Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spite, Language, People

I’ve had so many breaking points on this, now almost four month, adventure. It’ll get to five and a half months and then the beast may die. I was asked the other day what my biggest regrets in life were, and I wasn’t really able to answer the question. I believe that we learn and grow from everything we do in some way or another, so, if given the chance, would I “give back” what i’ve learned since coming here? No. Its understanding that was given to me, and I shan’t be giving it back thanks very much. I’ve learned many things. I’ve tasted how stubborn I really am and how that clash really hampers my potential if not dealt with. I’ve seen that relatively small obstacles (biting the bullet and getting over like 6 particles in the korean language... and painfully few tenses... though gazillions of “function” additives to verbs...) can become a huge problem for me when combined with that stubbornness. Its unfortunate really. It could have been a good go, but the environment wasn’t really as ripe as I hoped it to be. And then I butted heads with too many of my teachers and the destructive/survival attitude of the culture here. So frankly im kind of burnt on the whole thing. However, I’ve also learned some wonderful violence, and I get to look forward to another month and a half of that before I leave. Its been reinforced just how important people are in my life, and how without the right people, most of what I do is doomed. I am very much so a man of my own decisions, but in many ways most of those decisions involve people. I am not controlled by people, but I am absolutely affected and influenced by them. And I love it. It also breed incredibly strong feelings of contempt when taken in “the wrong direction” however. RE: some of my key teachers here... SO do I regret coming? I dont know how I would have made a different choice under the circumstances, which is something that has been a cause for much struggle between myself and God. However, I will not deny that I have learned loads from this. If you gave me the chance to get out of school, take my money and go somewhere else? would I take the opportunity? Hell yes. If you gave me the same opportunity (bail now), but I had to go back in time and let go of my experiences here ~ would I do it? I dont know that I could say yes to that. Its hurt to be here... A lot. But I’ve had to ask some excruciatingly difficult questions about myself, my goals, and how I fit into this bigger picture. And those are questions that needed to be asked. Will I thank Korea for these lessons? Hell no. I would/will thank the people at my Hapkido dojang for being a credit to their country and their art. But I cannot/will not thank the average person/ the society at large here. --- I used to think that I could study any language just for the sake of studying the language, and that would be an interesting enough task in its own right. And there is/was some truth to that, but the bitter truth (but also an incredibly fulfilling truth in other instances) is how much language and the people who use it are tied together. A new hypothesis is that if (at least for people-people like me) you are going to study a language without knowing the people well... its good to study the language without knowing the people at all... so that you can appreciate the cold dynamics of the machinery you’re surrounding yourself with. A few too many bad eggs, and those quirky irregularities stop being “peculiar” and start becoming “shitty obstructions.” To get back to it though ~ there are many linguistically great things about Korean. Korean sounds cool (the whole freaking thing is a tongue twister ~ and makes for great rap). Its got a HUGE history of loan-words, which I think is interesting, and it has honorific layers of conversation. There are literally at least 3 ways to say every single thing based on the amount of respect you want to convey to the person your speaking to. Thats pretty cool. (or frustrating as the dickens and useless to boot if you dont care.) But at least for me, I need to have some sort of pull to learn the language. I need to have someone to communicate with in order to do the “grinding” ~ that memorization of words and particles and other non-sense that isn’t perfectly intuitive in any language (and Korean has more than its fair share... WTF?! 2 number systems? and no real need for them aside from... b/c we cant let go?) And then there is the full other side of the spectrum where the people actually grate against you. Im very reciprocal. Bite me I’ll bite back. Help me and I’ll help you. Snarl and shame me and I won’t even give you eye-contact... though my feet will be quick to rush into destruction if you give me too many of the right reasons. So thats where I’m at with Korean language learning now (non-violent at this stage...). I’ve been bothered into a lethargic attitude towards studying, and lethargy as turned to downright resistance ~ by degrees of course. We have this week and then halfway through the next are our mid-term exams. I will be skipping a large portion of this week, because I can’t tolerate my teacher any longer. In my opinion her attitude contributes to the shame of her country. so no, I will not just be watching videos of 3 year olds do taekwondo and kittens... I will be using this week to do a hard core review of the things we’ve learned so far and see what I can actually do to just look at Korean from a linguistic point of view. After mid-terms we switch teachers, and i’m hoping against hope that my fortunes are better. --- One of the brick walls i’ve hit recently is that part of me has decided that im done with Korean, and Korea. I’ll finish the end of my semester hopefully, but I don’t see myself studying it too much more after that. There is no tie for me here, and that synergy that can make me phenomenally capable is completely absent (actually reversed...). So I will get what I can out of this experience. Continue to learn some fabulous violence, learn what I can about this language and people. And then... put it on the shelf to perhaps one day get dusted off if someone decides to pick up the torch. -- There are many avenues I can take to fulfill my goals. I might just go after Cantonese for kicks and giggles. I already know I like Chinese people, and the Hong-Kong people i’ve met ~ in at least 3 very different contexts ~ have made for wonderful experiences. Then theres the awesomeness of how many tones they’ve got, and traditional characters.... whats not to love? and Russian. I don’t know a linguist who doesn’t secretly have a thing for Russian (mostly because its the flag toting representative of Slavic languages.) Mountains of literature, history, a huge array of cultures, and swathes of land where the language is understood.... not to mention I have some friends here who did a VERY good job of making me love them ^_^. See what I mean? Im as changeable as the tides of a planet where the moon is a soccer ball for celestial beings. ~ get your head around that... and you just might have figured me out :D Fair faring to you all.