When friends and family tell me I look like a Korean now, I do not think they are serious. But recently I have been mistaken for a Korean by Koreans. So I guess it is kind of true.
Last weekend after partying until late, I was going back to my dorm and a Korean from the same building was walking behind me. As I was about to put in my password to open the door, he warned me about entering the dorm after curfew. He was speaking in Korean so fast I only understood a few things. I said it was okay, and that my Korean is not so well. He was about to enter his room (which was at the first floor in front of the elevator) while I was waiting for the elevator when he tried speaking in English saying he was sorry because he thought I was Korean. But really, I was quite grateful for his concern.
Just this afternoon during my walk around the city, there were these Koreans who were promoting some sort of event/product at the underpass. The guy nearest to the stairs where I was walking approached me and started talking in Korean about whatever they were doing. I did not quite understand what he said because of the noise. I just told him that I was not Korean and I could not speak really well. His friends seemed to understand what happened as they all chuckled and started saying some English words.
Today, before I went back to the dorm, I stopped by my favorite café downtown and had a short talk with the cashier as I was ordering. She was speaking a little bit quickly so it took me quite some time to answer her questions. When she asked me what my major was, I told her I’m still studying Korean. I explained that this was the reason why I cannot speak well, but she said my Korean sounded good. That time, I was already thinking of ending the conversation but her compliment gave me a confidence boost so we talked a bit more about why I was alone today and what my friends were doing. It was a really short talk but it made me realize something. After one semester of learning basic language, I am now more confident when it comes to speaking with the locals as opposed to my first few weeks here. My listening and reading skills also improved. Hopefully, this confidence boost will help me push myself further come the next semester.
I find it amusing that after three months of staying here, locals think I am also a Korean. Quite flattering perhaps, but it also puts a bit more pressure on me to learn the language faster. Sure, I have to go out more and practice what I have learned so far. But just for a bit, I am going to enjoy the few days of vacation and fall in love more deeply with Korea. 😉