So upon the past 5 months of travel, there have been some, ahem, habits I have picked up, that I'm probably not going to be too fond of upon turning back to the states. It has me very concerned, and I think recognizing the problem may be the first step in fixing it. So i'll of course, recognize it in my blog.
First and foremost, are my English speaking skills. I constantly find myself unable to think of words that.... i KNOW i know, yet cannot for the life of me, think of. The most likely diagnosis of this is the simplified explanations I have to give my students when defining new words. Between a mixture of charades and level A descriptive words, my actual spoken language is in the gutter.
For example, how, really, can you define the word "supposedly." First of all, all I can think of is a F.R.I.E.N.D.S reference, story of my life. ("What if i've already met the right girl, but I dumped her because she pronounced it "supposably"???) So i'm just like "it's ya know, when you're guessing that something is true, but you don't really knowwww if it's true... it's just.....supposedly ...TRUE." five minutes later they're like.... "so teacher....what's supposedly?"
Because of this, and the rest of my day outside of school where I have to point to and act out things I want in a grocery store or convenience store, I worry about my English.
Next on my list is my unattractive tendency to speak about EVERYONE around me, because no one speaks English. If someone bumps into me or shoves past me, I can just calmly say, "Really?" Without any fear of consequences. If someone's pores are wafting out an especially strong smell of kimchi and alcohol (most common) I can lean over to Anna and say, I gotta move, I can't stand this smell." And, almost always, I'll be totally safe. But i've gotten way too comfortable. I'm very worried that my offensive behavior will carry over, and i'm gonna get punched.
Third, and a topic I have hit on wayyyyyyy too leniently is that of the ajumma.
The ajumma. A national symbol and relic of South Korea.
Basically meaning, older woman, the ajumma is one all her own. She is mostly encountered in a brutal shove by you on the sidewalk, cause lets be real, all of them seem to believe that they are heads and shoulders above you in society, though they stand at a mere 5 foot and change.
First arriving, as I believe I stated earlier in my blog, I was ready to suckerpunch grandmothers for the way they shove past. I had an old man actually almost knock me off my feet by squarely running into me. There was never a backward glance.
So at first, I was sorely tempted to fight back. It's RIDICULOUS. But then I realized the age old adage applied: Don't get back, get even."
So now, I shove past every old man, woman, and child like I was born here. I don't apologize, I don't hold up a hand of sympathy, and I certainly don't look back. The last time a man held a door open for me, I almost stumbled over in shock, and that was about a week after I got here 5 months ago. I will be undoubtedly the RUDEST HUMAN BEING IN NEW YORK when I come back.
The last thing that worries me, is how I will react to not being the focal point in a public place when I get home. I've grown quite accostomed to women turning 180 degrees following me down a sidewalk wondering what a "waygook" or white foreigner is doing on their street. Buses will drive by and I find 3 people staring at me - and this is mostly in Seoul. You'd think I wouldn't be such an abnormality in a large city. Yet, I am.
Once, I stood at a bus stop. It was this elderly woman and I, alone. I stood back from the curb, cause I wasn't about to get in THAT battle when the bus opened its doors. But rather than looking down the street waiting for the bus to come, this woman was 100% back turned to the road, staring at me square in the face, for 5 endless minutes before the bus came. I honestly didn't know where to avert my eyes. And you'd think if you stared back, that would deter the staring. But absolutely not. The ajumma is never daunted.
So there are definitely some issues to work on before September. But I'll be working hard to be a well-adjusted American once again.
Lastly, I'll close with my favorite Korean Studentism of the week.
Today we were labeling different excerpts from reference pages in our workbooks. We could choose between "table of contents, index, encylopaedia, map, dictionary, etc." So we're labeling them, and we get to the dictionary excerpt. My brilliant student John asks in all seriousness, can we just abbreviate it, "Dic?"
Of course no one laughs. Why would they?
All I could do was smile and say, "Uhhhhh.... no, not this time.."