01/27/19. 18:00. P10
/The People of my Korean Life/
/Category: Professionalism/Work Ethic/
/Guide Question: Who around you is helping you deal with the issues that you may be facing, or showing you how things work in your new environment? Have you done the same for others?/
Going abroad to a new country is definitely exciting, albeit not quite as easy as I expected, especially since the country I chose speaks another language I’m not fluent in yet. Regardless, there were some things I managed to do by myself. The most significant of which is finding a real estate agent and securing my “one-room” (studio) without any help. I also figured out how to use the subway and buses, and consequently, sometimes go out on my own. I have the confidence now to call and order food delivery, ask directions when lost, as well as make day-to-day conversations with Koreans, as my Korean language skill has improved tremendously within the past few months. I try as much as possible to do things on my own because I want to learn, but sometimes the language barrier is too much. This is where this post comes in.
The guide question was a little difficult to ponder on because there were so many people who have helped me adjust. But among all those people, which include many celebrated friends, I will be focusing on the people who have been the utmost help and have become very significant people in my Korean life.
My go-to person for the most important things, and my utmost number one companion has always been my boyfriend of 4 years, Jaeyoung. Firstly, he helped me get a very cheap phone plan, as opposed to what they charge foreigners. I pay only around $5 per month for 1.5Gb data, 100 min. phone calls, and 100 text messages. This is more than what I need because Wi-Fi is abundant in Seoul. He also helped me set up my internet banking, as I needed to apply for a sort of “identification certificate” (공인인증서). As of right now, he still performs my internet shopping because it’s too bothersome to make an account. Recently, he helped me sign up for my TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) in April because I was having trouble with the website. When my sink was leaking, he helped me translate the conversation while my landlord was fixing it. As I’m writing this with him right in front of me, he agrees and says, “Yes, I did a lot for you.” (hehehe)
After the important things get settled, the biggest problem is company! I do tend to get picky with friends, and so, I dedicate the next portion of this post to the people who never made me feel lonely. However, I want to specifically dedicate it to two people who I met here. All three of us are foreigners in a country we all like, and thus, in a way, we have similar experiences which have brought us closer.
The pictures below are with Anna, and she is from Germany. We met in Korean class and have become very good friends since then. We bond over our love for Korea and our unwillingness to leave it, food – specifically cake, and we just really enjoy each other’s company. Anna and I like to go out, so even if neither one of us do not speak perfect Korean, I feel perfectly at ease because I feel I’m not alone as a stranger to a new land. As we are both students, we basically have the same schedule. The boyfriend is working already so it’s not like he can always accompany me on things. Not to say that Anna is back-up company, but the love and bond with a girl friend is quite distinct from the bond with a significant other. We are currently planning an adventure to a ski resort during this winter break. Anna also taught me that in Germany, it’s rude not to look directly into someone’s eyes when you toast for a drink. Historically, this is a way to tell whether your drink was poisoned because when you toast while your eyes are meeting, the glasses don’t align perfectly, therefore some spillage towards the other’s drink might occur (i.e. the poisoned drink spills over towards the other glass).
The next person I really am lucky to have crossed paths with is Frits from Limburg. We are both studying economics and met in one class. In fact, he tremendously helped me in passing that class. He came to my aid after probably observing that my face doesn’t really hide the fact that I did not understand what was happening 90% of the time in that class. I enjoy his humor and we share the same opinions on certain things. He shared stories with me about his hometown, and also introduced me to Limburg waffles! Unfortunately, Frits was only here for a semester so it will be a while before I see him again. And because we were so busy chatting away during our time together that WE DIDN’T EVEN TAKE A PICTURE TOGETHER! On the bright side, that’s enough motivation to visit Europe! Come to think of it, these two people are actually my first European friends.
This post is not complete without mentioning Yonsei Global – Sports Leisure, the school club I greatly enjoyed this fall semester. Because of them, I got out of my shell and did things I never would’ve done. During the semester, we went roller skating, had Chi-maek (Chicken and beer combination), and wall climbed! I really enjoyed all of those activities and will do them again later. They also went biking near Han river, but I couldn’t go due to a prior engagement.
There are many other people who have made my time here very enjoyable, both friends who I already knew prior to coming, and other friends who I’ve met here. As for the next part of the question where I help others, of course when the situation calls for it, I do help others when I know about something that they don’t. Nothing significant really comes to mind as there were not a lot of instances. One of my sister’s friends have been asking about life in Korea as she wants to go study abroad here too, so I gave her some advice. When my sister visited, I taught her how to use the subway, and took her around. Hopefully once I get back, I would really like to participate in CSU-IP’s predeparture orientation for the SY19-20 study abroad participants as an alumni volunteer. I feel as that will be when I will be the most useful.
For now, my top five advice to make life easier for study abroad is:
- Have a go-to friend in your host country (preferably before you even come to your host country)! It will make your life so much easier, and you will feel much more at ease in case of emergencies.
- Learn a little of the language before you arrive.
- Try touring the country prior to studying abroad. Less of a hassle when you arrive as you become quite familiar with some things already.
- Plan! Sure, there are lots of things you can learn when you arrive but do not “carpe diem” the important things. At the minimum, make sure that you have a place to live, enough money plus emergency money, have an idea how to procure food, and medicine if you get sick, and know how to use public transportation.
- Believe in your abilities! You got this!