"Do they speak Japanese in Korea?" This was the particularly stupid and insensitive question asked by the German teacher last night of Kwang Min, my study partner.
I think she was hoping that he would say "No, in Korea people speak Korean". It's a bit of a classic language learning thing, I guess - ask something that you know is incorrect in order to get the student to give the correct answer.
Alas, the teacher was no doubt ignorant of the fact that Korea was occupied by Japan for the first half of the 20th century, during which time the Japanese banned the Korean language and forced their 'subjects' to speak Japanese. It'd be like me asking her "are there Jewish people in Germany?". Red rag to a bull. Insensitive. Unnecessary.
Anyway, beyond this the German class is going well. Unfortunately I'm sandwiched between Kwang Min and Juliette - the girl who seems to have no idea of where she is or why she is there most of the time. A typical quote from her would be:
Teacher : "Juliette, what time do you start work in the morning?"
Juliette : "I enjoy shopping, listening to music and talking to my friends".
Truly, this is how it goes with her. To make matters worse I am sat opposite Pierre-Yves who just looks at me and laughs whenever she does this. P-Y is cute, with his boyband hair and his bobo chic thing going on. But his making me laugh is getting me some stern looks from teacher. I like it.
At break time, we seem to naturally split up into boys and girls. As per usual, the girls get to look moodily at each other, circling like siamese fighting fish waiting to go in for the kill. The boys chat, relaxed and easy with each other. Usually we talk football. I've started googling football stories before class so that I can keep up.
Anyway, last night Teacher took us down the "are you married" line of questioning. Even me, with my lack of sensibility, would realise that this is a road paved with disaster.
She looks me in the eye. "Are you married?"
"No. I am not married. I am single".
"Are you looking for a french wife?".
"No. I am looking for a husband".
"The word is wife. You are husband, she is wife".
"Yes, I understand. But I am looking for a husband. Ich bin schwul".
And as the gasp of shock rose from the audience (yeah, right) I outed myself in yet another language.
I have to wonder how many more times in my life I need to do this.
Should I just have it printed on a t-shirt?