Wednesday, August 23, 2006

language barrier

Most of my friends seem to be able to communicate with people at their schools--mainly through English teachers at the schools. My school doesn't have any English teachers except for me, and it's pretty much impossible for me to communicate with anyone. Yesterday when I was at school, hanging out in the gyomushil, all the teachers and the vice principal gathered together in a corner, giggling and talking and shooting surreptitious glances at me. Eventually they all came over to me in a big, giggling herd. The vice principal came over to stand behind me and stare intensely over my shoulder, while all the teachers gathered across the table in front of me. The lady who is in charge of meals at the school managed between giggles to ask me, "what do you liking eating?" They then presented me with a sheet of paper that had two choices written on it: a). soybean paste and b). bean curd paste. The vice principal (who my coteacher refers to as the vice president) reached over my shoulder and pointed imperiously at each of the choices in turn, saying "and lice." As soybean paste and bean curd paste mean exactly the same thing, the distinction between my two lunch options definitely got lost during their painstaking translation. Also, my vice "president" was not offering bugs with my's just that the r/l distinction is really difficult for Korean speakers. I went with bean curd paste and ended up getting a spicy soft tofu and egg soup with clams in it. The other option turned out to be the spicy hard tofu soup with the pond snails that I've eaten before. They are both pretty tasty, once you get past the whole pond snail thing.

my host brother is sitting next to me as I type this, sucking on an "ice cuba." The Fulbright office wants me to assert my contract and demand my own room (like I can possibly do that with the language barrier in effect), but I would really miss having him in here all the time.

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