Tuesday, September 8, 2009

lost in translation

When you don't talk to people in your native language for a few days communication stops being instinctual and is replaced solely with a head nod and a smile. I forget that I even know how to speak, and when absolutely necessary I start splicing all of the foreign languages and words I know into a sentence. "Oh you don't know English? Excuse me, merci, por favor donde esta la biblioteca?" This doesn't get you too far in Korea.

I was supposed to get a phone call at 9:15 this morning explaining when I would get picked up to come to my new apartment. I don't have a phone but there was one in the reception of the motel where I had previously gotten a phone call. So every 5 or so minutes after 9:30 I would come up with excuses to walk by the front desk. I need a soda. A coffee. Just walking to the end of the block and back...again. No one ever stopped me. Come 10:30 I went up to one of the women behind the desk and made a phone sign with my hand (you know, like hang loose) and pointed at myself. She thought I wanted to make a phone call and kept handing me the phone and kept asking for a # to dial. I gave up and threw her the "never mind" wave off and went back to watching Canada's Next Top Model. At 11 there was a knock at my door and I was taken to my temporary apartment.

After being dropped in yet another neighborhood with no map or directions, I was told I was "free" until Friday at 4 when I would get a tour of my school and a new "nicer" apartment. We'll see. Anyway, it was a gorgeous day so I went out sightseeing, sat at some monuments and sunbathed, and basically sweat a ton from walking around all day. All I wanted to do come 4pm was take a shower. I get back and into the shower [aka the entire bathroom] and turn the water on to warm up. 5 minutes later cold. 10 minutes later cold. I finally quit and gchat Suzi and email my recruiter to help me on this (which I have to do from the street since I live in the basement and get no Internet). This has got to be some weird Asian water saving effort right? Suzi tells me there's probably a box with a switch or something to get the hot water going. I search all 10 sq feet of my apt and find nothing. Shit. So I decide to sit outside the front of my building and wait for someone to come home. About 10 mins into my stalking someone comes out and he's Korean (I had this preconceived notion that everyone in my building would be sexy and Australian. Bummer.). So I proceed to stop him and play charades. "Wash" "Dirty" "Shower" "Water" "Cold" (hace frio!) He gets me and I convince him to follow me to my closet of an apartment. There's a button right over the head of my bed (just as Suzi said) that turns on the hot water. I thought it was a part of my intercom system. Now I know. My charades skillz are back! ha. Wait till I start teaching....meow.

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