This here is a partial list of my new friends who are helping me study Korean, sharing food with me, making sure I don’t get lost, and other cool stuff.
This is Justin, 24, of Canada. He speaks his native English, what is according to him “broken Chinese”, which sounds pretty much like real good Chinese to me, and after one year of study he is a TOPIK Level 3 Korean Speaker. When he graduates he wants to move to Hong Kong, where he has family. He has been the most responsible for making sure I know everything I need to know about everyday life here and taking me out to places to eat and hanging out with me so I don’t spend all my free time in my dorm.
Also pictured is Aijaz, 19, of Kyrgyzstan. It’s pronounced “iJazz”, like the name of a really cool MP3 player. Her first language is Kyrgyz, (I spell checked that, I promise), then Russian, English, Chinese, and after being here for one year, her first year of college, she is a TOPIK Level 5 Korean speaker, which she learned crazy fast. The highest rank the school can give out is Level 6. I don’t think Aijaz even has a major. Seriously, it’s like she’s just going to school here for kicks.
This is Zarif Sattorov, 23, of Uzbekistan. (Zah-REEF.) His brother, Zoir Sattorov (Zoh-EAR) was the first Uzbekistani student to come here, and because of the school’s desire for ethnic diversity they gave Zoir fully paid everything for four years. Unfortunately, the shiny, new glow of having your first ever Uzbekistani student must have worn off after Zoir graduated, because Zarif is getting absolutely bugger-all in the manner of financial assistance. He’s pretty cool about it, though, and Zoir slides some cash his way. I sent an e-mail to Dave Sperling of Dave’s ESL cafe about teaching jobs in Russian for him, and we are waiting for a reply. If Zarif could get a job teaching Russian somewhere he would jump a the chance.
Wega Simo Harold Wilfried, 24, a Master’s degree student, of Cameroon. He usually goes by Harold to English speakers and Wega Simo to Korean or Chinese speakers, which is easier for them. His first language is French, and he also speaks at least two native African local languages. Their names evade me, but one is his father’s first language and one is his mother’s first language. We could only goad him into speaking his mother’s language once and it sounded really cool. The necklace was a gift from Alette, his girlfriend of two years, and he never takes it off.
“William” Jung Yang. Classic High Achiever. Spends most of his weekends doing experiments and research at a chemistry lab in Seoul. William was super excited that his lab bought him a big ol’ crate of sulfuric acid for his birthday. It’s not rare or expensive, but he uses lots of it and the lab ran out. I’ll have a post about Koreans and Chinese having Western nicknames at a later time.
Gareeb Balla (His real name!) 28, of Sudan. Master’s Degree student in Veterinary Medicine. In our Korean class, five students speak Chinese, five students speak Cambodian, and Harold, Gareeb, and I are the English speakers, so we share notes and do our homework together. Okay, William’s English is really good, too, but being a native Chinese speaker means there are four other people in class who he can share understanding of lessons with. Our Korean teachers speak great Chinese but only a little English, so if I had no one in my Korean class who spoke any English it would be really tough. Gareeb came here from Sudan because his friend Mohammed, also a Master’s degree student in Veterinary Medicine, came here first on the “You Aren’t Korean” scholarship pretty much like I did.
More to come!