I am planning on spending Christmas and New Years over seas for 2010/2011. This is a direct result of the utter pain in the arse these holidays have become for me with my family. I simply can not stand another year where I hold my tongue on the numerous selfish, stupid, and calculated acts my Aunt perpetrates through out the year which are born due to her laziness, and sense that everyone should do everything for her.
As a result of her behaviour her children are in some ways worse, and better than she is. Which makes me not inclined to spend time with them unless I have to for “family harmony.” I don’t hate Christmas, please don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of Christmas, and all that it entails. It’s just the ideal of Christmas has never been something my family has achieved and has now become something more akin to a sick joke.
All of which has led to the decision that this year will be different. This year, I’ll be spending Christmas in Japan! While New Years will be in Hong Kong! After which I will also be heading over to South Korea. I have booked my holidays with work, so for three and a half weeks straddling Christmas I will be out of the country and untroubled by any of the Bull Shit i normally have to deal with at that time. Plus its going to be cold! There will be snow! It will truly be a white Christmas. I am seriously looking forward to it. To achieve this will mean a lot of money saved through out the year. A lot of things gone without. But it will be worth it.
Now I have never been to Japan, Honk Kong, or South Korea so am reliant on those who have, and what I can find in various travel, gadget, and food related websites to guide me on what to see and do when I visit. When I have told other people of my plans, the first thing they ask me is ” Do you speak Japanese?” or its variant for Korean. The answer to this is no. Not a word. Usually they respond with, ” Oh that should be ok, pretty much everywhere has people who speak English.” Which for the most part is true to a small degree. But there are two problems with this statement and what they are inferring.
Firstly that the person you ask directions of is one of those people who in their own country which does not natively speak English, actually does speak English. The second problem is while they might speak English it may not be fluently, and in some asian cultures if you are not perfect at something then you do not admit to being able to do it. So that person might refuse to reply as they do not want to lose face by replying and making a mistake. While we all have the example of those “charming” americans who navigate their way around the world for a million dollars in the Amazing Race. For people to travel anywhere with only English as their language and still find the places they need, and see the things they want. Its not something I want to try and recreate.
So i have started leaning Japanese and Korean. At the same time.
I am using a product called The Rosetta Stone, which is used by the US military and many large corporations to teach non native speakers other languages as if they were their own. I’ll be doing the full courses which take around a year to complete. I’ll also be trying to track down some of those learning tapes/mp3’s that you play at night while you sleep to get the language into your subconscious.
As a young child I had an ear for languages and accents don’t normally hold too much of a problem for me if I hear it often enough. Coming home from holidays overseas as a kid i would always be accused of being a tosser for talking with an accent I hadn’t realised I had picked up. I also went to a french school for about a year when i was still little where they would hit you with a ruler if you said ANYTHING in English while on the school grounds. So I pretty quickly picked up the things i needed to know to speak to my teacher and the other children.
I am about half an hour in with both the Korean and Japanese courses and as I had expected the content is pretty much the same. Its only the languages which are different. So its looking deceptively doable to pick both languages up, and be fairly conversant by the end of the year. I intend to spend an hour or two each night working through them. I am sure that i wont be successful in doing it every night. But its a goal.
So far I can identify the difference between the words for boy and girl, man and woman, eating, reading or running in both languages when someone says it. I can mimic them to some degree but only once I have heard them a few time. Which realistically after half an hour isn’t too bad at all. Plus a few words in both languages HAVE actually stuck. Mainly the words for water and juice. In Japanese water is Mizu (pronounced Me-Zoo), and juice is Juusu (pronounced Jew-sue). In Korean water is Mool/ Mul ( pronounced Buh-ll ) and juice is Ju-su (pronounced Chew-siew).
So I wont go thirsty in my travels. I am sure Tommy and Mike will correct me on my pronunciation for the Korean words and in all honesty I hope they do. Because I can use all the help I can get. I said to a mate of mine on NYE that 2010 was going to be an “Interesting” year. This weekend I have made a start on the interesting part.