What's going on.

Real quick now, a little morning mash-up of what's been going on lately. I'm back in that god forsaken studentless desert, which always brings about it an air of existential despair. What do I do with my life other than attempt to teach? Apparently, I attempt to learn. Korean, that is.

My coworkers finally gathered around in a herd to ask me what in the fuck was going on yesterday. They always see me faffing about with this book or that text in Korean, perpetually on the sidelines, but they have never seen me with my head down like this before. I explained that it's becoming more and more blatantly obvious that we foreign teachers in public schools in Korea are not long for this world. They claim Korea will always keep a few good chosen ones around, but I'm frankly not arrogant enough to imagine that I, with my non-existent education degree, will be among them. Not enough to bank my future in Korea on it, without a backup plan, anyway. And everyone already knows I'd practically prefer to chew my own arm off than enter the hagwon world, if for no other reason than I involuntarily wake up at 5 or 6 am, and I simply couldn't hack it with an afternoon-to-evening work schedule.

The only thing I can think to do is prepare myself as well as possible for vague plans of getting my Masters, and becoming a professor of one sort or another. Or whatever else a Masters might allow for. I know. I always swore I would never go back to school, but the more I think about trying to hack in the long run here, the more it seems like the most sensible option. In order to do that, I've got to know Korean. And know it in a different way than I was aiming for before. I've got to know it by the book and on exams. Hence the TOPIK chatter.

Now the thing is, I'm a lazy little shit when it comes to vague goals in my personal life. But if there's one thing anyone who's known me from the time I was in school can tell you, it's that I can take exams like a bastard. I've never scored below a high B on any exam in my entire life (and even the high B's can be counted on one hand, or if I remember correctly, two fingers -- they were considered minor tragedies in their time). And what is it Koreans like to constantly tell complaining foreigners? When in Rome....

Well. But I don't want to go too far past myself in the realm of reading and writing in comparison to speaking. And also, the new textbook I have has reduced itself only to the odd sprinkling of irrelevant English explanation, which has left me gaping at the page in confusion with some new grammar forms, I have to say. I can do all of the self-study I want, but those questions are not going to answer themselves, and I refuse to be fluent on paper and mute in action. So the only reasonable thing to do was to sort out a tutor for a couple of hours a week, to fill in the gaps.

Which has got Busan beside himself, frankly. I've finally managed to find a guy who seems genuine about his intentions to improve his own English by using it to teach Korean, and who -- even better -- is right around my area and willingly to come to my little old neighborhood to do it. It doesn't get more convenient than that. But Busan is convinced that for him to have a foreign girlfriend who goes to another Korean guy to learn is a "humiliate" for him, and that guys who want to teach foreign girls Korean only have one real intention, and education isn't it.

I'd like to think with more than three years of experience in the area under my belt that I'm able to tell the jokers from the real deal, but he's not convinced. I'm less willingly to waste my time with flirty little ridiculous coffee dates masquerading as study sessions than he thinks, however. I'm sure it will be fine, and if it's not, I'll ditch this guy and start over from scratch. Just before he finally came through, I'd realized that, after all, I live literally next door to a university, and there have got to be kids there looking for an easy way to make a bit of pocket money. Right?

So. That's where things stand. And also I may be well on my way to having a new little cat around. Which is also somehow making Busan a bit jealous. Hardly anything doesn't.

I just hope that, once the boys are back and school life is in full swing, I won't lift my head up to find I've waded into the water well above it. But I can handle it, I think. Time will tell.


Mel said...

I'm really looking forward to hearing more about your Korean-language journey from here on out. It sounds like you're about to take yourself to the next level....I have similar aspirations. (I'm a longtime lurker, by the way. Hello! Love the blog.)

Good luck! I'll be waiting to read your experiences and use them as inspiration for my own Korean langauge studies. No pressure though! ;D

Gomushin Girl said...

Good luck with the studying! I know that learning Korean made a real difference in my quality of life here, and was a deciding factor in being hired both at my current job and past jobs here.
Definitely go check out the university - I'm sure there's plenty of students who would welcome just such a tutoring job. And tell Busan that from my own experience, romance and tutoring don't mix. Love fades fast when the beloved is critiquing your grammar and correcting your pronunciation. My boyfriend is excellent for practicing Korean with, not learning from.

I'm no Picasso said...

Mel -- Hi! And thank you. Yeah I hope I really manage to step it up. So far, so good, but it's slow going. I have the Yonsei books which claim to be "Korean in 100 hours". Looks like this one's going to end up being more like 200 for me....

GG -- I'm surprised it took me so long to realize I could do that. I'm hoping this guy I've got works out instead, though, because he's 26 and probably less likely to be a flake. But it's a short walk up a hill to the university coffee shop, so hopefully the convenience of it would win out if push came to shove.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that studying here is probably what it would take to get to fluency. You and absolutely every other foreigner I've met who have gone to that level, save one, have all said the same thing. And I don't want to live here for ten+ years and still not be able to speak.

And boyfriends are not good teachers. At least, mine's not. With such limited time together as 야근 and living in different cities already constrict us to, I don't think either one of us wants to spend that time studying. Plus, he's a big fan of telling me I just don't need to use things, instead of explaining them. Which drives me up a wall.

동수 said...

Best wishes to your Korean studies and to your preparations for the long run :) From my experience, an internet site called "Conversation Exchange" worked in preserving my English skills which I still need a lot of work when it comes to contractual sentences. Nonetheless and if I may, perhaps joining yourself in one of those "study groups" in universities might help as well. I mean study groups that are preparing for getting hired in the Korean market. Those folks are serious and keep a high standard. They don't mess around with schedules, but are air tight about their weekly studies.
As for my current study group, these guys are no joke! They have only accepted me for my written and spoken English skills in exchange for their information in recent hiring trend.

Gomushin Girl said...

Yeah, I will be totally honest and say that the biggest single leap in my Korean ability came with taking intensive classes that lasted four hours a day and expected a LOT of studying outside of class. It was a full-time job, essentially. I know it's pretty much impossible though for working people (which I try to explain to Koreans who insist on using me as an example of a "good" foreigner - I'm not a good foreigner, I'm a lucky foreigner who had the opportunity to take the time to study.)
College students can be flaky, but there's absolutely tons of them gathered in a central location, meaning you can usually find a replacement should it come to that. Sounds like this guy is pretty serious though. Good luck!

ダンちゃん said...

Hey there! Love your blog! I'm a semi-expat living in Japan myself. Hope I can get around to visiting Korea some time next year having made some Korean friends over here. Anyhow, I say semi-expat because I am a student and don't have a job/girlfriend stopping me from leaving within the next few years. ^^ Actually, just today I finished the second round of exams for entrance into post-grad at a university over here. The research field/dept I have aimed for (modern Japanese philosophy) requires that I am able to do everything in the language.

As I've kind of walked a similar route to the one you are considering (learning an East Asian language and using it to undertake post grad in country) I thought I might be presumptuous and give some advice. (I do it knowing I risk sounding like yet another white guy who is really pleased with himself for doing something minorities back in the English speaking world do to an even higher level with much less patting on the head, financial/moral support and bragging about later on to friends. )

I really struggled with Japanese for years, partially because of bad methods, partially because of inconsistency. You strike me as way more together with your shit than I was, but you still might find www.ajatt.com has some helpful stuff in it for you. Finding that site and enacting the immersion methodology recommended in it helped me go from pretty crappy to damn good (see, there I go bragging!) in a year or so while not even living in Japan (admittedly I was not too busy with work that year). I advice ignoring recent posts and going straight to the table of contents to see what the author has to say. You might find something there which is helpful for you. I can answer any questions if you send me a line.