Two Languages, Two Selves

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”

“다른 언어도 할 줄 알면 두번째 영혼을 가진다.”

– Charlemagne 샤를마뉴

Just be careful you don’t turn into Voldemort by splitting your soul into seven pieces….oh, was that too dark? Sorry, that was probably too dark. Happy language learning!

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And channel your inner prideful Harry when it comes to developing that second-soul language of yours.

Translation by yours truly. All mistakes are mine.

Charlestel: At Home in Hongdae

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This piece is part of Seoul Guide, a series of posts for foreigners trying to navigate living in Seoul, South Korea

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This is a follow-up post for Finding Housing for Study Abroad in Seoul filled with specifics about where I lived for the two months I spent studying Korean and doing research for a human rights course at Sungkyunkwan University this past summer. Since I am no longer in Seoul, I’m comfortable sharing my housing details! Woohoo!  Continue reading

Finding Housing for Study Abroad in Seoul

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This piece is part of Seoul Guide, a series of posts for foreigners trying to navigate living in Seoul, South Korea

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Out of all the time I spent on preparing for my two month adventure in Seoul this past summer, I spent about 95% of it solely on housing. Like when I applied for a visa back in 2014, I felt like I was going to lose my mind – this time with the stress of securing safe, affordable, decent living conditions. On the bright side…I (re)learned quite a bit of housing-related vocabulary that I had been so sure I would never need back when I still took Korean classes.

There are several different housing options available for foreigners going to South Korea for study abroad Continue reading

“The road goes ever on…”

the road goes on quote focused

“길은 끝없이 이어진다네…”

“The road goes ever on and on…”

– J.R.R. Tolkien

Language study, study abroad, and in general the adventures of life are never finished. If your language studying motivation is petering out, or you are feeling blue after an amazing summer, or if you haven’t managed the study abroad yet that you’re dreaming of, just remember that the journey isn’t over! It’s a scary business, stepping out your door…but so, so worth it. 힘내요!

Translation and image from The Hobbit (Korean translated version by Seedbook Publishing | 씨앗을 뿌리는 사람. Full English originals can be read here.

Cafe Livin’ in Seoul

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After spending so much of my time in cafes around Seoul, I thought I would write a post dedicated to some of my favorite places in Hongdae* to study, write, or just relax with friends.

Cafe Blanc

Blanc is tucked away Continue reading

There & Back Again: Korea 2016

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Well, yet another adventure in Korea has come and gone, and impacted my life in ways that I did not foresee. Each time, I am asked if I’m really going again, and each time I somehow manage to go again by finding scholarships and fellowships and saving my own money. And each time, people ask me when I’m going back.

The answer hasn’t changed: I don’t know. And that’s okay. I have my senior year of undergrad to finish, and my future to consider. It will probably be a good while before I can go back.

In the meantime, I’m going to reflect on the past two months as well as 2014 and 2015 before I start sharing more focused posts.

This fellowship was very different from the two previous times I’ve gone to Korea. In 2014, I was an exchange student for a semester and took courses like a normal student at Yonsei University. I lived in the dorms, I made numerous international friends, and I finally got to test my Korean skills in a truly Korean environment. I took intensive Korean and my skills improved rapidly. I attended countless concerts and special events, traveled deep into the countryside, and even got really sick several times from overbooking myself for classwork and for fun things. Most importantly, I went on mini-excursions on my own all around Seoul in an effort to find ‘me’. It was a period of immense growth and one of the best times of my life.

And attending 연고전 redefined my concept of “school spirit”.

I spent summer 2015 at Yonsei as well, but this time as a student in the International Summer School program. This meant that I lived in the exact same dorm as before, attended courses in the same buildings, and met a new group of international students (primarily from the U.S.). Again, I took intensive Korean, but I suffered from a severe drop in confidence in my language skills as most of my classmates were native speakers who had grown up in the U.S.

As in 2014, I attended concerts and events and traveled out of Seoul, this time on a brief trip to Boseong’s green tea fields. I spent much of my time in Cafe Noriter in Edae. For summer 2015, Korea to me was in some ways different from before, but still so much was the same – perhaps too much. Instead of being pushed out of my comfort zone, I simply returned to the one I had built the previous year when I was an exchange student.

That’s not to say that I didn’t have a fantastic time.

But let’s talk about 2016 now.

For the past two months, I was not at Yonsei. I did not live in a dorm. I entered knowing only one student in my program at Sungkyunkwan University. I attended no concerts. Yet for all these differences, it was the right way to spend my third time in Korea. At this point, I have already attended so many varied cultural events that the ones offered by my program or that friends invited me to were ones I had already attended in past years.

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A quiet summer evening on SKKU’s main campus

I realized a new dream, one that I fulfilled throughout June and July: that of feeling truly like I was living in Korea like anyone else. I was independent, and yet also a person absorbed into the existing millions. While it was far beyond my comfort zone, I was simultaneously scared and thrilled to be pushing myself again. My schedule was my own; my mealtimes were dependent on me alone. I did not have the community that a dorm provides, and I lived a long bus or subway ride from SKKU. I wasn’t taking intensive Korean – in fact, I only had one course on human rights, and it was incredibly intensive and informative. I wasn’t interested in making friends during my program because I already had people I wanted to spend time with and places that I wanted to go. Things were very, very different.

And I drank a lot of coffee.

And I loved it. I lived in cafes, I studied on my own schedule. I commuted on sweaty buses with the rest of the teeming masses of students and workers in the morning and evening because I could no longer simply walk out of my dorm and into the next building for class. I bought books at Kyobo and wrote poems in pastry shops, and after a while I started running into people in my neighborhood that I recognized. I became a ‘regular’ at cafes and restaurants, someone who was recognized and welcomed a bit more than the general groups of strangers. Where I lived truly began to feel like my town – or perhaps, in the style of Korea, I should say it was ours.

Rain or shine, Hongdae was home.

Also, the most thrilling and different thing from my previous two experiences in Korea was that this time, a language exchange friendship of the past half year blossomed into a dating relationship and that deeply affected how much I practiced speaking Korean and how much I traveled around Seoul and the surrounding regions. As a result, I also experienced a variety of things that I would not have imagined, like attending a Korean wedding, meeting my Korean boyfriend’s family after he told them he was dating me, and learning more about Korea’s couple culture firsthand (ㅎㅎㅎ couple shoes, anyone?). It also vastly increased the stares – a mixed-race couple rather than simply a foreigner draws even more attention ㅋㅋㅋ

 

우리 같이 있으면 아무것도 무섭지 않아~ 😊😊

A photo posted by Jamie (@jaemijamie) on

 

Of course, it also changed how I felt when I had to leave at the very end of July, as it was no longer just about leaving Korea, but rather about leaving him…

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너무 보고 싶다. #롱디

At least he’s transferring to a U.S. university a few states away. I’ll just listen to Roy Kim’s 롱디 on repeat until I can visit him!

Anyways, I just want to say thanks, Korea, for another incredible time. I look forward to returning someday soon and in the meantime, I promise to improve my Korean.

읽어 주셔서 감사합니다!

지금 재생 중:

Featured in ATK Magazine

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A few weeks ago I was contacted by Jasmine Sohn, a contributor to ATK Magazine, and she asked to interview me about my Korean language study journey and this little rambling blog of mine. The interview was posted recently and is currently featured on the magazine’s main page!

ATK Magazine

 

ATK Magazine is an online magazine based out of Toronto, Canada, and it covers all things Korean. Road to Korea is one of the categories curated on the site and it is comprised of a series of interviews with various bloggers, each of them exploring the reasons why foreigners develop a deep interest in Korea as well as delving into each interviewee’s personal backstory and continued involvement with Korea.

If you’re interested in learning more about how I developed my passion for learning Korean and how I like to spend my time in Seoul, you can check out the interview here.

Shout out to Jasmine and ATK Magazine for the fun interview!

읽어 주셔서 감사합니다!

 

지금 재생 중:

 

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

“저희에게 주신 시간을 어떻게 쓰는지 결정해야 할 뿐이다.”

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien

직접 번역한 것이라서 틀릴 수도 있다. 있으면 죄송합니다.

이제 한국에 온지 벌써 2주일 지났는데 아직도 꿈이 같다. 시간이 천계천 같이 흐르고 생각보다 끝이 올건데도 지금은 지금이다. 현실이다. 지금 있는 시간이 잘 써야 된다.

지금 재생 중:

Guide: Getting to/from Incheon International Airport

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If you’re traveling to South Korea via a plane, you’re probably trying to figure out how to get from the airport in Incheon to Seoul. Even though almost everything is in English, if you don’t speak Korean, getting out of the airport might be intimidating (and even if you do speak Korean, it still may feel a bit overwhelming). Here are your options.  Continue reading

한국으로 돌아간다

“사람이 왜 떠나다? 돌아올 수 있기 위해. 온 곳을 다시 볼 수 있기 위해. 거기에 있는 사람들도 당신을 다시 보죠. 시작한 곳으로 돌아오는 것이 한번만이라도 안 떠나는 것과 다르다.”

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry PratchettA Hat Full of Sky

곧 한국으로 돌아가기로 해서 좋은 글귀를 찾아서 번역해보았다. 틀린 것이 있으면 죄송합니다.

다음 주부터 한국에서 글을 쓰고 올릴게요! 여러분 한국어 공부를 재미있게 하세요!

지금 재생 중:

역시 마마무다!