Wednesday, December 26, 2012

So, I would never trade this-not for the world

This afternoon I witnessed something that everyone should see at least once in their life.

First, let me tell you about my student G., I noticed him my very first day here. His severe crew cut mirrored the precise way in which he stood at attention during the school assembly. He always bows when he passes someone older than him. He models the stereotype of an obedient, respectful Korean student.

In my class, he meticulously copies my board notes. He struggles with English, and during his speaking test, he read the assignment sheet, not to be cheeky, but because he simply didn't understand. In lieu of the misunderstanding, I talked with him about the weather and his favourite sport, so I had enough criteria to grade.

He is by far one of the sweetest and best students in my school.

Anyway, this afternoon, as I walked into rehearsal for tomorrow's school festival, I looked up on stage, and I saw G dancing. It was a little bit like "white man's overbite" coupled with "salt 'n' pepper shaker" with a little bit of a "Bartok Hi-yah." I chuckled, amused and proud to see him up there doing his thing.

Then, he opened his mouth and started singing with such angelic clarity and perfect pitch. He bent, heavy with music and meaning, and we locked eyes. He flashed this giant grin and continued to belt with such pride and charisma that there was nothing else in the auditorium but him.

It was in that moment I remembered exactly why I became a teacher. I saw this sliver of my student that I would never see in class. This boy, who shyly smiles at me whenever he sees me and all but refuses to speak, is a certifiable rock star on stage.

That, dear friends, is what makes being a teacher worth all of the bureaucracy and burdens- those ten seconds that you share with a sixteen year old boy in which you both know he is doing exactly what he needs to be doing.

Monday, December 24, 2012

So, this is Christmas...

As I am honing in on ten months of living in South Korea, I can say, without a doubt, that heated toilet seats in public restrooms are unsettling, albeit cautiously welcome when it is chillier in my classroom than it is outside.

I have spent the better part of my year growing up. I left the United States with two suitcases, one back pack, and an absurd amount of naïveté about how the world works. Since February, I have become more of a woman than I did in my four years at university and two years working in the States. While my family visited in August, we had a very poignant moment in which everyone at the table had a communal recognition that I am, in fact, an adult. There was a universal sense of confusion because I will always be the daughter, the little sister, but now, I get to be a grown up, too.

But, right now, I don't feel very grown up. I have never missed Christmas. I have only spent one Christmas morning away from my mom, and I am really struggling trying to balance emotion and logic.

Looking at my schedule the next two days, I am baffled as to how I will accomplish everything. I have a gingerbread house making party tonight; tomorrow, I have a mimosa Christmas breakfast, and  a Christmas dinner in the evening.

This is far too busy for my liking. I think I triple booked myself so that I can forget that I am not with my family. Or, maybe it is just the opposite.

Being in Korea is the first time I have allowed myself to be freely and unadulterated Kathryn. I have forged incredible, lasting friendships.

I am not cheating on my familial traditions, as I had felt last week. I am cobbling together a sense of self. I am Kathryn Marie Botsford. I bear the name and memories of the men and women who helped raise me. I am a product of so much love, so many hopes and dreams.

I came here with two suitcases and a backpack, but whenever I leave, I will do so with friends as close as family in my pockets and memories stitched on my heart.

The holidays are not a time to sit in my house and grieve what has been and what can no longer be. That is how I've approached these holidays. But then, I remember how much I love the song, 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' and the Advent season. This time isn't about presents or Christmas trees, or even Christmas itself. It is about being with the people you love sharing presence and creating memories. I don't know when I will be home for the next Christmas, but I know that I send home everything I've learned, everything I know to be true on hope's blustery winds.

Today, my mother wrote to me, 'Merry Christmas Eve, my daughter of the future.' And, I realised that I've become the person my mother had always hoped I would be on the day I was born and my first Christmas, and all of them to follow. Each holiday spent as a family built compassion and dreams and adventure within me, so that one day, her daughter of the future would be strong enough to follow her heart.

So, my mother of the past and father from long ago, these holiday traditions you've instilled in me have been a bigger gift than I could ever fathom. You taught me to live. You taught me to love deeply and without abandon. You taught me to give of myself until there is nothing left, and then give some more. You taught me to love the simplicity of Christmas lights, as well as the complexities of Christmas traditions.

So, for you and for us,  I will be laying under the all of our past Christmas trees tonight looking up through the branches at the ornaments searching for the flying dove that will forever connect me to you.

So, with that being said, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

So, my life is actually a Mario Kart game

Several weeks ago, I got a sassy new scooter. For those of you who know me, dont worry, I am being very careful: following Korean driving laws, wearing a helmet, and never driving after drinking, even if it is just one. WL, please tell your mother all of these things. I dont want her to worry.

Last week Wednesday, I went to Open Mic Night with my friends K, H, and C. After a close, but ultimately victorious game of pool, some dancing, and a lot of hugs later, I walked back towards the main road where I parked Kyler.

I put on my helmet and gloves ready for the winters cold to seep through and freeze my hands to the steering column. I sat for a moment and let all of the things that have happened in the past week wash over me. Grief and disbelief battle for the most prominent thought in my head. Neither of which were proper driving emotions. So, I let it overcome me.

Then, I found that I really just wanted to drive.  There are many people who use driving as their think time. Personally, I find it tedious and gas wasting, and unless I can feel the weather rush around me, I cant use driving for an outlet.

So, you can imagine my surprise when that was what I wanted to do. So, I started Kyler, and pulled onto the street. As I drove, the thoughts Ive recently repressed surfaced. Concentrating on the road and not dying were my primary concern, so I needed to logically deal with them, as opposed to letting those pesky emotions in. I needed to drive forward to pull meaning out of my thoughts. Every turn shifted things and cleared the picture a little more.

I looked at the streets passing by, and I was in awe. I forgot what Busan looked like at night time. I generally try to catch the last subway, and it had been a while since I saw the lights. There are parts of the city that are so bright with neon that it looks like daytime, and there are parts that have no light shining down. 

It was late enough in the night that there were no cars. It was just the road and my thoughts. I felt like I was in a Mario Kart game. My brain shook about as the road twisted and turned. The alternating lights shaded my perception. If only I could hit a mystery box, I could get a star and be totally invincible. I could just drive through this course unaffected by anything. With that, the shells from home that sent me flying through the air discombobulated and the slightly annoying banana peels from Busan wouldnt impact me so much. I could just tra la la along with my star, and pretend as if I might win the race.

But, then I remembered a conversation I had with K: it doesnt matter. Even if I tried to repress my thoughts by being stoic and unaffected, the grief and anxiety will become a part of me, and I will have no idea how to deal with it.

As I passed Haeundae station and went through the underpass, I realized that life isnt about winning the race unscathed. It isnt about winning the race at all. It is the laps you take, the circuitry; you experience something once, learn from it, and do it better the next time. It is about knowing that you might slip on a banana peel, or get inked by Blooper, or even rocked by the turtle shells zooming every which way. One will always have your name on it. It is about the mushrooms that make you grow, or the bullet that will allow you to power through and focus on the tasks you need to do. And, yes, sometimes it is about the star, which makes you invulnerable. But, if you play the whole game like that you will never learn anything. You will plateau at mediocrity. The mystery boxes hold things that might temporarily affect your race, both positively and negatively. The star is just the middle, and that isnt enough. It never will be.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

So, I hear tell it is that December month.

It is funny, really. I have no idea where November went—sandwiched between the typhoons of Chuseok and the flurries of Thanksgiving. But, now it is the 6th day of December, and my hands nearly froze to the steering column of my sassy new scooter, Kyler. 

I have sat and tried to dissect my thoughts and feelings of this holiday season. It is not the graceful, clean process I feel I have to exude. It is rather messy, tearful, and all around unbecoming.

On Monday, I went to Nampo-dong (a large shopping district in Busan) for Thai food and Christmas presents. I went with my dear friend M, and met up with K and T. After dinner and shopping, the four of us, turned the corner to walk back to the subway station. And, after I allowed myself to relax, I took in the sights around me. The Christmas lights sparkled truth, innocence, and the beauty of humanity. 

The Christmas tree banners led one after another to the center round about. Lovers, children, and friends posed in front of a white spiral tree. Red and blue lights emerged from the tip, which created a mystical ceiling. It gave me the comfort of being home.

It reminded me of my early childhood, when my parents would bundle Sarah and I up in our winter boots, jackets, and night gowns, and they buckled us in the car. Dad would drive us down I-94, take the 894 bypass and exit on Oklahoma Avenue. And there, between blocks 92 and 96, is where, I assumed, Santa lived. Candy Cane Lane interwove with my hopes and dreams for years. The deep snow reflected the magic of this four-block radius.  Each house, magnificently decorated, looked like a Thomas Kincaid painting. My eager face, plastered against the window, took in all of the wonder and awe.

I saw that same look on so many beautiful children in South Korea. Their eyes glazed over with lights and joy in the very purest sense. The Christmas trees twinkled and their boughs, weighed down by ornaments and garland, reached through my memories and teased them out of me.

Last night, as I walked out of K’s apartment building, I commented, “Oh, wow. It smells like snow and Wisconsin.” My friends C and H agreed, and we look up to the sky to see little flakes blustering about in the wind. Busan had its first snowfall. Many of my friends changed their facebook status to SNOW or IT’S SNOWING or Take that, Busan never snowing. Boo-yah. There is something about the season's first snow that makes adults stop and appreciate what is around them with the same wide-eyed innocence as children.

All of my time here, I waited for the snow. Maybe if it is snowing here and snowing at home, then somehow we’ll be connected. Imagine if a flake formed over the Midwest and lazily drifted on the winds and seas all the way to Busan. I know that is childish to think that way. The degrees of separation between home and me feel insurmountable at the moment. But, what is December without childlike faith? What is December without the knowledge that Santa will always come on Christmas Eve? We believe what we have to for our brains to make sense of things. I need to know that, somehow, I am connected to my family right now. 

And, that, dear friends, is the beauty of Christmas. In this month, I am allowed to regress in age. I am allowed to be four and wanting to curl into my mother’s lap with shortbread cookies and know that all will be right in the morning. I am allowed to be 12 and play in the snow. I am allowed to be 15 and drink my first cup of coffee with my mother on a cold winter’s day, thinking that this must be what being an adult is like. I am allowed to be 18 and 21, and strong when my family cannot be. I am also allowed to be 25 and scared so far away from home.

But, with all of that said, I know that all of those memories are real. My family is real. The moon and stars that shine over Busan are the very same that twinkle over Wisconsin. And, Christmas will come, and it will be amazing, full of new traditions and faces. And, they too will be beautiful.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So, sometimes I actually do things

So, while wallowing in my epic fail of NaNoWriMo, I realised that I haven't told you much of my everyday life. And, no, I didn't spell realised wrong. Recently, I got into a nerdgasmic conversation about the aesthetic pros and cons of the Queen's English. I decided I liked it better. So, it ain't wrong; it's British. Back off. Ha. See what I did there?

Anyway, last time we checked into my everyday activities, as opposed to lurking around the awkward recesses of my brain, we were in a classroom listening to people speak about me in Korean, and me agreeing to sell my soul to Gangnam Style.

Life update: present day
Reason number one I freaking hate uneven tables: when I accidentally graze my foot across it, it spills my coffee all over my darn trousers.

Back to the story:
September passed per usual: birthday celebrations and late autumn camping trip. This year, however, it wasn't to Lapham Peak or the Schmofernuffle Springfallsington (made up name because I forgot what it was actually called), it was beach camping on Geoje Island (remember where I bitch slapped a jelly fish?). While camping, I almost punched a douche-canoe of epic proportions, but I got my act together. And, when my friend BH and I chatted by the break waters, we saw an honest to God sea otter...or Ewok, maybe? The jury is still out. Regardless, otters are my spirit animal, and all I wanted to do was snuggle his furry face. But, he galumphed toward the water before I could love him.

All of October consisted of Ultimate tournaments or games. Highlights included: dressing up as Richard Simmons, a little verklempt that the rain made my curly hair change to Afro idea futile. But, it was a fun costume, and I found out what it would feel like to have boy parts- unsettling to say the least.

Moving into November, I debuted my handspring skills while 3/4 of the way in the bag during Ulti finals, which is always a healthy and safe life choice. Not. I also hopped a plane and went down to the Philippines for a tournament. It was such a trip to play Ulti in the ever dropping chill of South Korea (about 40* if you're American, and if you use Celsius, figure it out here) to playing in 97* tropical heat 13 degrees above the equator. I was a sweaty, sweaty mess, but it was some of the best ultimate I have seen. I also ate mangoes like it was my job.

On Monday, I went with my friends John Johnson (swear to God, that is his given name...and one of the few I will use in full on this blog) and JC (not Jesus Christ...although, He made an appearance or two) to the Old Spanish settlements on the outskirts of Manila. 

We got out of the taxi and blustered about with our huge packs sticking to our backs. As we tried to decide how to best see this huge area, BJ (his actual name, not initials) came up and started talking to JC. I swear, J could make a friend in Bosnia, he is so stinkin’ nice. So, J set us up to take a tuktuk around the battlements after we ate something.

BJ walked us around the corner and took us to this restaurant where Homeboy is just chillin’ on the sidewalk, grilling all kinds of stuff. We eat a huge amount of rice and assorted meat on a stick (I am the worst trial vegetarian ever), bananas, and dried fruit for under ten American dollars.

After we finish, John Johnson and I climbed into BJ’s tuktuk, and J climbs into BJs brother’s side car. BJ pedaled us towards the fortress and we walked through this gateway soaked in old age and sun rays. The modern photo ops clashed with the dilapidated roofing and crumbling walls. Walking through this space, which is older than my country, gave me such an intense sense of connection. How many men and women of how many races have passed through this very spot? I felt so blessed to have such a communal life experience. It was incredible.

We continued on our tuktuk tour and saw some neat cathedrals, in which the Jesuses and Blessed Virgin Marys were of all races. I had never seen a collection of Jesuses of various nationalities. Usually, a church picks a look and decorates according to that. Interestingly, all of the Christ figures, regardless of race, wore gold and velvet robes, even while carrying the cross. It was such a jarring realisation to my more or less arian Jesus-raised brain. It blew my mind.

Also, the acoustics were stellar.

We finished our tour on the outskirts of the Spanish compartment. John Johnson, JC and I walked on the walls like it was nobody's business. It was so interesting to see the fortress and small part of the city from such an angle. I could almost imagine the men and women bustling about in the early 1500s- it looked a helluva lot like the 'Bonjour' scene from Beauty and the Beast. But, that might be because I want to live in Provence and be Belle, but not marry the Beast. Lesbie honest, I am not super qualified to rank them, but he is the least attractive of all of the Disney princes. Feel free to refute, but I posit Prince Eric as Hottie Numero Uno, followed by Aladdin. Evidently, I like me a swarthy gentleman. Interessant. I digress. 

On Monday afternoon, I got on a plane to come home, and slept most of the flight. My buddy BGM got some choice photos, which I promptly untagged, but are still floating about the interwebs. See if you can spot ‘em.

Last weekend, I went to Seoul and danced my face off in true Botsford fashion. Although, my grandmother was much more akin to the jitterbug and swing, which was decidedly not how I danced.

And now, I am so looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend spent with Rufio and a bottle of wine that he won't spill this time.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So, today's the fourth Thursday of November


Tonight, I am looking at the moon, Daddy. It tells me that it’s 8 am by you. It whispers thoughts and prayers for you so far away. Everyday, Mom, I wake up and look at the ocean counting the tablespoons of salt water that separate you from me. I send you kisses on the tides, hoping you receive them.

Today, a normal Korean Thursday, made me so sick inside. My ex-pat friends gathered at the foreigner bars to share some semblance of home. I made Brinner for a dear friend and I, and we watched The Daily Show. I couldn’t handle being around many foreigners tonight. It seems so Piano Man—someone’s playing memories, but we’re not sure how they go. We just want to forget about life for a while.

When I asked a friend who has been here a while how she deals with it, her response struck me quite strangely—either adopt Korean traditions and holidays or gather with your foreign friends to remind yourself of home. She, of course, put it more eloquently. In that moment of consideration, I recognised that I do not want to adopt Korean traditions, because that would also suggest that I believe in fan death and that writing your name in red means you’re going to die. On the other hand, a gathering of foreign friends also seems like a husk of what it should be. My family has ridiculous traditions that usually end up with me passed out on Uncle Beaver’s recliner or davenport.

Last night, some friends and I cobbled together a phenomenal Thanksgiving dinner. And by cobbled, I certainly mean that we tore that nonsense up. K brought her A-game with four different dishes (one of which were pumpkin tarts that were unbelievably good. We had several metaphors for their taste, none of which are public forum appropriate). BH brought a bean salad that burst with flavour and also out of the bowl. J produced a squash doohickey that was citrusy and tart and date balls, at which my friends, with the average maturity of a 7th grade boys bathroom stall, snickered (it might have mostly been me). And, there was wine to go around.

And, while I looked around the room last night, I felt a kinship with these women. It is a kind that human words cannot capture, just emotion. Each of these people has changed my life in such a significant way that wherever our adventures take us, they will always be nestled in a safe place never forgotten.

I thought back to the years I have known my best friends. Every life step I’ve taken, they’ve been there with me—to either support me or yell at me, or sometimes both. But,  they love me without abandon. I look at my friends back home, and I would be such a worse person without them. They’ve taught me compassion, kindness, well-timed wit, and a healthy dose of self-confidence. 

Today, especially, I very poignantly miss my sister. She has been my best friend, my worst enemy, and everything in between. We are such different people, with different goals and opinions, but I know that she will always look out for me. I want so badly to be with you today, Sarah. I want to hug you and play euchre and giggle and finish each other’s sentences. I don’t know if this makes it better or worse. But, I am a mess right now and currently undergoing a very needed cathartic break.

Today’s message sounds exactly like a high schooler’s daily journal hastily scribbled in an acid washed composition notebook. But, I feel today. I feel scared and young and not even a little bit ready to be living in a country thousands of miles away from home. But, then I look at the things you’ve given me, friends. You have given me strength, faith, and perseverance.

I surround myself, either physically or digitally, with people who want only the best for me. I draw power from all of you, knowing that with it I will be the best person I can be. I hope I make you proud.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So, my pragmatism is less than my imagination

Once upon a time, the Spirit of Adventure made tree forts inside the branches of a little girl’s mind.

When she was three, she donned her safari hat and khaki trousers and gallivanted throughout the sticky jungles and sandy deserts of Africa. She rode atop an elephant, a giraffe, and a very pokey crocodile.

At age six, she traversed the green rolling hills of the English country side roaming with her rogue royalty.  She needed no rescuing. The little girl was strong and quick and outsmarted all of the woodland creatures.

At age 10, she clambered aboard the ship that tossed her about in the tempest. The nymphs and Druids sang her praise. The cry of her heart's true desire beckoned her. She knew that if she kept now, believed this was her existence, she surely would fail in “real life.” So, she stopped. But, somewhere deep down she held onto that adventure, treasured it like a half remembered dream.

As she grew, the adventures shifted to reality. She voyaged from her house through the city to school. She focused on nothing but learning and acquiring. She analyzed the adventure books, experiencing them less and less. Suddenly, as if life eclipsed time, she became an adult. She locked those childlike fantasies in a file drawer alphabetically categorized under: no longer relevant.

The tedium of adulthood wore her down.  The woman felt a nudge. A push. The tickling safari sense seeped through her soul. She wore the shining armor, and she became the hurricane. She went on an adventure—a physical one, so different than the attic playtime of a child.

She flew so far east that when Artemis bid farewell to the woman, Apollo bid farewell to her friends.

The tops of mountains didn't have the sound of music; they had the sound of life, humming, buzzing, harmonizing with the thrumming of her heart. It echoed of her past. The peaks and valleys came together to form a beautiful tapestry.

The ocean, clouded with mystery and unadulterated joy, held all of her wishes all of her dreams of what is yet to come.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

So, I think I figured out the meaning of life

Click HERE to see me read it out loud, with hand movements, because I can't, for the life of me, talk without gestures. Haters gonna hate...

Poem of LIfe
I walk through the streets of South Korea
Tall buildings instead of trees shadow my stroll.
Coffee shops smell of good conversation
and overpriced drinks.
Cars lazily make their way through the
U r b a n   L a b y r i n t h.  
The city breathes in life and fumes and makes it something

I walk amidst this life as if in a                                                              dream.
Nothing really seems real.
The tide tugs at the shore, hoping he will
come out and play.
The mountain boldly challenges anything to be
as tall
and sturdy
 and strong
as her.
And the city, Oh, the city works as a hive.
I often move from
chamber                                        to                                                  chamber
spreading ideas and love as honey through combs.

But somedays are different.
The buildings suffocate.  
The cafes stifle.
The cars clog.
The tide has just another unrequited love, and the mountain falls apart.

These are the days on which I am
split and torn.
Neither here
nor there.
My heart and my brain work as
One yearns for home, while the other
And, my body is the vessel for this war zone, 
and even She is worn and apathetic.

It is on these days that I want to
from this life towards my
from which I so gracelessly ran not 12 months ago.

This leadens my
frayed and tattered

Walking and walking always and forever walking.

My eyes cloud.
My feet stumble.
So lost in my head, I barely catch
a beautiful act of love.

Four friends, age 7,
On the steps of their Hagwon.
Each puts a hand in the center of the circle and cheer.
I grin and pass by remarking its
Four hellos chorus behind me. I turn, and reply.

One brave little voice shouts,
I am Min Hee.
The ear to ear Cheshire Cat
grin and joy he has
 lightens my body.
Slowly, it lifts these consuming burdens I didn't even realize I had.

Walking and walking always and forever walking.

And from behind me,

The tinkle of small
grows into a
and ends in a sound of
And that, dear friends, is the meaning of life:
that sound of innocence resonating through the laughter of a

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

So, English is a more or less dumb language

                  Here is the thing about English: you can study it for years and years and still never be right. English is a compilation of every other language's cast offs. There are Germanic, Latin, Welsh, African and many other origins of words. Really, the only language sector that doesn't affect English is Asian and other character based languages. Because so many of the romance and germanic languages use a similar alphabet, English words come and go, mesh and become a entire entity in and of itself. This does not even count all of the idiomatic expressions on which so many English speakers are so keen.
                  English, for Korean students, is really difficult because of ridiculous spelling, grammar and various other tidbits we use to explain the unexplainable. For example, why
does the gh" sound change depending on the letters around it? In the word night it is an aye sound, but when it is in enough it is an eff sound. I can't tell you the answer to this, except if a vowel precedes it and a consonant succeeds it, then it is an aye. If it is at the end of a word, it will always be an eff.Native English speakers rarely take the time to question these more or less absurd nuances because we know it. We grew up knowing that all of our verbs are irregular, and there is no rhyme or reason to our plural system. But, for an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) student, these questions may grate on your mind while you are trying to sleep, when counting sheep just won't do it for you.
                  The English language, to a native speaker who has taken a lot of time and effort to study the language at its most basic functions, seems to be a bigger abyss the more I study it. Yes, grammar rules become clearer in my head, although rather muddy upon explanation. But, the sheer make-up and diversity of my language continuously stumps me. William Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll made things up, and they integrated
words into speech patterns and dialects. English, as a language, varies throughout the world. Not just the accents and dialects we use, but legitimate and actual words. In America, you may compliment someone's pants, but that would be rather offensive and crude in other parts of the world.
                  So, I can see the trouble of EFL students would have learning the written English language. It is confusing with all of the letters gathered in places that don't
always make sense. It is hard when there are three words for the same sound (even my American students would mess those up 97% of the time). In my limited knowledge of the Korean language, I find it so very difficult to wrap my head around the way written characters work.  When I write them, I do the lines out of order, and the words and groupings of sounds just do not make sense.  I can understand the struggle of going from a completely linear text and character based language to learning one with curves and three different ways to write a “g.” 
                  In comparison to learning other languages, English proves to be one of the most difficult because of its complete lack of one language root. When you learn German or French or Spanish, of course there will be irregularities, but for the most part you can figure out the words (both pronunciation as well as meaning) based on a defined and traditional set of rules. While I learned French in high school, I was able to pick up the alphabet and phonetic sense rather quickly, which allowed me to focus on the grammar rather than questioning whether this group of letters and that and that group of letters, which look the same, make the same sound.  I also learned quite a bit about my own grammar rules when learning them in a different language.  I never questioned why I used could, would or should instead of can, will, or shall. I just did it, as if I were on language auto pilot.  But, when I had to learn it in a different language, the rules became necessary to how I was able to express myself.
                In all seriousness, the English language is rife with both written and spoken anomalies with which many students, both native and non-native, struggle. We also like to add unnecessary phrases, set apart by punctuation, to make our sentences longer, so as to make them a “more intelligent” sounding sentence. But, really, the biggest issue of translating any foreign language into English lies within how the written language does not always match how a word sounds.  The written language turns upon itself and creates a maze of meaning, which frustrates and confuses students of all language abilities. So, from one confused English speaker to another, it will get better.