I have accidentally said “fuck” to elementary students in two languages in two different countries, both within two weeks of arriving in those countries. Can you say the same? Probably not, I’m guessing, but no worries. It’s an extraordinarily simple thing to do. For example, in Korean, the word for “eighteen” is ship-pal and the word for “fuck” is sshib-bal (the only real difference is that the entry “s” sound is strongly aspirated for “fuck”). Therefore, you can probably understand how I once said, “I left home when I was fuck [in Korean].” Now, in the Taiwanese dialect of Chinese, the word for fuck is gahn, but the “n” sound is almost silent (on the mainland, this verb merely means “to do”). The main elementary school where I now work in Douliu City has a small English village and I’ve been assigned to teach the Airport class on Tuesdays and Fridays. On my first day, while attempting to say, “ A gun is very dangerous. You can’t take a gun on the airplane,” my voice wasn’t its normal self due to my allergies being particularly bad that day. So, with the help of nasal congestion, what I actually said was, “A fuck [in Chinese] is very dangerous. You can’t take a fuck on the airplane.” This leads me to a new personal goal I’ve established: whatever country I move to next, I want to make it at least a month before I accidentally swear at students in whatever language they speak.
Everything happens so much. Yes, I know @horse_ebooks is fake, but I don’t care. When I sat down in this random coffee shop in Burien, Washington, to start fleshing out my thoughts on the transpirations of the past few weeks, that was the first quote to slide across my mental marquee. For those just tuning in, I am no longer in Korea. My last day of work at Daegu-Gyeongbuk English Village (DGEV) was Friday, February 27, the day before my twenty-fifth birthday. There were times over the past six months or so when I thought that day would never come and now, quite ironically, it feels a bit like the distant past given everything that’s happened since. Continue reading
I’ve a confession to make. It’s a strange one, I’ll admit, but I think it’s important–maybe crucial–to understanding why I made the decision to move to the other side of the world. Here it is: I don’t like to travel. Crazy, I know. You may be thinking: “You mean you don’t like to travel and yet you traveled to a foreign country where you’ve never been before to live and work for a year? How mysterious.” ‘Tis true, I’m a man of mystery. And, by virtue of my newfound status as an expatriate, an International Man of Mystery. Boom.
Anyway, in the spirit of having majored in English AND communication theory in college, let’s unpack that, shall we? How does a guy who’s essentially a homebody end up moving to Korea for an essentially indefinite period of time? It ultimately boils down to my own definition of–and attitude toward my definition of–“travel.” When I think of traveling, I think of packing, flying, and lots of driving. I think of cheap hotels and endless eating on the go. I think of cramming as much activity, sight-seeing, shopping, and touristy shenanigans as possible into a week because you have to be back at work next Monday. That’s the kind of travel I hate. It’s mentally draining, stresses me out, and isn’t fun in even the most generous nuance of the word. If that’s what traveling looks like for you, feel free to go on without me. I’ll just kick it at home with the cat and we’ll have a ball together.