Over the weekend, I was unable to sleep for more than a couple of hours at night. Even if I managed to stay up all day, if I slept from say 11pm to 2am, my body would think of it as a nice long nap because that’s 10am to 1pm EST. The joys of jet lag. Anyway, I showed up to work on my first day about 45 minutes late, but they were just happy that I’d finally made it after all the delay. Bo Young, my coworker, escorted me to my office and told me I could sit and surf the internet until my boss came. About a half hour later he showed up and showed me around the building. I met a bunch of professors, researchers and office workers upstairs, and we played the ‘I pronounce your name poorly, you obliterate mine’ game. After about 7 rounds of this I decided to cut my name to just Nick, rather than go through the torture. Thus truncated, Koreans still have the tendency to initially pronounce it ‘neck’, which really bothers me, so we settle on what comes off as ‘Neke’ or ‘Neeek’. In Hangeul it’s spelled 닉, which you can see if your browser setting permits you (Otherwise, it appears as .?.)
So, I’m meeting all these different people, and not remembering any names. I wouldn’t normally be able to remember this many names in a day anyway, but the fact that all Korean names contain three syllables doesn’t help. I was also trying to sort through who was actually important to remember. It turns out that all of those people were in the same room having a meeting, so I met them last. They were all named Lee. Seriously. Four Lees standing side by side. A stereotype come to life before my eyes. What are the odds? Well 15% of the Korean population bears the family name Lee, so… what’s the formula? You do the math!
After that adventure it was just about lunch time, and since it was my first day, I was privy to a nice buffet at Jessica’s Restaurant. I got to bond with the coworkers in my office a bit, both of whom are very nice. It didn’t take too long for them to get to the topic of religion. Up until then, I hadn’t realized that Yonsei is a Christian University! Koreans claim that the majority of the population is Buddhist, but, and this is probably more to do with the religions themselves, the Christians sure seem to be more vocal. The Buddhist missionaries just aren’t as forthright, or fanatical. I relayed the fact that I’d been ‘confirmed’ when I was a teenager and am presently studying the Old Testament, but that I didn’t subscribe to any strict belief system and that I thought that parts of the Bible (e.g. in Numbers where God tells the Israelites what animals to sacrifice and when) were pretty ridiculous. I probably sounded like a jerk (which occasionally happens), but I’m a man seeking truth! Lol. I phrased my point as such: “I, for instance, don’t have any young, unblemished female goats to offer to atone for my sins.” I like barbecue too, is that why burnt animals emit an aroma pleasing to the Lord? (I didn’t actually say that last one out loud.) They said that phrases like that are metaphorical and that we all need to make sacrifices of one sort or another, but that just shows me that they haven’t really read the whole bible. These phrases read like recipes for atonement. I wonder if anyone, perhaps in Israel, is still performing these types of sacrifices as dictated by God through Moses.
And, with a little research, it seems that some people are trying to revive the practice: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/objects/pages/PrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=831646
Well, to wind up I did actually do some work. My first major project is to redesign and fix the English on this website: http://cmsdv.yonsei.ac.kr/ys_engineering_en/
I’m editing everything! It should be updated sometime in the next week, so enjoy the Konglish while you can!