12th Class. First Teacher. 12th 수업, 한번째 선생님.

Sunday, July 31, 2011 Nicajoice 0 Comments

If there is a" second teacher", there surely is a "first teacher". :D I've been having regular Saturday Korean classes since May. Thanks to my friend, Gaze, for introducing me to her student who gladly agreed to teach me Korean as long as I teach him English.

Last Saturday was our 12th class but I've never really gotten the chance to write about our classes due to my overwhelmingly busy sched. We usually meet in a coffee shop (starbucks, bo's, coffee bean, blenz, seatlle's best). Then we eat dinner, each time at a different restaurant (Shakey's, Dencios, Cajun, Sbarro, Iceberg, Stacker Burger, El Pollo Loco, Yellowcab, Teriyaki Boy, Jjangkke).

Prior to meeting on Saturdays, we
send each other stuff to study. Everyday, I send him five common grammatical errors in English and commonly used phrasal verbs. Then he sends me TOPIK study guide and three to five Koren verbs with their present, past and future tense forms. We study those then ask each other questions and clarifications when we finally meet on Saturdays. We are also free to text each other every time confusion pops up or when we encounter new expressions. Or to simply annoy each other. :D

Teacher has been quite helpful not only in teaching me the nuances of Korean Language but also in helping me understand the context behind certain words and expressions. As we all know, words have both connotative and denotative meanings - the latter could have been so hard to grasp with books alone - and that's where having a teacher comes in handy.

On our 12th class, Teacher invited me to have dinner with his housemates. I thought it was going to be a simple meal with a few people so I accepted the invitation right away. He told me that I was going to eat a very delicious meal - his eyes were even sparkling as he was describing the dish. (seriously!) Little did I know that I was going to eat with 15 Koreans I have never met. Surely, it was the most uncomfortable meal I've ever had. It's not that I've never eaten with Koreans before - I've done so, countless times - but they were really close to me, almost like a family.

The dinner was prepared on a long dining table at the house's backyard. And when we got there, three older Korean men (아저씨) were already seated, chatting and drinking soju. Two older women were busy setting-up the table. That night, the main course was Bossam-보쌈 (steamed pork; not baked, not fried, steamed :D).Bossam is usually eaten with kimchi, salted shrimp and doenjang, wrapped in lettuce. Other side
dishes were pickled cucumber and radish and fried fish fillet (also called fish pancake). There were also platters of various tropical fruits - papaya, pineapple and watermelon (see pictures on the left). The food was delicious, without a doubt. But since I wasn't at ease, it was just so hard for me to enjoy the delectable dishes. Nonetheless, I was grateful for the house owner's generosity.

The atmosphere was quite casual, the older people were teasing the younger ones. But it was quite noticeable how the younger ones were trying to act properly in front of the adults. That night, I was taught how important it is to say "잘먹겠습니다" (jal-meok-get-seum-ni-da) which literally means "I'll eat well (thanks)" before eating. Saying so would let the host know that you're grateful for the meal. Everyone seated said "잘먹겠습니다" and as they finish their meals they said "잘먹었습니다" (jal-meok-geot-seum-ni-da) which means "I had a good meal". Even within families, children have to say these expressions. Not saying so, shows ungratefulness. My teacher told me to always remember this, "Older Koreans (especially) will surely like you, if you say this every time they offer you something to eat," he said.

And since I knew I couldn't pull off saying "
잘먹겠습니다" that very night, I simply said "thanks for the meal" when I was finally done eating bossam and lettuce (separately, although they were supposed to be eaten together :D). One Korean man was particularly funny as he was talking to me in Tagalog. He said "kain ka", "balik ka", etc. Although it was one awkward evening, I am quite grateful for the experience of not only taking part to a delicious Korean meal but also seeing first hand the culture that I only used to see in dramas. :D

**Thanks to 정승화 for taking the two pictures above since I couldn't bring out my camera that night and let everyone see how naive I was. haha. And thank you for always grabbing the chance to show me a piece of Korean culture.