My subconscious must be on the fritz since I landed in Korea because for some reason, I dreamt in sign language. My sign language is not great (ok, it’s terrible), but don’t they say that if you dream in another language, you’re fluent in it? I guess I’m fluent in sign language now so I’m putting that on my resume.
Have you ever been in a class where the teacher calls you out in front of everyone and you have no idea what she’s talking about? Then you just end up awkwardly staring at each-other for what seems like an eternity while everyone around you is thinking that you’re a total idiot? That’s every second of every day for me in Korea.
From the moment I open my eyes to the moment I go to bed, it’s a constant test of “hey, remember that one thing that you briefly learned that one time? Well, you better rack your brain because you’re getting tested on it right now… and if you don’t know the answer, I’ll stare at you until you do”.
*Insert super witty transitional sentence here*
I’m staying at my birthmother’s boyfriend’s apartment in Gangnam District. I guess she thought that I would be more comfortable here than at her place.
The other day, she kept telling me that we were going to see grandmother (yay for understanding what she was saying!). We started walking up to a big shrine and I thought “oh my goodness, grandmother is dead and we’re going to pay our respects”.
We walked past it and towards what could have been a cemetery and again I thought “oh no, grandmother really is dead, this is terrible… should I cry? Is it bad if I don’t? She seems super upbeat if we’re going to visit her deceased mother”.
After a few more minutes of walking, we approached a group of small huts/houses where my grandmother and grandfather were staying. It was small and cramped; they were both lying down in the main living/sleeping area.
I couldn’t stop looking around the room and thinking about how different my life would’ve been had I grown up there. I am so lucky that she gave me up and allowed me to be raised in an home where I never wanted for anything (except maybe a piece of gum or two).
I saw this photo of my grandmother and grandfather when they were younger–how proud my grandmother was when she told me it was her in that photo.
I think my grandfather is very sick because his body looked small and frail underneath the blanket. There was a tray of untouched noodles, potato chips, and soda next to him. He barely stirred, never looked my way, and to be totally honest, I don’t think he is aware of my existence. This thought makes me very sad.
*Insert final transitional phrase here (probably something extra witty)*
In Seoul, there are tons of expats and Koreans who speak English. You can get by without having to learn a single word in Korean if you really want. For me, that’s not the case. If I want any form of communication with the people around me, I need to learn Korean. And quickly. I know that I should’ve been studying long before I got here but I never seemed to have the time. I made excuses that I was too busy working, seeing my friends and family, or I just wanted to check Facebook for a few minutes (or longer).
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned so far on this trip, it’s that it’s never too late. If you want to learn a new language, visit a new country, try a new food, read a new book, or whatever, don’t make excuses. Just go for it because before you know it, you’ll be dead.