!

Kickin’ it for another year at Boryeong!