Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Japanese Language Skills Officially Trump My Korean Language Skills

The title probably isn't entirely true, but it's close. It will likely be true by the time I leave, if not as early as next week. I had my first Japanese class today. I find it easier to speak Japanese than Korean, but Korean is much easier to read. I'm not sure I will get around to learning to read Japanese before leaving in December; one of my students taught me to read Korean by the end of my first month there. I'm not sure if comparing my knowledge of Korean to Japanese is really fair, given that I never paid for formal lessons while in Korea. Two and a half years in Korea and not a single formal language lesson? I should probably be a little bit embarrassed about that, but I'm not. I had my reasons. Some of them better than others. 

For one thing, I'm pretty lazy. I'd much rather watch TV and eat chips than do just about anything. My best friends tend to be those that understand when I'm dropping references from the 27 TV shows that I watch (how about Terriers? Here's hoping that FX doesn't cancel my new favorite show). Additionally, I was busy spending my excess time and disposable income on other things. Mostly food. This is why I put on ten pounds in Korea. The primary reason that I didn't bother with Korean lessons was likely that I had absolutely no respect for Korean culture. I still don't. That's why I'm no longer there. While seeing friend after friend return to Busan makes it ever so tempting to follow along, I could never actually do it. I don't hate myself.

I didn't find Korea to be an easy place to be. Frankly, it's the least inspiring place I've ever been - a statement which will hold much more weight a few years from now. In Nagoya, I can exist without breaking much of a sweat. I work much longer hours, the pay is only marginally better, and nearly everything is more expensive, but all of that is worth it for being able to walk out the door in the morning and not have my mere existence be a spectacle. Knowing that I can use my elementary Japanese at the local bakery and not be laughed out of the shop is a pretty good motivator.