3.2 Summer 2021

August 1, Vaccine

Every miscommunication, foreigner on TV, student fight pushes me harder to learn Korean where I then hit a wall. How long must one muck around in the bogs of intermediate? It feels endless, this not-knowing.

I tried out yet another new tutor on the recommendation of another teacher in the group chat. Lesson: don’t take advice from beginner learners.

This tutor was kind but talked in the slow, stilted way teachers talk to low lever learners. I listen to native Koreans every day and it didn’t sit well in my ears.

“You use the beginner grammar well but the intermediate grammar awkwardly.”

I felt my confidence fall. Intermediate is a slog.

But she concluded that I speak better than any other native English teachers she teaches which improved my mood. I felt lightened by that until I remembered that isn’t difficult. I’ve never met another foreign teacher who speaks past upper beginner, if they can speak Korean at all…

The nagging awkward awkward followed me to my vaccine appointment where I struggled to understand what the nurses were trying to explain. My address was apparently not in their system, even when I proudly handed over my Korean license. I went through DMV hell and back to prove my address so I knew I was in the right.

Luckily these nurses fell into the small and elite category of Koreans that know just how to tailor their language for a simpleton like me. The head nurse pointed to each line on the Korean form and said simply in Korean, “name, phone number, check yes, sign”.

The other nurse also simplified when I just repeated back dumbly, 건물? It rang a bell but the information wasn’t ascending to a useful part of my brain.

“House name,” she answered.

I had already gotten the vaccine at this point and figured that it didn’t matter if it took them awhile to find my address in their system (if at all, highway robbery!). They didn’t even ask for my ID before the jab, either because of an honor system or because I was the only foreigner registered. This clinic itself was a small internal medicine office with a slightly unpleasant smell and beat up brown walls from the 90s, so I can’t imagine that the four other foreign teachers in town chose this spot.

But I got my first round of Pfizer and stepped into some path of normalcy, so hiccups were easily forgiven.

It still feels like someone absolutely docked me in the arm but with three days off this week, there’s plenty of time to recover.

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