Thursday, June 26, 2008

The wonders of images

OMG! I finally figured out how to do this! Kind of. For some reason, I couldn't find my flash drive on this PC yesterday. But today I did. So here is a picture of part of my breakfast after I washed it out. Garbage is tricky here: for food waste, you dump it into the food waste bin. Recyclables go out on certain days and you sort them all - there are bags w/labels like "paper" and "PET" (I'm making that up - it's for the plastics w/the right numbers on the bottom) and "yogurt containers" and so on. True trash is something that you have to PAY to have removed, and you pay by quantity of trash. This explains the tiny trash bins you see in Korean homes. And it explains why there are so few of them! I believe there are also designated times when you are allowed to take your trash out, or else you get fined. This is how it works in a tiny country with ridiculous amounts of people and even more ridiculous amounts of disposables.

I had my first language class today. The schedule is 9-1, but broken into four 50-min periods with breaks of 10, 20, and 10 minutes respectively. I was shocked by the number of Chinese and Japanese students - not only in my class of 13, but the entire language institute. It's like 40-40-20 Chinese-Japanese-Other. Well, that's my very rough estimate based on today. My class also has one guy from Nepal and a woman from Thailand, plus two Americans (who are trying to switch to a higher level - one is a rabbinical student in NYC and the other is a Korean adoptee from the Pacific northwest). I'm in the same quandary that I was in 11 years ago when I came to Yonsei to take a language class: my speaking skills are good, but my written (and reading) skills suck ass. So, I placed low, which means that I get good rote exercise in reading and writing, but am bored to tears during conversation, esp since the other students almost all struggle with basic conversation skills and pronounciation.

My teacher said she would let me know tomorrow after seeing my written exam (which I really wish she didn't have to see, b/c it's a total mess) if I should move up a level. My concern is that if I move up, I'll be in over my head and will shut down. I reaaaaaaaally wish that these places had special classes for people w/really uneven skills, which is a classic case for heritage speakers. You'd think that a Korean language institute would figure that out, with such a huge Korean diaspora. So tomorrow morning I'll know if I have to stay in a class learning very rudimentary skills or move to another class that has already had four hours of training. Yeeee. I think I'm dreading either decision.

On the bright side: my jet lag seems to be abating (go, melatonin!! I even dreamed about pushing melatonin on friends last night), and I FINALLY opened a bank account today! I had been told by Fulbright that due to some Chinese frauds, banks changed their policies as of 2008 for foreigners opening Korean accounts. It used to be super easy, just a passport and you were set. But now they require that you come in with a Korean national who will vouch for you and agree to pay your debt if you screw up or try to screw the bank. I was waiting for a good time for a family member to come with me, but after reading the Yonsei handbook and seeing that it was revised in 2008 and said it was easy to open an account, I headed for the closest branch on campus in the Alumni Hall. They said I had to come w/a Korean national. So I started to hike back to the bus stop, and then figured I might as well try the other branch located in the Student Union Center, closer to the bus stop. I fully expected the guy to tell me that I couldn't open it alone, but he said that I could, w/a passport and driver's license! Wohooo!!

AND, the settling-in allowance that had been denied by Fulbright on Monday has now been approved, so they will deposit that money into my shiny new account now. It's a checking account but Koreans don't use checks, so all I have is a bank book and a debit card. My second piece of Korean plastic (after my T-money card - used for bus/subway)! Now I can buy sunblock (it's scorching here, really brutal, and it's not even full-swing summer!) and the other random things that I need to feel less crazy.

[Oooh! Now that I have figured out my flash drive momentarily, I can also send my picture to eyes everywhere: I'm joining this women's photoblog collective as of Friday! Pictures from women all around the world, with a monthly theme that you surmise from the images - it's not spelled out in words.]

1 comment:

  1. hi
    you all can see the eyeseverywhere images on Saturday, actually.
    There are good ones!

    cheers and viva the flash disk!!
    E

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