How Far Korean (I) has Taken Me





My Failures

It’s natural to make mistakes when learning a language. But when doing so, is it natural to also feel extremely guilty?

I am aware that Korean has both formal and informal ways to say things, and I am aware that respecting elders is a big part of Korean culture, too. It is not only that you treat your elders with respect, but also use different words and grammar with them.

I am aware of this, but why does all of my speech end up being so informal?

Luckily, nobody has ever been insulted by the mistakes I make. They all have been very nice and understood me anyway. I will give an example:

I was late to class one day, so I decided to take the subway to school. When I got off at my station, I heard someone calling, “학생!”, which means student. Next thing I know, an old lady was standing right next to me asking what exit is on the side of Ewha Womans University. I tell her that it is 3, but all I said was “삼”. Just saying “3” is a pretty acceptable answer in English, but in maybe any other language… probably not. There was a pause as the lady was visibly surprised, but when she saw that I was a foreigner, her look softened and went about her day. 

I know what I should have said, yet failed to perform it. Two months later, I still think about that moment. 

There are so many times like this where a semesters worth of Korean just completely left my brain. This is just the process of learning a language, though. I should forgive myself more. 

But there is one thing that I can feel accomplishment from!

From Seoul to Cheongju

I am a huge fan of the Korean singer, IU, so when I found out that she was having a concert, I was ecstatic. Her concert, “Palette,” had already happened in Busan, Gwangju, and Hong Kong, so her last two stops were Cheongju and Seoul. 

I live in Seoul, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity for me to go. By the time I was on the official website to purchase the tickets, the Seoul concert was already sold out. 

That left me two options: buy tickets from a third-party ticketing website or go to Cheongju, a 2 hour bus ride from Seoul. 

I considered buying the tickets from a third-party source, but it was inflated and I didn’t want this person to receive satisfaction from making a $99 ticket be a $250 ticket.

That left me with the option of going to Cheongju. My friends and I were hesitant, since my Korean isn’t great and I was going alone. But then I felt like I needed to do this. I needed to go to this place I am not familiar with, with having no Korean language abilities. 

Needless to say, it was the right decision. “Palette” was the best concert I have ever gone to. Boy, can IU sing. I didn’t get lost getting to the venue, but I did miss my bus going back to Seoul. Here I am, though, a survivor of a journey alone. 

Overall, I have to give it to Korean (1), because without it, I don’t think I would have mustered up confidence to go. The final for that class is next week, so wish me luck!

I wasn’t going to leave without providing a picture.