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May 14th, 2006

move over michael j. fox ...

I am a teenage werewolf. Not really, but I'm still sick and it seems to grow more serious when night falls. During the day I might cough a time or two, but as soon it gets dark out I start to double over with coughing spasms that leave me gasping for breath once they've passed. My best guess is that I caught something from Wendell, who I spent time with two weeks ago as he was recovering from his own illness - and if that's the case I have another three weeks of this waiting for me in the future.

One of the more disappointing aspects of being sick is that it's hard to correct the instructor of Anth 417 due to a worry that I'll cough up a lung in the process. The class is taught by Jung Jae Hun, a Korean grad student at the university, who has claimed that the Peace Corps provides absolutely no language training to its volunteers and that Suwon is a very small town. I have had volunteers tell me that they received language training after they were assigned a destination, so I don't know where he got his information for on that one, and Suwon is only small if you think 1.1 million people isn't a large number. True, it's not Seoul, but he's currently in a state with a population of 5.8 million - which creates a different perspective when looking at comparative demographics.

Friday afternoon he asked each of the five students in the class what they were studying and their plans after graduation, and when he heard that I was interested in teaching English in Korea before attending grad school he provided a lengthy speech on why my decision to focus on Korean culture in my graduate studies was an extremely bad idea. I never said that would be my focus, but I suppose this shouldn't be a surprise considering how enamoured he is with Japan and Japanese culture. He's even said so himself. I wonder what he thinks about Zainichi (在日) Koreans?

apparently i'm awesome?

Final grades were posted last Thursday. I commented in an earlier entry that I would try to guess at my marks before they were officially published by the university, but with the way things developed I found out before then. For the most part it was simply a matter of visiting the instructor's office to pick up a final paper, or browsing through a list posted by their door, but the story of how I discovered my Anth 260 (Introduction to Biological Anthropology) grade is worth retelling.

Yuka had moved into a new dorm for the summer, and on Tuesday I helped show her an easier way to get home that wouldn't take her as far out of the way as she was used to travelling. While we were walking along the road a white Toyota Tercel came from the opposite direction with its horn blaring at us. Inside were two guys, and the driver happened to be the instructor from my class, who then leaned over and shouted out the window:

« Paul! Hey man! I just wanted to say 'thank you' for being in my class and making it a fun experience. You're fucking awesome! I can tell you took the final seriously; you're the only one that got a perfect score on the exam. Congratulations, man, you deserved it! »

And yes, my instructor was dressed like a surfer dude when this conversation took place. After shouting out my score loud enough for everyone assembled by the university bookstore to hear he then proceeded to drive off into the distance. I think he was more excited about it being summer than anyone else I've seen yet.

I caught up with the assistant instructor later in the day, who said that my grade was the highest they've ever seen for that class. He then introduced me to the woman he had been talking to before he saw me walking by, who also happens to teach the Medical Anthropology class I'll be taking in the fall. Apparently I'm becoming a known personage among the non-archaeology faculty here at the university. All six of them. (There are more than that, but the school is primarily dedicated to archaeology, so they don't get much attention) Interesting.