I know that sooner or later that I needed to learn Korean. When I decided to go to South Korea for an exchange program, what comes into my mind was “how am I gonna survive there?”
I’ve never been that interested in Korean, in fact, I prefer Japanese than Korean (at that time). I was planning on going to Japan instead of South Korea for that semester. However, I ended up here.
I knew nothing about the Korean language, let alone the writing system. But I decided to give it a try.
It was quite daunting before starting to learn Korean, but I managed to learn several simple phrases as well as memorizing Hangul before departing.
You can learn how to memorize Hangul here
Before I even realize it, Korean is actually a lot easier than I thought. First thing first, Korean alphabet consists of just one type which is the Hangul. Unlike Japanese that has three types, namely, Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Second, the strokes aren’t as many and as complicated as Chinese Hanzi and Japanese Kanji.
Though Korean also use the Chinese writing system called Hanja, you will only find it in the newspaper and news channels. In daily life, it’s highly unlikely. It’s Hangul all the way.
Hangul has another huge advantage over Chinese Hanzi characters which is phonetic. Korean is entirely phonetic, unlike the Chinese that the characters may have phonetic elements in it. There aren’t hidden sounds or pronunciations and in fact, it’s also an advantage over the Latin alphabet too.
And it came to this, how does learning Korean in Korea will benefit me?
#1 Learning with other foreigners
While studying there, I took two Korean classes. One at SKKU and one at Hana Damunhwa Darin. The ones at SKKU was more like the easy peasy japanesey part where we learned all the basics stuff. For me, it was too boring as I’ve already known most of the materials. I didn’t drop the class because the teacher was super nice and funny. So I stayed.
Thus, I decided to take an extra class at Darin to learn Korean in depth. Darin is basically a multicultural center by Hana Financial Group.
At Darin, I learned all the Korean structures and grammar with every other foreigner. It was really fun! I got to meet many people from China, Japan, Russia, Egypt, Nepal, and many more! And it’s also great to actually practice speaking with all of them.
If you’re currently in Seoul and wanted to visit Darin you can take the Subway line 4 and go to Hansung University Station (한성대입구역), exit 3.
Address: Changkyung Palace Boulevard 328, (Samseon Dong 13-1) 3F, Songbuk-gu, Seoul 02866
#2 Immersing myself in the language and culture
There’s literally no way of avoiding Korean when I’m in South Korea, right? From speaking with my goshiwon representative, watching local TV shows, ordering food at restaurants, buying groceries, and even reading the advertisement, every interaction with the locals gave me new words into my vocab lists plus deepening my understanding on how to use it.
I also learned about their history, cultures, and many others. Trying hanbok was one of the best experiences ever! It was before winter started so the weather was getting windy. Seeing how the leaves on the trees flew because of the wind blow was a total jackpot. Especially when I experienced it in Gyeongbokgung Palace.
#3 Learning colloquialisms and useful phrases
Textbooks and classes only teach the regular vocabs, not those slang languages that people used using on a daily basis. By living there, I managed to pick up several slang and Konglish (Korean-English) words that were never present in textbooks and classes. By communicating with the locals it was totally the best way for me to be completely socially-savvy in Korean. I even managed to bargain at some stores and got a decent amount of discount and freebies!
#4 Traveling all the damn time
Think about it, by studying abroad, it can also be thought of as one grand holiday. And I got a whole semester to do that. Sure, I still have classes to attend and studying to be done, but there was still plenty of time to spend with new friends exploring a brand new place every day or every week. No days ever got boring because I was too busy going here and there exploring new places.
#5 Trying New Foods
There’s no doubt that food is, always an important part of traveling. Every every locale has its own regional signature dishes. And who doesn’t love food? Especially when it’s delicious 😛
Have you ever tried Korean dishes, what’s your favorite ones?