It has officially been 2 years since my sister and I flew to Korea for the first and only (so far!) time. It doesn’t at all feel like two years have passed and to be honest, I was sure that I would have returned to Korea by now. And while I, of course, have my moments of a sudden need to go back asap, I haven’t really thought much about making actual plans of returning. However, now that Facebook is showing me all the pictures and posts from 2 years ago, I feel an intense need to go back. I want to see my friends. I want to walk through all the small alleyways in Hyehwa and enjoy the smell of food that is to find everywhere.
I know I won’t be able to go back this year. There’s simply too much for me to do here and I am already all over the place as it is. I have to prioritize and that’s okay. But I think it’s time for me to actually start making plans about a well-deserved trip to the place that was my home for 3 amazing weeks. Perhaps in the spring?
There are so many things that I want to do in Korea but most of all, I just really want to see all the people that I haven’t seen for so long. Simple things like sitting outside the CU with a cold drink and an ice cream while chit chatting about whatever. I also have a list of things that I never got around to doing or seeing last time, so I definitely want to do them this time!
Two weeks ago I went on a little adventure that turned out to be quite the rollercoaster. On Thursday I drove to my sister’s house in the evening and then we took the train together the next morning, headed to køge for the annual taekwondo summer camp. I was feeling really nervous and anxious which isn’t at all unusual for me however this time it was a bit worse as we were only 3 people – including me – from my club who had joined the camp this year and the 2 others were both there as instructors for the black belt team and the children’s team, which then leaves me ‘alone’ in my team. In fact, we saw each other so little that they were both surprised when they saw me at dinner on Saturday night and asked when I had arrived since they hadn’t seen me around.. Well.. I had been there since Friday morning, several hours before they themselves had arrived haha!
I had so much fun last year though, so I was determined to go this year as well even though I knew I would be on my own during all the lessons, as my sister doesn’t do taekwondo and was only there as a guest. Also, while taekwondo has triggered my anxiety many times before I know it’s only there before we actually start. The second we start lining up and gets ready to greet the giant 태극기 hanging on the wall and the 사범님 in charge, it completely vanishes in an instant.
And that was indeed what happened on Friday when we had our opening ceremony and our first lesson as one giant team. I had so much fun until the very last 10 minutes where we had to partner up, have a 10 second long(short?) fight and then the person to the left had to jump ahead to the next row and start over until we had had a fight with people from all belt colors and degrees. I was the person on the left which meant that I was the person to travel through the rows and it was fun and interesting until I got to the very last row. Everybody had been kind and smiling up until then and took it a bit more easy if they were fighting people from lower ranks. But the at the last row I was teamed up with a guy who is basically the 대사범님’s right hand. I don’t like him. And I say that coming from a personal point of view and not a professional. He is super talented and has been doing taekwondo for ages, but I don’t like him as a person – but I believe that’s a story for another day!
I generally don’t let my personal feelings and opinions take over so I greeted him with a big smile and in return, he looked at me like I was a piece of sh*t that he couldn’t even be bothered to deal with. The 10 second fight starts and I do my best even though I’m tired from already having done it around 15 times and he then dramatically rolls his eyes at me and starts yelling in my face “MORE MORE MORE” even though the 10 seconds is up and I have run down to the very back and start over with the white belts. He forced me into an uncomfortable situation where I had to either ignore him or ignore the 사범님 in charge who at the same time was yelling at me that the time had already ended.
That night I went to bed feeling really sad. I felt like I should have stayed home as I obviously wasn’t good enough. I didn’t deserve to be there. I tried reminding myself that it was totally okay to feel intimidated by him. He’s older than me, taller than me, broader than me and he has been doing taekwondo for more than 40 years compared to my 2 years. I tried so hard to stay optimistic but for some reason, that tiny little part of the lesson had erased all the joy I had felt about being there, even though the first 50 minutes of the lesson had been absolutely great.
Saturday morning I got up early with my sister, had breakfast and got ready for my first lesson of the day. The first lesson was about – you guessed it! Fighting! – and after the Friday lesson, I was dreading the entire thing even though this specific lesson was the one that I had been looking forward to the most. The lesson was being taught by Nuno Damaso who is insanely talented and really good at teaching as well. Our team was from white to blue belts which meant that I, as a blue belt, were the second highest graded person on the team and therefore had to stand on the very first row, and I felt like such a fraud. I felt so strongly that I didn’t deserve standing all the way up there..
During this lesson we had a few uhm.. mishaps I guess. We were only wearing chest guards during his lesson because that was the main area we would be focusing on and he said we should be able to take a bit pain from blocking with our arms and legs (Head was off limits so headgear wasn’t relevant either) and we were all pretty much fine with it. However my partner had a few issues with his aim as he started to get tired and as a result, I was left with some pretty bad bruises everywhere and especially on both of my hips, as well as a bruised rib.
But it was fun. I had so much fun and forgot all about those depressing thoughts that had been haunting me since the previous night. My adrenalin was pumping and I felt so good after that lesson, that after our 15-minute break I jumped straight into the next lesson of the day and it wasn’t even until halfway through it that I realized how bad my injuries from the fight was. I obviously couldn’t see my bruises yet but due to my bruised rib, I was struggling a bit with breathing and moving in certain ways.
I still managed to power through and then I went to change my clothes for the lunch break. At this point, I knew that the 4th and final lesson of the day would be off the table as it was self-defense and involved at a lot of grabbing, punching and throwing, but I still thought I could power through the 3rd lesson after lunch as it was about stamina and explosivity and with no contact. My sister was not agreeing though haha! She was immediately in mother mode and wanted me to stop for the day until we had a clearer idea of the injuries I had. I was determined to take one more lesson but when I grabbed my 도복 I noticed that the thread in my pants had broken and taking another lesson would 100% end up with my pants ripping and me flashing my behind to the entire team. I decided to take it as a sign from the universe, telling me that enough is enough. It could also be due to the fact that I have gained 9kgs since December but I would like to stick to the first explanation, hahahah!
In the end, I was out of the game for the last half of the weekend but I had a lot of fun watching all the classes from the side bench. On Sunday I met up with my Korean friend whom I had never met face to face before and when the camp officially ended my sister and I continued to Copenhagen where we stayed until Monday. While sitting at a Starbucks with my sister, all the pictures from the camp got posted online and when I saw this picture of me it suddenly hit me why that first episode had been so rough on me.
This picture was taken right as we were ending the fighting lesson on Saturday morning. A lesson that physically took a way bigger toll on me but take a look at my face. I was totally fine. And it hit me. On Friday I didn’t feel intimidated by his size, his strength nor his belt degree. I’m okay with the pain. I was feeling intimidated by him as a person. I felt he was attacking me and who I am, and not my body. I felt worthless and ridiculous.
And on Saturday it was the complete opposite. I got some somewhat bad injuries but my partner and I was smiling and laughing through the entire thing. We were cheering each other on and the instructor was as well.
I think everybody needs to remember this. You don’t have to act like a tough person or belittle people to stay ‘strong’. Smiling at people, cheering them on and telling them that they did a good job does not make you weak nor does it make your win any less of an accomplishment. You can be opponents and still be friends.
From the very beginning of my language learning journey, I have been very clear and vocal about my love for reading. I started reading webtoons in Korean almost immediately and I continued with easy and short books not long after. There are so many benefits, and in my case it has been one of the most giving methods for learning vocabulary and natural sentence structures, not to mention how it has been so incredibly helpful when it comes to my writing abilities as well. And while I have absolutely no regrets and still a 100% urge everyone to read, I have noticed one frustrating thing about expanding vocabulary through reading, which is that it easily becomes passive knowledge. I can’t even tell you guys how many words that I can reckognize perfectly in an instant when I’m reading a book, but then when I’m trying to tell my friends or italki teacher about the amazing book that I’m currently reading, then I struggle so bad to recall those words that I have otherwise read and understood so clearly, so many times before. It’s so frustrating and as I have found myself reading a lot more this past year, these frustrations have been growing and growing while I have been trying to figure out how to activate all of these hidden gems in my brain. But then, one magical afternoon when I was spending money on gmarket once again, the answer came to me! Well sort of anyway.. I knew that as with everything else, it mainly comes down to a matter of actually using what you learn actively. But honestly, I just don’t get to use words like ‘전과자’ (ex-convict) or ‘종신형’ (life in prison) that often. So when I was ordering my new study planner and buying refill pages a while back, I discovered that this particular planner (Indigo Monster Study Planner) have other types of refill pages as well. They had some with games which I also bought, but way more importantly, they had refills made for book reviews! How absolutely perfect! These pages comes with space to write a short review / other thoughts on the book you are reading, as well as a few questions like start/finish date, general rating, genre and most memorable sentence from the book. It’s a great way to sort of kickstart your thoughts on the book you have been reading. There’s also book wish lists and a few other goods to help track your reading if you are like me (obsessed with tracking I mean lol).
I’m basically just going to give myself this as homework for each book / story I read. Hopefully it’ll help me to actually sit down and actively think about what I have read and how I feel about it. It gives me a great opportunity to also use what I have otherwise only read, while alsobeing great writing practice at the same time. Making such pages about movies could be a fun challenge too, so maybe I’ll try that too, but for now, I’m perfectly happy with my book reviews. It’s time to activate this brain of mine and turn all of these words into active knowledge!
I have been using Memrise pretty much since I started studying Korean and while I don’t use it religiously, I still consider myself a somewhat regular user.
I know that Memrise is often connected with the idea of simply memorizing, which some are for, some are against, and others just don’t really care. I have already talked about my thoughts on memorizing here so I won’t be talking about any of the pros and cons today.
However, I do want to talk about how to actually get the most of using the Memrise App or Website.
I assume that you all know about Memrise but in case you don’t, it’s a basically a flashcard App/Website with both premade and user-made sets, that uses spaced repetition to get the best results out of the time you spend on it.
Create your own sets.
Memrise comes with a ton of already made sets for different languages and topics, made by Memrise themselves, as well as access to all of the other users’ sets. Naturally, it is very tempting to simply pick a course or set and get started immediately.
However, by making your own set you, first of all, make sure that the words you enter, are words that you actually need learn right now. That’s why you’ve come across them in your studies in the first place, right?
Secondly, by sitting down and looking up each word on your own, and then writing them down along with their meaning, you will already get a pretty good foundation to continue building on. The words will attach to your brain in a completely different way than when you simply see a new word and its meaning.
Use the Meme option to add a sample sentence.
Memrise has a Meme option for each added word. You can add a picture, an actual meme or my favorite, add a picture with a sample sentence on it. That way you will keep the context no matter if you are learning a new word, an expression or a new grammar point.
You can make your own sample sentence or if you want to make sure that there are no mistakes in it, then simply copy the sentence where your first came across that word or expression.
Set goals for the streak.
Memrise has a streak system, and you can set goals for each set. That way to can create a goal of how much you wish to practice every day, no matter how much or how little time you have available each day.
The streak itself does nothing for your learning, however, it adds some accountability as well as a game-like aspect to studying. It gives you a visual overlook of your studies and I personally find that even though I don’t really think about it on a daily basis, I do find myself slightly upset by the thought of missing a day, when my streak is over 10 days.
Don’t use your hints.
Depending on whether you have a standard or a pro membership, you might have ‘Hints’ available when you are practicing your sets, and my advice is to simply ignore them completely. The thing is, that if you use your hints to guess a word, it doesn’t get marked as a wrong answer even if you use hints to guess every single part of the words. And that means that the word will show up less and less during reviewing when you actually need it to appear more often instead since you obviously didn’t remember it on your own. Also, when the words get marked (mistakenly I might add) as correct, then the words won’t be added to ‘Difficult words’. I’ll talk more about that further down!
Don’t spend too long on figuring out the answer.
Sometimes all you need is a little time to think, however, I recommend that you don’t spend too long figuring out the answer. I usually tell myself that if I was having a conversation right now and wanted to use that specific word, would I be thinking about it for this long, or would I have skipped it and reformed my sentence by now to keep the conversation going. If I would have skipped it in a conversation then it’s time to skip it during the review as well. This will automatically mark it as wrong and it’ll start appearing more often for practice so that you will be able to recall it faster in the future.
Difficult words are your friend.
Memrise has a special set called ‘Difficult words’ under each created set. While it sometimes seems like a failure to have any words in that set, it truly is your best friend. Whenever you get a word wrong or skip it, they all end up in that set where you get the chance to practice those words a bit more than the other words. If your goal is to be able to actually use all of these words without hesitation, then don’t feel bad about your difficult set. Just give them the extra love that they need.
Don’t study words without context.
Avoid studying words from a random list without any context. Many words have several meanings and it’s SO HARD to unlearn something again, no matter how wrong it might be. The context itself will also help you remember whatever you are learning.
Also, I don’t see any reason to learn from such a list. I mean, I already find tons of unknown words while reading and studying, so why not just work on those words, that you have actually met in a proper context?
Avoid set where words are in alphabetical order.
If you do decide to practice sets that are premade or words that are based on a random list, at least avoid sets that are made in alphabetical order. Seriously. Just don’t. The words will be introduced in the order they have been added which means that you might get 10 words in a row that all starts with 인 and it. will. mess. with. your. brain.
Every single word will blend together and so will the meanings of each word. It is the absolute worst thing you can do.
I hope you guys find this helpful and feel free to add your own tips for Memrise in the comments. I think we all need the help we can get, haha!
Happy new year everybody!
To those of you who have been around on the blog for a while, will know that starting a new year is a magical thing for me. Many people spend the day/night like they would on any other day, but to me, it’s the most unique day of the year and I’m always surprised by how much I find relief in the concept of new and fresh beginnings. It’s not just during the new year. I feel it every Monday morning when I wake up. It comforts me every night when my day hasn’t been the best or when I’m not satisfied with what I have accomplished. New times will come and all we can do to change things is to make efforts to do or to be better in the future.
The last few days I have been reflecting over the year that has now officially passed and I’m glad to say that, while the year was quite rough, I have managed to accomplish almost all of my goals for the year. Not only the language related ones that I wrote about here but also the ones related to my health, taekwondo and for my house.
It makes me feel more prepared for the new year that we have entered. If I can accomplish those things despite having things working against me, then I can do it again for the next 12 months.
And so, here I am, with a whole new set of goals to accomplish!
I haven’t set a lot of language goals this year as I feel like they will come quite naturally, but of course, I do have a few specific goals that I want to share with you guys.
But first I think it’s time to talk to you all about my TOPIK results!
As I shared in my last post, I didn’t feel super confident in passing level 4 but I had a really great experience and as a result, I was actually planning on retaking it in April. However, on the 20th of December, I was finally able to check my score and it turned out that I had indeed passed! Hurray!
So these are my final results, and while I was obviously ecstatic about passing, I actually didn’t think too much about my scores or new goals until I shared my results with my amazing italki teacher. She was so happy for me and instantly started planning what we need to work on for me to be able to pass level 6 in November.
It’s going to be a challenge but she believes in me, and so do I!
So there you have my first and biggest language related goal for 2019!
As for the smaller goals to help me achieve it, they are:
1. Read at least 12 books throughout the year
2. Practice 50 random words every day, from my italki lessons
3. Write at least 1 diary entry in Korean per week.
4. Write at least 12 essays throughout the year
5. Do translations
Those of you who have been around for a while knows that I always buy myself new years presents, that are related to my goals, to motivate and inspire me to actively work on them.
This year I bought myself:
1. 3 sets of mildliners (first time trying them, believe it or not!)
2. Extra Muji pens (I bought a set in London the night before my exam and I’M IN LOVE)
3. KBS 생활 한국어 고급 (For study and review purposes)
Gosh, it sure has been a while. The last few months has been so hectic and I don’t even know where to begin updating from.
As you guys know I was studying diligently for my TOPIK exam and I flew to London on November 16th as planned, with my Korean friend, ready to tackle whatever came my way. And thank god for that because I woke up with a sore throat which then quickly evolved into a full on cold.
I was determined to do well on my exam anyway, so the next morning I stopped by a pharmacy to buy a nasal spray and some kleenex, and then I headed straight to the test location. Everything was going according to plan until I talked to the supervisors to get my papers checked, and she asked me if I was sick – Even though I very obviously was. So, apparently they don’t really want sick people taking the test because it easily disturbs the rest of the test takers – which is totally fair, I just didn’t think about it.
So there I was, trying to explain that I didn’t cough at all and that I had brought nasal spray and kleenex so I wouldn’t be sniffing either. I thought that would work, but that just brought up another problem. During the test, we’re not allowed to have anything on our table except the papers, our pen and something to drink. So then I had to unwrap all of my tissues and lay them on my table to show that I had no secret notes and what not, as well as to avoid being noisy while unwrapping them during the test.
What. A. Mess. Anyhow, in the end, they let me in and I was, in fact, the quietest in the room lol.
As for the actual test, we started with the listening test which went okay, I think. We then moved on to the writing test which is my weakest point so I figured that it would be perfect to “get it over with” and then I could finish strong with the reading test which is my strongest point. Or so I thought haha! Instead, the writing test turned out the be easier that imagined (though I still didn’t manage to finish the final essay before the time ran out) and halfway through the reading test I had a few questions where I felt completely lost. And then I made the mistake that I ALWAYS TELL MYSELF NOT TO MAKE! I kept re-reading the questions – which by the way didn’t help at all – and that obviously meant that I ran out of time and had to speed read through the last 5 questions and just guess the answers.
Honestly, I’m still a bit frustrated with myself for falling in that newbie trap, but what can you do? Just have to keep going.
So all in all, things went okay, but not at all like expected so I literally have no idea what my results will be. I’m not super confident that I’ll pass level 4 as wished, but if that’s the case, I’ll simply take it again in the spring.
It was also a really great experience! As most of you guys know, I had some intense anxiety issues when I took the exam the first time a few years ago, but I didn’t have any problems this time. Also, a lot of the other test takers said that they found it really difficult to stay focused around halfway through each test, but I didn’t feel that at all. I’m so used to using Korean for hours and hours at a time so I just felt super relaxed and basically just in my right element.
The results will be out on Thursday so I’m impatiently waiting, haha!
I had some fun days in London with my friend, and a few days after I got home I started a new internship, which slowly sucked the life out of me. Okay okay, I’m being dramatic. It was really rough though. I didn’t have a lot of time to myself and when I finally did have some time, I didn’t have the energy to do anything at all. The work I was doing just wasn’t a good match for me but I learned a lot and when I finished the internship last Friday, I got a lot of praise from my boss and coworkers, and they even gave me a present. It was rough but I’m grateful for the experience.
I’m now officially on my Christmas break and I’m looking forward to just relaxing and having a great time with my boyfriend.
I have a lot of things that I want to get done, but I want to make sure that I actually get some proper rest.
I hope you all are having a great holiday time with your loved ones!
Goals for August: – Have a daily study average on 3 hours.
– Work on my vocabulary.
– Work on Taekwondo specific vocabulary!
– Study with TOPIK tests.
– Work on writing.
A Tracker: 90 Hours, which gives me a daily average of: 2,9 Hours.
Close enough to 3 hours, haha! I’ll consider it as a succes!
TOPIK: My TOPIK practice results for July were: 듣기: 35/50 correct answers.
I’m pretty happy with this result! It’s not a new record but it’s a good result for mig 4급 goal.
읽기: 29/50 correct answers.
Not too happy about this one! For the first half it went really well but then it just went down hill from there. That just happens sometimes, but since my exam is coming up, it would be nice if it didn’t happen right now, haha!
I super satisfied with the hours I put into studying in August, especially because I have been studying very effectively and with a ton of different materials.
I have been working a lot on my vocabulary throughout the month, and not just reviewing. I’ve been making a sincere effort to actually use the words I learn. I use them in conversations, my diary or I pick out a few random words from the day before, and create some sample sentences. I can feel my vocabulary growing and hopefully it’ll be noticeable in November! I have also been working a little bit on my Taekwondo specific vocabulary but not nearly as much or as actively as my overall vocabulary. And that’s ok!
As for studying with TOPIK tests, I have actually bought a new book set, with practice tests, tips and even more importantly, it also comes with a ton of examples. I’m working through the books little by little and I’m sure it’ll help me out on the 쓰기 test.
My last goal was to work on my writing, which I also managed to do! I’ve been practicing with the assignments from 서강 한국어 읽기 (which I have now finished) as well as doing practice tests from the new books.
Overall I’m just really satisfied with my efforts!
To work on in September:
– Work on my new Kmooc courses. I believe both of them will help me learn the language while learning the actual content.
– Practice writing. I want to continue working on my writing skills and especially become better at structuring my essays instead of just winging them. My kmooc courses also comes with different written assignments so I’ll be practicing writing almost daily.
– Make sure to use my books. I have a tendency to just go all in on my courses and not make time for my books. This time I want to make sure that I find a proper balance (since my courses lasts for 12-15 weeks) and still make time to my study books and even more importantly my novels!
– Finish 죽고 싶지만 떡볶이는 먹고 싶어
– Finish 미생
The two last point are simply to make sure that I also make time to just read and watch dramas.
Also, as you might have noticed, I didn’t add any time goals this time. I already know that I’ll be studying a lot so I just felt like it would be pointless to make such a goal. Even If I don’t touch any books, my courses will have me practicing reading, listening, writing as well as my vocabulary 6/7 days a week and I also still have my Italki lessons every week so speaking will be practiced often as well. I know I’ll be working on all aspects, so I’m already pretty happy with myself.
So.. I told myself to not join any Kmooc courses until after my exam in November, as they take a lot of time, and I feel like I’m better off with my books right now. So obviously I signed up for no less than two courses. Whoops^^
They have so many interesting courses lately and it’s just so hard to not sneak a peak once in a while, and as soon as something catches my eye, I can’t let it go, haha!
I still feel like I should be focusing on my books, but in my defense both courses are a lot less intense than the ones I have taken before and I do honestly think they can turn out to be helpful. I think they might give my studying an extra boost while also serving as a breath of fresh air during my otherwise exam focused studies. Just as importantly, I think they might add some value to my life in general. It’ll be worth it.
The first course I enrolled in is called 인간과 삶, and it covers a bunch of topics like life, death, society and economics. I’m thinking that this course might come in really handy for the 쓰기 part of my exam, as the essay will most likely involve some (or maybe even all) of those topics and I’ll be able to learn words and phrases that can secure me a few extra points or at least cause me to give more thought on these topics.
I’m actually really excited to see what this course will bring!
The second course I enrolled in is called 소통-행복과 변화로 가는 길. This course is not as much about exam preparation but rather about me learning in general. I’m sure it’ll plant a few good words or phrases in my head anyway though!
None of the courses have begun yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. It probably wont be easy as I have so many other things I want to do as well, but rather than thinking of it as a challenge, I’ll think of it as an amazing opportunity to grow.
Goals for July: – Have a daily study average on 3 hours.
– Work on my vocabulary.
– Practice reading aloud!
– Work on Taekwondo specific vocabulary!
– Study with TOPIK tests.
– Work on writing.
A Tracker: 75 Hours, which gives me a daily average of: 2,4 Hours.
So I definitely did not reach my goal this months. A lot of family stuff came up and I had to prioritize my time. I guess this just happens sometimes, but I’m still a bit bummed out. Oh well, it’s a new month now so let’s see what happens!
TOPIK: My TOPIK practice results for July were: 듣기: 32/50 correct answers.
This is the same score as last month so I guess there isn’t really that much to talk about here, haha.
읽기: 33/50 correct answers.
This is 1 more than last month, however it’s not a new record so it doesn’t really say much.
Okay, so I completely failed 4 of my 6 goals. Not the best stats, haha!
I didn’t reach my study goal for time (though hours spent doesn’t equal things learned, so I’m not too worried about that) and I didn’t look into Taekwondo related vocabulary AT ALL. I also didn’t practice my writing (I don’t even think I wrote in my diary) nor did I work through my previous TOPIK tests. These 4 points will be moved to my August goals, as they are things that I really do need to work on.
I have been practicing reading aloud quite a lot, and I’m finding it really helpful for a lot of things. I do it during all italki sessions as well as when I’m studying on my own.
I have also been working on my general vocabulary. I’m making an effort to actually use the words I come across every day, and to write them down and say them out loud to myself.
To work on in August:
– Have a daily study average on 3 hours. Hopefully I’ll make it happen this month, haha!
– Work on my vocabulary. I’m not making any changes to this goal as it really seems to be helping me. I keep having those moments where you learn something new and then suddenly hear and read it everywhere. God I missed having those moments!
– Work on Taekwondo specific vocabulary! I really need to do this, and I have already found myself a few resources. This is not a goal for my general language skills, but its really important for me personally.
– Study with TOPIK tests. This is my biggest and most important goal for August. I took all the practice tests in my books and the ones online as well, so I ordered a new book in order to continue my monthly testing. Until then I’ll be working through the results from the old ones. I need to analyze my answers and the reasons why I got them wrong.
– Work on writing. Writing is my weakest skills (unless it’s everyday chatting), so I really have to focus on this. There’s a few 쓰기 examples that I want to analyze properly and I want to start working with one of my writing books again. I’m not sure I be able to do it this month though, as I want to finish at least one of the books that I’m currently working with.
I’m working through YTN 뉴스로 배우는 시사 한국어, and I’m finding it really helpful. I think it’ll help with writing too.
I have exactly 100 days left for my exam. I already signed up, I’m buying the flight tickets soon, and I’m really looking forward to it. Those of you who have been around for a while knows that I had my first really bad anxiety attack, when I took the exam 2 years ago, so I was really worried about doing it again. But so far I feel nothing but pure excitement!
3 weeks ago I went on a taekwondo summer camp with a bunch of amazing people. A lot of things happened that weekend! First of all, I had my third belt graduation and successfully earned myself a new belt! Hello Orange!
And then the next day I did actual 겨루기 (kyorugi) which is the sparring/fighting part of taekwondo. Obviously we practice the techniques and such but we don’t do a lot of 겨루기 in our normal practice sessions (unless you are around a red belt or up – at that point 겨루기 becomes a part of your future promotions) so it was super new to me. We practiced a few techniques and then a few people got to try them out in an actual fight. I have always been absolutely terrified of the thought of fighting someone else, so imagine my surprise when my hand flew up in response to our coaches request for volunteers. Well.. ^^; I really have no idea what happened. Maybe I was feeling a bit more confident due to my new belt, or maybe something inside me just knew that I really needed to challenge myself. Who knows?
I was sparring with a girl who was used to sparring so I quickly had to change my tactic and focus on defending. I got 0 points and she got 2, but we were supposed to keep on till 3 points had been achieved. However I ended up defending myself well enough so that she couldn’t get the final point and the fight had to be stopped because the time ran out. That still makes her the winner, but I felt strong and completely invincible! Sort of funny since I had just lost my first fight, huh?
Those things has already turned into fond memories however, something way .. bigger? .. more interesting? happened. I don’t really know what to call it yet. Whatever it is, it certainly sparked a bunch of thoughts and emotions within me.
As some of you guys already know, our club – and sister clubs – all have a Korean Grand Master, living in Germany. I had met him twice before summer camp. I met him briefly at the dan promotion back in September and again in March when we had our annual Easter trip to his Dojang in Hamburg. Back in March I had decided that I was going to challenge myself and actually talk to him. He doesn’t speak Danish nor English, and his German skills are not too great either. I don’t speak German at all so if we were to talk, it would only be in Korean, which – as you all know – is not at all new to me.
When we were having dinner back then, he sat down next to me and while I was trying to gather some courage, his family joined him and they started chatting away in Korean SO FREAKING FAST and with the thickest Busan dialect I have heard in a long time. In the end I just sat there with my, not at all charming, 멍 face. Nope. I was so not going to try and join that conversation! I did thank his wife for the food in Korean though, but then she got so shocked that I for a moment thought I had broken her, and I ended up just smiling awkwardly and then practically ran out of the room. Great. It was just great.
As you can probably imagine, I had absolutely no intentions of talking to him and making a fool out of myself this time either, however I forgot to take something quite important into consideration. You see, back then only a handful of my taekwondo friends knew about my language skills, and it has since then become known among them all..
Saturday evening was our last evening together, it was they day where we had the most lessons and also the day of our successful belt promotion so everybody was having fun and relaxing together. Master Shin and his wife had brought a karaoke machine and people were singing, dancing, yelling, laughing and getting more than just a little tipsy. I was sitting with my friends and coaches who were talking to Master Shin, when one of my coaches suddenly turned around and asked me if I wanted to speak in Korean with Master Shin, and before I had a chance to decline the ‘offer’ my other coach was telling Master Shin about my Korean abilities.
It happened so freaking fast and I quickly turned into Master Shins favorite person. I was quickly asked to switch places with my coach and he then called over his wife to talk to me as well. He was talking so fast and even though his dialect was way lighter when talking to me, I still had to focus 100% on understanding what he was telling me. He also talks A LOT. That’s kinda an inside joke among the clubs, but it only made it ‘worse’ when he was able to speak comfortably in Korean. I asked him when they had moved to Germany and he started telling me about where he grew up, what university he had graduated from and about a funny friend of his who has become very wealthy. He never answered my question though He asked me to sing a Korean song which I politely but very strongly passed up on. Every time he and his wife had to do something or went to sing a song, they would instantly circle right back to me, and it quickly gained interest from the 150 other people who were present. They were all staring at us and talking about us with the biggest fascination I have seen in a very long time. I didn’t know most of them and I couldn’t really process the situation because I had to focus all of my energy into understanding the conversation.
A few hours into the conversation he suddenly got out his wallet and took out a business card. It was old and wrinkly so he started to smooth it out on the table until his wife found a prettier one. He then gave the pretty to me and asked me to write down my contact information on the other one. He explained that he would love for me to help him translate in the future, at these taekwondo events. He also told me about a bunch of Korean companies in Germany that he could connect me to if I wished to work with them in the future.
Going to bed in my tiny little pink tent that night, I couldn’t sleep despite being completely drained. I was trying to process all of my thoughts and emotions but all I felt was panic. I was fine when I didn’t have time to think about the situation but now that I was all alone I instantly doubted myself and I felt like crying. I almost called my boyfriend despite it being way past midnight, because I suddenly felt like the most stupid person in the world and I needed someone to tell me that it wasn’t true.
The thing is, I have never been super confident about any of my skills, but I have been working a lot on that and it has been a really long time since I have felt that insecure and it really caught me by surprise.
I was cursing at myself for having agreed to help, and for giving him my contact information. I mean, who the hell do I think I am?! I can’t interpret. I’m not good enough. I keep thinking about myself as a TOPIK level 4, but the truth is that I haven’t actually passed that grade yet. I could fail. And even if I don’t, a level 4 is still no where near a level 6 which would be way better for him. I’m going to mess everything up. He’ll meet me next time with big expectations and become disappointed because I haven’t improved since the last time. Or he’ll ask me me to translate something and I wont understand and I’ll just stand there in front of everyone like an idiot.
Also, I don’t network. I can’t. I’m a super awkward person and I suck at being social. I can’t network with companies! I mean god, I don’t even know what I want to do with my life yet. What the hell is wrong with me?
It suddenly turned into a depressing post, huh?
In the end I kept all these worries to myself. I joked to my friends and my coaches about going home and focusing my studies even more now, but I felt really worried. My boyfriend sensed that something was off but I insisted that I was just tired. For the next week I studied like crazy and got N.O.T.H.I.N.G out of it. I couldn’t focus at all and I didn’t absorb anything that I read. My study tracker looked great but I can’t remember a single thing from that entire week. Time spent on studying doesn’t equal progress.
As the week had passed and we gathered at my regular Dojang, we all got diplomas for passing the test and talked about our favorite parts of the weekend while sharing everything with those who weren’t able to join us on camp.
When it was my turn I got my diploma, talked a bit about my favorite moments and then went to sit back down, when my main coach stopped me and said “Something else also happened, right? Would you like to tell everybody or can I do it?”. I knew he was talking about my conversation with Master Shin, so I started explaining and my coach kept adding to the story.
This is basically where everything changed. My coach was eagerly telling my story from his point of view, everybody who was at the camp started talking to those who hadn’t been there “It was so cool, she just sat there and talked to him in Korean like it was the most normal thing in the entire world…”, “Frau Shin looked so happy when they talked about her homemade Kimchi”.
Everybody was so fascinated. It was such a new thing to them. I felt a bit lighter seeing everybody so happy and excited and then my coach added something that really touched my heart. He said that he had known Master Shin for more than 25 years and in all that time he had never ever seen him or his wife so relaxed and open. As I mentioned before, Master Shin talks a lot. However, he only talks if he has a purpose (which is usually explaining something about taekwondo, the human body or our minds). Probably because communication is tricky when he isn’t that good at German, and doesn’t have any other language in common with everybody else. My coach said that it was incredibly touching to see him relaxed like that. He then lastly added, that our little Dojang had gotten some serious bonus points from Master Shin, thanks to me.
It made me realize how incredibly lucky I am. I got to see a side of Master Shin that nobody else get to. I got to hear about his childhood, and I got to listen to him bickering with his wife about the wrinkly business card, while nobody else had any idea what was going on.
It also made me realize that I’m not going to disappoint anyone. I talked to him almost nonstop for 4 hours. He knows exactly what my skills are. Sure, he’ll probably expect me to improve till I see him again. And I will.
I also wont disappoint my coaches. To them, this has already been an incredible experience. Also, they all cheer me on! They ask how my exam preparations are coming along and they all listen even when I get carried away and talk about it for way too long.
I don’t know where all of this will take me. I might end up doing a lot of translation/interpretation work in the future, or I might never. I might end up networking my way into some company or I might not. I truly have no idea. All I know is that I didn’t come this far by freaking out and running away.
I might face some difficulties and I’ll need a different focus during my study sessions, but I’m going to do my absolute best and I wont let any self doubt drag me down that hole again. This is all about growing.