I had two main goals that I wanted to complete during my maternity leave, other than taking care of babies of course. The first was to read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. After reassessing what life with two new babies was like, this goal was quickly replaced by “survive”. Not to jinx myself just yet, but this goal has been attained so far.
The second goal I had for myself during my “time off” was to finally get on the stick and learn some Korean. Before moving here, Chris and I thought that learning it would be a breeze compared to the Chinese we had to learn while living in Taiwan. Korean isn’t tonal and it even has a phonetic alphabet for goodness sakes. However, here it is May of our first year here and we still know far more Chinese than we do Korean. And that is just plain sad, people… especially for a language teacher.
So, earlier last week I set out to remove this shroud of shame that has plagued me since we moved to Seoul. I determined that I would, at the very least, learn the alphabet and learn to count in Korean by the time I headed back to work on May 9. You know what? People were right. It really was easy! With the modern convenience of trusty ol’ Youtube, I was tutored by no less than half a dozen native Koreans on how to read, write and count.
My newfound knowledge has me feeling like a giddy kindergartener who has just learned to decipher Dr. Seuss for the first time. Signs and posters are now somewhat intelligible to me. No, I still don’t have any idea what they mean, but I can pronounce them, by George! That is something I was never able to do in Taiwan. A walk down our street has become a living classroom full of opportunities to practice my developing skill. Advertisements stop me in my tracks (much to Chris’ annoyance) as I attempt to sound out each syllable. “Sah, no wait, Seo.. … ul, Seo-ul, Seoul! That says Seoul!” While others around me may scoff at my 4-year-old linguistic ability, I have thoroughly impressed myself. And so I shall bid you a hearty 안녕히계세요 and go out and sound out some more words. I think that Laura Bush was on to something. Literacy is awesome.