Here we are in our 3rd month of marriage and our 2nd month here in Ulsan, South Korea. We decided we were having too much time to relax, so we quickly added a ton of new things to our daily agenda. Aside from our usual lesson planning and teaching, we’ve recently begun two new challenging activities: Korean language classes and the art of Taekwondo.
We have a wonderful language tutor, Ms. Lee, who is the Korean teacher at my school. She graciously offered to teach us for free in exchange for conversing with me sometimes during the day. Ms. Lee is a self-taught English speaker who is only now able to use her skills to speak to foreigners! She is very humble about her abilities, but she speaks excellent English! We are slowly learning our Korean letters and syllables, but find that it is a challenge to find time to study. We meet with Ms. Lee 3 times each week and use flash cards to study outside of our language class.
After Korean lessons, we head home to grab a quick dinner, a must if we are going to avoid food for the hour preceding our Taekwondo class, as Master Young suggests. Our class currently consists of 4 small children, all black belts, ourselves, and two other foreigners. Our pastor, Azel, serves as our translator during class. Azel is Burmese, studied in the Philippines, is married to a Korean and also serves as the pastor for the English service at our church. He is hilarious and says he often confuses his languages. Another friend from church, Allie, also studies Taekwondo with us. At this point in our class, we are still conditioning our bodies. This consists of several exercises and stretching sequences that leave us hurting the following morning. We are also learning some easy punching and kicking techniques and love it when Master Young, who speaks very little English, says “Ah… Good.”
We return home at about 10:00pm and basically fall into bed, exhausted. We are trying our best to make sure we get enough sleep to start it all over again the following day. In Korea, we are told that with some discipline we may be able to earn black belts in about 18 months. Of course, Ms. Lee says I will be reading books in Korean in no time. I’m not sure about either of these statements, but it is really fun to try.
Until next time, An-yang-higa-say-yo!
Griffin and Valerie
Photo of Taekwondo instructor by Flickr user Diego Jose