Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Jungles of Youngsan and the Foreign Language I use to Survive

Horror of horrors, my ipod crashed two weeks ago. It's funny what constitutes a tragedy now days. It used to be, "Oh no, grandma caught distemper," or "Timmy fell down the well!" Now it's, "Dear God, my ipod just crashed!" I was grading papers listening to a song (Oasis, Roll With It- and no Oasis jokes) and the thing just went down. Now I've been suffering through two weeks of listening to traffic, random Korean conversations and coworkers. Oh how I suffer.

Because of the broken ipod, I journeyed in Youngsan; a magical, technological fairyland of gargantuan proportions. If you want anything, and I mean anything technology based, Youngsan is the place to get it. It consists of twelve monstrous buildings all crammed with small kiosks of people selling electronics, and in this mess is one Apple store. My mission was to find it. Armed with a smattering of Konglish I journey my way through this maze, shoving my ipod in the vendors' faces and shouting "Service-uh" or "Repair-uh." People would point me in the right direction and eventually I ended up in the subterranean Apple service department. I chalk that excursion up as a win for my side, although I'm supposed to pick the repaired ipod up on Friday. It'll be interesting to see what I get.

The foray into Youngsan was really a pride booster. It's always nice when I achieve a degree of self reliance in a foreign country; however, the journey also hammered home the need to study my Korean a bit more, especially when I take inventory of the phrases I've committed to memory that are comprehensible by the average Korean.

Korean Phrases I've Mastered:
Nice to meet you.
I want to eat.
I'm hungry.
How much does it cost.
It's too expensive. Give me a discount.
I don't like you.
I don't like him.
The weather is nice.
Give me two beers.
Where's the bathroom.
I have to throw up.
Stop it.
Do you want to die?
Is it spicy?
It's too spicy!
That girl is beautiful.
My name is Nathan.
I'm from the United States.
I like girls.
Please remove the seaweed.

Basically I know how to bitch about stuff and hit on things. These phrases and assorted others float in and out of my head. On a trip a few weeks ago I bought a canned coffee product and told the saleslady "thank you" in Korean. The old man sitting next to the counter said, "Wow, you speak Korean very well," and he said it exactly like I had heard it on my Korean tapes. I freaked out, completely forgetting the standard response: "No, I don't speak it very well," and instead repeated my previous phrase, "thank you." At least he knows I can say "thank you" very well. With some hard work and extra practice some day I'll be able to have a small conversation with someone, but until then I'll have to be content with commenting on the weather and making death threats.

1 comment:

Kat-tron! said...

Do know how hard it not to make an Oasis joke... you ask too much of me.